Creating Positive Coaching Relationships Based on Collaborating and Communicating

Have you ever heard of the book, “All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten”? It is a book full of essays on life written by Robert Fulghum. It mentions a few short statements of things you learn in kindergarten that…

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Encouraging Risk-Taking Through Trusting Relationships

This fall kicked off with a new course in my grad program that is focused on the ISTE coaching standards along with a project that is centered on utilizing some of the coaching standards we have been learning about in a practical way in my school building. Moving into the role of a coach has had me thinking about how a coach starts off the process of mentoring and what strategies can help start a peer mentoring relationship be successful.   The 1st ISTE coaching standard is titled “Change Agent”. You can read it below:  I started off by reading a book in coursework titled “Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration” written by Les Foltos. Foltos speaks to the lack of collaboration in the modern-day educational system due to an outdated model that relates schools to a production-line in which students are the products. However, we know that this thinking needs to change. For this to happen, we need to emphasize students working to possess the “Four Cs”: critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity. We must first start to change the process of planning with educators at the forefront.  Foltos also talks about the power of peer coaching and how through a mentorship, educators can start to reflect on their practices and can move together towards increasing students’ ability to poses the Four Cs. But how do we do this? How can we ask other educators to be raw in their self-reflections and then require them to take the uncomfortable step to make a change? This led me to my research question for this module:   How can a coach create a relationship that encourages risk-taking with their learning partners?  When I began researching this topic, I thought to myself how would I feel if someone came into my classroom and wanted me to change the way that I did something… especially if I didn’t know them very well. And I immediately was irritated at the idea. I would feel that they were criticizing me and would not appreciate it. However, if this was a trusted person, with whom I have a relationship with, I wouldn’t mind at all! This helped me to realize that if I am going to be in a position that is asking educators to make a change in their teaching, that I need to first have a relationship with them.   I found a great article titled Peer Coaching Drives Change, you can read it here. In it, Sterman speaks to the importance of peer coaching to help influence change in a school. She mentions that peer coaching is one of the greatest ways to improve climate and culture in a school, while also giving educators the opportunity to reflect on their teaching and improve student learning. The part that resonated with me the most in this article was how Sterman acknowledges that change is challenging. She writes “change is incredibly difficult, no matter how necessary the transformation or how noble the aspiration”. I could not agree with this more! Sterman then goes on to speak to the idea that “change moves at the speed of trust”. If an educator does not trust the peer coach they are working with, they are not going to be as likely to go through the trouble to make a change in their teaching strategies.   Below you will see “The Building Blocks of Trust”  This image helps to illustrate the ways in which a coach can create a trusting relationship with their mentee. Without having compassion, communication and commitment… you will not be able to build a relationship in which you can focus on collaboration or ability. To me, the most important aspect of a trusting relationship is for your peer to feel cared about, that they can speak honestly, and that you are making a commitment to continue working with them.   Compassion:  In “How Great Coaches Ask, Listen, and Empathize” (read it here) author Ed Batista focuses on how a relationship can begin to form the compassion piece of the puzzle by the coach asking questions that help them to understand the entire story, actively listening to their mentee, and then empathizing and relating to their mentee. These three steps help a coach to show their peer that they are fully engaged and care.   Communication:  Foltos speaks about the importance of norms and creating a space at the beginning of the peer coaching relationship that allows both members to discuss how they will communicate. Norms help both sides to vocalize the expectations that they have for the relationship. Setting communication norms (how you will communicate, how often, about what, etc) establishes a purpose for conversations and ensures that both members are respecting one another’s understanding of the relationship.  Commitment:  Committing to the peer coaching model is also incredibly vital for success. It is quite challenging to achieve a trusting relationship if both members are not committed to the process and the purpose behind the coaching.   A little goes a long way:  Here are a few ways that you can start the process off strong with a new mentee in a peer coaching relationship  Setting up reoccurring meetings (2 times a month, 2 times a week, etc.)  Creating norms for communication (how frequent is appropriate to send messages, will you answer your emails only between a certain set of hours, etc.)  Following through with previously agreed upon items (creating next steps for both members to have ready for the next meeting)  Being present during meetings (no phones, no distractions, active listening)  What ways do you focus on building trusting relationships?  References:  Batista, E. (2015, February 18). How Great Coaches, Ask, Listen, and Empathize. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2015/02/how-great-coaches-ask-listen-and-empathize   Les Foltos. (2013). Peer Coaching : Unlocking the Power of Collaboration. Corwin.  Sterman, C. (2018). Peer Coaching Drives Change. NAESP. https://www.naesp.org/principal-supplement-septemberoctober-2018-champion-creatively-alive-children/peer-coaching-drives-c 

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Evaluating Efficacy of Remote Learning Content and Tools

