Reflecting on Coaching Relationships and my Peer Coaching Project

Fall quarter has come to an end but the learning is still continuing. For this quarter my project was around coaching a peer in order to create a lesson plan. I’ve been using the ISTE Coaching standards to help craft a relationship hat allows for collaboration, trusting relationships and an environment that allows for designing learning experiences that engage students. Through this project I have learned a lot about what it means to be a coach and steps for working with a peer to improve lesson plans. I am still in the process of coaching my peer, but am moving forward with the lessons learned this quarter in order to improve our coaching relationship and have a positive impact on student learning through lesson development.

What I’ve learned so Far

I’ve always felt like I was meant to be a coach in some capacity. I enjoy working one on one with people and building relationships. However I also know I still have a lot to learn for myself about what it means to be an effective coach. I have so appreciated all the learning and support of my peers this quarter in helping me become a better coach. 

When I first started working with my partner on developing a coaching plan and thinking about lesson improvement, it was clear I had a lot to learn. I had never used a coaching plan with a peer before so at first it was a little overwhelming. However through the use of the coaching plan my partner and I were able to have deeper conversations about students learning. The plan helped us focus on what our learning goals are not only for the classroom but also for the school. This helped us to begin to think about how these goals work together and what we might need to do in order to meet these goals. I think it was intimidating for my partner at first to think about what our goals might be for our work together but the more we talked and had honest conversations the easier it became to think about our goals. This leads to other reflections I’ve had during this project.

Coaching relationships are intricate. A good coaching relationship does not happen overnight. It takes time for a coach to build a relationship with their partner. It also takes listening, reflecting, and authenticity. These are all things I knew going in but this project was a great reminder of how important they really are to the coaching relationship. As my partner and I continued working together there were often times where we had to pause the work on improving our lesson plan in order to just talk. In the current state of education it is extremely apparent that teachers are overwhelmed and emotionally drained. I find it is important as a coach to allow for these moments to happen, moments where the teacher can just breath, be honest, and talk. So often we find ourselves just moving forward and continuing the work instead of taking time to acknowledge how we are feeling and where we are emotionally. So as a coach I wanted to be sure to build space for this. I wanted my partner to know that I see them and I hear them. While these means we may not always get through things as quickly as we would like, it does help build a trusting relationship as my partner now knows that I care about them and that I am here to support them. 

I’ve also learned that coaches need their own coaches. It has been so helpful to have peers of my own that I can work with this quarter. For me they have been my coach through this process even if they don’t know it. It has been helpful to bounce ideas off of them, tell them how I am feeling and have them listen and provide feedback when needed. This has been especially helpful as my partner and I have begun improving our lesson. I’ve often had questions but did not be able to talk them through with my own coach before taking them to my partner. So it was helpful to be able to share the current lesson my partner and I are working to improve and get feedback from my peers.

Lesson Improvement 

So what does lesson improvement look like? Well as my partner and I have been digging into this work it has been really important to continually come back to our learning goals for the students, what is it that we want them to have learned after completing this lesson? Do our standards match with our learning goals for students? How are we engaging students in this work? One resource that I have found helpful for engaging in this work is the “Learning Design Matrix” that was created by Les Foltos.

Peer-Ed, 2018

Instead of sharing the matrix as it is I have broken it down by the four different quadrants. This has helped my partner and I focus in on a specific area that we want to improve. So for our lesson we are looking at the engaging task section of the matrix and are thinking intentionally about the ways we want students to engage. We are also looking at the technology section of the matrix as we know that it is highly likely that students will still be remote in the spring when this lesson is taught. Therefore we want to be intentional in the way that students are using technology to engage in the learning. We are also trying to bring in an element of social emotional learning to the lesson since we know that this school year has been stressful on everyone. Therefore we are working to acknowledge where students are emotionally and trying to find ways to account for that in the lesson. 

The lesson that we are working on is for a seventh grade math class. Students will be coming to the end of a unit on ratios and proportions and will be using what they learned in order to solve real-world problems. With this in mind we are thinking about how we might use students interests and backgrounds in order to make the learning more culturally relevant. We are looking to allow students to come up with some of their own examples of how proportional relationships show up in the real world, while also providing examples of their learning. We are hoping to utilize breakout rooms for discussion and collaboration amongst students. We are also looking into different platforms such as Nearpod or Classkick for students to demonstrate their learning. I am also hoping to build in an element of choice for students around what other platforms they might use to demonstrate learning. I want to focus on how we might collaborate together to design a lesson that is authentic, builds student agency and takes into account the variability of our learners.

Next Steps

This is still very much a work in progress. My partner and I are continuing to meet virtually almost weekly. We are still working on the specifics of our lesson and how we might improve it. So I know we still have a lot to work on. However through all of this we have gotten closer in our coaching relationship. We’ve been able to have honest conversations with each other and sometimes even cry in front of each other. This is real and this is where we are. But to me it says a lot about our relationship that they feel comfortable with showing their feelings. This has helped us to have harder conversations and I believe will help us develop a lesson design that will have a positive impact on student learning. I also plan to continue to use the Learning Design Matrix and the ISTE coaching standards moving forward as building blocks for this work. I am excited for this relationship to continue to grow and that through this I am able to continue to work on my own coaching practices. This allows me to continue to practice my listening and communication skills so that I and my partner continue to grow.


References 

Foltos, L. (2013). Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration. Corwin.

Foltos, L. (2018). Learning Design Matrix. Peer-Ed, Mill Creek

ISTE Standards for Coaches (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches

Posted in Change Agent, Collaborator, Connected Learner, Learning Designer, Professional Learning Facilitator | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Three-Point Communication and Coaching Relationships

Well, I’ve reached the end of Fall quarter in my Educational Technology Leadership class at Seattle Pacific University. For this last module I’ve gone a different route and am focusing on something a little more specific. We have been talking a lot about coaching, communication skills, and helping teachers improve their lesson design. Throughout our conversations as a class and in looking at the ISTE Coaching standards I’ve started to think a lot about what effective coaching is and what it looks like. Many of the ISTE standards talk about establishing shared vision, goals, trust and collaboration and this has me thinking about the use of third point communication in a coaching relationship.


Driving Question

What are good strategies for bringing in and using a third point when coaching? How can a third point help build trust in a coaching relationship? And, what are good examples of a third point?


What is Third Point Communication? 

Third point communication is something that I first heard about a few years back while attending the BEST Mentor Academy workshops through OSPI. During these workshops we referenced a book called Mentoring Matters: A Practical Guide to Learning-Focused Relationships  by Laura Lipton and Bruce Wellman. In their section on learning-focused conversations one of the strategies mentioned is the use of a third point. Lipton and Wellman (2018)  describe a third point as something that focuses the conversation on something visual and shifts the energy away from the coach/teacher relationship and onto the physical artifact or item (pg.52). When using a third point often the physical item is placed between the two people so that both can easily see and refer to the item. The coach may also use gestures in order to draw attention to the item and should try to use more neutral pronouns when conducting the conversation. The idea of using a third point is to depersonalize an idea and/or conversation. This idea can be useful no matter what role the coach is taking in the conversation.

