Learning to Coach, Coaching to Learn pt. 2

I’m currently taking the Eduro Learning Coaching: From Theory to Practice course with the AISQ8 leadership cohort. Since the our forum posts are private, I’ve asked my coachee if I could post my reflections on my blog. Thankfully she obliged!

Part 1

Week 3
In collaboration with the teaching colleague you identified last week, select a focus for working together, including a lesson to observe in the next week. Have a pre-observation coaching meeting and use a coaching strategy in your conversation. Share your experiences in a reflective post in our community.

As I started thinking about the format of my first meeting with Joanna, I wasn’t really sure where to start. I wanted ways to ask questions and even some specific questions to ask. As I skimmed the readings, nothing popped out at me. I knew I wanted to discuss goals and giving/receiving feedback, but I didn’t really know what to ask and how to ask it. I needed coaching strategies.

Since I know that I process my ideas best through talking them out, I called Christina. As we were talking I realized that what I really needed was to pull from my experience as a Critical Friend. Through my time in Critical Friends Groups (CFG), I have come to understand that protocols can be guiding documents for conversation and coaching. After our conversation I realized that ACSD also recommends a Critical Friends approach to collaboration: “teachers became critical friends who enhanced one another’s teaching practice.” With this lens, it became much easier to plan a format for our discussion.

  • Each of our meetings will start with Transitions. This simple protocol allows “participants set aside distractions before beginning the work at hand.” I am particularly interested in “speak[ing] thoughts so we may release them and feel more connected to the here-and-now.” As our days are sometimes hectic, I find it powerful to start with an activity that creates a blank slate and helps us be present.
  • I will use this pocket guide to questions & feedback. Although I am quite familiar with this guide after participating in 3 different CFG, I brought this guide with me during our first meeting as a source of comfort. Yes – I was a little nervous!
  • I will check in with Joanna frequently during our discussions to make sure that I understand what she is saying. During our first meeting I took notes while she was talking; then frequently interjected with “What I’m hearing you say is…” so that we did not get too far with a misunderstanding. Clarifying questions also helped me to further my understanding of what she was saying.
  • I will use probing questions to further Joanna’s thinking and give her feedback in a non-threatening way. During our conversation about goals, I used probing questions to help me get to the bottom of her goals. I wanted to understand why she is interested in integrating technology, not simply the tools she wants to use.
  • I thought it was important as we embark on our coaching relationship to learn about Joanna’s preferences for receiving feedback. ACSD confirmed my thoughts – “Criticism stings, even when it’s offered with the best of intentions. It can provoke frustration, fear, and a sense of failure. It can stimulate resentment and resistance, undermine self-efficacy, and increase unwillingness to change. In short, it can make performance improvement less, rather than more, likely.” I want to make sure that the feedback I give her is builds her up instead of breaking her down. In order to find out about her preferences, I did a modified Feedback Nightmares protocol. I had her tell me about a time when she received feedback and it was a horrible experience. Then she told me about another time when she received feedback and it was a wonderful experience. These helped us see feedback themes that will help her grow during our work together.
  • We ended our time by coming up with a list of essential agreements that we could both abide by. Although this was a spur of the moment thought I had during our meeting, it wrapped up our first meeting incredibly well.

Joanna’s goals include:

  • integrating technology into all subjects (both teaching & learning)
  • using Twitter professionally
  • games (webquest)
    • review, fun, learning, putting ‘my spin’ on activities instead of getting them online
  • becoming comfortable so I use integrate technology more often
  • becoming comfortable with the resources we already have
  • fun yet educational
  • kids know more than I do
  • include technology in centers
  • Khan Academy (for centers) – use as resource & practice

When I pushed Joanna further with probing questions, she was able to articulate some deeper thoughts on why she is interested in integrating technology:

  • important because technology is where things are going
    be on par w/ other teachers
  • life skills
  • how I was taught vs I want to be a better teacher every year (yay for growth mindset!)
  • search vs creating minecraft world
  • learning vs memorizing

I then shared with her my goals for integrating technology and coaching:

  • authentic
  • meaningful
  • skill-based
  • improve student learning (keep the focus student-centered)
  • collaborate
  • reflection & growth
  • invisible
  • necessary

While we were talking the IB Learner Profile Traits on the classroom wall inspired me to connect her goals to the Learner Profile. Joanna chose the following traits to focus on:

  • Knowledgeable (Joanna) in order to become…
  • Risk-taker (J & Students)
  • Balanced (J & S)
  • Open-minded (J & S)

Joanna already knows that elementary is my area of least expertise. Sharing this with her again, we talked about how we will sometimes both have to be coaches during our time together. As Kim said (#4), Joanna & my expertise lie in different areas and we will be to be open-minded in order to learn from each other.

