Monday, March 27, 2017

CoSN Framework and Aguilar

This Spring I have been involved in an independent book study based on E. Aguilar’s book, The Art of Coaching Teams (2016).  This has been a tremendous resource as I focus on my craft of being a technology integration coach. The book has allowed me to study how to work with teams in a more meaningful way and in a way which welcomes transformation in the classroom. As part of University of Montevallo’s Ed.S. program, we have been asked to reflect on the CoSN Framework (2015) and how that impacts our current role as an education leader. I was struck by the similarities between the Framework and Aguilar’s work. The Framework (2015) outlines ten different indicators. Indicator five focuses on “team building and staffing” (CoSN, 2014, p.8).

I currently have three, kindergarten through fifth grade schools. One of my schools is new to me this year, and as a result, I have spent much time focusing on team building and getting to know the teachers. I asked the literacy and math coach at this school to form a book group to study The Art of Coaching Teams as a way to get to know the coaches but also to learn from their knowledge as they had served this school for many years (Aguilar, 2016). During our book study, we discussed and reflected on one team in particular in order to focus the suggestions and methods Aguilar was recommending. CoSN breaks indicator five down into many different areas, but I will focus on three here as it relates to the work I did with the coaches:

5C - “Manage diverse, cross-functional teams that work and perform well.” (CoSN, 2015, p. 8)
The coaches and I did not create the teams. They were created based on which teachers taught at a grade-level. This grade level, fourth grade, had been working together for varying times. One teacher was a brand new teacher, two teachers were veteran teachers who had taught on this team for several years, and one teacher had recently moved from second grade to fourth grade. Since this team was already established it would be vital for me to know the history. Aguilar recommends reflecting on Indicators of An Effective Team (Aguilar, 2016, p. 6) and Dimensions of a Great Team (Aguilar, 2016, p. 3. Because I was new to this team, I chose to fill this checklist with the coaches to get feedback on where the team has been and where they are wanting to go. It was clear after reflecting on this checklist and talking to the other coaches, I would first have to gain respect from the new team.

5E - “Build an environment of trust through communication and transparency about  decisions and how they are made” (CoSN, 2015, p. 8)
My next step would be to gain trust from the fourth grade team as a new member of their learning community. Aguilar describes trust as the confidence we have in another’s character. She goes on to say “character comprises integrity, which includes how honest we are and how aligned our actions are to what we say” (Aguilar, p. 41). I knew it would be important for me to set goals with the team and to be transparent about why those goals were important. The first thing we tried was a coaching cycle with all three instructional coaches and the team. I made sure I told them that I wanted to do some sort of project where we could try a new approach, design thinking. I knew the teachers had new science standards they were anxious about teaching so I used that as a catalyst for our project. I was sure to explain to the team that how we approached this project would be up to them. I introduced a few units that might work for the design thinking process. During our planning time, the coaches and I followed the teachers’ lead but filled in with curriculum knowledge when needed.
Our planning meetings went for several weeks, but the end resulted in a design thinking unit on roller coasters. The teachers had the students create roller coasters from paper while embedding technology tools such as surveys, digital notebooks using Google Slides, and QR codes of videos where the students explained the design cycle.

5H- “Analyze and identify on an ongoing basis individual and team strengths, required areas of growth, and how teams and their members are being deployed and redeployed” (CoSN, 2015, p. 9)
I believe this unit was a success because of the work and focus we did as a team. The teachers felt listened to and respected because we used their strengths as a springboard for the project. Earlier in the year, I had gone into a team meeting with an agenda of teaching a tool I mentioned briefly the meeting before. The team had already taken that tool and used it extensively in the classroom. It was then that I realized I had not honored who this team was; they were self-reliant and took the initiative to adopt a technology tool quickly. They did admit they had a difficult time letting go and being less directive with the students. Because of their honesty and transparency, I was able to decide that the design thinking unit was the perfect fit for their team. The students would be the ones who guided where the project went. Aguilar (2016) says “learning is the primary work of all teams” (p.292). Because the teachers felt their needs were listened to and addressed, their learning was honored.  I cannot wait to try this approach again with another team.


Aguilar, E. (2016). The art of coaching teams: building resilient communities that transform schools. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Consortium for School Networking (2015). CoSN's framework of essential skills of the K-12 CTO.