This past spring our lives as we knew them were turned upside down. The greatest things that came out of this scary and life altering pandemic, were the innovations and truly caring hearts that came to the forefront of our communities. As an educator, I was so incredibly thankful to still have the ability to collect a paycheck and have that stressor relieved – however, my job still changed quite a bit. And while it was not all negative, it was still an incredible change to push a 100% in-person model online. Education leaders and educational tech companies and organizations got to work immediately, creating resources and support for teachers who were switching to a remote model at the drop of the hat. It warmed my heart to see all the love and collaboration that was flowing through the education communities to help one another get through this quick change!  With all of these quickly produced and released resources flooding into teachers’ emails, the question was brought up in my teams collaborative planning meetings of which resources were best and which we should be focusing our time on. What a great question! I was reminded of this conversation recently when I am once again planning for going back to school in a fully remote model. How do we test the efficacy and effectiveness of not only resources, but also digital tools?  How can coaches partner with educators to reflect on digital learning content and tools to enhance remote learning? ISTE Coaching Standard 3 Collaborator While searching for ways that educators have been able to reflect and analyze on digital learning content and tools, I came across an article “6 Ways Administrators Can Prove the Efficacy of Digital Tools”  written by Eric Sheninger, a digital leadership expert at the International Center for Leadership in Education.  Sheninger goes through a list of 6 ways to prove digital tool efficacy. He states that the way to start off is to take a look at pedagogy and then move onto the research behind tools and content. You can then look at the reason why you are choosing to use those resources and finish with a reflection. My favorite pieces of this post are the reflection that can be posed to educators to help them think through the effectiveness of the tools/content that they are using: Did my students learn? How do I know if my students learned? How do others know if my students learned? What can be done to improve? What point of view have I not considered? With the wonderful insight from some of my Digital Education Leadership cohort members, we were able to extend these questions to help give educators more information on continuing with digital learning content or tools Did my students learn? Which students learned? Are there a certain grouping of students that were able to access this content or tool with more success than a separate grouping of students? How can you differentiate this so that all students have the same access to the content or tool? How do I know if my students learned? What formative assessment strategies will be used in order for you, as the educator, to determine if students have learned? What success criteria will be in place? How do others know if my students learned? How will a student know they were successful? How will this learning be easily communicated with parents? How will administration see that students are aware of their learning with this digital content or tool? What can be done to improve? Is more scaffolding necessary? Is this content within my students zone of proximal understanding? If not, how can I ensure students will be able to stretch to understand this content?  What point of view have I not considered?  Is this digital content or tool culturally responsive? What trauma informed practices are available to be integrated with this content or tool to ensure students who have higher ACES (adverse childhood experiences) will have similar learning to students who have less ACES? How will our ELL (English Language Learners) students access this content or tool? How will a student with a 504 plan or receiving specially designed instruction access this content or tool?  All of these questions will help a coach work through the process of evaluating digital content or tools to ensure that they are effective. Through a different approach, educators could rate their digital content or tool by using a rubric. Here is one example provided by ISTE: No matter what method you choose to reflect upon digital content or tools, the most important piece is that you are taking the time to actually reflect.  How do you reflect on digital learning content or tools? What are some other pieces of teaching that you feel coaches can help educators reflect on? Comment below! References ISTE Standards for Coaches | ISTE. (n.d.). ISTE. Retrieved August 1, 2020, from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches Klein, A. (2019, November 18). Digital Learning Tools Are Everywhere, But Gauging Effectiveness Remains Elusive, Survey Shows. Education Week. https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2019/09/18/digital-learning-tools-are-everywhere-but-gauging.htmlSheninger, E. (2020, May 6). 6 Ways Administrators Can Prove the Efficacy of Digital Tools. Technology Solutions That Drive Education. https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2017/11/6-ways-administrators-can-prove-efficacy-digital-tools

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Culturally Responsive Teaching With Social Emotional Learning

