Virtual Coaching Helps Build Relationships

Virtual Coaching Helps Build Relationships

There is only so much time in a day for teachers and instructional coaches, and with emails, meetings, and traveling, the time to actually meet with teachers is whittled down. So what are some tricks to coaching teachers long-distance? Have you thought about virtual coaching to need your teachers consistently and in a timely fashion? Using the tech tools to coach teachers virtually makes perfect sense.

Google Hangouts Enable Virtual Coaching

Use Google Hangouts to enable virtual coachingThe most obvious tool is Google Hangout to meet with teachers without having to travel to see them. Scheduling your time and sticking to it is going to be the most important factor. If the person isn’t at her desk to pick up, the meeting will never happen. For this, I recommend getting the teacher’s number to text her to make sure she is ready for the hangout.

You have to find a quiet place to hold the hangout. If you have an office, you’re all set.  However, if you travel among multiple schools, Starbucks and Barnes & Noble probably wouldn’t work.  Instead, try to schedule an empty conference room in the office or media center.  The first few Hangouts are a little awkward; neither one of you wants to see your own face or hear your own voice.  But don’t let that stop you. After a while, you will both get used to it and will figure out what works best for you.

Google Classroom

A second simple way to coach teachers virtually is to register in their Google Classrooms as a student and stalk them (not in a weird way). Do NOT turn off your notifications. Yes, your inbox will fill quickly as teachers use Classroom more and more; however, you have a birds-eye view of all of the activities teachers are doing via Classroom.

As you see the titles pop up in your inbox, click on the ones that catch your attention.  Dig in, and read the directions. What better way is there to evaluate an activity. You can quickly see where it falls on the SAMR scale, whether it encourages the 4 Cs, whether it incorporates authentic learning, blogging, encourages innovation, etc.

I use Classroom to communicate directly with the teachers by posting a private comment right in the assignment window. It’s fast and direct.  If it is something that might help another teacher, I ask permission to share the idea.  Most teachers are so thrilled and flattered that something they created is good enough to share; I have yet to be denied the request.

Here is an example of a reflection exercise posted by one of my teachers in her English 3 classroom.  As you can see, I posted a comment reflecting how impressed I was and asking for permission to share it.  She communicated right in the same window.  You can see from her response that she was flattered by the compliment and that she gave me permission to share it out.

Google Classroom Assignment

Building Relationships Through Virtual Coaching

Teachers who have support and collaboration are much more creative and content in the classroom.As a coach, building relationships is foundational, so be careful only to post positive remarks. Can you imagine how uplifting it would be to get an unsolicited, positive comment about one of your activities in your inbox? You can also use your positive comments as a reason to meet. What teacher does not want to spend a little time with someone with good things to say who builds them up.

At the same time, can you imagine how blindsided you would feel if a coach left a negative comment in your Classroom?  If someone did that to me, I would remove her immediately from my Classroom roster.  If you see something that concerns you, save it for your in-person discussions.

As things get more and more busy with your schedule and theirs, be creative in ways to reach your teachers. Coaching teachers virtually some of the time is a win-win situation.

Are You Leading by Learning?

Are You Leading by Learning?

It’s early Saturday morning, and I am at the stove, my back to my family.  My husband reads out the quote on the back of my t-shirt: “Inspire learners to lead.”   My 16 year old son, however, immediately sees the irony in the statement and flips the wording: “Inspire leaders to learn.”  He’s right. Are you leading by learning?

Turning It On Its Head

Many of the messages being generated in education are about what students and teachers should be doing, and so LITTLE focuses on what the leaders should be doing.  All too often, building and district leadership are the least trained in technology, personalized pathways, and new innovative practices that are spreading across more progressive classrooms.  Without leadership buy-in, innovation too often goes nowhere.

Many teachers are trying new things, some because they are too young to fear, and others because they are experienced enough to know what they can and cannot get away with.  Sadly, the masses are in the middle, worrying about whether they can try something new or recovering from an observation that did not reflect what was really going on in their classroom.  How can this happen?  Perhaps, the observer was not aware of what to look for.

ISTE Standards are a great place to start.  As an international body, the International Society for Technology in Education has a global reach as well as a global view.  Of course there are technology standards for students, but there are also technology standards for teachers, technology coaches, and administrators.  That’s right!  Standards for admins!

ISTE Standards for Administrators

“So, what are these well-hidden standards for administrators,” you ask.  Well, here they are in a nutshell:

  1. Visionary leadership: Educational Administrators inspire and lead development and implementation of a shared vision for comprehensive integration of technology to promote excellence and support transformation throughout the organization.
  2. Digital age learning culture: Educational Administrators create, promote, and sustain a dynamic, digital-age learning culture that provides a rigorous, relevant, and engaging education for all students.
  3. Excellence in professional practice: Educational Administrators promote an environment of professional learning and innovation that empowers educators to enhance student learning through the infusion of contemporary technologies and digital resources.
  4. Systemic improvement: Educational Administrators provide digital age leadership and management to continuously improve the organization through the effective use of information and technology resources.
  5. Digital citizenship: Educational Administrators model and facilitate understanding of social, ethical and legal issues and responsibilities related to an evolving digital culture.

ISTE A.3 Excellence in Professional Practice

Standard number 3, Excellence in professional practice is the one I am drawn to.  Here is how it breaks down:

a. Allocate time, resources, and access to ensure ongoing professional growth in technology fluency and integration
b. Facilitate and participate in learning communities that stimulate, nurture and support administrators, faculty, and staff in the study and use of technology
c. Promote and model effective communication and collaboration among stakeholders using digital age tools
d. Stay abreast of educational research and emerging trends regarding effective use of technology and encourage evaluation of new technologies for their potential to improve student learning

Wow!  How powerful!  I have to admit that I have come across a few admins that are succeeding in this standard and its indicators, but all too often, the admins are the last to know about innovation and technology fluency and integration.  Well, it’s not that difficult to stay abreast of the latest educational research.

