Category Archives: technology

A More Effective Online Peer Coach

As part of my studies with the Digital Education Leadership program at SPU, I recently engaged in and completed an exercise in peer coaching with a teacher.  I took into consideration that I now work at a startup, and the professional learning I would be working with her on would be all online and for a particular product. I gradually transitioned from the point of power and requests to a more to a collaborative partner, capable of leading and guiding inquiry. I practiced communication skills, including active listening and questioning strategies as my collaborating partner and I worked to rebuild our ECT program at Edmodo. Much of my work in this course centered around the study of Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Communication by Les Foltos

Beyond what we already learned and addressed how can I create a broader and more personal relationship when conducting online peer coaching?

As part of my reflection, I am considering how I can engage in peer coaching practices without ever having a traditional classroom to step into.  All the coaching is done online through Edmodo classroom and groups. On top of that, how do I evaluate and create metrics of success on the online coaching model? As I work in a business where I must demonstrate all efforts as value to the company.  So I must put forth a plan to revitalize the ECT program.

What is essential to the program to create trainers who we can trust? What support does my facilitator need from me to be more successful in the next cohort? 

Research by Shauna and Baker (2005) explains that One of the challenges resulting from the growing popularity of online education is how to efficiently evaluate online instruction.  Within their paper “Peer Coaching for Online Instruction: An Emerging Model for Faculty Development” where the central question isn’t whether this new approach to education is effective — the plethora of “no significant difference” studies mainly render that question moot — but what steps can be taken to not only ensure that individual courses are useful but provide the necessary guidance to promote faculty growth and development as they teach online.

Ensuring Quality of Online Instruction – Peer Coaching Cycle – “A team of experienced online instructors is currently adapting this peer coaching model for the online environment and has performed preliminary online peer coaching during this past academic year.”

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Within the protocol, the coach logs into Blackboard course site multiple times during a week. “We encourage the online peer coach to take particular notice of the virtual classroom environment and interpersonal communication dynamics.  Such facets include the design and layout of the blackboard web pages, the tone of the announcements and course materials, the level of learner-instructor engagement and learner-learner engagement in class discussions, the types of media used for presenting materials, the ease of navigation, the clarity of course instructions, and the instructor’s mastery of the course content and effectiveness at presenting it to the class.” As I look towards the future of our program, at Edmodo I see how important it is to figure out a way to evaluate the course as it is happening.  The program facilitator is an experienced teacher but teaching online with a cohort from 19 different countries is a whole different beast.  The kids that come to school every day are pushed from so many different sides to attend her class while these grown adults must see value and excitement every single time they log into the system.  It was tough to witness the attrition (the loss of customers or clients over time) because the end results are ECTs and these advocates are so valuable to the company.  As it sits thought it is just too long to keep hard-working teachers engaged, six weeks is a long time to stay concentrated on anything in this day and age especially when there isn’t any promise of compensation at the end.

How do I want to proceed with rebuilding the program?

Recently, I attended Advocamp an Advocate Marketing Strategy conference in San Francisco because that is a significant aspect of my job.  It was put on by a company called Influitive which is in the business of creating online hubs for other businesses to host advocate marketing campaigns and challenges.  It really allows you to gamify the system and reward your advocates with rewards and points.  The most valuable session I attended was by Deena Zenyk, from Influitive her session was titledUncover the hidden value of your advocacy program by learning to use the power of campaign-based planning.” She recently wrote a book about the Six Habits of Highly Effective Advocate Marketers and “Consider your last big purchase: What influenced your decision? A paid advertisement? A polished press release? A celebrity Twitter endorsement? A marketing email? A product webpage? Probably not. More than likely, you listened to someone you know and trust. An authentic voice with relevant experience is the most convincing proponent when we’re considering a new product or company. That is the power of an advocate.”  I think that this message although hard for some teachers to believe but sometimes we are a hard audience to sell to and we really only like to listen to people who have gone through what we have.  Sometimes I talk about my first couple years of teaching at an alternative high school like some people talk about serving in the military.  Now I know it is not comparable to what our military does for our country, but I genuinely do not feel like people at my work know what it is like for a teacher unless they have themselves have taught a couple of years.  That is just one reason why our ECT program brings so much value to our company because teachers only like to hear from other teachers when talking about a product.  But how do we create a course that is the right balance between getting enough experience with the product and short enough to keep everyone’s excitement and engagement?    So Deena Zenyk mentioned a system that CISCO put together years ago called VSEM, Vision, Strategy, Execution and Metric.  Moreover, I am going to put my program through this organization and see what comes out.  Here is what it looks like when diagramed.

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Is collaboration worth the investment? As you plot the next steps in your collaboration journey, it helps to understand the returns that are possible

The improved collaboration represents the best opportunity for business leaders to tap the full range of talents of their people, move with higher speed and flexibility, and compete to win over the next decade. But building a collaborative organization requires a transformative approach to culture, processes, and technology – along with an unwavering commitment from top to bottom. Leaders who encourage change on all three fronts will be rewarded with an energized organization that can adapt quickly to changing markets and deliver results.

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Resources:

Cisco Inc (Ed.). (2012). The Collaboration Imperative: Executive Strategies for Unlocking Your Organization’s True Potential – CISCO. Retrieved December 09, 2017, from https://www.cisco.com/en/US/services/ps2961/ps2664/collaborative_imperative.pdf

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

Foltos, L. (2015). Principals boost coaching’s impact: school leaders’ support is critical to collaboration. Journal Of Staff Development36(1), 48-51,.

Shauna, T., Ph.D., & Baker, J. D., Ph.D. (2005). Peer Coaching for Online Instruction: An Emerging Model for Faculty Development. Retrieved December 1, 2017, from Http://warehouse.olc.edu/~cdelong/dl401/peercoaching.pdf,

Institute for Higher Education Policy. (2000). Quality on the line: Benchmarks for success in Internet-based distance education. Retrieved from http://www.ihep.org/sites/default/files/uploads/docs/pubs/qualityontheline.pd

 


EDTC 6105: Peer Coaching Without Overwhelming

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How can peer coaches support colleagues without overwhelming them?

This quarter, at SPU, we’re being asked to practice peer coaching, and of course, I’m beginning to realise how daunting of a task that can truly be. Approaching colleagues with good intentions is not enough to ensure a productive outcome.  We are all busy, new hurdles arise almost daily, and without an intentional plan and willingness from both parties, the energy begins to fizzle and gets lost like so many other inspiring ideas we’ve had along the way.

Working with a new colleague, I’ve recently pondered “How can I offer support without overwhelming them”? Below are 9 tips that I feel apply to novice coaches, like myself, who want to help others integrate technology to boost the learning of students.

Establish Trust

As I mentioned in a previous post, Establishing Trust Before Technology in the Classroom, establishing trust is critical, especially when both participants are new in their roles. This takes time!  So before jumping in and sharing your expertise… Make time to hear their story, respect their experiences, and understand their needs. Reaffirm your role is to help, not evaluate.

A colleague recently shared he doesn’t understand the role or value of coaches based on two experiences he’s had. Both broke the level of trust early on in the coaching relationship which has led him to see coaches as being inadequately trained or qualified to support his needs. His concerns led to questions he presented to me, such as who evaluates coaches, what standards are they held accountable for, and why would I want a stranger coming in and telling me what to do?

Make Time To Collaborate

My colleague’s last concern, segues into collaboration time.  I asked him if coaches met with him prior to observing and he answered, no.  They would observe then meet after.  This continued to create a barrier of trust.

