Word-Of-Mouth = Evidence-Based: Merging word of mouth momentum with evidence-based EdTech implementation

While learning more about at ISTE Standard 4b, ISTE Standard 4: Professional Development and Program Evaluation Performance Indicator B, I started to wonder about the effect word-of-mouth has on EdTech implementation, strong professional development opportunities and program evaluations by teachers in our schools.  It led me to the question, how can we move from ‘word of mouth’ technology growth within education to a technology program that provides resources for growth in all schools?  Through my research, I have also realized that word-of-mouth can be a positive way to inspire teachers to use technology in the classroom. If done thoughtfully and in collaboration with all stakeholders, applying best practices of teaching, using strong PD tactics and deep collaboration will develop programs that support technology use in all areas – from district level involvement all the way through to the classroom.

“We continue to see that word of mouth rules in education,” Tia Lendo, who oversees marketing in North America for Google Education, told a meeting for developers Monday at ISTE 2015, the nation’s largest ed-tech conference.

Molnar, Michele – Google Research Shows ‘Word of Mouth’ Fuels Ed-Tech Decisions

In a study commissioned by Google, the percentages of ‘where educators got information about digital content’ were as follows:

  • Peers in other school districts—86 percent
  • Teachers who work in my school/district—81 percent
  • Peers in my school or district—71 percent

It becomes clear through this study that it is not about moving away from word-of-mouth influence but instead trying to merge the power of word-of-mouth with evidence-based EdTech implementation.

This leads to the importance of coming up with ways to merge word-of-mouth recommendations with technology that is research-based and includes what a school district has also purchased.  From my own experience, if it were not for being part of the Digital Education Leadership graduate program at Seattle Pacific University leading me to actively seeking out the resources available in my district, I would not be using what I am using today in my classroom and this extends to those in my school building who I have shared these resources with and what they are now using in their classroom. Most of what I use is through our district resources but not all and again, without being in a graduate program that has led me to look at what the district provides first and then supplementing, I would not have known how to go about figuring it all out. For tech novices, which I was 1 1/2 years ago, it is not easy to navigate and understand what is already provided.

Ed-tech company Glimpse K12 studied $2 billion in school spending and found that on average, 67 percent of educational software product licenses go unused. Glimpse K12 tracked 200,000 curriculum software licenses purchased by 275 schools during the 2017-2018 school year. The analysis found educational software was the biggest source of wasted spending in K-12 districts.

Michelle R. Davis of EdWeek Market Brief

There seems to be a lack of connection between what districts are purchasing for use and what teachers are gravitating towards.  Is this because there is a lack of connection and communication between district stakeholders, teachers in the field and upcoming teacher education programs? Strengthening the core knowledge of trusted teachers through targeted PD and including strong technology-based preservice teaching classes would mean that these teacher leaders would become the conduit – the word-of-mouth – that leads other teachers with less exposure towards the evidenced-based technology that is already available.  In addition, these teacher leaders could be a bridge between what teachers want and what the district supplies.

Reimagining the Role of Technology in Education: 2017 National Education Technology Plan Update – US Department of Education

Teacher-leaders and those with experience supporting learning with technology can work with administrators to determine how to share their learning with other teachers. They also can provide support to their peers by answering questions and modeling practical uses of technology to support learning.

– Reimagining the Role of Technology in Education: 2017 National Education Technology Plan Update – US Department of Education

 Connecting teachers with those in leadership who set the vision will result in districts purchasing evidence-based technology platforms and applications that will get used. Including PD that is led by these teachers with deeper training practices including follow-ups and coaching will result in more teachers available to help each other and keep EdTech growth growing.  This will encourage word-of-mouth to be aligned with evidenced-based practices which are best practices in general.  Starting this system within the preservice teacher programs is critical so that teachers coming into the field are already ahead of the game…or at the very least, starting the game with an understanding of best practices with technology use and how to successfully teach 21st century skills.