Recommendations for Staying Abreast of Technology in Education

There are so many sources for technology information, and now it’s easier than ever to receive that information.  No longer do you have to seek out information; it comes right to your inbox, your Facebook page, your Twitter feed, and your Google page.  If you are an admin, and you don’t have one of those four technological connections, it is either time you let your students teach you, or it’s time for you to voluntarily remove yourself from education.  Being connected is a great way to understand and connect with your students and faculty.

Using your email to #connect with educators and #innovate. Email Resources

Many educational websites have newsletters and blogs you can subscribe to.  If you aren’t receiving at least two educational resource emails per week, here are some websites I recommend:

Using Facebook to #connect with educators and #innovate. Facebook Resources

Most people have a personal FB page, so why not let FB send you educational materials to help you become a better educator?  Here are some of my favorites:

Join Twitter to #connect with educators and #innovate. Twitter Resources

While I was not a Tweeter a year ago, I am now getting most of my best educational information through Twitter.  Twitter is not for wordy people or even full messages.  Instead, it is an opportunity to share links to great blogs, tidbits of wisdom, and periodically a funny comment.  When you create a Twitter account, do not leave your profile picture as an egg head.  Immediately add a saying, a meme, or a photo of yourself to your profile. Choose a few key people to follow.  I have given you a few recommendations below.  Choose whom you follow carefully, and don’t overdo it.  You don’t want to get overwhelmed.  Wade in slowly, and if you like it, jump in.

Using Google to #connect with educators to #innovate. Google Plus Communities and Collections

Google 9-square or 3x3.If you have a gmail account, you can create a Google Plus, G , account.  To do this, go to the 9-square in the top right hand corner.  See graphic at right.  Choose the red circle with G on it.  This will take you to your Google Plus account.  Set up your profile, and then go to the menu on the right and choose “Collections.”  Here, you can engage in dialog with educators, administrators, and innovation leaders around the world.  You will receive an email for each posting, and your post will go to every member in that community.  This can get overwhelming very quickly, so only choose one or two communities to join at first.  Click the JOIN button to become a MEMBER.  To leave a group, click the MEMBER button and choose LEAVE.

Here are some recommendations for administrators and educators looking to connect with and learn from innovative educators around the world:

screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-6-23-31-pm  screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-6-22-54-pm  PBL Google plus community.  screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-6-22-21-pm

After joining a few Google Communities, check out the Google Collections.  These function more like Facebook business pages, so only the owner(s) can post, and you can reply.  It is still a great place for resources and getting connected.

As an admin, you have a unique power to make change.  Be the voice and catalyst for change.  If a teacher comes to you with ideas, research it, and support the teacher.  Without administrator and building leadership buy-in, most innovation falls to side.

Share Your Experience or Leave a Comment

If you have an opinion that you would like to share, please leave a comment below.  I’d love to get a discussion going.

Moving from Substitution to Modification in SAMR

Moving from Substitution to Modification in SAMR

Previously posted on Monday, May 23, 2016, on Digital Learning Cohorts – CCSD Ed Tech

Today, Señora Stewart’s Spanish I students at West Ashley High School worked on their family naming project on iPads. Without technology it is usually a written project; however, Señora Stewart and I worked to move it from the substitution level of SAMR to modification by including audio recordings, too.

The usual project was to create a poster of their imaginary family tree with photos of their imaginary family members and Spanish naming to go with each one.  For example, a student might choose a picture of Johnny Depp as her father, and his picture would be labeled “Mi padre es Johnny Depp.”  Without technology, this poster project usually takes two 45 minute periods.

As a member of the CCSD Digital Learning Cohort, Señora Stewart shares a cart of iPads with another cohort member.  Wanting to digitize this project, Señora Stewart decided to use the iPads.  Using either Keynote or Google Slides, the students were given requirements to create their family tree with the same titles and pictures AND a 2 descriptive sentences in Spanish.  At this point, the project is purely substitution/augmentation on the SAMR chart, so Señora Stewart and I worked to add something new to the project.

Because foreign language standards require heavy duty communication activities, we wanted to work in a verbal recording of the presentation.  To solve this request, we decided the students could insert their slides into iMovie and then record the words on the slide for each slide.  Now, we are at modification in the SAMR model.

On the day of the project launch, I met with 1/3 of the class in a quiet space to teach them how to use iMovie.  It took approximately 25 minutes to go over how to personalize  a Google Slide show, take and insert a screen shot, add an audio recording, lengthen or shorten the picture to match the recording, add transitions, and more.

Once the training was complete, that first group became the “iMovie Geniuses” for the class.  Upon returning to the class, each Genius took on two trainees and trained them on iMovie.  The students were not told to stand and teach, but some chose to.

In the end, Señora Stewart’s class doubled its skills assessed because it included both written and spoken Spanish.  This type of active assessment moves students from a fun exercise to one that is more challenging because it uses 21st century skills and incorporates the 4 Cs.  I am curious to see how class achievements will change as Señora Stewart becomes more confident and comfortable with the iPads and as she progresses in the Digital Learning Cohort in her district.  It is time to start collecting data from the students about their interest levels and their skill levels when it comes to Spanish.  There is no guarantee that student learning is improving using digital devices, and it is our job to analyze the data and share the results.
If you are interested in collaborating about World Language learning using digital devices, please do not hesitate to contact me directly or leave a comment below.