Why use a third point?

As was mentioned above the use of a third point is to shift the focus of the conversation and depersonalize it. This is helpful when establishing relationships with teachers since it can help to “free the colleague to accept, modify or reject the idea as an idea” (Lipton and Wellman, 2018). The use of a third point is also helpful when having uncomfortable or hard conversations as it gives those in the conversation somewhere to focus besides the other person. This can help make everyone feel more comfortable which helps build trusting relationships between coach and teacher. Since the goal of a coach is to work with teachers in order to define shared vision and goals and improve instructional practices, this can lead to uncomfortable moments and conversations. However with the use of a third point negative thoughts or feelings can be shifted away from the coach or teacher and placed on the third point instead (Collet, 2017). With this shift coach and teacher are better prepared to have conversations that can lead toward improved learning outcomes and better learning experiences for students. So anytime a coach feels like a conversation might be difficult or uncomfortable they should practice using three-point communication and the more it is used the more comfortable coaches will be in shifting to three-point communication in any situation. 

Examples of a third point

When having a three-point conversation it is important for the coach to think about what that third point might be. Yes, a third point can be anything that shifts the focus from the individual to the item but it should be something that also highlights or enhances the conversation. Third points can be just about anything and it is really up to the coach. Some examples of third points that can be useful in conversations are the learning standards, rubrics, lesson plans and student work. These can all be printed ahead of time or even pulled up virtually and shared if not face to face. The more I started thinking about what a third point might be I started realizing that I’ve used many things in conversations as a third point. When working with other teachers I often like to have either a lesson plan when we are planning together or student work when we are reflecting on how a lesson went. However now that we are working virtually some other things that could work are recordings of their Zoom sessions or the asynchronous videos that teachers are preparing to post to their virtual classrooms. I’ve even had a teacher pull up the home page of their learning management system so that we could have a conversation around its design and functionality in terms of student use. All of these are examples of a third point. The thing that I keep reminding myself is that it is how we use the third point that matters. This provides an excellent opportunity to practice communication skills on top of the use of a third point. How is my body language, my tone of voice, am I keeping my phrases neutral so as not to sound accusatory? If we are practicing all these things while using a third point then it should help keep the conversation feeling safe and help build trust and support between the coach and teacher. 

If you’ve never thought about using a third point before then you might check out this video on Three Point Communication.

Three Point Communication – TeachingHOW2s

I would love to hear what you have used as a third point before? As well as your thoughts on how the use of a third point can help establish safe and trusting coaching relationships? 

References

Caviglioli, O. (2016, February 27). Three Point Communication—TeachingHOW2s. https://teachinghow2s.com/blog/three-point-communication

Collet, V. (2017, December 15). My Coaches’ Couch: Using Third Points. My Coaches’ Couch. http://mycoachescouch.blogspot.com/2017/12/using-third-points.html

ISTE Standards for Coaches | ISTE. (n.d.). Retrieved November 13, 2020, from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches

Lipton, L., & Wellman, B. M. (2018). Mentoring matters: A practical guide to learning-focused relationships.

Posted in Change Agent, Collaborator, Connected Learner, Learning Designer | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Connecting 21st Century Learning and Effective Learning Practices

As I sit here on this cold and overcast day, my mind keeps wandering to this idea of 21st Century learning. In class the topic these last two weeks has been on 21st Century learning and what that means. This got me thinking that this term gets used a lot but often means different things to different people. As I continued to think about this I started looking more at the ISTE coaching standards to see how these ideas connect. I was specifically looking at coaching standards 1, 3, and 4. These standards seem to connect so well as they are all about being a change agent, collaborator, and learning designer. I also started thinking about my own classroom experience as a teacher and whether or not I was modeling 21st Century learning. So now I’m sitting here at my computer thinking about all of these things and asking myself these questions.


What are the connections between 21st Century learning and effective learning practices? How can coaches support teachers in establishing effective learning that also emphasizes 21st Century skills?


What is 21st century learning? 

The first step in helping me develop some answers to my questions is to really define what 21st Century learning is. Often I hear this as 21st Century skills or the 4Cs, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication. I hear this and I think great, but these are just words, what does this mean for me? As I think about this it keeps coming back to the idea that 21st Century skills are all the things that students, adults, everyone needs to be successful in life. We need to know how to talk to one another effectively. It’s one thing to have a conversation but to be successful we need to make sure we know how to communicate clearly and in a way that lets our point be heard. We also need to know how to work with others. So much of what happens in the world does not happen in silos. It takes people working together, brainstorming ideas and collaborating in order to complete a project. So how do we learn how to effectively collaborate with others instead of push others away? Creativity and critical thinking are always harder for me to wrap my head around why they are important, but they are. If we are not developing humans to be creative and critical thinkers then we can forget about the next version of the iPhone ever coming out. It takes creativity for someone to develop new technology and think outside the box in order to create something that doesn’t yet exist. We also need critical thinkers in order to make a lot of this new technology work. We need individuals who are able to see a problem and gather enough information in order to develop solutions to the problem. So if these are the skills that individuals need to be successful why do we call it 21st Century learning sometimes? Well I believe that really these are one in the same, yes they are skills but they exist in the learning. We need to be developing ways to bring these skills into the classroom and the learning experience so that individuals don’t have to wait until after they get out of school to learn the necessary skills for success. 

Supporting 21st Century learning in the classroom

All of this brings me back to the classroom and how educators and coaches can support 21st Century learning. One word keeps coming to mind when I think about what this might look like in the classroom and it is intentional. As educators we need to be intentional in how we build these experiences into a lesson or unit. How are we explicitly creating opportunities for students to practice 21st Century skills? With the adoption of the common core some of this has been made easier since 21st Century skills were built into the standards and mathematical practices, but it still needs to be done with intention. So how can coaches help educators build effective learning experiences for students that intentionally teach 21st Century skills? Well Foltos (2013) suggests that norms are a place to start. If a coach wants to work effectively with their collaborating teacher then there needs to be an explicit agreement on what improvement means (p.104). So it is important for the coach and teacher to be on the same page when it comes to effective learning and 21st Century learning. A good place to start talking about norms is through conversation, asking the teacher what the goals of the lesson are, what skills they want students to walk away with. This helps jump start the conversation around effective learning and can lead to deeper discussions around the skills needed for that. Often in these discussions I hear the word engagement come out and from there I am able to have a conversation with the teacher around what engagement means and what they would look like in the classroom. Most often it is described exactly as Foltos (2013) describes it, “students are actively involved in their learning” (p. 105). For here we can begin to get specific about what this should look and sound like in the classroom. “When coaching other teachers to make similar moves, Wolpert-Gawron encourages them to “tease apart what it means to collaborate, communicate, think critically. This is a language that teachers at all grade levels, in all subjects, are able to embrace.” The more concrete, the better.” (Boss, 2019). Something else that I have been thinking about while writing this post is the strategies that can be used in the classroom to support this work. One strategy is to make 21st Century learning explicit to students, let them know when they are learning it and what the expectations are. A resource to help support this is from The Buck Institute for Education. On their website they have rubrics that are specifically connected to 21st Century skills that educators can download and use in their classroom. One rubric that I find really useful is the collaboration rubric for grades 6-12 that is aligned to the CCSS for ELA.