Retrieved March 27, 2017, from

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Coaching Conversations

What makes an effective coach? Marzano, Simms, Roy, Heflebower, and Warrick (2013) argues coaching must begin with conversations (p. 214). The authors outline four different types of conversations which can take place between a teacher and the coach. One type of conversation, “facilitating conversations are designed to aid a teacher in clarifying goals” (Marzano, Simms, Roy, Heflebower, & Warrick, 2013, p. 213). This has been my overarching goal as a tech coach this year while I am working with grade-level teams. Every fall I ask teachers to fill out a survey asking them their comfort level with certain tools. More importantly I also ask them what tech integration goals do they have for themselves for the year. During our first monthly team meeting, we review the survey results along with data from a student survey measuring growth which occurred the previous year. We discuss common themes and goals each individual on the team has in common with the other teachers on the team. We then select one or two goals to focus on and tackle during our monthly tech meetings as a team. During the conversations I am sure to ask “clarifying questions to help the teacher identify goals whose achievement will result in growth for the teacher” (Marzano, Simms, Roy, Heflebower, & Warrick, 2013, p. 213). This approach was greatly accepted and appreciated. Each team walked away from our September meeting knowing what and how we would use each meeting.
During the last couple of month’s sessions, we continued that conversation by focusing on the team’s goals. The goals ranged from using Seesaw, an iPad app, to deepen students’ understandings when they recorded their mathematical thinking to more practical sessions on using the interactive whiteboards in the classroom. For each session regardless of goal, I structured our time based on Aguilar (2013) “Arc of Coaching Conversation” (p. 238). This arc included six tasks:
  1. “Check in and chat.” (It’s important to me to get to know the teachers on a personal and professional level. I always start by finding out new joys and/or stresses in their life and at school. This helps me gear my coaching to them individually. Plus, I just really like the teachers I work with and enjoy getting to know them.)
  2. “Create a plan for the conversation” (In our case, I would recap what we decided to focus on.)
  3. “Check in on previous commitments.”  (After each team meeting, I offer to come in and co-teach a lesson with the teachers. I would highlight some of that work or I would offer new research on the topic.)
  4. “Engage in coaching stances and approaches.”
  5. “Determine next steps.” (The teachers and I decide what to do with the new information we discussed and make a small action plan for the next time we meet.)
  6. “Reflect on conversation and ask for feedback.” (Here I would again schedule time to work in classrooms as requested. I would also recap our next steps for the next meeting and create a to-do list for myself to research questions asked.)
(Aguilar, 2013, p. 238)
Using conversation of the teachers, has changed my role as a coach. The first two years I was a coach, I focused solely on the new tools we had in the classrooms. After a few years the teachers became more comfortable with the tools and wanted to go deeper. This year has been a game-changer for our team meetings because it was responsive to the teachers’ needs in the classroom.
Image result for coaching conversations
Aquilar, E. (2013). The art of coaching: Effective strategies for school transformation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Boss.
Marzano, R.J., Simms, J.A., Roy, T., Heflebower, T., & Warrick, P. (2013). Coaching classroom instruction. Bloomington, IN: Marzano Research Laboratory.
Smith Leadership. What is coaching? (2012, July 17). Retrieved November 16, 2016, from

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Breakout Out of Traditional Coaching