One of the biggest challenges I’ve found this quarter, has to do with time to collaborate.  Granted I am not an actual coach with a flexible schedule, so trying to find time where two educators who work on different grade level teams is challenging.  Add to that the reality that most teachers have after school programs, conferences, planning, or professional development, and you are left with maybe 5 minutes in passing in the hallway. Both teachers need to be willing to collaborate and commit to scheduling time (or rescheduling if needed), but setting aside time to meet in person, or if needed via phone or technology.

Ask Supportive Questions

When colleagues collaborate, the time is valuable, and should be designed to support the needs of the coachee.  This is where intentional planning comes into play for the coach, through the means of asking supporting questions that help guide the coachee in a positive and productive direction. In Jessica Hagy’s article, 6 Leading Questions You Must Ask, she offers leaders tips on how to avoid just telling others what to do, but using questioning to guide their work and offer support when needed. Although these were designed for the business world, I feel they can be applied to meet the needs of educators also.

  1. How can I help?
  2. What problem are we solving? (What standards are we addressing, how are you differentiating, how do you see technology helping?)
  3. Who’s going to be there? (Who are your students?)
  4. Does this make sense?
  5. Can we break this down?
  6. Do you have what you need?

Create a Shared Vision

The questioning, lends itself to a shared vision between coach and coachee. This should also include administrative support. The purpose of tech integration needs to be centered around student production and accessibility, not just about using a new tool. This shared vision should also align to grade level standards and shared grade level of school goals.  By focusing on shared goals, some of the hard work is already being implemented, and helps to reduce stress of adding to the coachee’s workload.

Set a SMART Goal

Once this shared vision is established, it’s time to develop a SMART Goal.  This is an important step in again, supporting the coachee without overwhelming them.  The purpose of the SMART Goal remains specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic, and time-based.  Keeping the focus on a specific standard helps drive collaboration and feedback.

Face Hurdles Together

Reality is, every plan will face hurdles.   Coaches need to be accessible and responsive when coachee’s ask for feedback. It is imperative for coachee’s to feel supported and there is someone on their side who can guide them through challenges.  The most important role of the coach during this phase is to simply listen and ask supportive questions.

Adjust Plan When Needed

When facing challenges, coachee’s also need to know they are still the one driving instruction and meeting their students needs.  Although coaches are there to offer support, when issues arise, it is the coachee that needs to be in control of modifying lessons. Although coaches may offer support, the decision making needs to come from the coachee and remain aligned to student outcomes. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, this is the time to revisit the SMART Goal.  Coaches should again use questioning to help the coachee talk through how things are going and how they can still successfully assess students.

Share Tech Integration with Others

Once coachees have successfully navigated tech integration, it’s time to encourage them to share with their colleagues.  To help facilitate a school culture around collaboration and tech integration, encourage staff collaborate and share with each other. This can be achieved through Professional Development or better yet, through Learning Walks where teachers have the opportunity to see technology in action.  Utilizing students can help reach out to more staff by allowing students to visit other classrooms and share what they are learning.  Sharing with others can help teachers feel less isolated and create opportunities for teachers to co-teach or model for their peers. I’ve seen this done particularly well when there are new units introduced at my school.  One teacher who might have more training becomes the expert and models the lesson for the entire grade level. The teachers take turns becoming experts for various lessons, so it evens out the workload in the end.

Expand PLN

Once coachee’s agree to continue with tech integration, the next step is to connect them with more like-minded people.  Encouraging coachee’s to expand their Personal Learning Network, fosters a collaborative team they can collaborate with rather than relying on just their coach.  This can be achieved through communicating with colleagues in the building, elsewhere in the district, state, or through social media. Social media is a great tool today for discussing and troubleshooting technology.  It creates opportunities to share successes, challenges, and ask for help and receive quick feedback from their PLN.

Concluding Thoughts…

These 9 tips are simply a guide on how to help colleagues avoid feeling overwhelmed.  However, one other critical element, is that coachee’s must be willing participants.  Without their buy-in, everything will be a struggle.

References

Conley, Laurie. “Overcoming Obstacles – The Digital Librarian.” The Digital Librarian, 2010, https://sites.google.com/site/thedigitallibrarian/

Hagy, Jessica. “6 Leading Questions You Must Ask.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 28 Sept. 2017, www.forbes.com/sites/jessicahagy/2017/09/28/6-leading-questions-you-must-ask/#7d676d8b25e9.

Marcinek, Andrew. “Tech Integration and School Culture.” Edutopia, 20 May 2014, www.edutopia.org/blog/tech-integration-and-school-culture-andrew-marcinek

EDTC 6105: What Defines a 21st-Century Classroom?

Continuing in my Digital Education Leadership program, I’ve been asked to consider the role of three ISTE Coaching Standards and how they can be utilized to support others.

These standards led me to question what traits define a 21st-century classroom. How could I share these traits with others? If I walk into a classroom to observe a lesson, what evidence would I look for? Two images of classrooms came to mind, the past and the present.

Classroom Design

Thinking of a traditional classroom, the desks were in rows, the students worked independently at their seats, and the teacher typically remained in the front of the room. Mary Wade’s infographic (click to enlarge) shares what many classrooms resemble today. Immediately, her infographic reminded me of several classrooms in my building.  Students sit in table groups, have a common meeting place on the carpet/rug, comfortable seating options for independent reading, a semi-circle table for small groups, and utilizes wall space.

What stood out to me though was the fact many of the teachers would not describe themselves as tech savvy, innovative, or 21st-century teachers. If we want to support more tech integration in our schools that foster 21st-century learning, then we must first give teachers credit for the amazing things they already do. For example, a peer coach could photograph a teacher’s classroom then ask the teacher to use the above graphic to identify their own 21st-century practices.

Student Learning Opportunities

Once teachers understand conducive classroom configurations, the next step is to set goals for student learning. Defining 21st-century learning varies depending on the source.  In 2010, Elizabeth Rich asked eleven educational experts from around the country, “How Do You Define 21st-Century Learning?” and she received eleven different answers.  Reading various perspectives, a few important facts kept reappearing.  In particular, the need to teach history and literature from the past that can help shape students views on the current world they live in. A big shift from previous generations entails preparing students for multiple careers in their lifetime, not just becoming an expert in one field.  Therefore, both content and skills come into play and that is where technology can be a tool to help meet the needs of diverse learners. Perhaps one of the biggest shifts in learning has been to make student learning more personalized, global, and collaborative. 

A 21st-Century Teacher

What traits then define a 21st-century teacher? How do we guide teachers to see themselves as providing 21st-century learning? Tsisana Palmer’s post 15 Characteristics of a 21st Century Teacher  suggests a list of characteristics that can both elevate the teacher’s expertise as well as student learning.

Palmer gives great evidence to support these characteristics.  However, if there is one thing I’ve learned this quarter so far, it is to start small with goal setting. As a “coach-in-training”, my advice to teachers wanting to create a 21st-century classroom, is to first recognize what is already happening, then set SMART goals to gradually strive for the environment you desire. For example, this year my district adopted a new literacy curriculum.  Looking at the list above, collaboration is built-in to the curriculum.  Therefore, teachers can check that off their list and choose something else they’d like to focus on.  Perhaps they are studying erosion in Science and visit a local watershed.  What if they are able to then connect with another classroom in another region.  Teachers can collaborate online to provide students opportunities to share and compare their findings.