Berhane Teclehaimanot, University of Toledo and Annette Lamb, Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis wrote in their article, Technology-Rich Faculty Development for Teacher Educators: The Evolution of a Program, about the Teachers Info-Port to Technology (PT3).  In this 3-year program, The University of Toledo funded goals and objectives to:

  • Revise all College of Education undergraduate curriculum to include technology-rich teaching methods that meet, Ohio, NCATE and International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards;
  • Develop resources and activities that ensure graduates use technology in their classroom;
  • Develop resources and activities to assure that the faculty members at the University of Toledo Colleges of Education and Arts and Sciences use technology in the classroom as both a model for students and a method of instruction.

Throughout the first two years of this program, they revised and improved upon the workshops that supported these goals and objectives. By the end of year 2, it was noted that the professional development workshops did help faculty to better incorporate the use of technology for future teachers through modeling and hands-on experiences.  Yet, continued support was desired from some faculty and this would echo the same sentiments we hear from teachers already in the K-12 educational field.  By the end of the 3rd year, the implications indicated below translates closely to what is needed in the K-12 education field as well:

The results of this project suggest that well-designed faculty development workshops can be effective in training teacher educators to design technology-rich university curriculum. Based on 3 years of experience designing and implementing professional development opportunities for faculty in the area of technology integration, nine elements were identified as useful in creating increasingly successful workshops.

Table 3. Nine Elements for Successful Workshops

Element Suggestions
Depth More time with fewer technologies
Build on skills over time
Hands-on practice At least 50% of workshop for practice and creation
Quality time on task with focused activities
Project-based approach Focus on practical products, templates, Web resources, and project-starters provided
Follow projects from start to finish
Modeling Use technology to teach integration
Demonstrate practical classroom applications
Examples Examples of technology use in content areas
Examples of technology integration
Web site based resources and templates
Ongoing assessment Short modules; simple products; frequent assessments
Timesavers Web page templates, logos, copyright-free visuals
PowerPoint presentation samples
Step-by-step review sheets (see http://tipt3.utoledo.edu/tools.html)
Differentiation Address individual differences in interests, speeds, ability levels
Web site based supplemental materials
One-on-one assistance: in workshop and out of workshop
Expanded Opportunities Mentoring opportunities
Sharing options
Cohort group development

 Ultimately, the answer to my question, “How can we move from ‘word of mouth’ technology growth within education to a technology program that provides resources for growth in all schools?”, is that we shouldn’t move away from it but instead embrace it.  Let’s move towards merging the strength of word-of-mouth recommendations with the best practices of using evidence-based technology by having teachers in the field be the leaders by collaborating with leadership and district stakeholders so there is better representation of what teachers want and will use.  Through these teacher leaders, word will spread and anxieties lessened.  PD around what is already available through district resources will be relevant and welcomed, especially if leaders keep in mind the nine essential elements for successful workshops and PD opportunities.  If we can merge thoughtfully, then word-of-mouth is the best chance educators have of growth toward rich professional learning programs inside and outside of the classroom.

Resources:

Davis, Michelle. (2019, May 19). K-12 Districts Wasting Millions by Not Using Purchased Software, New Analysis Finds. Retrieved from https://marketbrief.edweek.org/marketplace-k-12/unused-educational-software-major-source-wasted-k-12-spending-new-analysis-finds/ 

Molnar, Michele. (2015 Jun. 29). Google Research Shows ‘Word of Mouth’ Fuels Ed-Tech Decisions.  Retrieved from https://marketbrief.edweek.org/marketplace-k-12/google_research_shows_word_of_mouth_fuels_ed-tech_decisions/

Office of Educational Technology. (2017). U.S. Department of Education. Reimagining the Role of Technology in Education: 2017 National Education Technology Plan Update. Retrieved from https://tech.ed.gov/files/2017/01/NETP17.pdf  

Teclehaimanot, Berhane and Lamb, Annette. (2016).  Technology-Rich Faculty Development for Teacher Educators: The Evolution of a Program. Retrieved from https://citejournal.org/volume-5/issue-3-05/current-practice/technology-rich-faculty-development-for-teacher-educators-the-evolution-of-a-program/ 

