As the first semester comes to a close, there's a lot of data being collected to assess student learning and determine what actions need to be made going forward. As educators it is easy for us to get caught up in and at times frustrated with the data. It is important to remember, learning is a process. Not every student will grasp a concept or skill the first time through. It is critical to celebrate the growth, no matter how small. Even if a student, or class, is not at benchmark, take time to look for growth, chances are it has occurred!
As I began reading Chapter 2 of Instructional Coaching, I was immediately struck by the quote at the top of the chapter and included to the right of this post. Just last week a member of the community asked me a question I've heard a lot: "Why aren't you a teacher anymore?" Since accepting this position last spring, this question has come up in a variety of forms, all of which stem from people not understanding what an Instructional Coach does. I think Devona Dunekack's response is the best answer I've seen, and plan on using the next time someone asks me what an Instructional Coach is and what Instructional Coaching looks like. I am still a teacher, I just have a different audience. My goal and purpose of impacting students has not wavered, and during the past four months I have become more reflective and have grown as an educator.
Have you ever had a crazy idea, something you were afraid to pursue because it wasn't guaranteed to succeed? Do you have dreams, but they're outside your comfort zone?
In the past, I was hesitant to write articles and manuscripts for publication, submit conference presentation proposals, and change my role within my building, but this year I have purposefully stepped out of my comfort zone. It's easy to stick with what's comfortable, but I knew there was a lot of growing and learning that I was missing out on. I began reading about Moonshot Thinking and decided to make a list of Moonshot Dreams. As my list grew, I realized that I had been holding myself back, and knew I had two choices: 1) continue the path I was on, or 2) make a change.
I chose option two.
Since making that decision, I have drafted and submitted articles to a variety of educational organizations as well as posting regularly on this blog. I've also presented at four local and state conferences, and am working on another manuscript. I've even been accepted to present at two national conferences this summer, and am currently deciding which I will commit to. While those are all successful moonshots, my biggest moonshot to date has been stepping out of my classroom teaching position and becoming our building's Instructional Coach.
Stepping out of my comfort zone has been difficult, I know these challenges and risks are pushing me to grow.
What's your Moonshot, and what's keeping you from achieving it?
There were a lot of shrieks, giggles, oohs and aahs coming from the first grade classroom today. While there are always exciting things going on in this room, today it was because of an augmented reality activity. With Christmas break approaching, I decided to use colAR's holiday present coloring sheet for this activity. I even used a Teach Like a Pirate hook by telling the students that the new iPad app would transform their present. Several wanted me to show them using my example, but I said we were all going to unveil at the same time.
To begin, students wrote items they'd like to receive for Christmas around the outside of the gift. Next, students colored the package. Finally, when all students had a decorate package, we used the colAR app to transform the 2D gift into an augmented reality 3D gift with a lid that opened and decorations that came out as music played and a Happy Holidays message appeared. After viewing their own creation, students went around and scanned classmate's work. I even overhead students complimenting the coloring ability, color choice, and gifts hoped for.
Although this activity had little instructional content, it was a nice brain break and opportunity to get the kids excited about the holidays. A few students did notice there were additional coloring sheets available and asked if they would be doing those as well. It turns out that first grade will be learning about animals in January, so if time permits, and students need another brain break, we certainly will give the animal coloring sheets a try!
Last week I had the opportunity to present at the Regional 1:1 Conference in Cedar Falls. For one of my sessions I co-presented with a colleague, and we shared how teachers can connect their classrooms and expand their PLN. The big ideas we wanted teachers to take away from our session were:
As we walked around, I was struck by the number of teachers who were unable to access Google+ and stated that this and other social media sites were blocked by their district. Because I am able to access these resources and grow as a connected educator while learning from my diverse PLN, it's easy to forget that not everyone has easy access. I honestly can't imagine what I would do if I could no longer have 24/7 access to my PLN! The ideas and perspectives my PLN brings has helped me grow as a learner and an educator. Because of my PLN and the connections I have made, I learn new things daily and am a more reflective and passionate educator.
The above photo was shared on Twitter and created by Sean Junkins.
This week our kindergarten through fifth grade students participated in Hour of Code. This is the second year we've set aside time to introduce students to computer coding, shared information on why coding is useful, as well as potential careers that include computer programming. Some teachers also showed the following video to set the stage for the Hour of Code.
To facilitate the computer code learning we used Code.org's studio. This website uses student friendly characters including Frozen's Elsa and Anna, Angry Birds, and Flappy Bird, videos, and step by step directions to teach coding. I was extremely impressed with the perseverance and collaboration of our students as they completed each puzzle. We even had a few students go home that night and continue their coding journey, only to come to school the next day thrilled to tell us they earned their Hour of Code Certificate of Completion! Not to be one to miss out on a learning opportunity, I decided to model the problem solving and coding skills I wanted students to employ, and earned my own certificate as well.