Coaching Support

So how can peer coaches support teachers in this process? First, identify what is already happening in the classroom and what the teacher feels is working well. Then question what shifts the teacher is hoping to make. Providing options that may exist in other classrooms in the building or nearby schools can provide observational opportunities and collaboration with someone not traditionally connected to the teacher. Coaches can provide suggestions based on the teachers questions, but should not simply hand over resources. In addition, remember to start small. The goal is not for teachers to demonstrate everything on the list, but to begin looking at how to implement 21st-century learning opportunities to enhance student learning.  Once teachers determine the characteristics they’d like to implement and feel supported, it’s time to collaborate on how to make it a reality.

References

Foltos, L. (2013). Peer Coaching: Unlocking the power of collaboration. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Palmer, T. (2015, June 20). 15 Characteristics of a 21st-Century Teacher. Retrieved November 11, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/discussion/15-characteristics-21st-century-teacher

Rich, E. (2010, October 11). How Do You Define 21st-Century Learning? Retrieved November 11, 2017, from https://www.edweek.org/tsb/articles/2010/10/12/01panel.h04.html

Wade, M. (2016, March 29). Visualizing 21st-Century Classroom Design. Retrieved November 11, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/visualizing-21st-century-classroom-design-mary-wade

The 21st-Century Skill & Art Form – The Feedback Loop

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This week in my studies with the Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University, I am continuing to explore ISTE Coaching Standards 1 and 2 by investigating what effective student learning looks like. Just as norms are an essential part of a peer coaching relationship, so too is a shared vision for what effective 21st-century education looks like. This shared vision creates a starting place for any collaborative work.

As Les states, “Communication and collaboration skills are vital to helping coaches build a relationship with peers, based on respect and trust, and assist peers to develop answers to the issues they face as they work to improve teaching and learning for their students.  Effective coaches use these sets of skills and trust as a springboard to encourage their learning partners to take risks and adopt innovative teaching and learning practices. ” 

As we begin thinking about the 21st-Century skills that teachers must interweave into their curriculum, I believe that one of the most important is communication.  This communication piece led me to my question for this post.  Precisely, how can we communicate to educators that quality professional development can come from your professional learning network?  When I imagined this conversation with a potential person I am coaching I wondered if they might not appreciate a line like this.  Perhaps this educator would not like that I used a “buzz” phrase like PLN or that I asked them to break out of their comfort zone.  As it states in Designing Classroom Environments“Teachers must be enabled and encouraged to establish a community of learners among themselves (Lave and Wegner, 1991). These communities can build a sense of comfort with questioning rather than knowing the answer and can develop a model of creating new ideas that build on the contributions of individual members. They can engender a sense of the excitement of learning that is then transferred to the classroom, conferring a sense of ownership of new ideas as they apply to theory and practice.”  This is why I decided to take a deep dive into Stone & Heen’s book Thanks for the Feedback: the Science and art of Receiving Feedback Well

Within the book the authors explain how giving and receiving feedback is a skill and even goes as far as to say it is an art form.  I will admit that at times in my life when I have received critical feedback without any positive elements it was tough to recover and become motivated to work afterward. I had a couple of particularly harsh interactions with an AP Literature teacher in high school and with one of my bosses when I first became a teacher.  It is just happenstance that these were both women whom I admired and obviously wanted positive reinforcement but instead received some feedback that led me down unproductive paths.  As the authors wisely explain “we swim in an ocean of feedback. Each year in the United States alone, every schoolchild will be handed back as many 300 assignments, papers, and tests.  Millions of kids will be assessed as they try out for a team or audition to be cast in a school play.  Almost 2 million teenagers will receive SAT scores and face college verdicts think and thin” (pg 2).  And as the end goal within this process is to always keep those teens or students in mind I want to look at specific element within the “Learning Design Matrix” (Learning Design Matrix.doc) “receive real-world feedback on their work from an audience or subject-matter expert from outside the school.”  Then to take that feedback and “Reflect on, revise and improve their work while engaged in learning”.  These two elements of receiving feedback, taking it, processing it, and then making productive changes is indeed a learned skill.

Applying this feedback loop to Adult learners who can then pass it along to our students of the future. 

Stone and Heen go one to say, “it doesn’t matter how much authority or power a feedback giver has; the receivers are in control of what they do and don’t let in, how they make sense of what they’re hearing, and whether they choose to change” (pg. 4).   Now that I have changed careers and moved into the EdTech sphere and received a new title that probably did not exist in the same capacity twenty years ago I can say the review process is essential.  Keeping an open two-way communication between a whole team is a constant necessity, from morning stand-ups, sprint meetings, project managing, and weekly check-ins.  It is important to give constructive feedback to peers on their work and receive feedback in the same manner.  It must push the project forward, and if something you are excited about gets push to next quarter or next year, you have to think about the company as a whole.  I say all this because as an educator I felt much more self-propelled.  My day-to-day was consumed by what and how I wanted to proceed through the material.  I was able to read the room, and I knew my students the best to gauge where to go next.  Teachers are all very skilled project and program managers, and I wish they were perceived more so in the professional world.  Needlesstosay I mean to explain this because when I entered my new world of EdTech the number of stakeholders in “my” projects grew.  The ownership of plans and projects is shared and constantly refined as more minds are consulted.  Therefore, I would state that for peer coaching, teaching, learning, and 21st-century skills this feedback loop is instrumental to teach.  And as Stone and Heen wrap up their argument of the necessity for feedback they explain “Indeed, research on happiness identifies ongoing learning and growth as a core ingredient of satisfaction in life” (pg. 4).  Meaning that humans crave the continual learning process, but the only way to get better at something is through practice.  If we are trying to motivate students and teachers, we must make it clear that we are not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings or put anyone down.  As peer coaches and teachers we see this all as practice to help encourage the user to gain experience and eventually become proficient at a particular skill.

 

Resources:

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

National Research Council. 2000. How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School: Expanded Edition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/9853.

Stone, D., & Heen, S. (2015). Thanks for the feedback: the science and art of receiving feedback well. London: Portfolio Penguin. doi:https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=bWw2AAAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&hl=en&pg=GBS.PT21


Coaching Reluctant Educators and Learning Generational Expectations

This week in the Digital Educational Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University, I am exploring the roles of communication and collaboration in peer coaching as they align with ISTE Coaching Standards 1 & 2. Foltos asserted that “A skillful coach uses communication skills to encourage a collaborating teacher to think more deeply about a topic or to help the teacher reflect” (2013).  It is important to create that balance between inquiry and advocacy due to the fact that our coaching plans do have a point and ensuring that we are communicating effectively will help us achieve our end goal. 

Of course, there are basic meeting guidelines like setting norms, building trust, and respecting time and space of the collaborating teacher.  Those elements do seem pretty basic at this point and although I am not going to fixate on them wholly I hope to examine the generational differences and expectations for peer coaching or meetings.  For example, in the past, I may have done something as simple as bringing my phone to a meeting and that could have set off a peer I was speaking to without me realizing it.  Therefore, I don’t necessarily believe in the necessity of these norms every single time you bring a peer relationship.

What communication techniques assist in persuading a reluctant learner to believe in a technology-enhanced learning experience for students?

While listening to the ISTE Professional Learning Series webinar “Social Media as an Educator: Modeling Digital Citizenship Daily Professionally and Personally,” presented by ISTE Digital Citizenship Network. The facilitators Nancy Stone Penchev a coding/I-lab teacher and Lauren Villaluz a Technology Integration Specialist in Oakland Schools in Michigan.  The webinar opened with a quote that I think we should keep in the back of our minds “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”  I want to keep that quote in mind because right now the word “reluctant learners” as it pertains to teachers is depressing.  I loved how in education I felt like a forever learner and that requires change and evolution.