Becoming a 21st Century Administrator

There are many ideas and conversations surrounding 21st Century Learners and 21st Century Teaching/Teachers.  While learning more about ISTE Standard 4: Professional Development and Program Evaluation - Performance Indicator B - Design, develop and implement technology-rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment, I wanted to extend this learning into how administrators specifically can embrace 21st Century practices.  What can administrators do to become 21st Century administrators? ISTE Administrator Standards are: 

Three of these standards – Visionary Leadership, Systematic Improvement, and Professional Practice connect deeply with ISTE Standard 4 – Professional Development and Program Evaluation.  Dan Morris and Susan Brooks-Young put forth a framework to become an effective 21st Century Administrator in their post – Becoming a 21st Century Administrator.  They ask the following questions for administrators to consider: 

  • What outcomes do we want to accomplish in the classroom?  
  • What available tools and resources can and will support teachers in helping their students meet these outcomes?  
  • What preparation do we need to ensure teachers and students appropriately utilize tools and resources?  
  • How will we measure the effectiveness of these tools to gauge how well they support and improve teaching and learning?  

With these questions guiding dialogue between administrators and educators, the next steps can focus on how to translate the answers and ideas from these questions into action plans for supporting 21st Century learning, designs, classrooms, and students.  When stakeholders are coming from similar perspectives of implementation and needs for increasing 21st Century PD, specific to roles within schools and reshaping the design of how we approach 21st Century education and skills, we are left we a comprehensive plan instead of a one-sided approach to the ever-changing environment of education.  

Morris and Brooks-Young also suggest strategies for what administrators can do specifically to shift into a 21st Century mindset: 

  • Invest in your own personal exploration and use of new tools 
  • Be sure that your technology experts interact regularly with the classroom experts in your district 
  • Provide ongoing staff development for teachers and administrators on appropriate and effective use of instructional technologies 
  • Model the use of appropriate tools and applications when working with staff 
  • Celebrate successes and build a culture where exploration and innovation are valued.

Between asking 21st Century based questions and using strategies that support 21st Century learning implementation, the framework is strong for all to continue growing professionally with 21st Century student learning at the heart of these changes.  

The Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) defines a 21st Century School Leader as:

“One Who Educates, Empowers, Engages and Excels through visionary leadership that inspires ALL to be intentional learners, to think critically and to work collaboratively to meet the demands of a global, digital and dynamic world.” 

The DoDEA has created a set of roles and competencies with self-assessments and reflection continuum coupled with professional learning plans to help implement changes that leaders can embark upon to shift from being a 20th Century Principal to a 21st Century Principle. The four roles that principals can follow and then assess are: 

The self-assessments and reflection continuums focus on what it takes to shift 20th Century practices into 21st Century practices and are the support administrators need to know HOW to make and sustain changes for themselves, staff and the community they serve.  Take a look at the whole report to dig deeper into the assessments and reflections. Here is one to give an idea of what can be gained from this approach and evaluation technique: 

Mr. Keenan, from the blog Developing Education, outlines 5 Traits of the 21st Century Administrator and reminds us of the holistic and soft skills that leadership can come to the table with to support a safe and open culture for conversation and collaboration between all stakeholders during such a powerful shift in education. 

Finally, I love this reminder and metaphor from Gerald Aungst – 

“In a way, the job of school district administrator is like a tugboat.  If you have ever watched a tugboat work, it appears far too small for its job of maneuvering huge ships around a crowded harbor. Yet a smart tugboat pilot knows exactly where to push or pull on that ship to ease it into the needed location. Administrators, likewise, need to lead through influence, and must choose carefully where they nudge and tug on the enormous mass of a school district organization to guide it exactly where it needs to be.”  

As an educator, I feel that educational technology advances currently rely on teacher buy-in and a desire for professional growth despite the many obstacles and personal time it takes to take on this growth without much support, if any at all.  Yet, this is such an important and large-scale change for all to take on. Leaders (principles, administration, district-level stakeholders, etc) need to be at the forefront for there to be proper training and support to help maneuver and steer this gigantic and always evolving educational shift in order to meet the needs and realities of the current educational landscape that teachers and students are part of.  

