Capacity, Connections and Camp

Another Learning 2.0 event has come and gone. I think I’m finally getting over my conference hangover – after such a full-on weekend my mind just sort of went blank and kept racing at the same time! – and can look back at all that I learned and shared. It’s hard to believe that I was skeptical about this conference when I first heard about the new cohort/unconference format. I’m so glad Simon May convinced me to go to Learning 2.010. Now I don’t think I’ll ever think about missing one as long as I’m in the region!

Capacity

As a member of the Technology Learning Leaders 1 cohort it was great to get to know Charlotte Diller and George Couros. The two big points of emphasis from them were “Start with the why” and “Build capacity.” This really reaffirmed the work that I’m trying to do because, while not stated as eloquently, these have been foci 2 for me over the past year. UNIS’ work on the Learning and Technology Plan, while not complete, is exactly in place to answer the “Why?” question and my focus on coaching and teacher-led workshops is about building capacity.

In our mini-sessions during cohort time, I took part in some great discussions about blogs and portfolios. A school-wide blogging platform is something that I have been pushing for a while and it was great to get so many perspectives at once on how they can be utilized effectively. There is no “right way” and so it is important that the “Why?” is discussed first! I also learned a lot about the various coaching models that are put into place at different schools. WAB seems to have a very strong model of offering skills-based coaching within the school day. IST puts a strong focus on self-assessment of needs and abilities. This year I am trying a system of working first and foremost with the new faculty by identifying one of the NETS Standards for Students and Teachers as points of emphasis. I’m hoping that we can shift the focus from an emphasis on technology skills to one of pedagogy, curriculum and best practice.

Connections

It sounds really corny, but Learning 2.011 felt a bit like coming home. There are so many people in Asia that I interact with online; #learning2 gave me a chance to catch up with a lot of them and meet some of them for the first time 3.

I was really honored to be one of the 20 teachers highlighted in Jabiz’s keynote. It’s amazing to think that it was only one year ago that we met at Learning.2010.

I was really excited to revive Twitter for Teachers with Keri-Lee. We ran this as an impromptu unconference last year and had a good response. We decided to run it as a workshop this year and it apparently was pretty popular: we were asked to run it a second time as well! My Twitter stream is overflowing with all the new connections that I made.

Camp

Thanks to Alec and George Couros for giving rise to one of my favorite hashtags of all time: #summercamp4life. With the ease of communication and collaboration, it is so easy to translate those conference promises of “Keep in touch” into actions. While Learning 2.011 may have officially ended on September 11, the conversations and the learning can go on forever. #summercamp4life.

Images

Welcome! by Clint Hamada licensed under CC BY NC SA
My Tweeps
by Kim Cofino licensed under CC BY NC SA
#summercamp4life by Clint Hamada licensed under CC BY NC SA

Notes:

  1. Apparently they use the term “Leader” quite loosely!
  2. Math teacher!
  3. I wish I had the time/space/memory to list out all the great people I got to chat with. It really is an amazing list!

Walkthrough Observation Forms for Tech

After a bit of research, and borrowing liberally from the good folks at Instructional Coaching, I have come up with a walkthrough observation template that I am relatively happy with.

Instead of focusing on the Big Four (.pdf) of Classroom Management, Content Planning, Instruction and Assessment for Learning, I chose to focus on:

  • Classroom Management – Are students on task? Is the teacher interacting with students? Is the teacher making modifications to traditional classroom management techniques to account for tablets in class?
  • Lesson Structure – What is the lesson style? What is the activity (OO – Old things, Old ways, ON – Old things, New ways, etc)? Are tablets required? Are students engaged?
  • Tech skills – Is the teacher modeling necessary skills? Are the students fluent in the required skills? What are the skills required for this lesson?

You can download a .pdf version and a OneNote version of the forms below.

I plan on spending at most 10 minutes in the classroom. At the end of the walkthrough, I will sit down and record any other comments that come to mind.

The hardest part about these sorts of observations is trying to remain non-judgmental. Although it is not my intention, at this point, to share what I observe with individuals teachers, I will be using the information to make generalizations about student and teacher abilities and needs in order to better plan learning opportunities for each group.

As always, comments and suggestions for improvement are always welcome!

Three Point Walkthrough – OneNote version

Three Point Walkthrough – .pdf version

Classroom Walkthroughs for Tech Integration

One of the main focuses of Coaching Heavy is gathering and analyzing data regarding your work to make decisions about your effectiveness and how to proceed.

As a Technology Coach (not my official job title but this is what I’m lobbying for), I’m not sure what sort of data I can be gathering and/or analyzing. There are no test scores or formative/summative assessment data to collect. We, as a school, have not systematically implemented any sort of standards or performance indicators – a la the ISTE NETS or the AASL Standards – yet.