A couple of other ideas that came up near the end of the webinar should also be established as a point of reference.  If teachers do not start believing in a tech-enhanced learning experience for students they will not be able to help a student talk about “who’s writing their story online. Teachers will not be able to demonstrate how to become “proactive about your own digital footprint and to think carefully about how you represent yourself” online.  If reluctant learners do not start admitting that they too can fail and make mistake they will not have authentic conversations with students about their online life.  Education is shifting and as material goes online it is all about how the teachers handle mistakes made online and how important it is to “be the first to respond to your own mistakes, be upfront about the mistake and model how to handle it”.  This is how we move from just digital citizens to digital leaders in the classroom.  

But as all new things are scary we have to keep in mind some of the concerns that these reluctant learners have about online services and social media. “According to a 2009 report published by The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and Microsoft titled, “Boomers and Technology: An Extended Conversation”, “Boomers” have a few 

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minimum criteria when it comes to technology: They want technology to:”  

  • be safe and easy to use;
  • adapt to their specific needs;
  • connect each other;
  • act as a tool, not a tyrant;
  • be a force for good.

Other issues the reluctant learner has is that the service is too complicated, no training is available, and safety/security concerns.  Now for some of these people, it will be hard to convince them that even if they cover their camera on their laptop and turn off their Bluetooth on their cell phones that their data is still being collected. The idea that free is never free can’t be stressed enough and the only way the students are going to learn smart appropriate behavior is often from the teachers they interact with on a daily basis.

I suppose my thought process is two-fold on one side is how do we convince the reluctant learners that teaching technology and specifically safe actions on social media are essential but also the fact that they are not participating is a detriment to their students.  The first thing I want to establish is that when I interact with any reluctant educator I start by listening to all their concerns.  I want to start with an element of trust to demonstrate that I am on their side and by the end, I hope to show them how tools online can be used for good and are not always so evil.  Beginning with a demonstration and admission about how I have failed in my online life and how I have gotten tangled up in immature conversations on Facebook and Twitter and no matter what those posts stick around and follow me throughout my life.  Careers and education can slip through your fingers if when you Google yourself negative images or material pops up instead of positive actions and resumes. 

 

Resources:

Dale, N. (2016, July 21). Why Instructional Design Must Focus on Learning Outcomes, Not Learning Activities – EdSurge News. Retrieved October 26, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2016-07-21-why-instructional-design-must-focus-on-learning-outcomes-not-learning-activities?utm_content=buffer65095&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

ISTE Professional Learning Series webinar “Social Media as an Educator: Modeling Digital Citizenship Daily Professionally and Personally. (2017, October 11). Retrieved October 16, 2017, from http://iste.adobeconnect.com/pml3r2xw7lhd/.


EDTC 6105: Visionary Leadership and Peer Coaching

Beginning my second year of Grad School has me shifting from learning about digital education as a teacher and into the role of coaching supporting other educators. This year I’ll be exploring more of the ISTE coaching standards, beginning with Standard 1: Visionary Leadership. B. Contribute to the planning, development, communication, implementation, and evaluation of technology-infused strategic plans at the district and school levels. For my first post I’ll be exploring how coaches can successfully inspire and assist peers with planning, implementing, and evaluating technology integration.

What is a coach?

When I hear the word “coach”, I immediately envision my dad.  My dad has played and coached sports since before I was born. Having limited coaching experience myself, my memories are as a spectator and what I’ve observed over the years.  As I thought more deeply about the label “coach”, I realised there are a lot of parallels between what I saw in my dad and what I’ve seen in education.

Take basketball for example.  My dad would spend hours watching teams play at various levels, always with a notebook in hand.  He’d write down plays, ideas, and enjoyed talking to our family about what he looked forward to sharing with his team. He started each season hoping to help his players develop new skills and be better athletes both on and off the court by the end of the season. During practice he’d explain, model, select players to carry them out, and modify based on the outcome.  Nothing was ever set in stone.  He guided them, but never did things for them. A coach can’t run on the court to help a player when they get nervous and players learn to work together, communicate, and actively be in the moment if they want to win. No matter the outcome of each game, there was always discussion about what went well, what they can try to improve before the next game, and praise about what the players achieved, not praise of the coach.

I feel these strategies also apply to peer coaching in education. Gaining insight into coaching through Les Foltos’ book, Peer Coaching, I’m beginning to see coaching as an extension of working with students. We want to inspire others to challenge what they know and continuously explore new skills.  We also want teachers to have a toolkit of resources that they can recommend to students so that students can explore which tools help them succeed. So what qualities are needed to establish a positive coaching relationship? After looking at sources from multiple countries, a few key principles keep re-surfacing.

  • Willingness
  • Personal Relationship
  • Trust and Support vs Judgement
  • Understanding of the Education System
  • Time
  • Reciprocal Communication

Willingness

In peer coaching, both educators need to be willing participants. In addition, they need to feel supported by others (colleagues, administrators, district). Both educators also need to see the value in collaboration and establish a realistic goal that they are trying to achieve to increase student achievement. The teacher needs to be willing to take risks, explore, and understand that the partnership is fluid .

Personal Relationship

If the participants do not already know each other on a personal or professional level, then the next step is to take time and understand the needs of the teacher and the students.  Les Foltos recommends that coaches spend the first meeting getting to know the teacher and allowing the teacher’s needs to guide the direction of their time together. What is also implied with establishing a relationship is that the coach’s role begins as a listener, not someone offering advice. As a listener, coach’s can paraphrase their understanding of the teacher’s needs and begin to understand the teacher’s perceptions and experiences with technology before discussing integration.

Trust and Support vs Judgement

Teachers need to feel they can trust their coach as a friend, not someone who’s coming into their classroom to judge them.  Establishing trust takes time. For the partnership to be effective, the coach needs to enter without power, judgement, or evaluative mindset.  The coach should appear knowledgeable but not assume the role as expert, creating a hierarchy in the relationship. Trust is also important for when challenges arise in order for the partnership to remain intact.

Understanding of the Education System

I’m sure most teachers can relate, but when I think of Professional Development trainings that were a waste of time, a few reasons immediately come to mind: 1. mandatory attendance, 2. the presenter has no idea what my student population is, 3. the presenter knows nothing about the resources available in our district, 4. this has nothing to do with my content area.  The worst trainings combine all four!  

For example, I teach ELL offering language support during reading and writing.  A few years ago, our district adopted a new Math curriculum with mandatory trainings for all certificated staff.  So I sat there for three days, frustrated at my use of time. I quickly learned all the teachers who teach Math were also frustrated and do not see how this curriculum would work in their classroom, it added fuel to the fire and a mob mentality.  Our speaker promoted using the curriculum on computers and tablets during the lessons on a regular basis and talked about great tech features.  The problem was we did not have a computer lab and averaged 1 device to 5 students.  His lack of knowledge about our district led to a group of educators leaving the training frustrated rather than excited to try what he’d presented.

Point being, coaches need to do some research, and ask questions to better understand the building they’re serving and the teacher needs. Even within the same building, peer coaches need to look at the specific grade level and content area they wish to support. Coaches need to see the teacher’s classroom environment before offering any recommendations. In regards to technology, what already exists in the building or district, who else might be available to observe in action, and what options are available to help the teacher successfully integrate technology in the classroom? What concerns does the teacher have about technology integration?