I like this rubric because it has both expectations for what students should be doing individually and also as a team. As a teacher I could see myself turning this rubric into an anchor chart that could just be posted in the classroom for students to reference at all times. Then to be more explicit I would reference it anytime students are doing collaborative work. This also makes me think about something I used to do in the classroom with my students called a participation quiz. This was really just a way for me as the teacher to explicitly call out and highlight the behaviors that groups were doing that I wanted to see. So as groups were working I would circulate helping groups but I would also be looking and listening for 2 or 3 specific behaviors that I wanted to see from groups. These behaviors were always connected to the activity, things that would support the group in being successful and they were always shared with the class ahead of time so they knew what I was looking for. As I heard or saw the behavior I would write it on the whiteboard in order to make it public and remind students of what I wanted to see and hear. Now I could imagine using this rubric to help guide what I was looking for. 

Summary

So I’m back to my initial questions, What are the connections between 21st Century learning and effective learning practices? How can coaches support teachers in establishing effective learning that also emphasizes 21st Century skills? While I don’t think I have fully fleshed out answers to these questions for myself I do think I am on the right track. 21st century learning and effective learning practices go hand in hand. As educators we should be designing experiences that allow students to collaborate, communicate, be creative and think critically. We need to be intentional in how we design these experiences in order for them to be effective. There are many resources out there that can help with this work. However I think one of the best resources is that of a coach. A coach can be there to support in so many different ways. However it is important to remember to start by setting norms for the work so that all involved are on the same page. Once on the same page we can begin to develop learning experiences that allow for 21st Century learning to happen. So as we continue to develop experiences for students that allow for creativity, challenge their thinking, and provide opportunities for communicating ideas and collaborating with others I’m left thinking about this quote from Boss “The challenge that remains is making sure all students have similar opportunities to dream and do.” (2019).

References 

All Resources | MyPBLWorks. (n.d.). Retrieved October 25, 2020, from https://my.pblworks.org/resources?f%5B0%5D=type%3A27

Boss, S. (2019, January 22). It’s 2019. So Why Do 21st-Century Skills Still Matter? – EdSurge News. EdSurge. https://www.edsurge.com/news/2019-01-22-its-2019-so-why-do-21st-century-skills-still-matter

Foltos, L. (2013). Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration. Corwin; eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). https://ezproxy.spu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip&db=nlebk&AN=1046240&site=ehost-live

ISTE Standards for Coaches | ISTE. (n.d.). Retrieved October 2, 2020, from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches

Posted in Change Agent, Collaborator, Learning Designer | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Communicating in a Virtual Space

For my EDTC 6105 course we are continuing to talk about communication, coaching and how communication plays a role in successful coaching. Over the last couple weeks we have been talking about how coaches can build trust, set goals and norms, push on instructional practices and build the capacity of educators and the role that communication plays. This has gotten me thinking about my own communication skills, what those look and sounds like and if they have changed since we’ve started working remotely. This has lead me to my driving question for this blog post:

Do communication skills need to change when coaching virtually versus face to face in order for coaches to be successful at establishing productive and respectful coaching relationships? What impact does meeting virtually have on a coaching relationship?

What are communication skills? 

There are many things that come to mind when I think of communication. As Foltos (2013) describes, communication can include many things from tone of voice to language choice or body and facial expressions (p. 83). The list can be quite long but it is important to consider how we communicate when working with others as effective communication leads to strong collaborative partnerships. When coaching, those that we are working with want to know that we believe in them and that we are there to support and build them up. So how we communicate both verbally and nonverbally has to match and support that. Some of the skills that I have found work the best when coaching are making sure that I am actively listening which includes questioning and paraphrasing what I have heard and also body language. 

This is something that I still am continually working on. Being an active listener is more than just paying attention to the speaker. It means not getting distracted while listening. As a coach it is my job to really hear what my colleague is saying, not just what I think they are saying. Elena Aguilar (2018) suggests that instead of active listening we should actually be listening with an expansive mind. I had never heard this phrase before but it made sense. If we are listening with an expansive mind then we are listening for those places where we can push on learning, build our partner up, being curious about what they are saying. We aren’t closed off but instead are open to hear and learn together. 

This is something that I find myself doing all the time, at work, at home, even when I’m out to dinner. To me this skill holds the key to building relationships. When I paraphrase it is more than just repeating what I just heard. It is taking what I heard and rephrasing it in a way to check for my own understanding, it gives the speaker time to correct anything that I may have misheard and also allows for the speaker to think about if that was really what they were trying to say. I have found that when I follow up a paraphrase with a question this helps push the conversation further and leads to deeper discussion and/or learning. As Foltos (2013) mentions, good paraphrasing and questioning should focus on the speaker not the listener so it is important to not use the pronoun I and instead use phrases like, “so you are saying …” or “you’re thinking that …” (p.85). 

This one is extremely important. As a coach I might be saying one thing with my words but if my body language doesn’t match then it can be harmful to the coaching relationship. Just like in any relationship my words and my actions need to be in sync. Therefore it is important that my body language communicates that I believe in them, that I’m listening, and that I am open to what they are saying. How am I communicating through body language, am I looking at them, is my posture tense, how is my tone of voice? All of these are important to think about when communicating. “You can build community simply by heightening your awareness of your body language and how you interpret the body language of others” (Aguilar, 2018). 

Communicating in a Virtual Space

So what does this mean for coaching and communicating virtually. While all of the things listed above are still true it can sometimes be harder to do in a virtual environment. Since the physical connection of being in the same place is gone it is important to pay attention to how we are communicating. It is important that we are aware of the message we are trying to send and keying into the language that we use in order to effectively communicate. Even more so in a virtual space we should have humility and empathy for those that we are working with. Therefore we need to be sure that our tone and body language comes through in a virtual space. It is important that those we are working with know that we are listening ao we need to do what we can to limit the distractions and use paraphrasing and questioning intentionally. Another idea that stands out during this time is also litening for those opportunities where we can highlight the successes that are happening all around us. Where are the places where we can call out something that someone has done and share those tips and successes with others. This takes actively listening for those moments and then being ready to share them out with others. Good communication also leads to positive collaboration which is also a skill to successful coaching. As a coach I need to be willing to be vulnerable myself, communicate my learning, be open, transparent, and use phrases that emphasize that “we” are doing this work together. 

Summary

So while I don’t believe communication needs to completely change while coaching remotely, I do believe it is even more important. Without the face to face connection it is important that others still feel connected to what is happening. As a coach it is even more important that I am paying attention to facial expressions, tone and word/language choice so that there is not a mismatch between what I’m saying and my body language. While working remotely it is important to keep the lines of communication open and to continue to let those I’m working with know that I am there to support them. It is on me to continue to reach out so that there is not a feeling of isolation. Share successes whenever possible and make sure that what I am communicating verbally matches my nonverbal communication. 

