For the past few months, we’ve been focusing on coaching over at Eduro Learning in leading up to our second cohort of The Coach microcredential (registration ends on May 1st, so check it out ASAP!). We have been working hard to build out lots of great resources for aspiring and experienced coaches and I’m so excited about what we’ve developed that I wanted to share it here too!
Being a Learner is a Mindset
Looking back over the process, I realize I have had a ton of fun in creating all this content (although it was a lot of hard work, it was definitely #hardfun), and what made it fun (for me) was that I approached everything as an opportunity to learn. Even though the purpose was to create content for others to learn from, I used the development of that content as an opportunity to be a learner too. I’m not sure I realized I was doing it at the time, but I can see how much I’ve learned over the last few months, and as a result my goals for my next Eduro projects are even bigger and more challenging!
For me, this is a good reminder that we all have something to learn – even those of us who might consider ourselves experienced in the field. It’s all about the mindset we have when we approach new opportunities. This probably isn’t surprising coming from me, considering the name of this blog, but I think sometimes we can get a little caught up in being an “expert” and we forget that there is (ahem) always learning potential.
Here are some of the fun things I created, along with the things I learned:
Coaching Fundamentals: My first-ever YouTube series
The Project: For this project I interviewed 12 coaches in my Personal Learning Network (here are all their Twitter accounts in one handy list!) using YouTube Live (essentially the old Google Hangouts on air). Each interview took about a half hour, and each coach was asked the same series of questions. Once all of the individual interviews were completed, I cut each question out as an individual clip so I could create a compiled video featuring all twelve coaches focused on one question at a time.
So, now you can watch and listen to 12 different coaches discuss the same topic, all (somewhat) seamlessly edited together. Editing them together, I tried to find the connections between what each coach shared so that the video would have some element of flow, without losing the individual perspective of each coach. They turned out to be around 20 minutes each.
We released each video over the course of a few weeks so it wouldn’t be overwhelming for people to try to watch them all (but, pro-tip: 1.5x speed is perfect if you’re short on time), and now they make an awesome playlist of coaching-related PD for anyone interested in learning more about coaching or leveling up their coaching skills.
Side note: please don’t feel left out if you were not included, this was my first try at something like this, and I will be doing it again for sure! If you’re interested in taking part, please let me know!
The Learning: I’m not going to go into the content learning I got out of these conversations, I already have a series of blog posts planned for that since just one post won’t be enough! As I said to every coach during our individual call, I was so lucky to be able to have this uninterrupted time with them, my only regret was that they could only talk to me and not to each other! (Spoiler alert: we figured out a great way to solve that problem, more on that below). I was so lucky to get to learn from all of them!
What was really interesting to me (aside from the content) were some of little strategies and tips for managing a YouTube live recording, diving deeper into ScreenFlow to create the actual videos, learning about the subscriber stats and all the various features of being a content creator on YouTube, and realizing that all of the YouTubers I follow have some serious editing skills, along with being able to see (and now apply) the specific strategies they use to build an audience.
As the videos have been released, it has been so fun to see the comments, the retweets, the new subscribers to our channel. I can see how once you get started with YouTube it can be captivating, allowing you to learn just enough to accomplish your goal, but with so many more opportunities to keep growing and building your skills.
Now I want to make more YouTube series, but they don’t all have to be interview style! What do you want to see? Please share any suggestions or feedback on anything: topics, styles, formats, I’m up for trying anything!
Over 10 New Online Courses For Coaches
The Project: In the last three months, I’ve created a total of 10 brand new online courses for coaches! Just writing that sentence is kind of crazy. Each course has:
- about 3 – 5 hours of learning (for the participant)
- a video “lesson” that ties together the key concepts for that course
- a minimum of 4 of my favorite resources on that topic (sometimes I include too many so we try to cap it at 10)
- a challenge for the participant to complete
As I was creating them, I wanted to make sure they fit within a theme, so you can bundle them together into a set of courses that build on top of each other. We now have:
Coaching Essentials: A Practical Guide for Instructional Coaches (6 Course Premium Bundle), which includes the following individual courses:
- You Are What You Do
- What Instructional Coaching Looks Like in Practice
- How to Have a Coaching Conversation
- Essential Skills for Instructional Coaches
- How to Build Momentum Around Instructional Coaching
- Taking Action: Becoming An Instructional Coach (only available as part of the Premium Bundle)
Supporting Your Parent Community (3 Course Recommended Bundle), which includes the following individual courses:
- Engaging Your Parent Community
- Leading Parent Learning
- Partnering with Parents: Conversations for Deeper Learning
Designing a Parent Learning Program (10 Course Premium-Extended Bundle), which includes the following individual courses:
- Introduction to Supporting Your Parent Community
- Understanding the New Learning Landscape
- Technology Never Sleeps
- Citizenship in a Digital World
- Social Media and Your Child
- It’s A Visual World
- Embracing Creativity
- Supporting Your Parent Community: Personal Project (3 weeks)
(Note: the parenting courses listed as numbers 2 – 7 were already created, so I didn’t make those in this time frame).