Time

Time is a big factor for teachers.  It feels like there is never enough!  In a peer coaching partnership, both participants need to establish a timeline for the long-term as well as protocols to follow with each meeting in order to respect each other’s time.  In addition, realistic goals and timelines need to be discussed and adjusted as needed.  This ties back to willing participants.  If teachers feel pressured or that something will be lost versus something will be enhanced they will begin to resist, and coaches have to work much harder to bring them back on board. Meetings should typically have an agenda, protocol, allow time for the teacher to feel their time is validated and end with an action plan.  This ties into communication.

Reciprocal Communication

With time being valuable, to respect all involved, communication preferences should also be discussed in the early stages of collaboration. Today there are so many ways for teachers to collaborate beyond the classroom.  Once communication methods are in place, these can be used as reminders for upcoming collaboration.  For example, if email is the chosen form of communication outside of scheduled in-person meetings, then the emails should serve as reminders for both participants responsibilities for how to come prepared. This may also require communication with other staff in the building, administration, or outside. Teachers need to feel they can reach their coach and receive feedback in a timely manner.  

Connection to Technology Integration

Technology can be daunting for teachers.  There are so many unknowns, and for teachers who are used to be in control, adding digital devices into the classroom can create anxiety.  So how can peer coaches then use the above guiding principles to support their colleagues? Coaches need to do research after each meeting so explore what tools are available that could meet the teacher’s needs to enhance student achievement.  With that, coaches need to share technology as an approach to help students meet grade level standards and develop 21st century skills.  This needs to be done carefully to avoid teachers feeling pressured to add more to their day.

Conclusion

In conclusion, like sports, peer coaches need to recognise that teachers come in with a wide range of abilities and strengths.  The coach needs to support teachers in recognising their long term goal and create opportunities for them to work towards successfully meeting that goal.  The coach’s role should guide the teacher to independence and self-discovery for what works best for them and their students, while providing access, not direct instruction.  Although this is simply the tip of the iceberg, I feel it’s a starting point for me as I look into peer coaching opportunities within my own building this year.

Cited by Queensland Government

References

Brown, L. (2014, February 28). The Importance of Trust. Retrieved October 14, 2017, from http://teachforall.org/en/network-learning/importance-trust

Cavanagh, M., Grant, A., & Kemp, T. (2015). Evidence-Based Coaching Volume 1 : Theory, Research and Practice from the Behavioural Sciences. Australian Academic Press.

Foltos, L. (2013). Peer coaching: Unlocking the power of collaboration. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

“Role of Coaching in an Educational Setting.” Queensland Government, Department of Education and Training, 29 Jan. 2015, from education.qld.gov.au/staff/development/performance/resources/readings/role-coaching-educational-settings.pdf

Education Peer Coaching in the Digital Age – EDTC 6105

This quarter in my studies in Digital Education Leadership at Seattle Pacific University, I am studying the practice of peer coaching. Throughout this quarter we will explore the ISTE coaching standards and specifically standard 1: Visionary Leadership.
Screen Shot 2017-10-14 at 11.42.09 AMWhile I received peer coaching as a new educator and continually distribute peer coaching as I continue in my career, it is interesting to see how experts define the process.

What is peer coaching?

In the Digital Promise piece created by the Center to Support Excellence in Teaching at Stanford, it states three of the most widely held definitions of peer coaching. “Some define coaching as a tool to develop teachers’ ability to identify how helpful an instructional strategy is in supporting student learning (Russo, 2004). Others describe teacher coaching as a mechanism to achieve fidelity of implementation of novel teaching practices (Devine, Meyers, & Houssemand, 2013). Salavert (2015) describes coaching as an “apprentice-based approach to support professional and personal development towards achieving set goals” (p. 2). Sutton et al. (2011) add that a coach “works collaboratively with a teacher” (p. 15).” But as we attempt to drill down a definition I appreciate something simple like “Coaching can… give educators the knowledge and skills they need to grow professionally and, in turn, serve the diverse needs of their students” (Digital Promise, 2017).  We as educators and professionals need to always keep the student in mind.  I intend to focus heavily on this element in my explanation of what is essential to peer coaching especially as it connects with edtech development.

What is essential in a peer coaching relationship?

Coaches can take several different approaches to the relationship they create when they enter into a peer coaching arrangement.  As we can see in the image there are four “common forms of coaching” and although I believe that the coactive approach is what I want to focus in on for my purposes this quarter.  It “entails the coach taking more a holistic approach by striving to help the client feel fulfilled and balanced” (Digital Promise, 2017, pg 6).  If the teacher who has entered into this relationship does not feel like their life is balanced and their schedule can handle a peer coaching relationship – how will they be able to learn anything from the situation?  Screen Shot 2017-10-14 at 11.56.29 AM

Of course, there is also more to the arrangement but I want to keep those elements at the forefront to the rest of the setup of peer coaching.  As Les Foltos establishes in Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration that there are the four C’s to keep in mind when it comes to student success; Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication, and Creativity.  As a peer coach to a professional educator though I will need to keep in mind other themes.

Participation

A coaching relationship needs to consist of willing participants, who are open to building trust with one another (Foltos, 2013).  This trust is the root of a working relationship that encourages boldness and growth.

Benchmarks

It is essential to set goals and norms collaboratively. While it can begin with a school or district goal, it can also stem from goals set by the coaching partnership (Foltos, 2013).

Respect & Kindness

Setting a practice of respect and kindness is a separate consideration from participation. It is crucial to address time as a factor and be sensitive to both sides in a coaching relationship, and recognizing certification hours and/or compensation for work being done outside of the school day can adequately value the process.

What does it mean for a “coach” to implement a comprehensive use of technology to support a digital-age education for all students?

This year I have a new role outside of public education, and I am working with teachers in different states, different countries, and with decades of more experience than I have. But as I have read more and more research there is a clear divide between how teachers feel about using technology in their daily lives and how students think. In a recent presentation, I heard a stat that blew my mind “92% of teenagers are online every single day, and 24% are constantly and continually connected to the internet (Pew Research 2017).  With that being the case some of our educators are not only out of touch but with the continued exponential growth of data the divide is growing larger each day instead of each year or decade.  I know that each generation has felt this divide due to age and what is now as the “digital native” but I think something different is happening as I watch education professionals almost ward against technology instead of embracing it.

In a recent survey we did internally at Edmodo, we asked teachers who were active users last year to tell us why they did not come back.  We had about 11% of those who answered the survey (~400) tell us they went back to paper and pencil or paper and email instead of using an LMS.  When asked why they made this decision they said it is just “easier for them” and when I read that I can see those teachers who back away from technology.  Those teachers though are doing a disservice to our students and not meeting them where they are.  They can even create a sense of anxiety when they do not use technology because they are less accessible for the student.

Coactive Learner-Centered Peer Coaching

At first, when I started listening to the recorded panel discussion it was just for work, but then I realized that what they were talking about correlates with our peer coaching discussion.  As I look to the future and see the creation of plans which are really for the benefit for the administration and policymakers I want to address meeting the students where they are and what it means for a “comprehensive digital-age education for students.”

I believe that the peer coaches need to meet the peer or student where they are in their learning, time of day, and the mode of communication that works best for them.  The coach is a guide and cannot do the work for the person but must have a light nurturing touch when it comes to coaching.  Experienced peer coaches understand that one way to show respect to their peers is to learn with and from them.  It is very similar to teaching “the coach needs to show respect to get respect” (Foltos, 2013, chapter 1). I had used this phrase in teaching on several occasions when students were out of line or acting out, and they did not like my response.  “Well you have to show respect to get respect, ” and they would roll their eyes because they were teenagers but it works the same with peer professionals. 

