Over the span of my career in education, I have had the opportunity to experience two distinct coaching models - Cognitive Coaching and RELAY. As I reflect on my experience as an educator and coach, I find myself comparing the two models and exploring why I strongly prefer one approach to the other. Before I continue with my comparison, it is important to note that I have only attended training for Cognitive Coaching. My experience with RELAY is limited to a quick introduction to the model in a general coaching course, my experience being coached with the model as a teacher, and my experience rating coaching candidates as a member of my school's personnel committee.
My previous blog post on Cognitive Coaching primarily discussed the strengths of the training itself in terms of how well it exemplifies best practices for adult learners. It's been almost three years since I wrote this post. During that time I have been able to implement the coaching techniques presented, especially in my current role as a Digital Coach. I believe there are distinct characteristics of Cognitive Coaching that make it an excellent fit for my strengths and has contributed to my success as an instructional coach. Before I dive more deeply into those characteristics, let me first provide an overview of the two models through a concrete example.
To prepare for this hypothetical coaching conversation, I created documents to prepare for the coaching conversation, one using the RELAY framework and one using Cognitive Coaching. While preparing these documents, I was able to make a comparison of the two models.
Based on this experience, I find that Cognitive Coaching is more consistent with my coaching philosophy. Below are the values and beliefs that guide my coaching practice:
Cognitive Coaching also utilizes my strength in asking deep questions to facilitate teacher thinking. The model starts with the premise that all teachers are capable of determining meaningful next steps to improve their instruction. For those teachers who get stuck, Cognitive Coaching also allows the coach to step into a more directive, consulting role with the permission of the teacher. This simple act of asking permission allows the model to maintain a partnership atmosphere and leads to a more positive experience. The flexibility this provides also makes it easy to adjust the conversation to the needs of the teacher - whether they simply need a thought partner or they need someone to make recommendations for their classroom.
In contrast, when preparing a conversation with RELAY, I did not feel like I was able to ask enough questions to elicit deep reflection. I felt pressure to force a teacher to accept the next steps I deemed right for them, instead of taking ownership of determining next steps for themselves. The practice opportunity felt too much like a performance task and I did not get the feedback I wanted as a coach to make sure that our coaching conversations were meeting the teacher's needs. As a teacher, I dreaded coaching conversations that used RELAY, knowing that I would be asked to work on instructional goals that may not interest me in order to appease my evaluator. Overall, the approach feels inconsistent with my coaching philosophy and does not use my personal strengths.
What coaching models do you prefer and why? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
It would be an understatement to call myself a podcast junkie. I just simply love being able to listen and learn while I drive, clean dishes, fold laundry, get ready...I feel like I'm always listening to something. While this habit is largely a personal one, it's definitely come in handy in my role as a Digital Coach. Many teachers are looking for new ways to present engaging content to students and I've been fortunate enough to be able to make some podcast recommendations. Below are lists for Science and Social Studies of podcasts that are related to the content area. All of them are very well produced and do an excellent job fact-checking and investigating topics thoroughly.
Additionally, This American Life has created the ability to share up to 30 second clips in the form of a video. Find the episode you would like to clip on their website and their easy tool allows you to share segment of text from the episode by clicking "Share a clip".
This then opens an editor for you to select the text segment you want using the transcript. After you select your portion, the site creates a video that highlights text as the episode reads. You can see below for a sample of what this looks like. What a great way to support English Language Learners!! While I wish the clips could be longer, this is a great start to making podcasts easier to use in the classroom.
Do you use podcasts in your classroom? Have any recommendations?
Please feel free to add them to the comments below!
I can't believe it's already time to start thinking about InnEdCO 2018! I am extra excited this year since my new position has given me the opportunity to play more with edtech than ever before. As a Digital Coach, I have been able to support teachers from a variety of content areas with implementing new and innovative ideas into their instruction. It is so much fun to learn about other content areas and how technology can be best leveraged to enhance student learning. Because of this, I found myself struggling to narrow down which topics I want to present on this year. This forced me to really reflect on the work I've been doing and which skills and passions I have developed the most. With three session applications available, here is where I landed. I have included links to the proposals in the title - any and all feedback is always appreciated!
Access is Not Enough: a tech lens on equity
This session comes from my passion for examining equity alongside edtech. This year, I've experienced rolling out 1:1 Chromebooks in an urban setting and am finding that simply putting devices in the hands of students does not suddenly level the playing field. I really enjoy giving Ignite talks on topics I'm passionate about. I'm ready to share some of my learning around how we can do better as edtech to make sure all students are able to benefit.
Teaching Math in a Chromebook School
As a former math teacher, Chromebooks were never my first choice. It can be very difficult to have an entire math class facilitated via keyboard without a user-friendly math syntax system - very few things beat handwriting. I have had the amazing opportunity to support some math teachers in my position and am excited to facilitate a conversation with these teachers and others around how to best utilize a school-wide adopted device for a content that may lend itself well to a keyboard.