How does one measure the level of technology integration in a classroom? How does one measure the impact of that integration on student learning?

Towards the end of the last academic year, we were fortunate enough to have Bambi Betts on campus for a series of workshops with administrators and department heads related to improving teaching and learning. One of her recommendations was to implement classroom walkthroughs – short, frequent visits to various classrooms with a specific objective in mind to gauge the climate of the school and to get the ‘big picture’ of what is happening.

I think this is my way forward. Actually, I have already conducted a few. But I have a some problems:

  1. Other than the few hours that I spent with Ms. Betts, I don’t have any sort of training on how to actually conduct these walkthroughs. Sure, I’ve done my internet research but it’s not the same.
  2. I don’t feel (yet) like I have an all-access pass to classrooms. I feel like I’m invading or over-stepping my mandate. I’m pretty sure this is not the case, but that’s how I’m feeling at the moment.
  3. Most importantly, I’m not sure what I should be looking for during these walkthroughs. I can’t find an example of a tech-based walkthrough form. Without specific standards at our school – for teachers or students – how can I make an objective observation? (My initial form includes a description of activities that I observe, the skills required by students and teachers and any classroom management observations. I then plan on matching what I saw with the NETS for Students and Teachers after the observation.)

Do you have any advice as I look to implement this on a consistent basis? Any ideas for observational data that I can collect during these brief visits?

Moving Up a Weight Class – From Coaching Light to Coaching Heavy

I first heard the terms ‘Coaching Light’ and ‘Coaching Heavy’ when I was reading a post on Difficult Conversations over at Always Learning. If you haven’t heard the terms before, they come from the book Coaching: Approaches and Perspectives by Jim McKnight in a section written by Joellen Killion. She

assert[s] that there are two kinds of coaching – coaching light and coaching heavy. The difference essentially is the coaches’ perspective, beliefs, role decisions, and goals, rather than what coaches do… Coaching light occurs when coaches want to build and maintain relationships more than they want to improve teaching and learning. From this perspective, coaches act to increase their perceived value to teachers by providing resources and avoiding challenging conversations. (p. 22)

Coaching heavy, on the other hand, includes high-stakes interactions between coaches and teachers, such as curriculum analysis, data analysis, instruction, assessment, and personal and professional beliefs and how they influence practice… Coaching heavy requires coaches to say “no” to trivial requests for support and to turn their attention to those high-leverage services that have the greatest potential for teaching and learning. Coaching heavy requires coaches to work with all teachers in a school, not just those who volunteer for coaching services. Coaching heavy requires coaches to seek and use data about their work and regularly analyze their decisions about time allocation, services and impact. (p. 23 -24) (emphasis added)

I have started looking further into this idea of Coaching Heavy. I read the first chapter of the book on Google Books. I found another article by Joellen Killion on the same topic. I found another instructional coach who is making this same transition. After reading the distinctions between the two, I knew that Coaching Heavy is where I wanted to be.

But now comes the hard part. How do I make that transition? How do I engender the required sense of collaboration and preparation required not only by me but by the rest of the staff? How do I impose myself and my new-found interest in Coaching Heavy on those around me? How do I make Technology Integration a priority for others as well as myself?

The first thing I need is a plan of action that takes into account the questions above as well as the culture of my school. When I get to that stage, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions or comments please feel free to let me know.

(Note: I just read that the Laptop Institute is soliciting calls for proposals for their 2010 Institute. Is this something that could work as a workshop?)

Image: Watching the Detecto by massdistraction licensed under CC BY NC ND

Education and Basketball

I started coaching in my first year as a teacher. First volleyball (I was pressured into it by one of my administrators) and then basketball (what I truly enjoy playing). For various reasons, I haven’t done any coaching at UNIS until this year.

Even though I wasn’t coaching last year, I’d often discuss strategy, offensive schemes, defensive schemes and general basketball ‘intelligence’ with the Steve, the head coach of the girls team. We’re pretty much on the same page in terms of how we see the game and how we think it should be taught and played at this level.

During lunch yesterday I sat down with Steve to plan out practice for the day. We had a very spirited discussion (that drew quite a few comments for our basktball geekiness) that started with our philosophy (we want to run, be agressive, play a trapping defense, layups are more important than jump shots) and ended with a series of drills and situations that would a) prepare our players for that style of play and b) allow us to build more complicated (and realistic) drills and situations in the future. It was pretty thorough and it took all of 20 minutes, including the time to eat our lunch.

Why can’t it be that simple when it comes to planning our units? Is it because we lack the passion? (I hope not!) Is it because we lack the common understandings? Is it because we have our own agenda in terms of what (and how) things should be taught?

Image Credit: Basketball Strengths by andylangager licensed under CC BY NC