As in the panel discussion put on by Higher EdSurge, it demonstrates that coaching on a one-on-one basis is vital at all levels of education and professional development.  If we can suspend the idea that we are teachers and not students I think that several of these ideas correlate with our reading.

Regarding student success especially a digital-age student what does that mean? Success is hard to measure – and even more so because it depends on who you are asking and they will give you different metrics to measure that success against. But for the panel discussion, it was college completion and how colleges are trying to help with success. Less than ½ of college students today finish their bachelor’s degree in four years. Minority and low-income students are graduated at the campus average.  

An example of how one company is trying to improve student success through coaching  Dwight Smith (Assistant Director of Programs at Beyond12).  He explains the experiences Beyond 12 provides and the intentional use of the word “Coaches.”  These people wear so many hats and interact with students in unique ways.  The word coach is a catch-all for all that they do for the students.  Beyond 12 does not see their work as a replacement to traditional advising in college but more of a compliment.  Encourage students to take advantage of that is available at the colleges they attend.  Coaches are recent college graduates, and the majority of them are first in the family to attend college.  Coaching comes from a place of understanding where the students are coming from and what they are going through. Near-peer model or virtual coaching – texting. Facebook, Snapchat, online and not necessarily in person. Beyond 12 believes in the “Co-active coaching model, students are creative and resourceful on the whole.” Guide them in curriculum, activities, and support in social-emotional issues, and the coaches try to balance. Continually communicate the college completion is one step in the process and is not the finish line. It is an important step in the process, but it is not the end of the line for their life.

Then Charles Thornburgh (CEO at Civitas) a big data analytics company, we are an outcomes company that secondary success for the economy by 2025.  Right now in the U.S., just 60% of students complete their bachelor’s degree and take on average six years to get there. For two-year college programs, only about a third of students achieve their certificate or associate degree within three years. The numbers are even more troubling when placed alongside rising tuition costs, which prevent many students from adding extra semesters to finish their program.

Some institutions are thinking about how to change that through tech-augmented academic advising. That can take some forms: from early-alert systems that flag students in need of extra support, to predictive analytics, to online (and increasingly self-service) degree-planning services.  But technology alone doesn’t help students get through the hardest parts of college: people do. In this meetup, EdSurge will ask experts about the shifting role of advisors, as well as how, when or even if technology should be used to intervene with students.

Finally, something in the K-12 arena needs to change, and I think that starts with providing this same type of human-to-human and tech-augmented peer coaching.  We do not want to lose any more teachers due to burn out.  We need to show them how technology can not only help their lives become more comfortable but will inevitably create produce students who will be much more successful in their future endeavors outside of college and university.

Reading and Resources

Ehsanipour, T., & Gomez Zaccarelli, F. (2017, July). Exploring Coaching for Powerful Technology Use in Education (Center to Support Excellence in Teaching – Stanford University, Ed.). Retrieved October, 13, from http://digitalpromise.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Dynamic-Learning-Project-Paper-Final.pdf

Foltos, L. (2013). Peer coaching: Unlocking the power of collaboration. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Higher EdSurge: Panel Discussion Coaches, Computers & College Completion: Can Tech Get More Students to a Degree? (2017, September 27). Retrieved September 29, 2017, from https://www.facebook.com/higheredsurge/videos/vb.372280739820732/469617456753726/?type=2&theaterhttps://www.facebook.com/higheredsurge/


Community Engagement Project – EDTC 6104

Growing your PLN through Twitter

PLN

This summer I made a huge life choice by leaving teaching and entering the educational technology industry to continue my work with SPU School of Ed and the Digital Educational Leadership program.  I moved from Seattle to San Francisco and started working for Edmodo as the Community Growth Manager.  I believe that a piece of that is due to my time on social media and growing my professional learning network. The way I used social media made me thrive and build my support base to believe in what I was doing in the classroom and for my career.  As George Siemens states “a central tenet of most learning theories is that learning occurs inside a person. Even social constructivist views, which hold that learning is a socially enacted process, promotes the principality of the individual (and her/his physical presence – i.e. brain-based) in learning” (2005). Educators need to figure out how to utilize the tools that we have available in place on the world wide web and by doing so we can harness the global collaborative power of teachers around the world.  Teachers can use Twitter to connect with new educators, communicate what really happens on the job, create a public professional persona to help students know what it means to have self-awareness and positive online self-management.  During April, 2017 I created and ran a Global Collaborative Project that used Twitter in the classroom.  I appreciated this video to help spur my students inspiration by Ted Ed – What makes a poem … a poem? – Melissa Kovacs

Workshop Title and Description

Presentation Session “Growing your PLN with Twitter” – Educators are using Twitter to grow their professional learning network, sharing resources, and building the global educational community. I am one of the PSESD Washington Teacher Leaders for Twitter this year, and I want to share how this program and the use of

Twitter has made me a better more informed teacher. Twitter can be a way to create a strong professional social media platform for yourself to help promote what you are doing in your classroom every day.  I think this topic is important because teachers spend so much of their time alone.  We have our classrooms and our students but when it comes to honest peer-to-peer contact it takes so much time and investment.  Some teachers don’t ever make those important connections with their colleagues in their building and Twitter or other Social Learning Networks are crucial for creating new conversations with people outside of your building.

In 2015, Denise Scavitto wrote an article Teachers: Embrace Twitter for Professional Development and I appreciate the way she explains the reason behind using Twitter to grow a PLN.  “For me, Twitter is a way of consuming information targeted to my interests. Using a hashtag like #sschat connects me to topics that will interest and intrigue Social Studies teachers – from all walks of life – and all because I know what to look for. Twitter isn’t overwhelming anymore – it’s incredible. I’ve connected myself to an extensive personal learning network of educators, entrepreneurs, and innovators through a little bird – and found it the best professional development I’ve never paid for” (Edudemic).  

Learning Objective Event

My objective is to create a presentation for my session on teachers using Twitter to grow their PLN. There are 600 educators are registered for the conference total.  I am not sure if anyone has signed up for my session yet, but I am hoping to talk to around 30 teachers specifically about my topic. The conference I am CCS Powerful Learning Conference in Issaquah, WA on August 16th, 2017. I already submitted a small proposal and got it accepted in November.  I have a handout but may need to complete a couple more. The venue is the CCS Powerful Learning Conference at Issaquah High School in my old district.  I was inspired to submit a request because I went to the conference last year and I wanted to show growth by speaking at the next year’s conference.

Length

My presentation should be one hour and fifteen minutes long. That is the required length. I think it would be essential to provide blended content. I could probably make it a lot longer but this will help me limit and edit my work.  I also submitted a proposal to NCCE for their 50-minute session.  I think I can cut a lot of my material out if I could accomplish a true flipped or blended learning environment. 