This summer I will be focusing on the 3rd Standard of the ISTE Coaching standard sets. This standard is a large one! Coaching relationships, partnering with educators in digital learning content and evaluating, and also personalizing and modeling coaching is all part of this standard focused on collaboration. Here is the full standard: ISTE Coaching Standard 3 Collaborator I chose to start off by researching more about cultural relevance. My school has been completing targeted professional development to help work on the climate and culture of our district. Much of this training is surrounding social emotional learning (SEL). I have greatly enjoyed learning more about the neuroscience behind why SEL is important, along with learning more strategies that I am eager to try out this upcoming year. One piece that I would love to prioritize with my SEL teaching is the huge amount of overlap between social emotional learning and culturally responsive teaching and learning. Due to this, I chose to focus my research and learning on this guiding question:  How is culturally responsive teaching and learning linked with social emotional learning, and what can educators do to focus on this connection to begin the school year? I chose this question because with the school closures at the end of the year, educators worldwide have become more and more aware of all of the potential traumas that students will be coming back to school having experienced. Whether it be civil rights related, health related, or food-insecurity related, our students will be in need of focused SEL instruction. However, the more research I did on this topic, the more I came to understand that we cannot be fully engaging our students in that instruction if we are not also paying attention to culturally responsive teaching.  The first article that I spent time delving into was titled “Making SEL Culturally Competent”. Authors Seider and Graves speak to the importance of students not only learning about strategies such as growth mindset to help increase resilience, but also to gain critical consciousness as a way to demonstrate higher levels of resiliency in historically marginalized youth. They go on to offer a framework focused on “the Three I’s”; interpersonal, institutional, and internalized in nature. The last two aspects of culturally responsive teaching highlighted in this article are to “Look for real-world change” and “challenge injustices”.  The Three I’s: In a 9th grade classroom, students learn about the differences between interpersonal, institutional, and internalized “isms” (for example, teaching about microaggressions) and then they collaborate to identify forms of potential oppression in their schools/neighborhoods/communities. Look For Real World Change: By having students connect their learning to actual injustices that are being faced, they can have a sense of social justice and come to learn that they have the power to make real change. For example, a class learning about colonization in the Americas extended their learning to current day by writing letters about their thoughts on Puerto Rico and their relationship with the US.  Challenge Injustice: Students learn about injustices and the power that they have to be able to address and fix injustices. A class of high schoolers worked together to challenge outdated policies in their student handbook that they felt were not fair. They brainstormed, they put together new proposals, and they worked through potential implementation issues.  While having students understand the great potential for resiliency and determination when shifting your mindset to one focused on growth, it is still vital for students to also understand critical consciousness.   So what should we do now? Early Childhood:  Increase the diversity of books that you have in your classroom. We Need Diverse Books is a fantastic resource for educators (and parents) to learn more about adding diverse books into schools. You can find some great articles from them here. Also, here is an amazing instagram account @diversereads created by a teacher who posts some amazing book ideas for all ages Increase the amount of opportunities students can “see themselves” in your classroom. Whether this is by increasing the diversity of music you play, the languages in which you welcome the class, or the types of designs or posters you have in your room. The key is to have student be able to relate to your class There is a great article from edutopia titled “Culturally Responsive Teaching in Early Childhood Education” that has some awesome ideas! K-12: Become aware of cultural differences in greeting and interaction, teach these differences along with acknowledging the merit and correctness of them, along with ones that are are considered appropriate in your classroom Survey students/families on their traditions and educate yourself about those traditions Dr. Anne Snyder and Claire Cook speak to the importance of not only teaching one social skill or strategy as the only “correct” method while working through SEL instruction. They bring up the idea that educators often model a strong handshake and eye contact as the correct way to say hello or greet someone. While this is a great way to greet some students, other students may have cultural differences that this method contradicts. Read more about their thinking in their article, “Culturally Responsive Social and Emotional Learning”. Intermediate:  Teach students that questioning policies that seem to not include, or put-down, certain groups of students is alright. Make sure to create a safe place for students to do this Encourage students to search for things to empower them and demonstrate their power to create positive change Allow for time and space for students to share about themselves in class (culture projects, family presentations, etc.) What do you do in your classrooms to encourage students to gain critical consciousness? What culturally responsive teaching and learning have you witnessed or tried? I would love to hear in the comments! References Armstrong, A. (2020, June 25). Culturally Responsive Teaching in Early Childhood Education. Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/article/culturally-responsive-teaching-early-childhood-education B, C. (2019, November 16). The 2020 Ultimate List of Diverse Children’s Books. Here Wee Read. http://hereweeread.com/2019/11/the-2020-ultimate-list-of-diverse-childrens-books.html ISTE Standards for Coaches | ISTE. (2020). ISTE. https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches Seider, S. (2020, January 9). Making SEL Culturally Competent. Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/article/making-sel-culturally-competent Snyder, A., & Cook, C. (2018, November 9). Culturally Responsive Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). Medium. https://medium.com/inspired-ideas-prek-12/culturally-responsive-social-and-emotional-learning-be7fb6e3d58d

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The ideal professional development for computer science instruction

I am fortunate to be enrolled in the Digital Education Leadership (DEL) program at Seattle Pacific University (SPU).  In our current quarter of study, we are examining the use of digital age best practices in professional development and program evaluation.  This is in support of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) coaches standard. …

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Administrator’s role in professional learning for computer science instruction

In the Digital Education Leadership masters program at Seattle Pacific University (SPU), we are examining the use of digital age best practices in professional development and program evaluation.  This is in support of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) coaches standard.  One of the questions raised in this standard centers on how leaders…

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Professional learning that supports student learning in computer science

In the Seattle Pacific University (SPU) Digital Education Leadership (DEL) masters program, we are examining the use of digital age best practices in professional development and program evaluation.  This is in support of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) coaches standard.  In this post, I want to explore how professional development and program…

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Adult learning principles in computer science professional development

In the Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University (SPU), I am working on professional development and program evaluation defined in the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards for educational coaches.  In particular, part 4 of the ISTE coaching standard asks for professional learning programs that promote digital age best practices in…

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Making professional development successful

In the Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University (SPU), I am working on professional development and program evaluation defined in the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards for educational coaches.  In particular, part 4 of the ISTE coaching standard asks for professional learning programs that promote digital age best practices in…

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Reflections on peer coaching in education

My Seattle Pacific University (SPU) class in the Digital Education Leadership master’s program spent this quarter working with a peer to improve an existing lesson plan.  We are currently studying coaching standards defined by the International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE).  I was looking forward to this quarter for several reasons.  In this article,…

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