One of my favorite things about being a technology coach is that the primary focus of my job is talking about learning in many different subject areas. I’m a bit of a geek, I know. Sometimes, though, I find myself gravitating toward certain subject areas or grade levels because those are the ones where I feel like I have the most ideas or the most experience.
So, when Clint and I were talking about the various ways that we can support teachers this year, we decided to add something new: The Pop-In.
First, here’s a quick overview (from an e-mail sent to teachers at the beginning of the year) of the ways we’ve been supporting teachers (and will continue to do so):
We are available (and ready!) to co-plan lessons and units with you, as well as co-teach (or demo) in your classroom. If you have a new idea you’d like to implement, but are not sure how, we’re here to help!
We have each set up an appointment calendar in Google Calendar so that you can schedule an appointment with either of us and know that we’re available. Appointment calendar is great because it layers our free appointment slots over your calendar, so you can see at a glance when would be a good time to meet.
The Tech Pilots team meets regularly to share new ideas about teaching and learning in innovative ways. It’s an informal group and a great way to get regular PD with like-minded teachers at YIS. This year we hope to meet both in school and outside school (Starbucks? Mizumachi bar?) If you’re interested in joining us, learn more here.
Subscribe to this calendar to see when Kim or Clint are outside Mark and Susie’s office for quick drop-in questions and support. Come by for help with a specific app or to talk about an interesting article that you’ve just read! This is a great opportunity for individual PD, to learn new tools, or just to get support with already established tools at YIS like the blogs, Google Apps or Veracross.
If you’d like one of us to come to one of your meetings, either as a one-off or on a regular basis, then let us know. This can be for a department meeting or for a planning meeting or any other kind of meeting.
Optional PD Sessions
Over the course of the year we’ll be offering optional PD sessions both after school and within the school day. Sometimes these sessions will be run by Clint and/or Kim, other times by other teachers. We’re still working on getting the schedule sorted, and you can add it to your Google calendar here (new additions will pop up whenever you refresh the page). If you have a topic you’d like to share with others, please let us know!
All of the above is a continuation from previous years, which has worked well for those who opt in. However, both Clint and I wanted to challenge ourselves a little bit this year, to move out of our comfort zones and to help others do the same. So, we decided to try something new:
One of the ways we’d like to support you is through classroom visits and curricular development. To help us get started, we’ll be visiting different classrooms just to say hello and see how things are going. This will help us get more of an idea of what learning is taking place in different classrooms, and how we can better support you.
We’re hoping that these visits will give us a better insight into how we can support all teachers, as well as the different and exciting ways that they are already using technology in their classrooms. One of our three goals for this academic year is “Learning From Each Other”, so we’re also hoping that by opening classroom doors and talking about learning with a variety of teachers that we’ll create a buzz within different departments and groups of teachers that may not have been part of these conversations before. We all have something interesting and unique to share, and often those ideas are held behind closed doors.
Here’s how I’m planning to get started:
- I’m going to set aside a chunk of time in my weekly calendar – maybe one or two periods in the morning one day a week. I always love reading about #noofficeday from Dave Truss and so many others, and although I’m not an administrator (nor will I be evaluating teachers in any way during this time), I’m excited to see what’s happening behind those closed doors!
- I’ll decide in advance which teachers I’d like to visit for that week, and let them know at the beginning of the week. (I like the idea of popping in, but especially at the start, I think it’s nice to give some warning so teachers know why I’m there).
- I’m not planning to write anything down while I’m in the room, but I’d like to use some of my Looking for Learning experience from ISB to see what and how the students are learning.
- I’ll document my thoughts after I’ve left the room, so that I can share with the teacher later that day/week. I want to make sure my visits have something productive or useful for the teachers so they can see the value of having someone visit them.
- I’d like to try to visit different subject areas and grade levels each time so that I’m getting an idea of what’s happening in different parts of the school each day I do classroom visits.
Here’s what I’m hoping will happen:
- Visiting other classrooms will give me better ideas of how I can support teachers.
- Sharing my ideas with teachers, preferably in person (but via e-mail if necessary), will help start conversations with a diverse group of teachers.
- I’ll see connections between what different teachers are doing, and can put teachers in touch with each other.
- We’ll have a better idea of what technology support is needed by the whole faculty and we can better plan PD sessions.
- We can deepen our conversations with teachers who are already taking advantage of the support we’ve been offering, to take our coaching to the next level.
I’m really excited about where this may take us! In the past three years we have grown by leaps and bounds, both in our use of technology to enhance learning, and in our collaboration around learning. We are so lucky to be working with a staff of enthusiastic and engaged teachers who welcome new ideas. I think this will help us continue to develop and spread the learning love even further!
Have you used the “pop-in” strategy with your staff? What did you think? Are there certain strategies or approaches that work best?