References 

Aguilar, E. (2018, October 26). How to Hone Your Interpersonal Skills. Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/article/how-hone-your-interpersonal-skills

Berg, A. V. D. (2020, August 18). 4 Ways ICs Can Support Teachers and Students Virtually. https://blog.teachboost.com/4-ways-ics-can-support-teachers-and-students-virtually

Blogger, A. G. (2020, April 20). Three keys to instructional coaching in a virtual learning environment. ASCD Inservice. https://inservice.ascd.org/three-keys-to-instructional-coaching-in-a-virtual-learning-environment/

Coaching During COVID: 6 Key Takeaways from Jim Knight and Diane Lauer. (2020, April 10). KickUp. https://kickup.co/blog/coaching-during-covid-highlights-jim-knight

Coaching for Change: Effective Instructional Coaching | EL Education. (n.d.). Retrieved October 10, 2020, from https://eleducation.org/resources/coaching-for-change-effective-instructional-coaching

DeCastro, M. (2020, August 13). How Communication Skills Coaching Will Prepare You to Lead in a Post-Coronavirus World. Business 2 Community. https://www.business2community.com/communications/how-communication-skills-coaching-will-prepare-you-to-lead-in-a-post-coronavirus-world-02335796

Ferlazzo, L. (2020, March 27). Instructional Coaching During the Coronavirus Crisis. Education Week – Classroom Q&A With Larry Ferlazzo. http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/classroom_qa_with_larry_ferlazzo/2020/03/instructional_coaching_during_the_coronavirus_crisis.html?cmp=SOC-SHR-FB

Foltos, L. (2013). Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration. Corwin; eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). https://ezproxy.spu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip&db=nlebk&AN=1046240&site=ehost-live

ISTE Standards for Coaches | ISTE. (n.d.). Retrieved October 2, 2020, from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches

UWCEL. (2020, May 18). How Coaches are Improving Teaching in a Virtual Environment. http://blog.k-12leadership.org/instructional-leadership-in-action/how-coaches-are-supporting-teachers-right-now

Posted in Collaborator, Connected Learner, Professional Learning Facilitator | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Learning to Navigate the Many Roles of a Peer Coach

It’s the fall of 2020 and this quarter for my EDTC 6105 course in the Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University we are focusing on peer coaching. For this first blog post my focus is on ISTE Coaching standard 1 which is about being a change agent. The reason I am focusing on this standard and specifically indicators a and c are because of their focus on a coaching culture and how it connects with a shared vision and goals. As I began digging into these standards and reading the text for our course, Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration by Les Foltos (2013) I started thinking about all the different roles and hats that a coach wears. I started wondering about the use of each role, how many roles are there, and how do coaches know when to switch from one role to another. All of this led me to my driving question for this week’s blog post.


Driving Question

As a new coach how do I balance my use of the 4 different coaching roles and know when to move from one role to another? I know each role has a purpose and is important but there are times when one role may be more effective then another. How do coaches go about determining what role to take and when they might move between roles?


To get started I wanted to really look into what the different roles are that coaches take on. What I found is that there are a variety of roles and depending on who you ask they go by different names. While the list of roles can go on forever there were some roles that seemed to be common across the board. 

Facilitator – This role is all about leading through asking questions, supporting the learning while still pushing thinking. As a facilitator the coach is the one leading the learning and helping teachers to reflect on their practice. While the coach is asking questions the teacher is the one doing most of the thinking and reflecting. In this role the coach is there to act as a sounding board to the teacher in order to help improve practice. In her research article, “Teacher-centered Coaching: An Instructional Coaching Model” Sonia Wang (2017) provides examples of questions and statements that a coach might pose when taking a facilitator role. All of the questions or statements are phrased in a way that pushes the teacher to go deeper in their thinking. Questions such as “take me through your thinking process” or “What do you think allowed for this to happen?” all help the teacher to reflect on their practice.

Collaborator – This role is about being a partner and working together with the teacher. As a collaborator coaches and teachers are working together to brainstorm ideas, coplan lessons, reflect on and evaluate lessons. The coach should not be doing all the thinking and talking but instead there should be a balance of responsibility. This is a great role for working together to problem solve and plan activities. When in a collaborating role the coach should be asking things like, “why don’t we brainstorm around … “ or “let’s think of some pro’s and con’s for …” or simply “what if we …” all of these shared the thinking with the teacher.

Expert – This role has the coach doing most of the talking since they are taking on an expert role and sharing their experience. As an expert the coach positions themself to be the one sharing their knowledge and the teacher is there to learn from them. This does not mean that the teacher is a passive participant however. Through this role the coach is sharing their experience but also asking questions that check for understanding, similar to an instructor in a course.

Catalyst/Empowerer – This role is about reflection and improving practice while building teacher agency. When in the role of a catalyst the coach is working to improve instructional practice and helping teachers to become instructional decision makers within their classrooms and buildings. In order to do this a coach must empower the teacher to build their own professional identity, agency and voice. Wang (2017) shares that “ Therefore, I coined the term “empowerer” for the moments in the session where the teacher and I shared a thinking process where they identified their own growth and/or they saw the larger impact their instructional practice can and does have on their students and classroom (p. 30).


So how does a coach navigate and move amongst all of the roles listed above and the hundreds of other roles not mentioned? Part of this navigation starts with being clear around your goals as a coach and having a trusting relationship with the teacher that you are working with. If the coach has built a trusting respectful relationship with a shared vision and goal then they will be better equipped to shift from one role to another and flexibly. The ability to shift from one role to another is something that I think takes time but should also be natural. I think oftentimes coaches don’t even realize that they are shifting in between roles because it is just part of natural conversation. The shift or move should happen and be based around the needs of the teacher and what is going to push student and teacher learning further. Something else that I have come to recognize is the importance of framing everything around a third point such as data, standards, goals, student work. This helps keep the conversation focused on student learning and helps continue to build trusting relationships because it is not about the teacher personally but about the learning. I appreciated how Wang (2017) shared that they tracked the frequency with which they were assuming the different roles and that this gave them a better understanding of how often they were utilizing each one. I also think it showcased how easily it is to move from one to the other and how as coaches we subconsciously determine which role to take and when. Moving forward I plan on using the goals set between myself and my coaching partner to help determine which role to begin in. I then plan to let the conversation dictate the course and help determine the role to take and when.

After all of this what I have come to realize is that there is not a magical answer. It really is all about relationships, trust, and vision. If I continue to build relationships with my coaching partners then the movement between roles will come naturally as it will be built around our shared vision and the community we have created. While I still believe that each role has a purpose I think when to utilize it is up to the coach and where they are at in their relationship with the teacher. For me when I am just starting I don’t want to come in as the expert since I want the relationship to be a partnership. So for that purpose I tend to start with more of a facilitative or collaborative role. One in which I can support, ask questions and be a partner in the learning. As our relationship builds then I can begin to move into more of an expert role when appropriate or even that catalyst who can empower the teacher to be a change agent in their classroom and school community.