As a technology coach, I believe it is important to model new and innovative ways of learning and teaching. I typically do this in an integrated way so I am presenting new information using an innovative strategy. For example, this summer our Tech Facilitators came for a summer training. Our ultimate goal was to create an environment of collaboration. To do this, we decided to incorporate gaming in the professional development session.  Marzano, Simms, Roy, Heflebower, and Warrick (2013) theorizes  educational games are effective because they hold students’ attentions. They say this is true because ”of the innate human desire to fill in missing information” (p. 50). BreakoutEDU games did just that for the teachers and later, their students.
If you’re not familiar with BreakoutEDU, check out this short introductory video:
The teachers completed a 45-minute mission to open the BreakoutEDU boxes by watching inspirational videos and doing activities centered on Growth Mindset. After the PD session, the teachers were excited to try this game in their classrooms. In order to meet the teachers’ goals of using this strategy, the tech coaches modeled with the students a Breakout lesson with the theme of digital citizenship while the teacher observed. Knight (2007) describes modeling as “going into teachers’ classrooms and showing them examples of how to employ the particular best practice that they are learning about” (p. 29).
The lesson was immediately followed by a coaching meeting with the teams to explore and to identify curriculum they wanted to try a BreakoutEDU kit with. This was accomplished by browsing the ready-made lessons on Goals to implement the learning strategy of gaming were identified and examined at each meeting. Marzano et. al. (2013) states it is important for a coach “to understand how the teacher must be supported to move from one level of the scale to the next” (p. 30). Some teachers decided to take BreakoutEDU to the next level by creating games themselves and also having the students create games for each other based on current units of study.
Marzano et. al. (2013) emphasizes four levels of behaviors for teachers and coaches. Below are the actions of each coaching sessions as the teachers moved from one level to the next. Being able to closely work with the teachers and implementing game-based strategies while writing and working through goals, proved to be an effective coaching opportunity.
Coaching Levels in Action:
  • 0 to 1- Teachers are introduced to BreakoutEDU by playing it themselves. Each faculty was asked to do a Breakout based on our district’s CIP goal- Creating a Welcoming Environment. The kit was created and distributed to all principals and played during the beginning of the year faculty meetings. The tech coaches also led the tech facilitators in a game during our summer training.
  • 1 to 2- Second through fifth-grade teachers observed as the tech coach came and demonstrated a Digital Citizenship breakout. The teachers observed student behavior and discussed what happened with the coach. The teacher chose one game to create and do with the class based on the current standards she/he was teaching.
  • 2 to 3- The teacher leads a Breakout session and the coach comes and observes. Coach and teacher discuss what happened with student learning and makes adjustments as needed.
  • 3 to 4- The teacher moves from a physical Breakout kit with boxes and locks to a digital Breakout session or creates a new game from scratch using the templates online. Children are asked to create their own Breakouts for other students to play.

Sanders, J. (2015, September 14). Introducing BreakoutEDU. Retrieved October 19, 2016, from
Knight, J. (2007). Instructional coaching: A partnership approach to improving instruction. Thousand Oaks, CA: NSDC.

Marzano, R.J., Simms, J.A., Roy, T., Heflebower, T., & Warrick, P. (2012). Coaching classroom instruction. Bloomington, IN: Marzano Research Laboratory.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Reflections on Coaching

Four years ago this past August, I started my journey as a tech coach. Just like my first years in the classroom, I thought coaching was about content and knowledge. I studied up on new tech tools the summer before and read about all of the newest and greatest tech fads. I have now realized content knowledge is important, but the most important thing about coaching is the relationship established with the teachers. In my classroom, children didn’t care what I knew until they knew I cared about them. Teachers are the same. I can have all the knowledge in the world, but if I don’t listen and hear what their needs are, it doesn’t matter how many new tech gadgets I know about. While forming relationships, I am able to show the teachers I am there to support their goals and this establishes trust. Marzano and Simms (2013) emphasize “trust is an important aspect of effective coaching relationships and effective schools” (p. 10).  Parker Palmer (2007) uses the phrase “teaching is a daily exercise in vulnerability” (p. 17). When I go into a classroom or into a team meeting, I always try to remember what it was like to be the teacher being coached and feeling vulnerable. I have been lucky that I have had two phenomenal coach mentors in my career that I have been able to model myself after.
Cameron McKinley, my tech coach when I was a fourth grade teacher, was (and is) an incredible teacher-leader. Cameron would often pop in while I was teaching to ask me a question, but she always had her eyes and ears open. She would read the charts on my walls, ask my students questions, and would ask me what I was teaching. She asked it in a way that I knew she wasn’t judging me but would gently offer me suggestions of how I could incorporate technology to help the students understand the concept better. She would not only suggest, she would also come in and support me as I implemented those ideas. I knew, because of the trust we had built, that I could always ask follow-up questions and advice. Cameron was split between many schools, but she would often take time to sit down with our team while we ate lunch to hear us talk about our lives and our frustrations and successes in our classrooms.
My second coach-mentor is Kathy Snyder, our literacy coach. Kathy is masterful at helping us identify, define and solve our problem areas as teachers. She did this through constant feedback. Marzano and Simms (2013) say “feedback helps teachers figure out how to accomplish their goals” (p. 11).  Kathy would often sit down at a meeting with me and I would discuss an issue I was having in my classroom. Through dialogue, she helped me identify what the root of the issue was and helped me set goals that were important to me. As a coach today, I work hard to listen to teachers’ personal goals. Gallwey (as cited in Marzano & Simms, 2013) expertly explains that by ”allowing someone to choose what to work on and how to work on it builds trust and keeps a coaching relationship from becoming manipulative” (p. 11). The video below also emphasizes the importance of using feedback from the coachee to drive instruction (Tremonte, 2016).  I apply this now as a tech coach and always start the year off with asking teachers to identify their goals and for me to help them achieve them.