While taking a small portion of a day or week to introduce our students to coding doesn't guarantee they will become the next Steve Jobs or MIT graduate, it is a learning experience. As one of my favorite authors, Dave Burgess, says "The lessons they'll forget, but experiences they'll remember forever."
Hi, I'm Stephanie, and I'm a pirate. No, not the kind of pirate that sails on ships and wears a patch! I'm a passionate educator and instructional coach who wants to create memorable experiences for learners and strives to impact the lives of learners every day. If you're still scratching your head, I highly recommend you check out the book Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess.
During the first semester I facilitated a staff book study over Teach Like a Pirate (TLAP), in which we met once per month to discuss and reflect. Yesterday our staff concluded our book study of Teach Like a Pirate. To end the book portion of the TLAP journey, we Skyped with the author and original pirate Dave Burgess! During the Skype session teachers asked questions, shared successes, and were inspired by stories from Dave's teaching and presentation experiences, and how TLAP came about. A few standout sayings from Dave include:
"What we do as educators is powerful stuff! We are about a mightier purpose!"
"The lessons [and content you teach] they'll forget, but the experiences they'll remember forever."
"Everyday, make a conscious decision to keep your focus on having a life changing impact on students."
As with any study or workshop session, the true litmus test of how something has impacted you is whether you continue using what you've learned, or let it fade into obscurity. Dave encouraged the teachers to keep their focus on their students, and they even left with a small token in the form of a TLAP Crew Membership Card to remember their journey. I'm not sure what the teachers plan to do with their learning now that the book study is over. As for me, I plan to continue my TLAP journey through the #tlap twitter chat, joining other TLAP book studies, modeling the pirate philosophy, and developing my own spin off: Lead Like a Pirate, which is a way to incorporate the pirate principles into presentations and professional development facilitation. "Teach Like a Pirate is a way you look at your teaching and the world," was a parting statement Dave Burgess shared points at the importance of transforming your outlook.
I look forward to what the future holds, and am excited to continue spreading the Teach Like a Pirate word!
Peter H. Reynolds was a keynote speaker at this year's ITEC Conference, and during his speech he previewed the above video. Yesterday, The Testing Camera was officially released and it quickly began showing up in my Twitter feed. While some at the conference and on social media viewed it through the lens of testing and the quantity of tests students are given. I, on the other hand, was touched by the father's reaction and his statement "I'm only beginning to catch a glimpse of who you're becoming." That statement resonated with me because it really is important that every child has someone there to be a supporter, listening ear, and encourager. Something as simple as a smile in the hallway, taking a moment to comment on new shoes, or asking how there day is going, can brighten a student's day and let them know someone not only noticed them but cares. I strive to make an impact, even if it's small, on each student that I interact with each day because as one of my favorite quotes says "They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel."
Full disclosure: I've had this post sitting in my drafts for over a month, not feeling ready to hit "publish." After seeing a call for #educoach topics earlier this evening, and typing this topic there, I decided to go ahead and hit post.
I'll admit it, I'm always on the lookout for new ideas, activities, and resources to use in my own teaching and learning. While that has worked wonders for the past six years, in my new position it's starting to seem like a barrier. I never keep these "ah ha" moments to myself, I'm always tweeting, emailing, and sharing with colleagues. Now that I'm four months into my new Instructional Coaching position, I feel like I am having a hard time shaking the title of "resource finder" that I inadvertently gave myself. It's not that I don't want teachers to come to me, it's that I want to go deeper and work alongside teachers to locate these resources based on goals they set. In other words, I want to begin transitioning from the enrollment phase toward coaching cycles. I recognize this will not be an easy change, and am hoping my PLN will have ideas and suggestions as to how I can begin to move away from being viewed as someone to go to when you're putting together your weekly lesson plans and need an activity to teach _________ (insert any elementary level topic).
So, what suggestions do you have?
Have you experienced the same barrier? If so, what did you do?
Friday I sat in on a workshop session on Screencasting in the Classroom. Screencasting is something I did when I was full time teaching, and I've even had students create a screencast to demonstrate their understanding of a concept. As I listened to educators from around the state share how they've used screencasting, I began thinking about my new position as an Instructional Coach, and wondering how I could use screencasting to support teaching and learning at my building. Being at a 1:1 building, I could use it for technology integration ideas, but I'm working on moving away from being viewed primarily as a tech idea person. Ultimately, I would like find ways to use screencasting to support instruction throughout the content areas, district initiatives, and topics teachers request. I'm still working on what this would look like, but believe having a bank of videos, both screencasted and prerecorded would support instruction at my building.
If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them!