References

Foltos, L. (2013). Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration. Corwin; eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). https://ezproxy.spu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip&db=nlebk&AN=1046240&site=ehost-live

Foltos, L, 2018, Peer-Ed. Mill Creek, WA

Impact-Cycle.pdf. (n.d.). Retrieved September 27, 2020, from https://www.instructionalcoaching.com/downloads/pdfs/Impact-Cycle.pdf

ISTE Standards for Coaches | ISTE. (n.d.). Retrieved October 2, 2020, from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches

LearningFocusedConversationsGuide.pdf. (n.d.). Retrieved September 27, 2020, from https://www.miravia.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/LearningFocusedConversationsGuide.pdf

McNamara, C. (n.d.). How to Know When to Facilitate, Train or Coach. 2. Retrieved September 27, 2020, from https://managementhelp.org/misc/roles-to-do.pdf 

Wang, S. (2017). Teacher Centered Coaching: An Instructional Coaching Model. Mid-Western Educational Researcher, 29(1), 20-39. https://www.mwera.org/MWER/volumes/v29/issue1/V29n1-Wang-VOICES-FROM-THE-CLASSROOM.pdf

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EDTC 6104 Community Engagement Project – Supporting Learning with Project-Based Learning and Nearpod

This summer as part of my EDTC 6104 course I have had the opportunity to learn more about ISTE Coaching Standard 3 and how it connects with my work as a coach and supporting educators and students. One of the elements of our course this summer has been to develop a professional learning opportunity that can hopefully be presented at a conference of our choosing. As I thought about this opportunity I really wanted my presentation to be relevant to the work that is happening in my district. I wanted to develop something that could hopefully be utilized with teachers that I work with and also presented at a conference for other educators to experience. So after some internal discussions with myself and some reflection I found that I kept wandering back to exploring Project-Based Learning (PBL) and the digital tool, Nearpod. 

I choose to present something on PBL and Nearpod for a couple reasons. One of the main reasons was that many of the secondary schools in my district have started thinking more about how to incorporate PBL into their instruction. Another determining factor was that our district just recently purchased Nearpod for all of our secondary teachers. Therefore I really wanted to focus my presentation on Project-Based Learning (PBL), Nearpod and Remote Learning. My goal for this presentation is to help give educators a better understanding of what PBL and Nearpod are and how the two things can work together in order to support student learning. 

As I started planning my presentation I knew right away that I wanted to be able to deliver the presentation utilizing Nearpod. This way participants would get to experience Nearpod from the student perspective and I would have the opportunity to explore it as a teacher so that I can be better prepared to answer questions. I also used this time to explore some of the resources that Nearpod has on their website for PD. I also revisited many of the PBL resources provided by PBLworks.org during a conference I attended this past June. One of the other resources that has been helpful for my preparation has been the book, Project Based Teaching: How to Create Rigorous and Engaging Learning Experiences by Suzie Boss and John Larmer. 

Right now my plan is to provide a 50 minute presentation at NCCE in the spring of 2021, if my proposal is accepted. I am also planning on offering a modified version of this presentation to educators in my district. Within my district the presentation will mainly focus on Nearpod and PBL and working with educators to design opportunities for incorporating those two things into their lessons. I also plan on working closely with some teachers in order to gather evidence of PBL and Nearpod use in the classroom including student artifacts. These would all be incorporated into my presentation for NCCE. 

This work and presentation directly relates to ISTE Coaching Standard 3 in the following ways.

  • 3a: Establish trusting and respectful coaching relationships that encourage educators to explore new instructional strategies. 
    • I plan on starting the presentation by building in common language and understanding. That way everyone is starting from a fairly level playing field and thus may be more inclined to explore the resources and ask questions.
  • 3b:Partner with educators to identify digital learning content that is culturally relevant, developmentally appropriate and aligned to content standards. 
    • Participants will be asked to use their current curriculum and standards in order to think about what design elements of PBL can be incorporated and how the Nearpod features can support that. 
  • 3c: Partner with educators to evaluate the efficacy of digital learning content and tools to inform procurement decisions and adoption.
    • There will be time throughout the presentation for educators to engage in with the Nearpod platform in order to evaluate if it is the right tool for their classrooms and to get more comfortable with how to use the platform.
  • 3d: Personalize support for educators by planning and modeling the effective use of technology to improve student learning.
    • The design of the PD utilizes Nearpod so I will be able to model how to use it as the teachers and participants will be able to see the platform from the student perspective. This will allow for participants to account for places where students may get stuck or ask questions.

Below is a link to materials that I plan to use and reference during my presentation and a video overview of my presentation.

My hope is that this presentation will be something that can be added to in the future with more classroom examples of how educators are using PBL and Nearpod. I am happy with where it is at currently and can’t wait to share it with other educators in my district so that I can add their experience to the presentation.

References 

Boss, S., & Larmer, J. (2018). Project based teaching: How to create rigorous and engaging learning experiences. ASCD ; Buck Institute for Education.

Boss, S., Larmer, J., Mergendoller, J. R., & Buck Institute for Education. (2015). PBL for 21st century success: Teaching critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity. Buck Institute for Education.

Home-Based Learning Resources—Nearpod. (n.d.). Home-Based Learning Resources. Retrieved July 17, 2020, from https://sites.google.com/nearpod.com/coronavirus/educator-resources/nearpod

ISTE Standards for Coaches | ISTE. (n.d.). Retrieved July 22, 2020, fromhttps://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches

PBLWorks. (n.d.). PBLWorks. Retrieved July 17, 2020, from https://www.pblworks.org/

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Empowered to Explore and Keep Trying

For the last module of summer quarter I decided to focus on ISTE Coaching Standard 3a which reads; Establish trusting and respectful coaching relationships that encourage educators to explore new instructional strategies. I wanted to focus on this standard because to me it sets the stage for all work as a coach. It is hard to be an effective coach if we have not built a trusting and caring relationship with those that we work with. Those that we coach need to feel supported and listened to in order to feel comfortable with exploring new instructional strategies. This was made even more clear this spring as everyone rushed to remote learning and many teachers had to adjust to teaching virtually and using new technology. So this lead me to my question for this module which is;

How can coaches support educators in building remote classroom environments that empower students to explore, experiment, and keep trying instead of giving up at the first sign of difficulty?

As I grappled with this question I began thinking about all of the things that I appreciated when I first began teaching. I began thinking about how my former coaches supported me and what helped empower me to try new things. As I dug into some articles and my own experiences four things began to stand out as being important for empowering both teachers and students.

Community, There needs to be a sense of community both between the coach and coachee and between teacher and student. We all need to feel like we are in this together and learning with and from each other. As Work (2014) says, “create a school-wide culture of tech integration and an openness to take risks.” If we can create this culture within our virtual and face-to-face classrooms it will instill a willingness to try new things, since it then just becomes the norm. From a coaches lens it is important for coaches to also create this culture with their coachee. It needs to feel like a team effort and that we are learning and growing together.