Workshop/Online Elements

Common Misconceptions & FAQ

  1. The first one is that 140 characters are not enough to have a productive conversations.  But my counter to that one is imagine you are in a meeting with 20 of your closest friends in your department or staff.  How much content do you add in that 45 to 60 minute meeting?  With the addition of pictures it opens a whole other place for content. The 140 characters also limits people from venting, blabbing, and allows for constraint when we know sometimes educational meetings can run long.
  2. If you don’t have a lot of followers then there isn’t any point.  But I disagree because it is more important about how you use the platform.  To gain followers you must use the platform on a consistent basis.  
  3. Hashtags are just trendy things for young people and are not professional enough to take serious. I think that if it is for “young people” then that in itself is a reason to give it a try.  It keeps you current and it also allows you to connect with your students.  If teachers are not constantly learning then they are taking steps backwards.
  4. Twitter for communication and collaboration come with the the idea that it is only for some politicians and weird bots who spam up your feed. But I think that is another way to show to students, parents, and admin that it does not always have to be ran that way.  It can be “boring” as my students said when they found and read my twitter feed.  I said it isn’t boring to me it is what I am interested in and what I like to talk about.  

Gates Foundation (Ed.). (2014). Teachers Know Best What Educators Want from Digital Instructional Tools. Retrieved August 13, 2017, from http://www.teachersknowbest.org/survey-results/1

Morris, K. (2017, May 11). Step 2: Using Twitter to Build Your PLN. Retrieved August 13, 2017, from https://teacherchallenge.edublogs.org/pln-challenge-3-using-twitter-to-build-your-pln/

Scavitto, D. (2015, April 17). Teachers: Embrace Twitter for Professional Development. Retrieved July 14, 2017, from http://www.edudemic.com/teachers-embrace-twitter-professional-development/

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved August 13, 2017, from http://www.itdl.org/journal/jan_05/article01.htm


Community Engagement Project – EDTC 6104

Increasing Family Engagement Through Digital Portfolios

This summer I’ve stepped outside of my comfort zone.  In my own building, I worked as the Site Coordinator for summer school, my first time truly managing other staff and being in charge of a building.  With my Masters program through SPU, I’ve submitted my first proposal to a conference.  While this has been daunting, I have enjoyed both challenges.  Having taught ELL for seven years, I’ve taught summer school, both initiated and led before and after school programs, and attended workshops, but have never sought out a leadership role.  This summer has shifted my own perception of what I’m capable of and how I can contribute to others.

Trying New Strategies to Engage ELL Families

One of my greatest challenges as an educator and coach has been communication with families.  Working in schools where the majority of the parents are not native English speakers, communication is often limited, lost in translation, and we frequently rely on students to be the translator to get messages through to families. Based on my own experience in Title 1 schools in two different states, ELL families are less likely to initiate communication with teachers and less likely to use email as a frequent communication tool. Numerous studies agree that in general, low-income and/or ethnic/racial minority families are less likely to participate in school events and certain aspects of the children’s education. (Dong-shin Shin and Wendy Seger 2016). Many of these same families have limited access to technology and less exposure to 21st century skills.  Therefore, I feel it is important for teachers to not only introduce 21st century skills to students, but also help coach their families in how to use technology as a communication tool, professionally, and share their funds of knowledge.

What do we know about family involvement in Title 1 schools?

The most extensive research comes from the Hoover-Demspey and Sandler study known as the HDS Model.  Their findings claim parent involvement is based on these key factors:

The Parent Institute, 2012

This chart supports evidence that parents who do not speak English or were not educated in the American education system are more likely to find it difficult to participate at the school site. Furthermore, these families may have varying cultural views on what parent involvement entails based on their own cultural experiences. Particularly in low-income/immigrant families, parents may be limited in time by constraints related to their occupation, caring for other family members, or cultural commitments. So how can I connect families to what’s happening in the classroom when they are unable to attend our events? How do we support our illiterate parents?

This past year I’ve been searching for digital tools that help connect with families and offer translation.  Partially motivated by several great digital programs students have used for projects without a common way to share their work with families. I was fortunate enough to attend the International TESOL Convention to learn more about what other teachers are doing around the world and what I might be able to apply in my own building. These challenges inspired my quest for a better system to increase parent engagement, empower students, while still meeting performance standards.

My search led me to discovering digital portfolios.  With the intention of supporting students and increasing family engagement, the platform I am most eager to explore at this time is Seesaw.  

Digital Portfolios – Empower Students and Engage Families

My Proposal

Searching for conferences to submit proposals to was a foreign concept to me.  After looking at larger conferences, I decided to do some google searching of my own and happened upon the WAESOL (Washington Association for the Education of Speakers of Other Languages) website.  I was so excited to see that they were accepting proposals for their 2017 conference to be held this upcoming October.  My greatest challenge was the deadline to apply, in July.  I had anticipated having all summer to explore apps, compare, and learn.

The 2017 WAESOL Conference will take place in October in Des Moines, WA.  My proposal was for a Teacher Demonstration session which is 45 minutes.  Knowing the conference targets ELL teachers, I feel I have a fair understanding of the participants who attend these workshops. Also, knowing the state standards we all address, I felt I could really streamline how digital portfolios can support teachers, students, and families.

How can I encourage others to buy in to using digital portfolios?

When thinking about how to get others excited, I thought back to various workshops I attended at the TESOL convention.  How did speakers get and maintain my attention? Beyond teachers wanting to learn about the topic, I want them to understand I am like them.  I am currently teaching, at times overwhelmed feeling I can’t take on anything else, yet wanting to serve our population and advocate for the ELL families in our state.

With attendees coming from around the state, we share the same teaching standards, evaluation systems, language barriers, gaps in formal education, as well as successes and challenges.  Rather than simply digitizing portfolios, this platform allows us to record students speaking and reading which is critical in their language development.  Students can monitor their own progress as well as have some control over the work they choose to publish.  Parents will have the opportunity to become involved digitally without needing to come to the school.  

In lieu of adding to the work day, digital portfolios can create a classroom system where students become more actively involved in their published work with the awareness of an authentic audience. Attendees will be able to make connections between digital tools and what they are already doing in the classroom. How can I achieve this in just 45 minutes?

Below is a mini-version of my slide presentation.  Starting with questions to gauge the audience, I might modify the direction of the workshop.  My intent is to truly highlight strengths of Seesaw and how it aligns well to tools and standards already utilised in K-12 classrooms. Again, by addressing the standards met and how teachers can use digital portfolios as evidence of their own professional growth, it is simply modifying how teachers capture the work already taking place.

After sharing how Seesaw can work for students, teachers, and parents, attendees will have the opportunity to explore Seesaw or another platform on a personal or shared device. Attendees will log in to a mock class as a student and be asked to upload photos, record audio, and take notes.  The audio and note-taking questions will align with teacher background which in turn will give me a better understanding of the who’s in attendance. If teachers prefer another platform, I’d like to hear about it and why it works for them.

Why Seesaw?  

So Why Seesaw?  Yes, there are other great platforms out there, however at this time, I am choosing to implement and promote Seesaw.  As mentioned in previous posts, many of our ELL students come from high poverty families without internet access, consistent working phones, first generation to have formal education.  Seesaw does not require an app like some other platforms. At this time, Seesaw allows teachers to assess reading, writing, and speaking, which all ELL teachers do anyway, now they can simply store data in one location. Seesaw offers voice messaging, which most platforms do not.

For example, we’ll look at one of my students from Guatemala.  He speaks Spanish. Great! We have Spanish support in my building so easy solution is send home all information in Spanish.  However, neither of his parents had more than 4 years of school.  His mother struggles to read in Spanish and his dad works long hours.  Who will translate? His mom does however have a phone and they frequently go to a coffee shop where she can access free wi-fi to chat with family back home.  How can I utilize this knowledge to support the family?  His mother can use the QR code to access Seesaw and look up his published work while she’s at the coffee shop and leave him voice messages.  

