Browse Category: #ETCoaches

What’s Next? May Questions and August Goals

Although it may not feel like it, the last few weeks of the year are a great time to set goals for the following year.  May is often an intense summary of the school year when we are most keenly aware of the consequences of our decisions and actions throughout the year, and with the exhaustion of fourth quarter comes the opportunity to reflect on beginning the next year better than the current year.

As I’m reflecting on my third year of EdTech Coaching, I’m encountering many questions–questions that demand an honest answer to make my reflection relevant and productive.  Here are a few of the questions I am considering and the resources that are helping me evaluate my own coaching practice in the final days of this school year.  I hope they are helpful during your transition between this school year and the next.

Start with the ISTE Coaching Standards.

If the Coaching Standards were your job description, how would you be evaluated at the end of this year?  Where did you excel, and where do you need to spend some time building skills or knowledge?  How can you better organize your time to meet these standards?  What tasks can you give up or delegate that don’t meet the standards?

I encourage you to pick a standard and commit to strengthening your implementation of this standard throughout next year.  Depending on your mindset, you may pick a standard where you are weak, with the goal of gaining proficiency or pick a standard where you show proficiency, with the goal of reaching excellence in that area.  I chose to focus on teaching, learning, and assessment at the beginning of this year and have spent time throughout the year, along with our instructional coach, developing a system of instructional rounds that facilitate non-judgmental classroom visits across my building.  The results have been encouraging and we have plans to develop the rounds further next year, giving me more opportunities to focus on this standard.  Even though the process has required time and energy, I am comfortable with the required effort because it aligns with the personal goal to strengthen my implementation of this standard.   This standard also guided my planning for next year as I worked with building leadership to create our professional development schedule.

Look at your mission statement

You can use either your district’s, school’s, or personal mission statement for this–or a combination of these.  My building adopted a new mission statement in November, and we have been very intentional in aligning our Professional Learning Communities and Professional Development with the new mission statement as we plan for next year.  If your mission statement were your compass, is it heading you in the right direction or getting you lost along the way?  Do you need to revise or rewrite your mission statement to align with the role you play within your building or district?  Does your mission statement align with your district’s and could a misalignment be the root cause of any conflict, frustration, or confusion?

Listen to your teachers

What are your teacher’s needs?  Where have they grown and what are their next steps?  What are their goals for next year? How will you help them grow to meet their own professional goals in the coming year?  What is their mission statement, and how do you fit into helping them achieve this?

Take time to look at the revised ISTE Teacher Standards when they are released in June.  We will focus a portion of the EdTech Coaches PLN Annual Membership Meeting (June 26, 5:30-6:45 pm)  on these new standards, giving our members time to discuss our role as coaches in supporting teachers as they work towards meeting these new standards.  If you are attending #ISTE17, please join us and contribute to this conversation.

Listen to your colleagues

Every coach needs a team of coaches in their cheering section.  Talk to your colleagues about their successes during the year.  How did they achieve this, and can you duplicate their success in your own setting?  Where did they struggle and how can you learn from their challenges?  How will you grow your PLN and how will you actively contribute to your PLN next year?  Along with our Annual Membership Meeting at #ISTE17, the EdTech Coaches PLN will host a Networking Event June 26 from 7:00 – 9:00 pm and the EdTech Coaches Playground on June 27 from 9:30 am to 1:00 pm.  These events are designed to facilitate sharing and listening opportunities that will grow and strengthen personal learning networks.

Attend a conference, host an EdTech Coaches Meeting during a local conference, read blogs, participate in the EdTech Coaches Blogging Buddies, participate in a Twitter chat, post a question to the EdTech Coaches PLN Discussion Board or Google+ Group, answer a question posted to the PLN Discussion Board or Google+ Group, or post a comment on a colleague’s blog.  Don’t forget that your colleagues are also listening to you–so don’t hesitate to share your successes and challenges as they learn from your experiences.

Use the summer to recharge and sharpen the saw

Make plans to begin the first day of school with enough energy and enthusiasm to share with anyone needing the encouragement to begin the year.  How will you spend your time over the summer to meet your personal and professional needs that will, in turn, enable you to meet the personal and professional needs of your staff?  What problems or failures will you leave with this school year and forbid from influencing next year?  Take advantage of the opportunity to start fresh next August–don’t bring baggage from previous years that will destroy this fresh start and set you on a cycle of repeating the past. How will you devote your energy to tackling the challenges of the present rather than the failures of the past?

