- I've pushed beyond my comfortable boundaries in education and have learned to reach out; specifically through collaboration, coaching, and personal growth, which all comes back to being better for our students
- I've learned to see myself as a coach and a leader. This was challenging given that I've only been in the profession for less than four years and just hit the ripe age of 30. It's easy to use years as an excuse, but DLCN helped me embrace that years don't always = impact potential
- DLCN has empowered me to grow my PLN and make the most of the inspiring educators that lead, mentor, and coach as a part of this group. Part of why I was drawn to join were the names I recognized from the first cohort, but I quickly gained more friends by joining. A PLN is more than just people I meet at conferences and meetings -- DLCN coaches are spread across our state, so we most often connect via social media. As an introvert with social anxiety, being connected online is a way to raise my voice, but also, at the DLCN meetings, I thrived being able to talk with other like-minded educators who wanted to discuss, deepen knowledge, and learn from one another.
- Additionally, I was encouraged to grow my PLN outside DLCN; I learned the value of relationships and became more confident and outgoing at making those connections with educators I met throughout the year
Meeting 1 - october 2015 // coaching v. teaching
- To move from teaching to coaching, I embraced a "lead by example" mindset
- At the end of October, I invited 2nd grade teachers to a Virtual Field Trip experience that aligned with their weather science unit to demonstrate using the tools, student engagement, and how it covers the same standards such as main idea, supporting details, and communicative skills using technology that's more relevant than a worksheet.
- With 5th graders, they created eBooks using the Book Creator app that would serve as supplemental materials for a 1st grade social studies unit. Teachers caught wind and wanted to start using the same app for student reports as it's far more applicable as an assessment tool.
- An ESL teacher adapted an Augmented Reality / app-smashing project I did with a grade level to serve her students as formative assessment for those whom need auditory feedback
- Running a Twitter book club (#YearofYA) w/ Tavia has been fun and beneficial for us personally, but it's also setting an example for secondary teachers to rethink using social media to reach students; teaching digital citizenship and literacy can go hand-in-hand by meeting students positively and proactively "where they are" online (Twitter/instagram/snapchat/etc)
Meeting 2 - January 2016 // Administrative action plan
- To be an effective coach, it helps to have a supportive administration; admin support also leads to more teacher buy-in
- By working with my principal at this meeting, he got a better feel for my innovative spirit and initiative, which brings about more leadership opportunities
- I also gained perspective of the whole school and his vision for my role among students and staff; the "big picture" mentality is necessary when representing and reaching out to many
Meeting 3 - march 2016 // ncties presentation
- We were encouraged to present at this technology conference, which isn't easy for someone with anxiety. However, having a partner-in-crime to do it with you, and getting practice at several "smaller" conferences, made it much easier. The experiences have been monumental in growing my confidence, but also in valuing what OTHER teacher-presenters have to contribute at these events. Keynotes and featured speakers are wonderful, but hearing from others "in the trenches" is so beneficial and equally inspirational.
- I was inspired by a group to adapt a PBL w/ my art teacher, using digital tools to enhance what's already been done in her room & the classroom. It taught students essential tech skills, increased participation in students who don't feel creative or artistic, and set an example for the other teachers on how to rethink using tech in lessons. These successes all came from a group of teachers willing to share an idea and taking the time to present it in front of other educators -- that's why I'll continue to put myself out there.
One of the best experiences I had w/ students this year - thanks to these virtual relationships - came from another DLCN coach in Davidson County. Marley reached out and asked if I had a class in mind that would be willing to do a project collaboratively. A 2nd grade teacher was wanting to make timelines more relevant and interesting for her students, and Marley suggested an app we learned about at our first meeting, Goose Chase, might be a great way to connect 2 classrooms. She exercised EXTREME patience with my crazy Spring schedule, but we eventually pulled it off! Students on both ends learned basic research skills as they explored their county's history, we used iPads and the DoInk app to "green screen" time travel students back to the events they studied, then wrote a short summary ("Tweet-length" for using digital literacy terminology) to share with students on the other end. After all the Goose Chase challenges were met and each class had time to review historical events, we had a Google Hangout where we asked and answered questions - everything from the historical events, to more practical matters like "do you ride a ferry to school?" (Manteo is on an island) and "how cold does it get there?" (Friedberg is near the mountains). The experience was so memorable for our students, and all the uses of technology were about learning, growing, and connecting.
Meeting 4 - June 2016 // implementing
I touched on this before this last meeting, but our last formal session just solidified how important it is that we get to know the people we work with, grow a PLN, and put ourselves out there. Some of the other coaches were familiar (and occasionally, not-so-familiar) faces that were present across the room earlier this year rather than people who worked in my group, but I had opportunities to listen to them demonstrate coaching, give awards to peers who inspired them, discuss successes they had over the year... and I was further amazed by how many passionate, innovative, engaged educators work in our state. If you just listen to the media (and our politicians), our schools and the profession are pretty broken. The leaders at DLCN absolutely prove that otherwise.
- Frequent changes in curriculum lead to new ways to demonstrate best practices for student achievement.
- Essential information technology positions cut lead to application of these important skills via new positions (AIG, library, classroom).
- Funding, assistants, SPACES eliminated in school libraries make advanced-degreed educators the masters of using scraps, "trash," and cast-aways into beautiful, engaging, crafty places of safety and inclusion for all students via #macgyverlibrarianship
- Teachers with limited devices at their disposal find creative aways for students to not only use technology, but to curate and contribute information; to give them an audience
I could keep going, but these are just a few of the stories or lessons I witnessed among my DLCN peers. We need to help our colleagues see the positive, work on solutions, share successes, and tell our school/classroom stories. Being a part of this cohort taught me that being a coach isn't overextending myself, trying to solve every problem, or taking over. A coach listens, discusses, encourages, and leads... compassionately.
Oh, and we have fun while we're at it. Thank you #NCDLCN