Marzano, R.J., Simms, J.A., Roy, T., Heflebower, T., & Warrick, P. (2012). Coaching classroom instruction. Bloomington, IN: Marzano Research Laboratory.
Palmer, P. J. (2007). The courage to teach: Exploring the inner landscape of a teacher’s life. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Tremonte, A., (2016). ISTE coaching standard 4: Professional and program evaluation. YouTube. Retrieved 29 September 2016, from


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Instructional Design Reflection

During this term, we have explored Instructional Design through many articles, videos, and through a book study of Rapid Instructional Design by Piskurich (2015). Piskurich (2015) offers a definition of instructional design as “simply a process for helping you to create effective training in an efficient training” (p. 1). I believe instructional design is the process a trainer goes through to create professional development for the trainees which takes into account what the trainees need to know and how they need the information delivered.
While I have been a technology coach and a teacher-leader for several years, I don’t believe I have slowed down to really think about the process I go through in order to design training for adult learners. I believe the most beneficial thing I will take with me from this course is the ADDIE process for developing training. While I intuitively went through this process as I planned, it has helped tremendously to be able to read and study what each stage entails. Specifically, I have found my largest area of growth to be in the analyze phase of my planning. A needs assessment must be done before beginning to design effective course work. Piskurich (2015) says a needs assessment’s purpose “is to determine what needs (gaps) exist in the performance of that portion of the organization” (p. 55). As a tech coach this can be easily implemented in future trainings by sending out a Google Form to assess what the teachers hope to get out of the training. I hope this data will allow me to gear my trainings to relevant information for the teachers.
For the application part of this course, I have chosen to highlight an upcoming professional development I will be leading. This training is for Hoover City Schools' Engaged Learning Initiative (ELI) Facilitators. ELI is the initiative which was started with the implementation of 1:1 Chromebooks for students in grades 3-5, but also represents an overall mindset of innovation which comes with technology integration.  Two years ago, the tech department started a facilitators program which is a train-the-trainer model. Each grade level team at each of the ten schools has one teacher represented on the facilitators' team. The team together is affectionately called ELFs (Engaged Learning Facilitators). The ELFs are rock star teachers who are innovative and creative. I work on a team of three elementary coaches. Every year before school starts, the coaches have a workshop ("camp") for the ELFs. This is our chance to set the stage for the year. It's a chance to build the ELFs knowledge and to encourage growth. The training is from 8 am- 3 pm on August 3rd.
The handout on the first page is the overall structure of the day. Everything is linked from this page. I have pulled out the different elements needed for the project for convenience. It can be navigated from the tabs on the top-right of the website.
This training will prompt the ELFs to choose one passion project to focus on this year. The ELFs will join Google Classrooms based on their choice and will virtually meet throughout the year. They will essentially be forming PLCs (Professional Learning Communities) within this PLC of the ELF group. Tech Coaches will facilitate their discussions and growth. The handout will serve as the ELFs future reference for the training. They can access it through the URL we will share or through the Google Classroom.  


Piskurich, G. (2015). Rapid instructional design: Learning ID fast and right. New Jersey: Wiley.

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Development Stage of ADDIE

While developing a professional development session for teachers, I believe the development stage of ADDIE maybe the most important for a successful training. In order to create the course materials, schedules and training guides, instructor must have a clear vision of the objectives and where she or he wants to take the trainees. Print materials usually play a vital role in the training. Piskurich (2015) says “trainees will pay attention not to what the trainer says, but to the print overheads” (p. 236). As a result, much time and preparation should go to selecting aides which will support the learning.
As a tech coach, I often try to identify and use new tools in my trainings the teachers can see and take back to their classroom to use. I try to identify tools with an easy-to-use interface that teachers of all learning levels can use. One such tool, Gliffy, might be useful to use extensively in a training. Gliffy is a web-based tool which creates mind maps quickly and easily. Malamed (2010) says “Mind maps are a fluid way to visualize ideas through a diagrammatic structure. They graphically depict the connections between related concepts and ideas.” (N.p.)  I believe I could use this tool to aide in the development of a professional development. As a designer I can use the concept mapping to identify main points I want to address and also the subtopics of a particular subject. While developing PD, I often find it helpful to use paper and pencil to quickly sketch out the concepts; however, by moving to Gliffy, I would be able to efficiently produce the mindmaps digitally and share them with team members and co-presenters.