Share your thoughts

How are you reflecting on this year and what is driving your goals for next year?  How do you plan to meet your goals for next year?  Please share in the comments or post your own blog entries (and share with #ETCoaches through Twitter) to keep the conversation going.

#ETCoaches Blogging Buddies

Blogging BuddiesAfter participating in the EdTech Coaches PLN Blog Challenge last fall, my blogging has lost momentum in the absence of accountability and the knowledge that other people were reading my blog.  When Penny Christensen suggested that we start the blogging challenge at the beginning of the school year, she was on to something important–writing without feedback from an audience is isolating, and we all need accountability and encouragement.  Yes, writing provides opportunities for individual reflection, but the true power of communication is only realized when the communication is received by someone willing to interact with this information.  As the cobwebs began to build up on my blog, Katie Siemer contacted me in the spring with an idea for forming small blogging groups that would commit to the long-term (at least a year) goal of supporting each other as they share their learning and growing through blogging.  Katie decided to call the program Blogging Buddies and when she opened registration, the response was very positive. Like Penny, she had recognized the limitations of an “anonymous” internet and the need for educators to form direct connections with other practitioners.

Following the announcement of Blogging Buddies groups yesterday, 52+ people are becoming acquainted with their groups and like me, some are rediscovering their blog.  For those of you who have maintained your blogging output without buddies or blog challenges, the rest of us admire your dedication and hope your self-discipline rubs off on us.

Now for a shout out to my blogging buddies!  Check out their blogs and follow along over the coming months.

These blogs have been added to my Feedly account, and I am anxious to interact with the group.

If you want to participate in a Blogging Buddies group, there is still time to signup.  Complete information, including the registration link, is available here.  If you want to see who is already participating in Blogging Buddies, check out the Twitter List.

#ETCoaches Blog Challenge Week 5 and Beyond

I have enjoyed interacting with other #ETCoaches for the past month as we have strengthened our PLN through sharing thoughts and experiences as part of the blog challenge.

As a result of the challenge, I have two goals.

  1. Read the blog posts that are shared through the #ETCoaches hashtag when I see them, rather than planning to read them later–which rarely happens.
  2. Continue commenting on blog posts.  Before the challenge, I never took the time to comment.  I’m beginning to realize that a simple comment or response can be a huge encouragement to the author, and the author wouldn’t be sharing if he or she didn’t want interaction on the topic.

Thanks again to Penny Christensen for organizing the challenge and coaching us through the process of growing our PLN and sharing our voices!


Even thought the #ETCoaches blog challenge is complete, we can still continue the conversation in several ways:

  1. Tweet with #ETCoaches and add a column for #ETCoaches to Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, or your preferred social media dashboard
  2. Share your future blog posts with #ETCoaches and explore the links shared by others.  Take the time to comment on future blog posts.
  3. Follow @EdTechCoaches through Twitter
  4. Join the EdTech Coaches PLN for our upcoming book study of “Integrating Technology in the Classroom” by Dr. Boni Hamilton.  All registered participants (ISTE membership required) will receive an ePub copy of the book.  Registration opens November 28 and the study runs January 17-February 24.  We will discuss the book through a Twitter slow chat using the #ETCoaches hashtag.
  5. Attend a monthly #ETCoaches Playground webinar.  These webinars are led by PLN members who presented at the ISTE 2016 EdTech Coaches PLN Playground.
  6. Participate in the PLN discussion boards (ISTE Members).  The discussion boards are great for questions or answers that require more than 140 characters and all responses are threaded with the question, making the conversation easy to follow.
  7. If you are a Voxer user, join our #ETCoaches Voxer group by contacting Lisa Hervey (@lisahervey) and she will add you to the group.
  8. Participate in the #ETCoaches monthly Twitter Chats.  They occur on the last Tuesday of the month at 1pm and 8pm EST.  Follow @EdTechCoaches for updates and reminders.
  9. Join and participate in our Google+ Group
  10. Host an EdTech Coaches PLN meeting at your local or regional conference.
  11. Visit the EdTech Coaches PLN Library.  The library contains archives of Twitter Chats, Webinars, Book Studies, and Playgrounds.