Nightman1965 – Royalty-free stock photo ID: 326359325 – Tugboats assisting container cargo ship to harbor.

Resources: 

Aungst, Gerald. (2012, March 26.) 21st Century Administrators: New Roles, New Responsibilities.  Retrieved from https://geraldaungst.com/2012/03/21st-century-administrators-new-roles-new-responsibilities/ 

Department of Defense Education Activity. (2014). The 21st Century Principal – 21st Century Teaching, Learning and Leading.  Retrieved from https://content.dodea.edu/teach_learn/professional_development/21/docs/principals/principal_paper_draft.pdf 

ISTE Administrators Standards. Retrieved from https://id.iste.org/docs/pdfs/20-14_iste_standards-a_pdf.pdf 

Keenan. (2013, March 12). Developing Education. 5 Traits of the 21st Century Administrator. Retrieved from https://mrkeenan.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/181/ 

Morris, Dan and Brooks-Young, Susan.  Creative Educator. Becoming a 21st Century Administrator. Retrieved from https://creativeeducator.tech4learning.com/v08/articles/Becoming_a_21st_Century_Administrator 

Best Practices for Adult Learners When Designing Professional Development

In order to determine what best practices are for designing Professional Development (PD) for adult learners, I first had to learn about and understand what adult learning principles are.  Looking at Androgyny, defined as the method and practice of teaching adult learners; adult education, there are six basic principles and eight design elements of Andragogy (Park, Sunyoung; Robinson, Petra; and Bates, Reid (2016)).  The tables below explain in detail the six principle and eight design elements based off of Knowles research and findings: 

(Park, Sunyoung; Robinson, Petra; and Bates, Reid (2016)) 
(Park, Sunyoung; Robinson, Petra; and Bates, Reid (2016)) 

From here, it becomes clear that one of the most important principles of adult learning is that new learning has direct meaning and relevance to the learner.  Adults come to educational PD with background knowledge, experiences and their own ideas for how to move forward.  When designing PD for adult learners, giving them the opportunity to interact with the learning outcomes beforehand gives them ownership over their learning and helps it to become a collaborative experience – learner led – versus a top down experience.  This leads me to my question – What are best practices for incorporating adult learning principles into PD? 

Patricia Lawler shares 6 adult learning principles to guide professional developers and each one seems to hit on the idea of best practices when designing, implementing and deciding on PD for adult learners and incorporating adult learning principles.   

  • Create a Climate of Respect –  “…start where the learner is by taking into consideration the characteristics, values, and educational goals the teacher of adults brings to the professional development activity.” 
  • Encourage Active Participation – “Being respectful of their professional expertise by inviting their participation and collaboration encourages learning.” 
  • Build On Experience – “Professional developers working with teachers of adults can take advantage of these factors and build on the experience for positive transfer of learning.” 
  • Employ Collaborative Inquiry  “…collaborative inquiry can be an effective tool for enhancing their motivation for professional development.”  
  • Learn for Action – “To learn for action means to be guided for application, to understand the connections between content and application, and to have opportunities in the professional development setting and afterward to take action on learning.” 
  • Empower the Participants – “If the goals of adult education and professional development are change and growth, then opportunities and strategies that empower the learner are essential.” 

Adult Learning Model for Faculty Development 

“This model incorporates both the principles of adult learning and well-grounded adult education program-planning concepts. The four stages of the model—preplanning, planning, delivery, and follow-up—are interrelated and dynamic. At each stage, we ask how the activities and proposed learning objectives are compatible with the adult learning principles. (Lawler, Patricia A. 2003) 

It is important to note how the Adult Learning Model takes into account that at each stage – preplanning, planning, delivery and follow up – the person creating the adult learning program makes sure the learning will be meaningful and relevant to the participant. 

The image below touches on educational strategies for adult learners.  I see this as a checklist to evaluate if educational strategies are being incorporated in the PD being designed.   