Failing forward, this is a big one. Just like we want our students to not give up when something goes wrong we also want the same for those we coach. It is important to encourage those that we work with to try things even if it doesn’t go right the first time and to celebrate those failings. We need to send the message that failing is OK and that it is the learning process that matters, not that we got it right the first time. As a coach it is my job to encourage and support especially when things go wrong. I’m not there to step in and fix it right away but I am there to ask questions, brainstorm solutions, and help get them back on track. “Reframe mistakes as learning opportunities that are a crucial element for later success, and demonstrate the same infallible belief in teachers’ ability to teach as they have in their students’ ability to learn. Innovation is a journey!” (Watson, 2015)

Reflection, this needs to be built into the process. As learners we should constantly be self-reflecting on our lessons. However it is also important to ask for and accept feedback from others. This could be feedback from peers, a coach, and from students. The key is to fully listen, take it in, and then use it to look for ways to improve. When we build reflection in as a daily practice then it becomes second nature when trying something new to stop and reflect if things go wrong, it’s now just part of the process. This can lead to higher levels of self-directed learning and can be modeled for students as well.

Exploration, time needs to be devoted to exploration of new resources and instructional strategies. We all need time to explore and play with something new without the fear of messing up in front of others. I’ve had many experiences when I was given time just to explore a new technology to see what it does. This freedom allowed me the space to try things for myself, troubleshoot, and reach out for support if needed. Building in the time to explore also helps educators feel more comfortable with using the technology in their classrooms. “Learning about technology through technology helps teachers step out of their comfort zones and feel a sense of achievement through each successful step and, even better, through their success in troubleshooting obstacles and showcasing their work.” (Passeport, 2016)

It’s important as we begin to plan for school this fall that we take time to build in these opportunities for teachers. We need to give them time to get comfortable with teaching remotely. This doesn’t mean pausing the school year but it does mean encouraging them, supporting them, laughing with them, and checking in on them. As a coach I am planning on spending my time this fall listening to the teachers that I work with. Asking them questions and supporting them in trying new things, reflecting on their learning, and taking risks. It is my hope that through this modeling and support it empowers teachers to do these same things for their students in the classroom. After all we all need a little grace and encouragement every now and then.

References

3 Ways to Empower Teachers and Transform Classrooms. (2016, June 13). Common Sense Education. https://www.commonsense.org/education/articles/3-ways-to-empower-teachers-and-transform-classrooms

5 Tips to Help Teachers Who Struggle with Technology. (n.d.). Edutopia. Retrieved July 31, 2020, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/help-teachers-struggling-with-technology-josh-work

5 ways to empower teachers to build a positive, innovative school culture. (2015, February 12). The Cornerstone For Teachers. https://thecornerstoneforteachers.com/5-ways-to-empower-teachers-to-build-a-positive-innovative-school-culture/

Administrators, Empower Your Teachers. (n.d.). Edutopia. Retrieved July 31, 2020, from https://www.edutopia.org/discussion/administrators-empower-your-teachers

ISTE Standards for Coaches | ISTE. (n.d.). Retrieved July 22, 2020, from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches

Miller, A. (2015, May 11). Avoiding Learned Helplessness. Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/blog/avoiding-learned-helplessness-andrew-miller

rokham. (2018, March 28). 3 methods to overcome learned helplessness and boost optimism. Psychology Compass. https://psychologycompass.com/blog/overcoming-learned-helplessness/

Role reversal.pdf. (n.d.). Google Docs. Retrieved July 30, 2020, from https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5W5P9bQJ6q0a2s3TFpaUU9scXc/view?usp=drive_open&usp=embed_facebook

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Supporting Equitable Learning Opportunities

So what does it mean to teach remotely and how do we make sure that we are providing opportunities that are culturally relevant and equitable? For this module I decided to focus on indicator 3b of the ISTE Collaborator Coaching Standard.

Partner with educators to identify digital learning content that is culturally relevant, developmentally appropriate and aligned to content standards.

As I read over this indicator I began to think about what it means to me and how as a coach I might work with educators around this. Some of the questions I was really curious to explore were;

How can coaches support educators in providing learning opportunities to students that are developmentally appropriate and engaging? How can educators make sure that students and families have the resources needed in order to fully participate and engage in virtual learning? What resources and supports are currently out there that can be used in a virtual setting to provide equitable learning opportunities?

Through my research I came across several different articles and resources that talked about different strategies for making distance learning equitable and engaging for students and families. One thing that stood out in all of the resources was the need for people to feel connected. No matter who we are students,  families, educators we all want to feel connected to what we’re doing in the classroom. So it’s important as a coach and an educator to work together to figure out how we can keep students and families feeling connected to learning and how we support that. Some ways that are suggested for keeping students and families connected is to check in regularly with students and families. We may need to think though about how we’re doing this. It can’t be the same ways that we did it when we were in person and in the classroom. We might have to take time to reach out individually one-on-one with each family call them, text them use other means besides just email to get in touch with families. We also don’t have to do this alone. It’s important to work together as a school community and partner up to work together with our student’s other teachers to maybe share the responsibility of reaching out to families. Maybe one week Teacher A reaches out and the next week it’s Teacher B that reaches out, or jump on a call together but we should always have that consistent weekly interaction with our students and our families.

Something else that stood out to me was how we assess the resources that we are providing students and families. We must make sure that we provide students and families resources that actually allow for students to fully participate and engage. That means we should be assessing and making sure that the tool we are suggesting can be used on a variety of platforms. It’s important to really look at the tool and decide if this is something that my student could use on a mobile device, can it be used offline or is it only able to be used on one particular platform. It’s important that the resources we are providing can be used in multiple different ways. If we want students to be able to engage, then we need to make sure that they can no matter what it is they’re engaging on, whether that’s on a phone or a laptop or a tablet or if Wi-Fi is unpredictable maybe they need paper packets. That might also mean that we as teachers or a district need to provide those materials either by mailing it to families or having it somewhere where families can come and pick it up during a set time.

Is also important as a coach that I support educators in thinking flexibly about their instruction. I need to be able to support those that I work with in delivering instructional lessons that are flexible in how students engage with them, how students showcase their understanding and even in the ways that educators deliver the content. Three things that Snelling (2020) mentions in her blog post, 7 ways to make remote learning accessible to all students are;

  1. There needs to be multiple means of representation. Students need to be given flexibility in how they consume the information. Lessons need to provide for opportunities for students to not just read a text, but also watch a video, listen to audio or even take a virtual tour. Older students could even be given the opportunity to decide how they want to consume the information and then can go out on their own to find it. 
  2. There should also be multiple means of engagement for students. We have all heard that too much screen time is bad for students and just because we are teaching remotely that doesn’t change. So we need to provide students with opportunities to engage with learning in ways that may not always rely heavily on technology. Choice boards are a great opportunity to provide this as it allows for students to decide how they want to engage. They could do something more hands on or they could simply do something using paper and pencil. The idea is to be flexible in order to support student needs. Snelling (2020) states that “Activities can be as simple as allowing students to use a parent’s cell phone to take pictures of shapes around the house and email them to the teacher.”
  3. There should be multiple means of action and expression. This provides an opportunity for educators to design activities for students that are open-ended and provided for creativity in how students express themselves. When activities are designed with this sort of flexibility and freedom it allows for students to take more ownership of their learning and to feel more invested. 

There are so many great resources out there right now that have strategies for engaging students remotely. However I was struck with how as a coach to support educators in doing this and also what tools were out there. This is when I came across two resources that for me are game changes.