#ETCoaches Blog Challenge Week 4

I enjoy reading the blogs of other educators because it gives me the opportunity to hear them think out loud.  I tend to gravitate towards blogs that expose the thinking process and philosophies behind instructional decisions and tech adoption strategies.  This does not mean that I don’t benefit from the more “newsy” or tutorial based blogs, but I’m also interested in why a tool is being recommended and how it worked in an instructional setting.  I also benefit from hearing how other coaches solve problems common to the coaching practice.

I use Feedly to curate my blogs, which allows me to easily scroll through the most recent posts and click on titles that interest me.  I also created a custom search with Google Custom Search as a tool to search the blogs I follow in Feedly.  Feedly has a search function in paid accounts, but the Google Custom Search wasn’t hard to set up–and it is free.

Here are some of my favorite blogs (beyond those participating in this challenge) to follow (in no particular order)

  • I always find something new in the Edsurge blog.  I even subscribe their email newsletter, which I don’t do often to avoid inbox overflow.   Their posts contain a mixture of cutting-edge technology, entrepreneurial information, and great tools for teaching and learning.
  • Mindshift,  Edutopia, and GettingSmart contain a variety of thoughtful posts on many educational topics.  Although not always tech-based, posts are typically thought-provoking and promote new approaches to old problems.
  • Education Closet  focuses on arts integration and STEAM topics in an effort to support all teachers as they employ the arts in all content areas.
  • The Cool Cat Teacher Blog includes a lot of great content.  The author also publishes podcasts through the iOS Podcast App, which allow me to listen in while I’m driving.

#ETCoaches Blog Challenge Week 3

After a couple weeks of reflective blog posts, week three shifts to sharing tools–which is one of the EdTech Coaches pillars of practice.  The right tool for the job can make all the difference, and the wrong tool can quickly frustrate the learning process.  Here’s a few of the tools that I regularly use in my coaching practice.

  • Tweetdeck is a must have for any Twitter user.  It tames a never-ending Twitter feed into neat columns sorted by hashtags, users, lists, and more.  Tweetdeck also allows users to schedule Tweets–which prevents forgotten Tweets and frees users from being tied to Twitter at all times.
  • Nuzzle  summarizes my Twitter feed by collating the most popular posts shared by those I follow.  The best part about Nuzzle, is that it requires to setup–just login with your Twitter account and it starts working.
  • Feedly is another tab pinned in my browser that I access daily.  I began using Feedly when Google Reader was shut down and I needed an RSS reader to collate my list of blogs.  The free version has enough features to meet my needs, and displays the most recent blog posts in a magazine-style layout.
  • I created a Custom Google Search containing all the blogs I follow in Feedly.  This allows me to search only those blogs and websites, cutting out a lot of irrelevant search results.  My custom search is setup as a webpage, and looks like a standard Google Search-except it only searches the sites I have included.  There is some setup on the front end, but it was time well spent.
  • Canva is steadily working its way onto my list of favorite tools.  I’m not a graphic designer, but Canva helps me hide that fact.  I find it easy to create great designs, and there are many templates available for various social media and communication applications.  Plus, they just added team functions to the free account.  Some graphic objects are paid, but there are more enough free objects to cover my lack of artistic skills.
  • My district recently purchased a district license of Nearpod, and I am exploring ways to use that in professional development.  Nearpod is a 1:1 presentation tool that combines content slides with question slides.  There are several free features and more are available for paid accounts.  Peardeck is a similar tool.

If you are still seeking to build your EdTech Coaching Toolkit (and who isn’t?), the EdTech Coaches PLN is leading a webinar on Wednesday, September 21 focused on presentation tools.  It is free to ISTE members and registration is open in the ISTE Store through Wednesday.  If you miss the live webinar, ISTE members may view the recorded webinar through the same link.