Dustin, Emily (2017, July 12)

Overall, the answer to my question of what best practices are for creating adult learner PD would be practices that take into account information obtained about what participants are wanting and how what is being taught will directly and positively provide growth and change in real time for desired outcomes.  That is a tall order and the very first best practice would be direct communication with the participants to find out more.  Sheryl Chard says it beautifully in the video below as she reiterates how important it is that PD focuses heavily on what the audience is wanting and needing as well as PD being a professional learning community having discussions and learning from each other.  “Let’s make Professional Development the home ground of collective inquiry, shared expertise and inspired conversation among professionals.” ~ Sheryl Chard

Chard, Sheryl (2014)

Resources: 

Chard, Sheryl (2014). No More Bad Coffee: Professional Development That Honors Teachers.  Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aiW0s6_83dw 

Dustin, Emily (2017, July 12) Challenges, Opportunities, and Growth: Understanding Adult Learners. Retrieved from https://motivislearning.com/insights/supporting-adult-learners-through-challenges-and-opportunities/ 

Lawler, Patricia A (2003). EBSCO. Teachers as Adult Learners: A New Perspective. 

Park, Sunyoung; Robinson, Petra; and Bates, Reid (2016). “Adult Learning Principles and Processes and Their Relationships with Learner Satisfaction: Validation of the Andragogy in Practice Inventory (API) in the Jordanian Context,” Adult Education Research Conference. https://newprairiepress.org/aerc/2016/ papers/28 

How Culture Creates Room for Coaching and Collaboration (or… Culture – it’s what’s for breakfast!)

ISTE-Coaching Standard 2: Teaching, Learning, and Assessment 

f. Coach teachers in and model incorporation of research-based best practices in instructional design when planning technology-enhanced learning experiences 

Standard 6: Content Knowledge and Professional Growth 

b. Engage in continuous learning to deepen professional knowledge, skills, and dispositions in organizational change and leadership, project management, and adult learning to improve professional practice 

c. Regularly evaluate and reflect on their professional practice and dispositions to improve and strengthen their ability to effectively model and facilitate technology-enhanced learning experiences

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” is a famous quote from legendary management consultant and writer Peter Drucker. To be clear he didn’t mean that strategy was unimportant – rather that a powerful and empowering culture was a surer route to organisational success. ~Ross Bernard

While learning about and researching the ISTE Coaching Standards and how to be an effective and meaningful coach throughout this quarter, building trust and authentic relationships with teachers around student learning and educational practices has been at the forefront.  Drawing on my own personal experience as an educator, I realize every day that there is more to learn, do and adjust as a teacher when striving to keep student learning and success moving. Yet, I must admit, I know that for myself and fellow teachers I work with, there is a twinge of uneasiness and uncomfortable vulnerability if assigned a coach. Reflecting on my own knee-jerk reaction, I have come to realize that this is because coaching is not currently the norm within the overall education setting. When it is present, coaching tends to focus on new teachers or teachers whose evaluation marks are low. (Please note that this is my opinion and experience, and I do not believe everyone feels this way and it is not viewed like this at all schools, thank goodness!) When this is the current culture around coaching, educators see coaching as someone trying to fix them rather than an opportunity for authentic growth, collaboration and student-centered reflection – something everyone in the education field would benefit being a part of – from principals to teachers to specialists to instructional assistants, etc. 

In the article, The Instructional Coach: A Springboard, Not a Scarlet Letter, Jensen writes, “…how can schools pull back the curtain on teaching and turn it into a team sport, complete with a coach for every teacher?” In order to pull back the curtain, Jensen suggests 4 ways that schools, especially leaders and coaches within our education system, can help educators feel more comfortable with coaching. 