Hyperdocs: take your Google Drive to the next level
In my previous and current position, I have found myself creating a ton of user guides using strategic linking and bookmarking. For example, my Making Schoology Pretty Guide allows users to navigate all of the different ways they can make Schoology more aesthetically pleasing by opening with a menu of topics. Since creating these guides, I have found myself supporting many teachers with creative lesson ideas that use these same skills. With so many examples, I thought it would be design a workshop where I guide participants on how to create their own Hyperdoc to meet their individual needs - teacher support, student support, personalized learning playlist, etc. I really wanted to push myself to do something bigger this year and I hope that this workshop will be a great avenue to expand my presentation types while providing participants with a useful and personalized learning experience.
I would love any and all feedback on my proposals! If you are looking to submit a proposal, the deadline is December 8th. You can submit your proposal using the directions here.
What are you submitting as proposals to InnEdCO? Are you getting as excited as me? Feel free to use the comments to start a conversation about this amazing learning opportunity!
As the school year starts, I like to center myself with great videos, podcasts, and other media. One of my favorite podcasts, Note to Self, recently shared a TED talk by host Manoush Zomorodi. As the digital coach for a 1:1 school, I love the way Manoush reminds us that just because you have technology, doesn't mean you have to always be on your device. In her talk, called Bored and Brilliant, Manoush uses illustrative storytelling to remind us of the value of being bored.
I hope you enjoy this inspiring TED talk as much as I do!
The last two days were filled with so much learning I was able to attend several incredible sessions that pushed my thinking and provided me with a ton of great resources. I'm excited to be able to share them with other teachers this school year.
First, I attended a session about redesigning classroom spaces. Their presentation gave some great ideas for re-purposing furniture to create a more welcoming and effective classroom space. It reminded me a lot of an article I read about Caves, Campfires and Watering Holes by Ann W. Davis and Kim Kappler-Hewitt. You can find their presentation, which includes video classroom tours, here.
Next, I attended a session by Noah Geisel focused on Chrome Extensions for literacy. As a math teacher, it was cool to check out the Chrome extensions Hypothesis, Diigo and Stackup and learn about how they can be useful to support learning in English classrooms. Each extension has slightly different functionality. Hypothesis and Diigo allow students to annotate articles and engage in conversations with their peers and the world. Stackup provides students with a online reading log that shows their time spent reading on different topics and the reading levels of the articles they have read online. It was fun to play with each of them and think about how they can be used in the classroom.
I also presented Ignite talk called "Why Educators Should Share". This was a reprised version of a previous Ignite talk I did during 2015, where I stressed the importance of teacher blogging and social media sharing. You can watch it below. I have also included the slides, which include the script in the notes.
After lunch, I attended Kevin Crogan's session, focused on planning learner progressions. His model helps teachers differentiate different levels of understanding and provide them with the vocabulary to guide learners in designing their own learning progression. You can find his presentationhere. Below is an example of his incredibly helpful planning document filled out.
I then attended a session by Galen Mitchell, focused on Universal Design. She did an incredible job illustrating the difference between differentiation and Universal Design and how we can approach creating lessons differently. Focusing on student choice and flexible lessons, Universal Design is a refreshing lens on providing students with lessons that support their learning as individuals. You can find her presentation here. Below is an excellent tweet that shows the comparison between differentiation and Universal Design.
Next, I attended the inspirational Keynote of Rusul Alrubail. While I have been fortunate enough to be exposed to many equity-focused keynotes over the past year (see previous blog posts), I feel lucky to have made such a personal connection to Rusul. She shared an inspiring message focused on elevating student voice, kindness, empathy and the importance of representation and authenticity as an educator. Below is a collection of my favorite tweets from Rusul's keynote.
Last, but not least, I engaged in a conversation with Mustefa, an innovative strategist, around design thinking and the importance of understanding context to solve a problem. Very often companies come up with complicated procedures for engaging in design work, when a straightforward and simple thinking process can help us solve our problems. Once we can identify our context, we can then consider the challenges that come up and the corresponding opportunities and risks for each challenge. From there, we can take action in the ways that best support reaching our intended goal. Mustefa emphasized how it is not necessary to engage in a complex set of structures to really tackle our problems, including those involving systems of inequity. Once we have a solid understanding of the context, anything is possible.
How has your week been at InnEd CO? What great equity-focused Keynotes have you heard?
Please share in the comments below!
This week, I am lucky enough to attend InnEdCO for another year. I am always so excited to see so many familiar faces and add new people to my network of incredible educators. Below are some highlights from Day 1.