#ETCoaches Blog Challenge Week 2

Week two of the challenge shifts from thinking about the purpose of my blog to reflecting on my purpose as an EdTech Coach.  You would think it wouldn’t be a problem to come up with challenges, but I became stuck sorting through various challenges as I tried to separate the urgent issues from the important issues.  Before going further, I read Penny Christensen’s blog post on this topic, which helped me focus my thoughts, or at least come to the realization that I needed to separate the urgent from the important.  We all face challenges throughout the day, but are we addressing those as a reactive response, or as a proactive priority?  If we identify the truly important challenges, we have taken the first step to meeting them mindfully and with a plan.  Anything not on the important list may present itself as an urgent challenge needing attention, but it shouldn’t consume the majority of our time and energy.  As Shaina Glass said in Tuesday night’s #ETCoaches webinar, everyone else’s priority can not always be your priority.  There isn’t enough time or energy to make that happen. How much time do we spend reacting to urgent problems that would have been better solved by addressing the underlying issues in a proactive manner ? I know I’m not the only EdTech coach that feels like I spent too much time addressing symptoms without focusing on the underlying causes of those symptoms.

While it may appear that I’m just rambling on in an effort to avoid defining my important challenges, I may be illustrating one of my biggest personal challenges–my tendency to over-analyze things.  I admit that I’m a compulsive planner and would love to plan every detail for any given coaching session, PD event, or meeting.  If you’ve been doing this for any amount of time, you are already thinking of all the variables that make that impossible–primarily the variability of adult learners and their needs.  A friend recently told me that I could find the potential pitfalls and loopholes in any process or project and I really couldn’t argue with him–he had called me out leaving little room for debate.  As Penny said in her blog post for this week, balance is the goal.  I am still searching for the proper balance of planning and flexibility as I fine-tune my coaching practice.

My next big area of improvement is empowering teacher leaders  and sharing the great things going on in classrooms.  I am working with the instructional coach in my building (she is a planner too, which sometimes reinforces my own compulsion to plan) on implementing instructional rounds as part of our PLC process.  We are starting small with the coaches visiting classrooms in the first phase, then in the second phase we will bring PLC leadership team members with us on the instructional rounds, and the final phase will be giving the whole faculty a chance to participate in the instructional rounds.  We are hoping this promotes collaboration and supports the goals of our PLC.

As I begin my third year as a coach, I can see successes emerge from the groundwork of the past two years.  I am continuing to build relationships both with staff in my building and my international PLN, and I am comfortable with how my role as an instructional technology coach fits into the structure of the building.

What is the Purpose of My Blog? #ETCoaches Blog Challenge Week 1

I originally created my blog in December of 2014 as a place to curate information I shared with my faculty in weekly newsletters, but it quickly became much more.  My blog has evolved into a website that serves as my digital homepage and portfolio.  What makes this so useful is the fact that I can easily update my blog/portfolio and it is ready at a moment’s notice to share.  It has become the center of my digital footprint and serves as a connective hub to other online spaces in which I participate.  A web-based portfolio also allows me to link to other  resources that document my experience and growth as an EdTech Coach.  I am beginning my third year as an EdTech Coach in the Fort Osage School District, and since I already have information about me curated in my blog, including links to my Twitter and Linkedin accounts, I don’t need to duplicate that biographical information in this blog post.  Feel free to explore and suggest any improvements to my blog in the comments below.

The intended audience of my blog started with the staff of my school and has expanded to my PLN.  In actuality, the audience could potentially include anyone with internet access.  This is both great and a little intimidating at the same time.  Perhaps this is one reason why the blogging process is a challenge to begin and maintain.

My year is off to a great start and my next big project is developing, in collaboration with the instructional coach in my building, a system of instructional rounds.  Our goal is to give faculty the opportunity to visit other classrooms in the building and find ways to improve their own practice based on what they observe.  We also collaboratively developed an Instructional Strategies Challenge for our faculty which gives them four weeks to focus on implementing a specific instructional strategy and then sharing their learning with the whole staff at the end of the challenge.  I’ve also started working with another #ETCoaches PLN leader, Pam Shoemaker, on preparations for the next #ETCoaches book study that will begin in January.  Technical issues have consumed quite a bit of my time during the first weeks of school and I am anxious to focus on instruction and learning as those technical issues are corrected.

I’m excited to participate in the blogging challenge with the #ETCoaches PLN and look forward to learning with other EdTech Coaches in this context.  Participating will also encourage me to update and improve my blog along the way, and I know I will see great things in other blogs that will inspire me to improve my practice as an EdTech Coach.  Don’t hesitate to comment.  Honestly, I had turned off comments sometime in the past due to spam, but comments are now re-enabled for some great conversations.

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