Joanna’s feedback nightmares lead to a list of ways I will be able to provide her with feedback that she will use to grow:

  • specific
  • focused on growth
  • tell the facts
  • probing questions (but not too many)
  • sharing ideas
  • include action plan
  • constructive

When creating our essential agreements, I made a point to let her know that we will check back in throughout our coaching to make sure that I am honoring our agreements and change anything necessary.

  • honest + open + comfortable = caring
  • consistent communication & check-ins
  • be present during our time together
  • ask for what we need (risk-taking) & be open-minded to other’s needs
  • action oriented

Our conversation left me feeling energized. I came away feeling as though I had channeled both my Critical Friend and PYP knowledge to start our coaching relationship off on the right foot.

 

Learning to Coach, Coaching to Learn pt. 1

In the spring while I was busy finishing up my MEd with UKSTL, I wondered what my fall would look like. How would I possibly stay busy and fulfilled? Looking back, I just have to laugh at myself. Of the many things that have kept me working (seemingly) nonstop is the Eduro Learning course, Coaching: From Theory to Practice. When this course first debuted last fall I wanted to take it right away but decided against it since I was still in the middle of my MEd. Fortunately for me, AISQ8 decided to pay for a cohort of leadership to take the course together. W00T! I love that we’re committing not only to a cohort model of professional learning but also the new commitment to coaching. Our forum posts are private and I’m not used to such a closed environment after COETAIL. I asked my coachee if I could post my reflections on my blog…thankfully she obliged!

Week 1
Briefly introduce yourself here (in our group forums, where all of our online conversations will take place) so I can get to know you a bit. In the same introductory post, can you please share: one key “Essential Agreement” you think AISK needs for coaching to be successful, and why; and
a goal you have for this course.

My name is Lissa and I’m a PK – 12 Technology Integration Coach. This is my 4th year in this position and in Kuwait. Before moving to Kuwait with my husband, I taught HS French in South Carolina. I’m a COETAIL grad & Coach and finished my MEd in School Tech Leadership in May. I love teaching and collaborating with teachers around the world to enhance student learning.

I’ve been excited to take this course since it debuted last fall. My goals are to further my thinking on what it means to be an instructional coach and to incorporate research based practices into my daily coaching practice.

An essential agreement that I think AISQ8 needs: We challenge & push each other to extend our professional practice in a way that exhibits the IB Learner Profile.

Week 2
In a reflective post on our course community, share your thoughts on the process of selecting a colleague to work with, including at least one goal for your work with this colleague over the next six weeks.

Even though I knew it was coming that I would have to pick a teacher to work with, I was still unprepared. When I took a minute to think about it, I thought it would be great to work with one of our current AIS COETAILers. I would be able to double-dip…I’m also a COETAIL Coach. When I reflected on going that route, I decided against it. The teachers starting COETAIL might already be a little overwhelmed and I didn’t want this to be just another thing on their plates. So I made a list of all the AIS teachers who expressed interest in COETAIL but weren’t able to commit for whatever reason. It turned out to be a list of several people I would love to work with. How to make the decision?!

Earlier this week Matt and I received an email from two grade 3 teachers. They were interested in having us come into their classrooms to teach their students about presentation programs they could use. After a few back & forth emails, we asked them if we could meet to chat and figure out a plan. Throughout the course of the discussion we decided that we would first start with how to present information (skill) and then transition into the programs (tools) they could use. We also realized that the expert in the room about prezi wasn’t one of the tech integration coaches, but one of the teachers. It was a planning meeting that reminded me of Diane Sweeney’s 5th ‘Practice for Student-Centered Coaching’ – we planned the big picture together instead of us simply telling them what we would do. Further, our discussion was pedagogically driven, not simply tool driven (p. 53).