I also had the chance to hear Ken Shelton present an opening keynote on the importance of student voice in our schools. He talked about equipping students with the tools they need to amplify their voice to share with the world. There is great power and responsibility in sharing our stories and he did a wonderful job illustrating this idea with relevant stories and touching student narratives. You can watch videos of some of his talks on his website.
I was also able to attend a session on #techquity from Kevin Riebau. This session touched on finding the intersection of Essential Skills and Culturally Relevant Education to create better instruction to prepare students for success. I greatly appreciated the combination of a formative check-for-understanding and application time built-in to the session. This made sure they could pace with the audience understanding and provide an opportunity for the new learning to stick. You can check out the presentationhere.
What are your highlights from Day 1 at #InnEdCO17? Please share them in the comments below!
As the year winds down, I hope that teachers across the country are taking some time to relax and prepare for summer. In the case you have some time to watch some great keynotes, I've decided to share two that I loved from the 2017 Carnegie Summit. I attended the summit in late March, but these keynotes have still stuck with me.
The first keynote features Becky Margiotta and Joe McCannon, who share their model for taking smaller, successful change ideas and scaling them up. Joe provides the general model, while Becky illustrates their approach through a touching story about her work finding housing for the homeless in cities across the United States.
The second video, is from Jeff Duncan-Andrade. He has given similar talks before about the importance of relationships when working with students (you may have seen is roses in the concrete TED Talk). What struck me about this video in particular, what his presentation on how focusing on increasing student sense of cultural identity had led a group of Maori students in New Zealand to increase their academic outcomes. This is a must-watch if you are feeling bogged down by the weight of the year and need a good reminder of why you are in education.
What keynotes and TED Talks have stuck with you? Post your favorites in the comments below!
When I was in the classroom, I remember April feeling like one of the longest months. This year, I find myself reflecting upon my teaching practice, specifically the technology I used in my classroom. While I was always trying new things, I decided to go back through my blog archives and pick out some of my favorite tech tools. It reminds me how much I miss my students and the ways we were able to work together to use our technology for learning. Check out each entry below to learn more about how I used it in my classroom. Enjoy!
I was fortunate enough to attend the 2017 Carnegie Summit on Improvement in Education in San Francisco for the past two days. This conference focused on using the tools of Improvement Science to help organizations solve larger problems, especially those related to issues of equity in education. While the two days were packed full of learning, I had some key takeaways from the experience.
First, many organizations are working on creating effective online communities of practice, but have limited success with implementation. It is clear that there is great potential in using the unique tools of an online space to create meaningful extended learning experiences. Participants are able to engage with different kinds of media, increase processing time and provide each other with feedback that is often neglected during face-to-face sessions. The trouble seems to be in making sure the online space is created and launched in a way that has the intended outcomes for participants. This is a problem of practice that I am very interested in studying. Since I am not familiar with Improvement Science, it was also recommended that I practice Improvement Science personally before looking to extend it to others. As a result of the conference, I have decided to practice using Improvement Science to systematically approach this problem and share my experiences and reflections with others. Hopefully, I will be able to gain some useful insights that help us better leverage the power of online communities to drive work forward.
Second, I was particularly impressed by the work of Becky Kanis Margiott and Joe McCannon and the Billions Institute. Their keynote focused on unleash great ideas in order to positively impact the world on a grand scale. Joe did an excellent job explaining the larger concept of scaling-up great work while Becky provided a concrete example through her work helping house 100,000 of the most vulnerable homeless people across the United States. The back-and-forth format did an excellent job providing a clear vision for how we can expand successful initiatives to have a greater impact. I would be leaving out a major asset to this keynote if I did not mention how vulnerable Becky was during the presentation. I was honored to hear her story of coming out and leaving the military, accompanied by several quips that played upon lesbian stereotypes. Her unapologetic and authentic approach to her story made it both memorable and inspiring.
Last, but not least, was the final keynote of Jeff Duncan-Andrade. He made incredibly profound statements, focused on the incredibly alarming inequity that plagues the American education system. Many of the elements were similar to his previous TED talk below.
In addition to his thought-provoking message, he also dug deeply into the importance of supporting students in understanding their personal cultural identity. He showed a powerful video of students at a Maori school engaging in the customs of their culture. This school focuses on and measures the students' sense of identity as a part of their educational experience. With supporting data (below), the school demonstrates how focusing on the student's sense of identity also lead to long-term growth in their academic achievement. Most importantly, Jeff points out this change occurred after several years - a length of time that would be too long for many American schools to continue with any single strategy. I believe I will continue processing this keynote both professional and personally for a long time.
I look forward to continue sharing my work related to this conference in the future and learning more about Improvement Science. If you have any tips of recommendations, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
Mattea Garcia is a passionate educator dedicated to improving instruction by utilizing technology. This blog is dedicated to reflections on educational technology tools, instructional coaching, and educational equity.