Establishing Norms for a Successful Peer Coaching Partnership

This week I continue my exploration of the first and second ISTE Coaching Standards through the Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University. As I delve into these standards, I also hone my skills as a peer coach, merging my studies with my new role as Technology Integration Specialist. These opportunities of real-time implementation of my education has me wondering why more graduate (and even undergraduate) programs don’t follow a similar model, with students catering their learning to fit their “real lives.” I am so very thankful that my homework is directly connected to the responsibilities of my job. This week, for example, I was introduced to a variety of communication tools to make the peer coaching experience equally effective for both the coach and the collaborating teacher. My classmates and I devoted time to hold mock coaching meetings to practice these new skills, an exercise that initially felt silly, but proved to be a great confidence builder.

While this activity was designed to train peer coaches, the communication skills are useful in all collaborative relationships (they were a great reminder for all areas of my life). Les Foltos, Director of Educational Innovation at Peer-Ed and author of … Read More

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Stepping Into the Peer Coach Role

Last semester I began to explore the ISTE Coaching Standards through the Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University, this semester I will continue that examination as I start the journey of serving as a peer coach. Before diving into my individual experience as a coach, it was necessary for me to understand the expected roles and responsibilities of this position. Les Foltos, Director of Educational Innovation at Peer-Ed and author of Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration, describes a peer coach as a “teacher leader who assists a peer to improve standards-based instruction by supporting the peer’s efforts to actively engage students in 21st-century learning activities” (2013, pg. 3). What I quickly realized after reviewing the various roles of a peer coach is that this is an educator who is expected to wear a multitude of hats simultaneously. Foltos outlines the various roles below:

Peer Coach Hats

  • Facilitator – Planning and leading meetings, activities, and staff development in one-on-one, small group, or large group situations.
  • Collaborator – Working together with colleagues to plan, implement, and evaluate activities.
  • Expert – Acting as a subject matter expert on a variety of topics.
  • Catalyst – Helping teachers reflect on and improve
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My First Tuning Protocol

This quarter in the Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University I am working on creating an Action Plan to help address a particular challenge that may be preventing a school from realizing their ideal learning environment. In an earlier post, I share the obstacles a school is currently facing in the aftermath of a speedy 1-to-1 laptop rollout. As I formulate the action plan, I have sought feedback from my classmates and professors, working towards a document that can eventually be presented to the school. Part of that feedback took place in a Tuning Protocol, a reflective tool often used by educators seeking constructive criticism. This criticism can be used to “increase student achievement and establish a learning community” (Dearman, et. al, 2005, pg. 636). First developed by Joseph McDonald and David Allen in 1992, the Tuning Protocol was created in order to improve student assessment practices (Blythe, et. al, 1999, pg. 27). The format allows educators to “receive direct and respectful feedback on the problems they present, as well as the opportunity to reflect on the feedback” (McDonald, et. al, 2003).

If you’ve never participated in a Tuning Protocol, it can be a frightening and … Read More

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My Ideal Learning Environment

With all the challenges educators face, it can be easy to get lost in the frustrations and road blocks. While those barriers are very real and deserve attention, our hopes and aspirations also deserve consideration. Have you pictured your ideal learning environment lately? I have. And it’s reinvigorating me.

Ideal

My ideal learning environment is one where students:

  • Guide their own learning by asking questions and following curiosities.
  • Explore ideas that pique their interest, thereby formulating their own units of study.
  • Work collaboratively with others both inside and outside of the classroom in an effort to pursue those interests.
  • Are encouraged to move freely while still understanding the importance of coming back together and being respectful to others.
  • Trust their own instincts and grow into responsible “decision-making” and “self-reliant” learners (Saxena, 2013).
  • Have access to the world, in whatever form that makes sense in that time and place.
  • Learn from one another.

My ideal learning environment is one where teachers:

  • Feel comfortable in stepping down from the stage and allow students to see that they don’t know everything, but they are interested in learning alongside their students.
  • Have ample opportunities for asking questions and taking risks while feeling supported and
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Un-rollout to Fix Problems With Technology?