  • Spotlight Strengths – focus on the strengths that all the teachers in the building already have.  Have them reflect on their own strengths and each others strengths – at my school, we do shout-outs at the beginning of every staff meeting and having this occur within a coaching session could be really helpful for building trust. “Acknowledging that the building is full of capable and competent educators goes a long way in shifting the culture toward accepting coaching.”  
  • Team Up for Growth – From the starting point of strengths, educators are more likely to be ready to focus on areas of growth.  When teachers determine how they want to grow, the door is open for collaboration, rather than dreading the knock from the outside.  When coaches provide support in the self-identified areas for growth, we honor the expertise of the teacher and position ourselves as a springboard for growth rather than a scarlet letter.”
  • Be Flexible – Coaches need to be flexible and adapt to the educators schedule, timing and the busy nature of education. “Finally, part of every school leaders’ responsibility in building staff capacity includes making coaching accessible.”
  • Spread the Word – If a school is lucky enough to have the resources to have coaches, starting with the teachers who are willing and experienced could go a long way when trickling down to teachers who may be uneasy about coaching.  When the vocal teacher leaders within a staff have a positive experience with coaching, they will become your greatest asset as they spread the word that coaching works, it is worth the time, and everyone needs a coach.”

Bernard Ross, an internationally regarded expert in strategic thinking, organizational change and personal effectiveness with The Management Centre, lays out 5 steps to change and align culture. Below is an excerpt from his article, Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast – I highly suggest reading the article in full but for the purposes of this blog post and focusing on changing culture, these steps seem critical and I have left in the descriptions that seem relevant to the educational system since he focuses more on organizations and companies. 

Understanding culture is not enough. The point is to change it. And to do this you need to follow five steps.”

1. Analyse culture as it is now (and be honest!)

Job one is to sit down and work out accurately what the culture is now. There are a number of ways to do this.[. . .] Focus groups, especially externally facilitated ones, can be a great way to get a real handle on this. You also might want to run an anonymous survey monkey study.

2. Imagine the culture as you want it to be

[. . .] think about how you want your culture to work, if everything was correctly aligned. To make it concrete we often then list the key stakeholders and describe how things will be better for them in the new culture. These stakeholders could include: staff, beneficiaries, service users, donors and others.

3. Map the differences between the two

Now compare your two cultural web diagrams, and identify the differences between them. [. . .]

4. Make an action plan

You need an action plan to make sure that the culture change actually takes place. [. . .] This plan should ideally be published and available to everyone. (Provided transparency is a part of your culture!)

5. Measure differences over time

You need track that your approach was actually implemented and that it has had the desired effect. [. . .]

Ross also explains in his article how to map out current cultural desires using specific questions that can help guide coaches and leaders in determining what is creating the current culture – positively and what opportunities are available to shift. 

One of the deepest takeaways that I have had when looking at how to establish a positive coaching culture is the importance of starting at the top and having the positive outcomes filter down throughout the school. Magdalena Mook speaks to the importance of starting at the top in her article, How to Create a Coaching Culture

1. Start from the top, but include everyone

Typically, coaching takes hold in organizations where a well-respected senior leader is engaged in a coaching relationship and can promote its benefits across the company. While buy-in and strong support are very important at this rank, ultimately, coaching should be made available across each level of an organization, to professionals of all ages and levels of experience. This is crucial for a lasting, enterprise-wide impact.

I have noticed in education, coaching tends to focus solely on teachers. It would be interesting to see if not only investment from administration but also participation in being coached, helped to lessen anxiety and/or hesitation for a teacher who is offered coaching..especially if it was being offered to all teachers, as well.  But that is another topic for another time!  

Finally, here is an interesting video that gives a unique perspective of having a coaching mindset. These ideas translate into the education realm…which makes sense considering coaching is adaptable to all professions and focuses on growth for who is being coached and those who they interact with, especially.

Resources:

Gawande, Atul. (Jan. 30, 2018). Want to Get Good at Something? Get a Coach. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHDq1PcYkT4

Jensen, Sydney Clark. (Jan. 3, 2019). The Instructional Coach: A Springboard, Not a Scarlet Letter. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/ascd-express/vol14/num13/instructional-coaches-a-springboard-not-a-scarlet-letter.aspx?fbclid=IwAR1PmF0lge4tIB_dmDaGB0Xozgic5dcSb9-UGKqbB_tc1YDV0uommOqJ71Q

Kobulnicky, Ben. Does Culture Really Eat Strategy for breakfast. Retrieved from https://medium.com/startup-grind/does-culture-really-eat-strategy-a3172df58912

