PSD70 Learning Coach Program

A Parkland School Division Blog Site

Thank you

Thank you.  After two years in the learning coach program I leave you with these 2 simple words.

To the team at Learning Services; thank you for your vision and passion for creating a program that benefits students in such a meaningful way. Your support, expertise, and perseverance have certainly allowed this program the success it has experienced to this point.

Thank you.  To the administration at SGCHS.  Without your ongoing encouragement, brainstorming, creativity, and drive, this experience would not have been nearly as rewarding.  I am very fortunate to work at such a great school.

Thank you.  To my fellow learning coaches.  Your contagious energy, vision to do what is right for children, and commitment to continual learning has inspired me over the past two years.  I wish you nothing but continued growth and success as you move forward.

I miss teaching, and the day to day connection with students that you can only get if you have your own class.  I will miss the people and the experiences from these past two years, but am looking forward to what comes next.  Thank you for the opportunities, the learning, and bringing enjoyment to the day to day work that we have done.

New beginnings

One of the unique aspects of working in a high school is that every 5 months, we hit the “reset” button with new classes and students with new opportunities and challenges.

This semester, my 4th as a learning coach at SGCHS has started off with a bang.  From classroom visits, one on one consultations, co-teaching, and leading several classes through learning activities there has been no shortage of new opportunities.  Our staff is welcoming and always appreciative of any assistance or guidance I can provide, and are committed to doing what is best for our students at SGCHS.  I am fortunate to work with such a wonderful group of people as we tackle the challenges and celebrate the early successes of our reset and a new semester.

Student Engagement

This year through the PSD Learning Coach program, I have the opportunity to be involved in a Professional Learning Community that will spend time looking at the topic of student engagement.  This is one of the 3 priorities outlined by Parkland School Divison.

The PLC is an invaluable tool to have focussed time to look at our teaching practices and how we can continue to engage students in their learning.  Everyone has a busy schedule, and to have dedicated time put aside for this is necessary for it to get the intentional work done that is so important.  From a professional development perspectivee, the opportunity to leverage the collective knowledge, experience, and passion of the group will provide the greatest benefit.

I am excited to get started on this work today, knowing that I will be able to bring back and work with teachers in my school to implement ideas and strategies that will have a direct impact on student success and learning!

Perspective


cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Emily Wheeler

As we wrap up our first year in the Learning Coach program, I have spent some time reflecting on the different perspectives I have had the opportunity to explore.

As a teacher for the past 12 years, I have had the opportunity to become very comfortable and confident in my specialty. This year, as a learning coach I have had the privilege of seeing our school from many different perspectives. There are a wide range of skills, abilities, passions, and ideas  that I have had the opportunity to learn about, and then share within our building. The unique opportunity to be in a science lab, a mechanics shop, an English classroom, and a French Immersion room all in one day is a very diversified experience as an educator.

Moving forward I know my perspective will continue to change and I look forward to the learning this will bring.

 

Two Apps to Start

With a seemingly endless number of applications and technology opportunities out there, it can be difficult to narrow down a couple of simple and effective apps for teachers.  This applies to everyone, but especially to teachers who are new to implementing these in the classroom.  Two apps that I have found to be most beneficial and useful for classroom teachers are www.socrative.com and www.remind101.com.  They are both easy to set up, and can be used within the same day to give immediate positive feedback to the new or unsure teacher.

There are so many great apps out there, but in my experience it can be overwhelming to hear about so many of them and not know which to start with.  The above two apps will give confidence to the classroom teacher and hopefully get them excited to dig deeper into the unknown!

The Breakfast Club

In an effort to offer a wide variety of learning and collaborative opportunities for the staff at SGCHS, I have oragnized what we are calling “The Breakfast Club”.  I will offer a variety of topics for learning and sharing, and we will meet at 7:15am for a homemade breakfast, followed by the learning/sharing for the day.

This is done on a volunteer basis and the general topic is communicated to staff in advance.  We had our first “Breakfast Club” today.  I had 8 staff members come to the school for 7:15.  We had a spectacular breakfast, chatted about what we were doing for students and followed that up with a 30 minute introduction to www.socrative.com.

With future Breakfast Club activities we will cover a variety of topics in a variety of ways.  I am looking forward to seeing how it progresses over the course of the year, but feel we had a great start today!

A collective effort

As I continue to learn and share more about my role as a learning coach, I have some thoughts on our classroom environments and how the structure of those has changed since the first public school was established in 1881.  For most of the past 130 years the teacher has had the information.  The students have been the ones receiving the information, and eventually regurgitating it back to the teacher is some form of what we now call summative assessment.

Education has changed in many ways over the last century plus…however over the past 15 years, the opportunity for students to access information has created a change in education unlike any other I am aware of.  Students now come into our classrooms with knowledge, experience, and expertise that was non-existent in previous generations. As well, the opportunity to access new learning in a much faster and more immediate manner has revolutionalized learning at all levels.

It begs some thinking…if the access to information and student learning has changed so drastically, could our approach to teaching use this to increase student learning?

As we move forward in education, can we find ways to use the collective knowledge, experience, and expertise in the classroom to increase the learning, engagement, and results for our students?  The role of the teacher in this thinking is even more important as they know are more than just sharing knowledge/information.  The teacher can now create a culture in their environment that allows for shared experiences, individualized learning, and unique ways to engage in the process.  This is a new challenge that will have its own learning and challenges for all involved, but may help meet the needs of our students in the world that exists today.

An Untitled Document

 

An Untitled Document

One of the challenges I have had as a learning coach is in understanding and communicating to teachers exactly what I can offer in terms of support for their teaching practice, and in turn how we as a school can help improve student learning.

As the role of the learning coach evolves over time, I thought it may be useful to have a few tools to refer to.  Through interactions with colleagues, administration, and fellow learning coaches I have created this document that I have found value in using as a tool for working with teachers.  This has helped me provide a “menu” in which teachers can identify an area for growth or expertise.  If the teacher identifies an area for growth I can lend my time, experience, and energy to ensure the teacher gains greater knowledge and expertise.  If this is an identified area of expertise, I will leverage this to increase the capacity in our building for the whole staff.

If we are operating with a growth mindset, the goal would be for teachers to identify BOTH an area of expertise and an area for growth.

I believe that every teacher, every year, and with every class must start at the bottom of this model.  Creating a culture of learning and high expectation in your classroom must be intentional, thought out, and practiced consistently. Effective teachers take care of this in a short period of time, yet continue to reflect upon how they are creating culture.  They will make subtle changes when needed, and provide consistency within the environment.

As this culture is being created, educators are able to move up the model to meet the goals of their department, the school, and the school division.  With all of these aspects, the continual process of plan, teach, and reflect will allow for growth and learning as indicated at the top of the model.  In general terms, it certainly helps for teachers to have a comfort level with the lower tiers of the model as they work towards the next level.  An example of this would be that teachers need to effectively communicate with students as a base.  Teachers can then understand student needs and then be able to differentiate instruction.

Obviously, a simple document like this does not encapsulate the entire teaching process, and may still have significant gaps.  I would ask you to consider these three questions to help make this document more meaningful.

  1.  What would you add/delete/clarify?
  2. I call this post the “An Untitled Document” as that is what my google form named it when I did not capture a title.  Please help me “name” this model!  One suggestion so far as been to call it the “Art of Teaching”, and I am sure there are other great titles out there!
  3. How do you see this being implemented in the learning coach process?

I look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

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