Each of these courses, and particularly when they are bundled together the way they’re listed above are so practical and purposeful – they are exactly what I wish I could have had when I was new to coaching or new to designing effective parent learning. And the best part is, all of them were inspired by our clients! Questions that came up in our current cohort of The Coach microcredential inspired almost the whole Coaching Essentials bundle, and feedback on some social media posts led to the Supporting Your Parent Community bundle.
The Learning: When I was designing these courses, I would often include WAY too much content in one course and Chrissy would review it and tell me to break it down even further so that it was approachable and achievable for the participant. As usual, I “talk” too much. Even when it’s writing.
There is so much that goes into designing an effective online course, especially when you want the participant to be at the center of the learning, but you know you might never actually see or work with that person because these courses can all be taken self-paced. Selecting just the right resources, breaking down and connecting them together to create an interesting and engaging video “lesson” and then developing just the right task to put all of that great learning to use in a practical and relevant way so that taking the course actually helps you do your day job – all of that is just so challenging, in such a good way!
Designing these courses just makes me so excited to create more. Is there something you would like to see? A question you have? An idea you want to explore? Share it and if I can, I will try to create it! Maybe we can even do it together!
Your Coaching Journey: A Practical Guide for Aspiring and Experienced Coaches
The Project: Ok, I’m cheating a bit here because I’m not done with this one, but it’s well on it’s way (draft cover designed by Chrissy at right!). This is the second book I’ve written this academic year and I kind of can’t believe it. I never thought I would write one book, let alone have the juice to write another. Thankfully Chrissy and Jeff were my partners in the first book, so I wasn’t working alone.
This time, I’m starting from scratch and building this book to support The Coach microcredential, as well as all of the other coaching materials we’ve created for Eduro so far. Diana and Chrissy have been invaluable in their support in helping me get started (and I know they’ll do the same when I get closer to the editing stages).
Thankfully, I have our first book, Your Connected Classroom: A Practical Guide for Teachers, as a bit of a template to help me through this process. And we have some super cool ideas for an online or blended book club for both of these books that we’re going to pull together soon-ish!
The Learning: I had no idea I liked writing so much. I guess I’ve been writing this blog for over 10 years now, but I never really realized how the words just flow through me when I sit in front of a computer. That makes me excited about working on this current book, and even more excited for the others I have on the back burner.
Having said that, I have screwed this book up more times than I can count. For some unknown reason, I totally disregarded all the things I learned in school about how to write long-form pieces for several iterations. I won’t be doing that again. For this current draft, which is well on its way to being the final version, I finally sat down with post-it notes to brainstorm, then created an outline, then started writing and pulling in resources from all over the place to support the outline and draft content. Duh. I’m to embarrassed to tell you how I started some of the other drafts.
The Shift Key: My First Podcast
The Project: One of the main priorities we had for our company was valuing stakeholder input. We wanted to make sure that we had “outside eyes” on pretty much everything we do, so that we could get their feedback, thoughts and ideas, to make sure what we’re creating is what is relevant, practical and useful for others. So last year we formed our Advisory Board of teachers, parents and one superstar awesome student!
Over the past year, we’ve been having regular meetings, but it wasn’t until somewhat recently that we realized that our conversations were interesting enough to become an actual podcast. And now, over the past few months, we’ve realized that we have the perfect opportunity to create a student-led podcast within this channel as well, facilitated by our student Board member, Liv, and featuring the children of our other Board members and their friends! So one podcast is quickly turning into two (and spoiler alert, there’s a third one on the way).
The Learning: Very similarly to the YouTube series, there’s a lot that goes into making a podcast, and I don’t really even know the half of it, because our Eduro Learning Podcast Network is led by Jeff and he does all the fun technical work! But, just the little bits and pieces to create a consistent format, to facilitate the conversation without it getting awkward, and – probably the hardest part – scheduling and managing all of the various events, have been enough for me to realize that (as usual) what looks very simple from the surface actually takes a ton of hard work. I can’t wait until the podcasts we’re creating are as good as the ones I love to listen to at the gym!
Live Broadcast Events
The Project(s): Well, this is more like a series of smaller projects, but they all come together quite well:
Facebook Live: Each week over the last three months, I’ve been facilitating an Eduro Learning Facebook Live event focused on coaching, all leading up to the registration of our second cohort of The Coach microcredential (open until 1 May 2018). It’s been quite an adventure finding ways to be inspired for these short “lecture-style” videos on a weekly basis, and I do love how they all come together to form a complete playlist all about coaching now that I’m finished.
