In January 2020, I met Ann for the first time during the Guam Department of Education EdTech Standards Implementation project that Powerful Learning Practice is leading that supports implementation of GDOE’s new technology standards by connecting school teams, coaches and an online community of practice. Ann is the school librarian at Tamuning Elementary School, one of the school teams that I work with to support as a Connected Coach. My coaching role includes conversations about team member learning through webinars, collaborative and independent activities to explore learning in the online community, developing implementation plans and technology troubleshooting. During the five months, Ann and I connected and collaborated in many ways.
One of the most important roles of a coach is to build relationships to better know team members, understand the challenges, celebrate the successes and be supportive not only in academics, but the whole teacher. Ann and I spent time doing just that. We learned about each other and our families through sharing vacation pictures, discussing interesting TV shows, pictures of Guam and Alabama as we navigated quarantine together, and checking on each other.
One evening, Ann started up a conversation, after she read a post called Social-Emotional Learning: Not Just for Kids that Jennifer Bloomington, Director of Community Engagement at #plpnetwork posted in the GDOE online community, The post included a podcast. We listened separately to the podcast and then shared tidbits and takeaways in real time through messaging each other. The sharing resulted in Ann being inspired to share the following within the online community, “From the podcast, I like the color bracelet idea for students to show how their feeling as a non verbal tool. Students often have a difficulty time sharing their emotions and this idea helps with any pressure for getting any special attention.” The post got some attention as others asked about the podcast.
During the webinar on the Global Collaborator standard, Ann shared that she and fellow educator, Kanani, wanted to explore having students write and publish stories using Google Slides. This idea was shared in the “elementary breakout” room during the webinar. Ann and I connected through Zoom and used a collaborative Google Slide deck to brainstorm our first “choose your own adventure story”. After we had our problem, characters and location, we began working in the slides to create a story with images and buttons for the reader to interact with the story. What we discovered as we co-created the slides was that by using the lens of students, we gained a better understand of how to design the learning experience to support the students.
Many resources have been shared over the last five months. Ann wanted to explore ways for students to share what they are reading. She created a Padlet and asked her daughter, Helen, (fellow elementary school librarian) and myself to connect through Zoom to brainstorm and try ideas out. We became her students and by learning from us that enabled her to discover not only how to not only add pictures and text, but also how to add a video from YouTube. Through our collaborative learning she figured out how to have the students ask questions or give reflection on what another student posted by using the “make a connection” feature in the tool. With each feature we tried, more ideas were sparked. I know when the Book Cover Blurb Padlet is introduced to students, it will be very popular.
As one of our final tasks together, Ann wanted to organize the resources she had most connected to during the EdTech Standards Implementation Project. Resources which included her ideas for implementation in the classroom and ways to share her learning with administrators and fellow educators. Together, we discussed her goals before choosing the tool. She decided to create her first website using Google Sites to be a portfolio of her learning and plans. We explored the many features, layouts, and pros/cons of each as she designed her portfolio. Like many times before, while creating Ann discussed additional ways Google Sites may support her work with students. Now that she has created a site, Ann knows her students can too.
I am very honored to have had the opportunity to guide Ann on her journey with the EdTech standards, exploring resources that will support her teaching and in building her learning network. I look forward to continuing to connect and learn together!
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Your journey with Ann was interesting to read about. I’m sure she has gained a wealth of knowledge with your expertise. It’s exciting to hear about helping students to use technology for learning. Ann was fortunate to have experienced mentoring from a passionate coach like you. Keep up the great work April. All schools need educators like you to benefit from. You not only enlighten other educators but you also inspire and enlighten the children with whom the educators work with.
Thank you Jackie! I have been coached by amazing educators so know first hand the value of having a coach support my growth and work. I bring that understanding and my skills to the teams of educators I coach through PLP as they grow in their knowledge, collaborate and create to educate their students. I was able to work with Ann and her team for 5 months to walk along with them. I am really excited to start not only new coaching groups with teams in Guam, but also year-long teams through the Connected Learner Experience which will begin in the fall, https://plpnetwork.com/for-schools-districts-states/.