Mook, Magdalena. (Jan.11, 2017) How to Create a Coaching Culture. Retrieved from https://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/how-to/growth-strategies/2016/01/how-to-create-a-coaching-culture.htm

Ross, Bernard. Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast. Retrieved from https://www.managementcentre.co.uk/culture-eats-strategy-for-breakfast/

The Coaching Cycle and Time Management

Establishing trust when starting a coaching relationship is key before all else but once this trust has been built and the framework is sturdy, what does the cycle of implementation and learning look like as well as the wrap up and reflection? Diane Sweeney has created the Results Based Coaching Tool (click link to have access to the template!) to help educators and coaches plan the cycle of learning from a student based perspective.  Key elements of this cycle are:

  • Pre and Post Assess to Identify Growth Across a Coaching Cycle
  • Understand How the Teacher and Coach Grew by using Exit Questions
  • Plan for Students Who Didn’t Meet the Goal

Using the Results Based Coaching Tool combined with the general cycle framework provided by Corwin, can help give the educator and coach a sequence of steps to follow to help stay on track.  In addition, providing time for the coach and teacher to reflect before they start the next cycle with the new learning and ideas they gained together will help to deepen the coaching relationship and in turn deepen student learning – especially for teachers who are new to having a coach and for a coach that is new to coaching.

Corwin – A Sage Publishing Group
Example of coaching cycle – Corwin – A Sage Publish Group 

While researching this topic, there was a variety of ideas of how long coaching cycles generally are. Of course, this depends on the goals, desired outcomes and bumps along the way.  This led me to think more about the time management skills that are necessary for coaches to set up a successful coaching cycle and for the cycle to be implemented in full. Time is of the essence when it comes to anything in education because a lack of time (and efficiency) can quickly erode good intentions and exciting ideas and instead, cause a break down between the planning process and actual implementation. A key digital tool that seemed to be important is an easy to use online/collaborative calendar to help all parties plan accordingly with the hectic schedules that are part of teaching and coaching. Nicole Turner maps out a way to manage time more efficiently in her blog post, Time Management for Instructional Coaches ~ What Should I be doing?. Big takes aways she mentions are:

  • Weekly reflections and goal setting
  • Making a calendar and schedule that takes into account all parties and easy access
  • Staying organized – using tracker sheets to organize who you meet with, what you talk about and the many notes you gather as a coach

These may seem like simple steps but coaches can quickly get overwhelmed, especially when they are meeting with multiple teachers or teams. Thinking through HOW you will do the steps above before starting the coaching relationship will help a coach be ready from day one and builds trust right away with who you are working with by showing them you are on top of the logistics so they do not have to be. 

Having a clear cycle explicitly in place and a time management system planned out, will help coaches to better meet ISTE Standard 2f. Coach teachers in and model incorporation of research-based best practices in instructional design when planning technology-enhanced learning experiences because everyone will be starting the coaching relationship from a clear and concise starting point.  This seems especially important when working with teachers who may be resistant to coaching. If the cycle and planning of time is a framework that takes into account the life of a teacher being coached, then the teacher will feel understood and be able to have input where they want but not have to be heavily involved in the logistics, which can result in ‘just another thing I don’t have time to do’. From this established starting point, the coaching sessions have the opportunity to dig into revising and strengthening lessons so that planning can be innovative and student-based…and realistic and doable! 

Resources:

Corwin. Coaching Cycle, What Does It Look Like? Retrieved from https://us.corwin.com/en-us/nam/coaching-cycle-what-does-it-look-like 

Sweeney, Diane. (Oct. 28, 2018). Measuring the Impact of Coaching Cycles. Retrieved from https://dianesweeney.com/measuring-the-impact-of-coaching-cycles/

Turner, Nicole (Feb. 19, 2019). Simply Coaching and Teaching. Time Management for Instructional Coaches –  What should I be doing?. Retrieved from https://simplycoachingandteaching.com/blog/2019/2/19/time-management-for-instructional-coaches-what-should-i-be-doing