How else can Seesaw help?  Parents can give access to other family members.  We have many students who go to outside agencies for after school tutoring.  Those agencies then contact us wanting progress reports.  To eliminate this step, we could simply give the access to Seesaw and they can log in on their own to see how the students are performing as well as give feedback.  It’s another way to show students we all work as a team to support their academic growth and language development.

How does Seesaw support teachers in the classroom?  In my limited experience (one month) Seesaw has great support for teachers using the platform.  Through frequent email updates, I’ve learned about free webinars, updates to the system, Facebook groups to join that are grade level or content specific, and have joined a new group of educators who vary in experience. This is one of the driving reasons why I feel I can recommend Seesaw to others.  I may not know the answer to a question, but I feel I now have a support network I can quickly turn to and be directed to the person who has the answer.

Resources

The Parent Institute (2012) Why is parent involvement important? Retrieved from https://www.parent-institute.com/pdf-samples/h-d-and-s-model.pdf

Park, S. S., & Holloway, S. D. (2012, November 30). No Parent Left Behind: Predicting Parental Involvement in Adolescents’ Education within a Sociodemographically Diverse Population. Retrieved August 13, 2017, from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1012012

Shin, D., & Seger, W. (2016, January 13). Web 2.0 Technologies and Parent Involvement of ELL Students: An Ecological Perspective. Retrieved August 13, 2017, from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1100691

Empowering Computational Thinkers with Troubleshooting Tips for Technology – EDTC 6014 Module 3

As I continue my Masters in Digital Education Leadership through Seattle Pacific University, I continue to challenge my understanding of teaching, technology, and how to successfully integrate technology in a high poverty school. Part of my task this week was to continue looking at ISTE Coaching Standard 3e and 3g. Which led me to ask two questions:

  1. What strategies do schools use to troubleshoot and resolve tech-related issues?
  2. What does a tech toolkit look like for teachers and students?

Tech-Integration and the Digital Divide

Encouraged by my professors, I began looking for teacher resources offered by local school districts. There are so many resources out there for digital citizenship, but beyond that, how to school districts support teachers and students?  I struck out finding support on my own district’s website. According to research, I am not alone in lacking professional development and resources for digital learning. The digital divide extends beyond student access and also reaches professional development offered to teachers in high poverty schools versus the more affluent schools. A study conducted by Education Week Research Center in 2015, found that technology integration training has not increased since 2009 for 4th grade teachers surveyed (Herold, 2017).  The graph below provides visual representation of what I believe is also accurate for my region. Teaching 4th grade for the past three years, the only tech training I’ve received has been for mandatory testing, not integration of skills in the classroom.

Ed Week Graphic

Training Teachers to Support Students with Technology

My quest led me to a neighbouring district’s site, Renton School District . In contrast to the Back to School PD offered in my district (nothing tech related), they have a day to support teachers with tech integration and opportunities for teachers to share and learn from each other.

Searching for resources under “Digital Learning”, I was able to find two tabs that truly support teachers: “Digital Learning Best Practices” and “DLC Support for Schools”. In particular, under best practices, the first two points.

  • Provide Supports and Foster Independence (Encourage students to support each other)
  • Ask Supporting Questions ( Use open-ended questions to guide problem solving)

These points stood out to me as they connected with an article we read this week on Avoiding “Learned Helplessness”. As educators, we need to take advantage of teachable moments, allow students to support each other, fail, and learn from their experiences. How do we do this?  Ask open-ended questions!  Encourage students to think, reflect, and articulate their understanding.  Most importantly, encourage students to problem solve before simply doing it for them.  Having questions easily visible in the room to support learners can alleviate students sense of helplessness. If we want students to be “Computational Thinkers”, then we need to model problem-solving, perseverance, collaboration, predicting and analysing, identifying patterns, and synthesizing what we’ve learned.

Modeling Troubleshooting For Students

I was inspired by a former SPU grad, Annie Tremonte, and her infographic “Student Guide to Troubleshooting Technology”. However, Annie’s work targets middle school learners, and I want a toolkit for elementary classrooms. This led me to seek out resources for tech integration in  grades 3-5.  One such resource, Tech Happens…What To Do When You Have Technical Difficulties? offers a great self-help poster for 5th grade students. This tool supports learners with troubleshooting before seeking help from the teacher.  In particular, this teacher created a tool that students could use at home, since they’re part of a 1:1 iPad school, where students take the devices home.

This poster is great, but how else can students be taught to troubleshoot?  My building is not 1:1, which means when we have devices, we’ll be using a rotation model.  The last thing a teacher wants during rotation is to be working intensively with a small group, and see other students just sitting there helplessly.  How else can I support students working at a station with devices?

Wanting to foster Computational Thinking, I’ve developed a student friendly poster with “I Can” statements.  To help students overcome helplessness, I want them to try problem solving on their own or with their peers before seeking my support.

Computational Thinker Graphic

In addition to the poster, I want to provide tools with common tech problems and solutions.  How could this be done?  Susan Clark, a computer teacher for K-8 students in Illinois, created a PowerPoint with useful tips for her students (available for free on Teachers Pay Teachers).  Her rationale, “I made this Power Point because I kept getting the same questions from students about problems they were having with their computers”. These slides are a great tool that I’d like to build upon.  More than just having a PowerPoint, I’d like to create troubleshooting tips on index cards on a ring.  The index cards would include images of common problems with solutions for students to attempt to solve first independently before seeking peer support.

Preparing for the New School Year

Now that I have some ideas for how to support students in their troubleshooting, I’d like to conclude with some tips on classroom management. Again, without any professional development being offered this summer at the district level, I need to be prepared for integrating my new devices in the new school year.  Although slightly dated, Education World published Managing Technology: Tips from the Experts. The first tip that truly stood out to me was the index card idea.  Having laminated cards with common questions answered (ideally with some bilingual support for my student population), will put ownership on the student and lessen repetitive questions, much like Susan Clark’s philosophy. The article mentions 33 tips, mostly geared towards a computer lab set-up, but there are several tips that I can easily adapt into my classroom. I’ve compiled a list of 10 tips that I can modify and adapt for my needs this Fall.  

Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned about troubleshooting is to continue expanding my network of educators. Understanding there will always be situations arising that I know nothing about, I want to build up a support tech team from outside my district.  My initial list include my colleagues in this program and the professors we’ve had along the way.  Although I may not be attending any technology professional development this Summer, I feel I now have a few strategies in place to help me get started. My new toolkit includes: tech savvy colleagues, posters, classroom management plan when using devices, and work on creating laminated troubleshooting cards.

References

Digital Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved August 06, 2017, from https://www.rentonschools.us/Page/309

Herold, B. (2017, June 16). Poor Students Face Digital Divide in How Teachers Learn to Use Tech. Retrieved August 06, 2017, from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2017/06/14/poor-students-face-digital-divide-in-teacher-technology-training.html?r=1707448939&intc=EW-TC17-TOC

Miller, A. (2015, May 11). Avoiding “Learned Helplessness”. Retrieved August 06, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/avoiding-learned-helplessness-andrew-miller

Nording, C. (2016, August 06). Tech Happens…What to do when you have technical difficulties? Retrieved August 06, 2017, from http://www.ourelementarylives.com/2016/08/tech-happenswhat-to-do-when-you-have.html

Starr, L. (2004). Managing Technology: Tips from the Experts. Retrieved August 06, 2017, from http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/tech/tech116.shtml

Tremonte, A. (2015, March 16). ISTE Student 6: Guiding Students to Troubleshoot More Autonomously. Retrieved from http://annietremonte.com/tag/troubleshooting/