Last night when I reflected on my list of candidates (which included one of the grade 3 teachers above), I felt as though she had chosen me. Clearly she was interested in technology integration and our planning conversation resonated with her. W00T! I emailed her before I left school to ask if we could chat today, I had a favor to ask her. Today I went with my little sticky note of what I would be asking of her. I was nervous! Turns out she was nervous too – she wasn’t quite sure what I could possibly need from her. When I asked her, she told me she was honored and excited. And wanted to give me a hug. Wow. Although I’ve realized during the last 3+ years as a coach how important relationships really are, our conversation and Kim’s post really hit home. We went on to talk for the next 15 minutes about graduate programs and college football. I believe that our first interactions went a long way towards her seeing me as “approachable, dependable, collaborative, friendly, and above all, willing and able to support their needs.” We both went from nervous to super excited to work together. Bonus: Andria is working with the other grade 3 teacher that took part of our meeting. As friends, I think it will be great that they are both getting coaching from this group. I can’t wait for our journey to begin!

One of my goals for coaching during the next 6 weeks is to focus on teaching and learning, not simply the technology. I want to ensure that we are working towards effective teaching in order to improve student learning. I want to stay away from taking the easy way out and defaulting to tools. Our goals need to be based on effective pedagogy and student learning, not the cool new tech tools.

Genuinely integrating technology – An email to #AISQ8 grade 1

Good evening grade 1 team!

Michelle emailed me with a request for some ideas about how to genuinely integrate technology (especially when not all students have iPads). We should probably start with tuning in. I recommend taking inventory of what your students already have. If they have apps that they have already paid for (like iMovie or Explain Everything), let’s get them using those. Other students might then want to use them and ask their parents (you aren’t asking!).

Talk to students about appropriate use of the iPad at home vs at school. Have them create folders for apps – allow them to choose which apps go into the school folder and which ones into the home folder (they could also choose what to call their folders). If they have specific apps that they know are appropriate for school, they will be able to make better choices when given ‘free’ time or choice in how to express themselves.

In the past we have had Explain Everything (a paid app) which allows students to add voice, text and drawings to pictures. Educreations is a good alternative. This might be a great starting point for your students – allow them to take pictures of their work (or other classroom items) and reflect on them. At the beginning of the year it may be difficult to express themselves only in writing and this could be an alternative to start with.

I still have some people to talk to, but I did some finding out for you. Hopefully the resources below aren’t overwhelming and allow you to do some sorting out. With all of this, I’d be more than happy to brainstorm with you further, be in your classroom to support the students while they work, work with small groups of students, co-teach or lead a small lesson. Enjoy and let me know what I can do to best coach you in the quest to meaningfully integrate technology 🙂

iPads & technology resources Wiki (lots of information from beginners to specific subjects)

Using an iPad in a grade 1 classroom

An update to post above (both may be a little outdated but a place to start!)

All iPad posts from Karen

Apps to add voice to pictures (& other resources)

All iPad posts from Leka (including one linked to Common Core)

Where these resources came from:

Leka & her blog

Karen & her blog

Ancient civilizations coming to life

Have I mentioned that I one of my biggest passions is connecting classrooms around the world? Hopefully that’s old news because I’ve let it ooze into most of the posts I write. The grade 2 blog about Sharing the Planet w/ a focus on water is up and running – and they’re eager to read posts & comments from classrooms & experts around the world.

Next up – grade 3! Andria and Anna have been going through the COETAIL journey together and are gearing up to start their course 5 final project. They have chosen the IB PYP unit of Where We Are in Place and Time in which the students will be learning about ancient civilizations. Read more specifics here and here.


via Stux on Pixabay

Andria and Anna are hoping to connect their students to other classrooms that live in the ancient civilizations they will be studying – China, Egypt, Rome/Italy, Greece, Maya (southern Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador) and Mesopotamia (Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Syria). Although Mesopotamia is the closest to Kuwait, it might also be the most difficult to connect to.

Their unit starts at the beginning of March. If you or anyone you know is interested in connecting to a grade 3 class in Kuwait, please let one of us know! They are open to Mystery Skypes, video chats, asynchronous communication and any other ideas you have 🙂

Extending learning w/ global collaboration – Middle School Art

One of my favorite things as a coach is to work with a teacher and then see them take the initiative. Last year as part of my COETAIL final project I collaborated with our middle school art teacher (Lindsay) to create a unit based around photography using the Design Cycle. One of the most powerful pieces of the unit (IMHO) was the connection we made with Brian & Yuko of Photohoku. As part of their inquiring & analyzing, students created questions for Brian & Yuko. We then did a Google Hangout with them and the students were able to talk to them in real-time. The students loved it.