The first resource that I came across is from Digital Promise, a nonprofit organization whose vision is for everyone no matter where they are in their learning journey, the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills needed in order to thrive. You can read more about Digital Promise and who they are here. Through their work Digital Promise has developed a free online tool called the Learner Variability Navigator, that allows the user to target specific factors and map them to strategies that can be used to create lessons. While the tool was designed for in person classroom instruction, many of the resources can be adapted for remote learning. I found the tool easy to use and appreciated how they provide steps for each process along the way. The factors they use represent 4 main buckets; the model (math or literacy), cognition, social emotional learning, and student background. I love that you can hover over one factor and see which other factors closely connect to it. You can then look closer at different factors in order to see strategies that support that chosen factor and get ideas for implementing it in your classroom. Check out the video below to take a tour of the Learning Variability Navigator.

(Digital Promise Global, 2019)

The other resource that I came across is from Common Sense Media and is a guide for supporting learning differences and special needs in the classroom. The guide is designed to provide recommended apps or media in order to support students. The guide is broken down into 6 categories; communication, social interaction, organization, reading & writing, math, and motor skills. Once the user clicks on the skill that they want to focus on they are directed to a page with a variety of apps and media that are categorized by difficulty level. Just like with any digital tool you will want to check the privacy policy and make sure that the app or tool meets your districts requirements before recommending it to parents. I just love that it is a place to start and gather ideas for resources that are out there that can support students. It is up to me as the educator to continue the research to make sure that it is the right fit for my student. You can check out Common Sense Media’s Learning Differences & Special Needs Guide here

In the end I think as a coach it comes down to making sure that I am fully listening to the needs of those that I work with and helping them feel connected just like we want students to feel connected. I can help by offering to be a thought partner as we plan for what remote learning will look like in the fall. I want to build relationships so that educators feel comfortable reaching out and requesting help when they need it. I plan on doing my part by communicating with educators and building up that connection, acknowledging their frustrations and supporting them so that they feel equipped to support their students and families.

Resources

Apps for Kids with Special Needs and Learning Disabilities | Common Sense Media. (n.d.). Retrieved July 22, 2020, from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/guide/special-needs

Conroy, A. (n.d.). 8 Strategies for Building Belonging With Students and Families Virtually. Retrieved July 16, 2020, from https://www.panoramaed.com/blog/8-strategies-sense-of-belonging-virtually

ISTE Standards for Coaches | ISTE. (n.d.). Retrieved July 22, 2020, from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches

Kirkland, D. D. E. (n.d.). Centering Equity, Access, and Educational Justice. 7.

Learner Variability Navigator | Learner Variability Project. (n.d.). Retrieved July 22, 2020, from https://lvp.digitalpromiseglobal.org/

Remote Learning. (n.d.). Culturally Responsive Education Hub. Retrieved July 16, 2020, from https://crehub.org/remote-learning

Saylor, V. (2020, April 9). 7 Ways to Make Distance Learning More Equitable. Common Sense Education. https://www.commonsense.org/education/articles/7-ways-to-make-distance-learning-more-equitable

Snelling, J. (2020, March 23). 7 ways to make remote learning accessible to all students | ISTE. https://www.iste.org/explore/learning-during-covid-19/7-ways-make-remote-learning-accessible-all-students

Stembridge, A. (2020). Culturally responsive education in the classroom: An equity framework for pedagogy. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

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6 Takeaways for Providing Virtual PD that is Personalized and Differentiated

For this first module in my EDTC 6104 course I am looking at ISTE Coaching standard 3, specifically indicator 4. The focus of this indicator is on how coaches can provide support to educators that is both personalized and differentiated in order to improve student learning. This indicator stood out to me because as a coach and educator I have had to find ways to provide support to fellow educators while living in a global pandemic. Not only have I had to provide support or professional development (PD) but I have also attended many PD opportunities all virtually. This has made me start to ask the following questions;

What are the best strategies for modeling personalization and differentiation when providing PD for educators? What are the best strategies to engage educators when providing PD virtually and still model what we hope to see in their classrooms? How can we build community and relationships and provide something that they can take back to their own classrooms?

As I began to research my questions and reflect on my own PD practices I came to realize that certain things are still needed whether the PD is in person or virtual. So here are my 6 takeaways for providing PD that is personalized and differentiated.

No matter the circumstance it is important to have clear objectives for any PD. Participants need to know what the PD is about and what they can expect to learn. Having clear objectives allows for participants to better engage in the learning because they have a clear understanding and vision of what they are going to learn about and how they are going to get there. This can lead to deeper discussions and more active participation from everyone involved.

As the facilitator it is always important to practice going through the PD before delivering it to participants. This allows for a smoother presentation and also allows the facilitator to make any needed adjustments. I often find that when I go through my presentations ahead of time as if I am delivering the PD, I am able to see where my timing might be off, places where topics or ideas jump around and places that might need additional information or even support during the presentation. I also find that I feel more confident in my presentation the more I practice ahead of time. However no matter how many times I’ve practiced there always seems to be something unexpected that happens, especially when dealing with technology which brings me to my next takeaway.

No matter how many times I may have practiced using the technology, something always seems to happen, so It is important to lean into these mishaps. As a facilitator the more I can model my own flexibility and adaptability during PD the more likely it will be for participants to be okay with these things happening in their own classrooms. Participants need to know that it is okay when these things happen and that they are most likely going to happen. It is how we react and respond that makes or breaks us. So modeling this resilience will help others develop their own resilience when it comes to using new tools and resources with their students.

Just like students need to know why they are learning something and how it is relevant, so to do participants. It is important for any professional learning experience to be relevant for the participants. Having concrete examples from a variety of disciplines will help participants see how the topic is relevant in their own classrooms and how they can apply the learning. Not only can these examples be provided by the facilitator but it is even better when participants are able to provide these examples for the group. So leave space in the discussion for participants to bring in their own experiences and ideas. Learning is a shared experience and thus we as participants need to be able to learn from each other.

Some of my best experiences participating in PD have been when the facilitator follows up with me afterward to see if I still have questions or how things are going implementing my learning. This may not always be feasible depending on the size of your group but if you can I recommend it. We are all missing that face to face connection and reaching out afterward is one way to start to build a connection. Try to make the follow-up personalized to each participant, if you had an exit survey use the information from that to ask follow-up questions of each participant. Not only does this keep the PD going but it can help establish relationships with participants and make the coaching even better. When participants feel like they were heard and listened to it often makes them feel more comfortable sharing their experiences. So yes it may take time but it will support a more collaborative and trusting coaching relationship in the end.

Participants will have more fun when they see the facilitator having fun. So be sure to relax and enjoy yourself. Let participants see you laugh and having fun, even when things may not go smoothly. This can help put participants at ease and also shows your vulnerability at the same time. Allow time at the end to celebrate the successes and for participants to ask questions. This should feel natural and be a positive experience. When we model the ability to have fun it sets us up for a more successful learning experience and can build trust with participants. This modeling also helps participants see this as something that they can do in their own classrooms and who doesn’t want to help create classrooms that are fun.