Photo Credit: Brad Flickinger
Photo Credit: Brad Flickinger

Since the rollout of a 1-to-1 laptop program in the fall of 2014 with a school I’m consulting with, there has been very little continuity between the classes. Both teachers and students are so focused on learning the technology that they get lost in the purpose of the device in front of them; to enhance what was already happening in the classroom. I thought by implementing Google Apps for Education, I could solve the problem. Bring all the teachers together. The platform isn’t the problem. The device isn’t the problem. The problem is the preparedness and speed in which the rollout took place. Teachers were given laptops to “play with” for a year before they were put in the hands of students. This experimental time didn’t come with robust professional development opportunities, dedicated mentorship sessions, or even a simple instruction manual. Teachers were expected, much like the students, to “figure it out.” Society claims that our students are “digital natives,” (my argument against that statement needs to be saved for another time) but if we hand over devices to all of the faculty without any support, we must expect them to be natives to the … Read More

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A Critical Look at GAFE

I met with one of my colleagues this week and mentioned my plans to formulate an action plan to implement Google Apps for Education (GAFE) at a school I’m working with. She listened intently, but then quietly said, “I don’t think it’s a great idea for students to only use one platform, isn’t that what happens when you jump on the Google Apps for Education bandwagon?” I left that conversation wondering: Is there a right answer? Don’t all choices come with challenges and successes? How does a school make implementation decisions with all of these things in mind?

As I move forward in my examination of GAFE,  a suite of productivity applications that Google offers free to schools, I am going to look at the pros and cons and how those nuances might play a role in the adoption of this learning tool. With that being said, this is not a review of GAFE, it’s not a comparative list between GAFE and Microsoft. It’s a question of whether or not this specific tool can meet the specific needs of my faculty and students. In his article, Computer Criticism vs. Technocentric Thinking, Seymour Papert argues that when evaluating a new … Read More

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Taking a Step Backward

Earlier this week I wrote of my desire to implement the use of Google Apps for Education (GAFE) in a school I’ve partnered with. As I feverishly typed out my goal of changing the school’s tech climate, I quickly found myself slamming on the brakes and furrowing my brow. I know that I desperately want to be a GAFE school, but I’m not able to article the reasons why. What challenges is the school currently facing that could be solved with the implementation of these tools? What is the pedagogical- and content-driven reasons behind my rationale? And most importantly, why GAFE?

gafe-e1433470938578While I’m still in the process of wrestling with those ideas, my (wildly supportive) classmates and professors gave me a great deal of thought-provoking feedback throughout the week. Annie Tremonte, one of my classmates suggested using this blog post as a platform to flush out my ideas and reflect on the feedback I was provided from others. This format is very foreign for me and I encourage you to continue to provide me your additional thoughts and reactions, allowing me to continue to grow my ideas in a very transparent way.

Reflections on the Feedback

“While focusing on Read More

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Answering the “Why” Before the “How”

Last semester I examined the ISTE Teacher Standards through the Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University. This semester I will start my exploration of the ISTE Coaching Standards, paying particular attention to the third standard, Digital Age Learning Environments. As I analyze various resources in the coming weeks, I will be viewing them from the lens of how to formulate an action plan to implement Google Apps for Education (GAFE) in a school I’m consulting with. As it stands, the school I’m examining currently employs a rather disjointed collection of tools to complete any number of tasks; Blackboard for grading, Edmodo for posting assignments, Outlook email for submitting work, LibGuides for content curation, Padlet for collaborating, the list goes on.

Tech Balance

While all of these tools serve an excellent purpose, how are they working together to create a well-rounded, transformative experience for our students? Tech coach, Josiah Hodgett from the Shell Lake School District writes, “GAFE is a technology tool that can help you to both inform and instruct. Coming from a theory like TPACK [Technological, Pedagogical, Content Knowledge] – it’s time to look at the interplay of Tech – Pedagogy – Content and determine how they … Read More

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Mystery Skype: Reflection

I have written a number of posts this quarter chronicling the planning, design and execution of my Global Collaborative Project (GCP). Today, I take a moment to reflect on the project and how I was able to address the five ISTE Teacher Standards through the completion of this project.

When the GCP was first introduced by the professors, there were a great deal of questions because the nature of the project is so open-ended. As I look back on the last several weeks, I realize the freedom to pursue a project based on my own interests and curiosities helped me to stretch and grow so much as an educator. As the librarian of a dual-curriculum school, I am always looking for opportunities to connect students with the world and other students of bilingual schools. When I stumbled across Mystery Skype, I knew it had the potential to be a great learning experience, but my school had ever done anything quite like it in the past. With little idea of what I hoped to accomplish, I jumped in with both feet and my fifth graders happily followed. They were thrilled to be participating in a new endeavor, they seemed to … Read More

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