Coaching Roundtable: Coaching in Practice Webinar: As a result of the awesome Coaching Fundamentals YouTube Series, I realized that there were so many more ideas I wanted to discuss with all of our coaching experts and I wanted to get them all in the “same room” so they could learn from and share with each other. So, we decided to do a live webinar follow-up, highlighting some of the key elements from the YouTube series. If you’re interested in watching, it’s recorded (and free), so you can watch it anytime!
It was so great to have that continued conversation with such an amazing group of educators that we’re already talking about how we can continue learning and sharing together. If you’d be interested in seeing regular content from this team, let me know! And if you have specific questions or ideas you’d like to hear us talk about, please share that too!
The Learning: I know I love talking, and I can talk pretty much all day about coaching, but I do not love talking “live”. It’s stressful. It makes me connect with how some students (or teachers) feel when you ask them to record themselves at all. I’m used to recording myself for all sorts of things and I know I can stop, watch and edit so it’s “easy”, but this pressure of doing it “right” in the moment is a little more than I can say I “enjoy”. I’m guessing this is pretty much how many people (students and teachers alike) feel when they are asked to record themselves any time.
Having said that, just like with this blog, I am so glad I have done these, and I continue to “force” myself to do them. Capturing those moments and those conversations are so powerful as reflection pieces, so useful as content for other educators that have questions or would like further info, and so great to pull together into one cohesive package to support anyone on their coaching journey. I also just appreciate pushing myself out of my comfort zone on a regular basis, even if it’s just a short way!
Being a Mentor
The Project: The Coach Microcredential: For about 8 months now, I’ve been the mentor to my cohort of AMAZING coaches as part of our first round of The Coach microcredential.
Do you want to hone your coaching skills and become the best instructional coach you can be? Our second cohort of The Coach begins on May 1st! Registration opens Monday. Learn more about The Coach here: www.edurolearning.com/the-coach #educoach #edtechcoach #isedcoach
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None of us knew exactly where this might go, and I am so impressed with how things have developed! I meet with each of my participants via Google Hangouts usually twice a month (based on their schedule and needs), I check in with them weekly via e-mail, and respond to their posts in our private forums as soon as they add something new, and of course, any time they have a question, I respond within 24 hours. It’s been such a pleasure getting to know all of my participants so well, and to help them build their coaching skills over the course of this academic year.
The overarching focus of the microcredential is a personal project (like a capstone project) where each participant sets an individual goal that they would like to achieve throughout the year, and I help them work towards that goal. At the end of the program (next month), they’ll produce a video demonstrating what they achieved and how it went for them.
The Learning: Not to “toot my own horn” but this is how professional development should be: personalized, focused, relevant and practical. Each participant set their own goal, and the course materials, as well as our regular dialogue and anything else I have found that’s relevant, along with their regular reflection on their learning, has supported them in their work towards achieving that goal. Quite literally, every single thing in this process has been about supporting them in achieving their coaching goals. Needless to say, I am so excited to see their final video reflections and to share them with you!
Also, I’m not surprised that I like doing this so much. I am so type-A that I have every great coaching resource I’ve ever come across all organized and easily accessible, I love making connections between different experiences, I love supporting teachers and coaches in reaching their goals, and I love coaching people through problem solving practices. It all comes together in my role as a mentor. Plus I get the bonus of working with Diana and Chrissy as a mentor team so we can keep improving our practice and the experience for our awesome participants.
I realize that as I’ve made the transition to working for myself (ie: Eduro Learning), I don’t always do a great job of reflecting on the professional learning I’m doing. There’s something very different about “running a business” than there is working in a school.
But, when I stop and take a moment to reflect, I realize that I am not only learning how to be a better coach (my career for most of my life), but I’m also learning how to build (and grow) a business. There is so much opportunity for me to be a learner here, I just have to take a moment to appreciate it, and document my thinking, so I can track my growth over time.
This makes me think that I should be blogging about what I’m learning about starting a business, and maybe I will, but the more interesting piece to me is how much I’ve learned about being a good coach through this whole process. Even though I would consider myself an experienced learning coach, and that I am creating content and resources for others based on what I already know, I am always looking for that opportunity for more learning.
In the end, I think it’s all about your mindset. If you’re going into a project or an experience as an expert who already knows everything, you’re going to leave that experience knowing pretty much what you started with. But, if you go in thinking it’s a great opportunity for learning, you could leave with so much more!
So, having said all that, think about how much YOU could learn through The Coach microcredential! Although there is TONS of awesome course content (26 weeks of course learning), the overarching focus throughout the academic-year is the personal project where YOU, the participant, set a personal / professional goal and work with your mentor (me, in the Premium package, Diana in the Academy package) to achieve that goal. Do you have that learner’s mindset? Are you willing to take the chance and be a learner with me?
How do you keep your learner’s mindset “on” all the time?
- Learning is Hanging Out by Alan Levine, CC Licensed on Flickr
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