These are just some of the takeaways that I have come up with while providing and attending PD virtually during this pandemic. Through all of this I am continuing to learn, reflect  and grow in my own practice. I would love to hear your reflections or takeaways on providing professional development virtually in the comments below.

References

ISTE Standards for Coaches | ISTE. (n.d.). Retrieved July 10, 2020, from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches

Johnson, K. (2016, June 28). 5 Things Teachers Want from PD, and How Coaching and Collaboration Can Deliver Them—If Implementation Improves—EdSurge News. EdSurge. https://www.edsurge.com/news/2016-06-28-5-things-teachers-want-from-pd-and-how-coaching-and-collaboration-can-deliver-them-if-implementation-improves

Joseph, M. X. (2020, April 19). 3 Ways to Mentor from a Distance. https://techinnovation.live/2020/04/19/3-ways-to-mentor-from-a-distance/

Joseph, M. X. (2020, April 29). Strategies for Virtual Professional Development. TechLearningMagazine. https://www.techlearning.com/news/strategies-for-virtual-professional-development

O’Leary, W. (2017, February 23). 5 Best Practices for Personalized Professional Development. https://blog.edmentum.com/5-best-practices-personalized-professional-development

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Supporting Educators and Coaching While Working Remotely

Coaching is such hard work and has been made even more difficult while having to work from home. This is what has been running through my mind lately and stood out even more as I started thinking about my inquiry question for this blog post. The focus of this blog post started with looking at and digging deeper into the ISTE Coaching Standard: Learning Designer. This standard is focused around how coaches can support and model what it means to design authentic learning experiences for students using technology. My initial inquiry question was around what the best approaches are for supporting educators in designing authentic learning experiences and how do these approaches change when working with individual teachers, a PLC, and whole staff? However as I started to think more about this I kept coming back to how relational coaching is and how working remotely has made it more difficult to build and sustain that coaching relationship. So my inquiry question has shifted and now is centered around this wondering and thinking. 


What supports are there for coaches during remote and distance learning that can be utilized when working with educators, PLC’s, or larger groups in order to maintain and build supportive coaching relationships? 


I am familiar with resources from Elena Aguilar and resources used by the OSPI Best Mentor Academy and was curious about using them with remote or distance coaching work. So I decided to start by exploring those resources and seeing what adaptations, if any, need to be made for distance learning work.

Elena Aguilar – Coaching Lenses – Coaching Rubric

First, if you have not read any of Elena Aguilar’s books I highly recommend them. Her book, The Art of Coaching was one of the first books I read when I became a digital learning coach. It helped me think about what it means to be a coach and provides great resources and strategies for coaching others. As I started to look through the resources again I was reminded and encouraged by how well they fit in with coaching remotely. Two specific resources that stand out as being important in this work are Elena’s coaching lenses framework and the transformational coaching rubric. 

The Coaching Lenses – There are 7 lenses that Aguilar describes; adult learning, change management, inquiry, systems thinking, emotional intelligence, systemic oppression/equity, and compassion. She describes several assumptions for each lens and follows that up with questions that can be used by coaches in order to better understand the situation. The lenses are designed to be used both on their own and together when engaging in a coaching conversation.

Transformational Coaching Rubric – What I enjoy about this resource is how it allows me to reflect on my own coaching in order to become better. The rubric is divided into six sections and allows me to determine where I am at in each area based on a scale of beginning, emerging, developing, refining, and modeling. This is a great way to gather evidence of my coaching practice and allows for self reflection. My work as a coach is on a continuum, I am constantly working to improve and while I may have moments of backward movement the goal is always to improve.

Best Mentor Academy

The Best Mentor Academy is something that the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction sponsors. They provide free professional learning for educators in support of mentoring new teachers. I have attended these sessions a few different times and always find the work empowering. It has supported me in thinking about how I listen, the questions that I ask, and how I engage with those that I work with. Through this work I have been able to go into conversations with a clearer focus and ready to ask questions that continue the work and thinking. I have become more aware of the phrases that I chose to use when having a conversation and I have tried to focus more on invitational inquiry instead of closing the conversation or leading it by the words I use.

Three Stances for Leading Groups (Present, Collaborate, Facilitate)

Another resource that has impacted my work with groups has come from the book Leading Groups: Effective Strategies for Building Professional Community by Laura Lipton and Bruce Wellman. One of the things that stands out to me from this resource is the idea of selecting the appropriate stance for engaging with a group. Each stance plays a different role and there are times throughout the work were coaches and leaders switch stances. Coaches just need to be clear with groups about the stance that they are in and why. This way group members have a better picture of the purpose of the group and the needed outcomes. 

Present: In this stance the coach is working with the group in order to teach and transform the group members. The group is outcome driven and everyone understands the criteria needed in order to achieve the outcomes. 

Collaborate: In this stance coaches and group members are working together in order to co-construct things. Coaches are a part of the group and therefore need to make sure they have a place at the table for collaboration. 

Facilitate: In this stance coaches are there to make things easier by facilitating discussion, answering questions in order to direct and facilitate the meeting. In this stance coaches take a neutral stance and are there to listen, observe, and facilitate as needed.

Something that I am left thinking about is just how all of these resources can be used remotely because in the end it comes down to the relationships that are being built with people. When having a conversation either in person or remotely it is important to truly listen to the other person in order to hear what they are saying and to understand their why. I need to make sure that I am questioning and paraphrasing their thinking in order to make sure what I hear is actually what they are trying to say and it helps them formulate their thinking. The best part is that all of this can be done remotely (zoom, google meet, even email). 

So then it comes down to thinking about who I am working with (individual, PLC, large group). The biggest difference is that when working with an individual teacher I am only having to listen and understand one person’s perspective. When working with a PLC or large group I need to be able to hear what the group is saying, acknowledge individual thoughts, while still focusing the work on the goals of the larger group. Doing this work means that I have to strategically and purposefully think about the structure of my coaching conversation as well as my use of the three stances for leading groups and the coach lens that I go into the work with. These are all things that I continue to think about when doing this work, even remotely.

References

Aguilar, E. (2013). The art of coaching: effective strategies for school transformation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Brand.

BEST Events & Trainings | OSPI. (n.d.). Retrieved June 6, 2020, from https://www.k12.wa.us/educator-support/beginning-educator-support-team/best-events-trainings

Coaching Tools. (n.d.). Bright Morning. Retrieved June 5, 2020, from https://brightmorningteam.com/coaching-tools/

Coaching-Lenses.pdf. (n.d.). Retrieved June 5, 2020, from https://brightmorningteam.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Coaching-Lenses.pdf

ISTE Standards for Coaches | ISTE. (n.d.). Retrieved June 6, 2020, from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches

Lipton and Wellman—Leading Groups Effective Strategies for Building .pdf. (n.d.). Retrieved June 6, 2020, from https://www.nesacenter.org/uploaded/conferences/FLC/2009/spkr_handouts/WellmanLeadingGroups.pdf

Lipton, L., & Wellman, B. (n.d.). Leading Groups: Effective Strategies for Building Professional Community. 60.

Transformational-Coaching-Rubric.pdf. (n.d.). Retrieved June 5, 2020, from https://brightmorningteam.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Transformational-Coaching-Rubric.pdf

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