Gliffy could also be used to create materials for slideshows during professional development sessions. I often ask teachers to consider new innovations. We could use Gliffy to map questions and concepts as we brainstorm as a team. Because it is web based, the graphics can be easily referred to later and developed further. By modeling the new tool, the teachers would then have an idea of how they could use the tool in their classroom. Our elementary students have Chromebooks, and I can easily see Gliffy being a great tool for the students to use when they are planning a group project or planning out a fiction story in writer’s workshop.
Gliffy Online Introduction:


Gliffy Diagram Software Company (2013). Welcome to Gliffy Online. (2016). YouTube. Retrieved 29 July 2016, from

Malamed, C. (2010). Designing With Mind Maps. Retrieved 29 July 2016, from

Piskurich, G. (2015). Rapid instructional design: Learning ID fast and right. New Jersey: Wiley.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Training Strategies for Tech Coaches

During my three years as a tech coach I have been able to incorporate many strategies to engage learners. One tool, beginning of the year surveys, I have used for years. The other tool which fosters creative thinking, Design Thinking, I have experienced as a learner and hope to incorporate more into my job as a tech coach this year.
Each year brings about change and many times I am working with a brand new faculty. It is my job to quickly get to know my learners in order to meet their needs throughout the school year. According to Piskurich (2015) my first task is “to figure out generally who your audience is and then to gather all the information you think you may need about them” (p. 92).
One way I do that is to determine teachers’ prior knowledge of technology integration.  At the beginning of the 2016-17 year, I sent out a Google Form which had each teacher from my three different schools rate themselves on their comfort level with certain products, their knowledge level with the ISTE Standards, and an open-ended response so each teacher can let me know about certain goals they have for themselves. I chose these items because we had been in our second year of Google Apps for Education (GAFE) implementation, and I had predicted most teachers felt comfortable with the suite of products and were ready for deeper integration in their classroom. This would also allow me to identify teachers who might still feel uncomfortable, and I could work with them one-on-one to help them gain confidence. Our elementary tech team had identified a main goal for the year was to help teachers become familiar with the SAMR model and ISTE Standards for Students. The survey question was put on the survey to identify knowledge level for each teacher. I had predicted this would be low, and I would use the data to compare knowledge growth at the end of the year after we discussed in monthly team meetings.  

I could also use the information teachers typed in for their individual goals, to create small Professional Learning Communities (PLC) and allowed me to communicate information which might be interesting to them throughout the school year. Using Google Forms allowed me to analyze the data as a whole with all three schools. It also gave me the flexibility to separate the data by school. I referred to this data for the entire year as I was conducting professional development sessions which allowed me to differentiate all of my trainings to just what the teachers needed. This ultimately allowed me to be as efficient as possible with the limited time I was given. Piskurich (2015) reiterates this concept when he says “you want your trainees to learn everything they require to do their jobs, but you don’t want them to waste their time learning things they don’t have to know (p. 63)”.
The second strategy, Design Thinking, is fairly new in the education world. The video below shows a quick synopsis of the process.

Our technology coordinator, Kelli Lane, experienced Design Thinking first hand at Google and brought it back to us this past fall to our small group of tech coaches. The process begins with posing a problem. In this case, Kelli asked us to design a highly effective professional development model. We broke into small groups after Kelli set up the scenario of developing a new PD model. We then brainstormed many different solutions. When we came back together as a large group we decided on one idea, badging for professional development, and then designed a prototype of the badges. We will be testing the idea this school year and will continue the process as we refine the design.
The process was highly engaging and effective. I believe we all felt valued because we were creating a solution to a problem. I believe this process will be highly effective with the teachers I work with for the same reasons. It is also a strategy teachers can take back and use in their own classrooms.


Stanford Graduate School of Business. "Design Thinking in Executive Education”. YouTube. N.p., 2016. Web. 22 July 2016.

Piskurich, G. (2015). Rapid instructional design: Learning ID fast and right. New Jersey: Wiley.