Fast-forward 4 months to the current school year. Lindsay approached me for details on how to use Google Hangouts to connect with an expert. The students were learning about the Volumes of Design and she had arranged for a collaboration with Jodi Harvey-Brown (Statement of Inquiry: Our interpretation through time and space facilitates change.). We decided on a Hangout On Air so that students could re-watch the discussion whenever they needed to. I didn’t do any of the planning – just the technical details to help it be a success for the students. [Luckily I had presented on Google Hangouts in Michigan this summer and had some resources readily available. Google Hangouts On Air can be tricky!]

Lindsay arranged with the other 8th grade teachers so that all of her students could be in the classroom for this special event. Students created questions in advance and Lindsay sent them to Jodi so she had a heads-up. During the hangout, students asked her questions in order to help them create their own book sculptures. The event was yet another reminder of how meaningful & powerful it can be to connect our students to experts around the world. Teachers no longer need to be the sage on the stage – they simply need to help students safely connect to other people who have knowledge or skills of value.

[If I had to do it over again, the only thing I would change is discussing the norms of this type of activity with students before beginning. Many of the students had never been involved in something like this and weren’t really sure how to act. I also think it would have been helpful to explain a few features of Hangouts prior to starting.]

Work smarter, not harder

The bottom line for educators and technology (not tech integration) usually seems to be saving time. If it’s going to make my life more difficult – no thank you! But if I can utilize technology tools to make my life easier – tell me more! This is one of my favorite ways to get educators to buy in to Google Apps.

I recently discovered a script for spreadsheets that has changed how I collect and distribute information when I’m giving PD. It’s called formMule. Just as the name implies it does tons of work for you (saving you tons of time). While there are lots of ways to use it (most I haven’t yet discovered) I’ve been loving it to send out resources from my professional development sessions to the attendees. I’ve now used it 4 times and have had great success.

At the beginning (or end) of a PD session, I have teachers complete a short Google Form. Once they have submitted the form, they instantly receive an email from me.formMule auto email

I have to do a little work up front to set everything up, but it saves me enough time in the long run to make it completely worth it. The short video below is one I made for my Google Apps Certified Trainer application quickly showing how to set up the basic mail merge function.

Have you used formMule’s other functions? I’d love to hear about what else it can do!

A Reflection on Tech Integration – SAMR

I’ve been struggling a lot lately with this whole technology integration initiative that is sweeping the world. Yesterday Jeff and I went into a 1st grade classroom to help them create word-webs and stories using their iPads. It didn’t go as smoothly as one would hope and by the end we were wondering if the technology made the project better.

This morning we were truly challenged as Technology Coaches – two elementary teachers are starting their final project for COETAIL and need to integrate technology into a unit plan. Unlike many teachers that we come into contact with they know about SAMR and want to attain the Redefinition level.
This is what our job is supposed to be…right? Integrating technology in a way that redefines education? I honestly can’t say we’ve done a ton of that this year. I often wonder how many technology coaches (or whatever you’d like to call us) are truly helping teachers CHANGE education through the use of technology. I’m not naive enough to think that it can happen for every task that a student completes…but how about once a unit? Once a month? I’d take once a year! So many people (me included) are quick to make suggestions for integrating technology (in our case iPads) – make movies, use Explain Everything, write blogs, etc. How often do we stop to think…and ask ourselves “Is technology making my lessons better?” and “Where am I on the continuum?” I’ve sat around tables with teachers who truly believe that they are redefining & transforming education when they are simply at the substitution stage. I am just as guilty of this too! There are thousands of education blogs out there boasting about the latest and greatest way technology is “changing” their classroom. But is it really?

So where do we (me, my school, you, your school, educators around the world) go with this? How do we ensure that technology isn’t just a band-aid? I’ve had this discussion with Jeff countless times. But how do we have this discussion with other teachers without stepping on toes and hurting feelings? We haven’t introduced the SAMR or TPACK models to staff yet because we think they’d be a little overwhelmed (have you read Nicholas Provenzano‘s rant?). We are also in limbo waiting to hear what our iPad initiative will look like next year. Do we introduce these models? If so, when?

Quality technology integration isn’t easy. It’s takes time, patience and lots of brain power. It takes CHANGING the way we teach. Are we ready for that?

Get started redefining…
Exploring the SAMR model (ECISD Technology)
Brief Intro to TPCK & SAMR (Dr. Ruben Puentedura)
Technology in Education: A Brief Video Intro (Dr. Ruben Puentedura)
More on SAMR (Dr. Ruben Puentedura)
Elementary example of SAMR
TPACK
TPACK Explained

This is in no way a complete list…please feel free to share more!