Coach Better: Community Engagement

Ever since I completed the Eduro Learning Micro Credential back in June I’ve made a conscious effort to stay connected (in some capacity) with my mentor Kim Confino & the Eduro Learning Team. The unique program was a valuable experience in which, similar to COETAIL, contained loads of personal and practical professional development. Upon completion, I was left wanting more. So here’s my story….


Sharing our Stories

The Coach Micro-credential in itself was great and the regular Google Hangout sessions with my mentor made courses even more tailor-made and practical but, when it ended my school still had no official coaching role. In addition, I would later be told that there were also no immediate plans to add one next academic year. The reality of the situation was that I would most likely still end up moonlighting as a tech coach here at my current school and go back to my day job as a Kindergarten teacher.  Although I was okay with the given situation I still fancied the idea of continuing to develop as a coach and a global collaborator.  Shortly after my initial cohort had ended Kim unveiled some creative ideas to help me stay connected to the Eduro Learning Team and continue to grow professionally. Still hungry for change upon competition, I was enticed by the opportunity do more. Being a part of the first cohort allowed me to move into a new role now that a new group of educators has begun their own learning journey. (Cohort 2)

Back in September, I took part in a video conference with the new cohort.
Speaking from more of an advisory role, I touched on my experience with the program and shared some things that work and what didn’t work

You can review that video below here: 

Leaning on the fundamentals of the COETAIL program, I wanted to continue to explore the potential of utilizing my PLN.

With that in mind, I  decided to play a role in helping get a brand new Twitter chat up and running. The proposed chat would work in conjunction with a  Youtube Channel that the Eduro Team was producing on behind the scenes.  The focus was to help others become better coaches and leverage our network of coachings and connect coaches of any discipline throughout the world through one common hashtag, #coachbetter.

The rest was history…


The Inception of The #Coachbetter Slow Chat

The idea of implementing a Twitter slow chat was a great idea as it provided me with a constant stream of professional development and opportunities to expand and utilize my PLN. I now had found a way to continue learning and growing as a coach all way connecting with others and proposing some interesting questions sparking deep dialogue along the way.


Phase 1: “Slack to the Drawing Board”

Towards the beginning of this venture, I was introduced to a new platform called Slack. It was here where I would begin working closely with  Jana @jpoukka, a current member of the Coach micro credential. Jana and I worked together to align with Kim’s vision with a practical feedback loop that pushes our PLN towards a Youtube Video podcast and then later to a Twitter Slow chat.

Keen to learn more and stay involved Jana and I began harnessing learning and pulling from the video podcast to help us develop new content for the Slow chat.
Below is a snippet of our brainstorming.

 

 

After two chats we reflected on our challenges, choices, and changes as we all looked for ways to improve.  For example, we began with five questions but soon felt as if that was unsustainable with only two people running a weekly chat.

Luckily, it was also around this time our team began to grow.

We were joined by another fellow Eduro Learning graduate Verena @blaho_blaho. This helped us share the workload and provide Jana and I with another person to bounce ideas off of and help enhance our team.

Verena brought in a wealth of knowledge on coaching and relationships. Not to mention she also brought along her own PLN that would soon also be introduced to our chat thus helping our community grow.  To this day we all continue to communicate and feedback to one another on Slack about best possible questions and how continually grow our audience.

Outside of the Google Ecosphere, which takes top prize collaboration and workflow,  Slack is the best platform I’ve used for collaborating, sharing content and ideas.  It simplifies communication so that one can focus on workflow. Also, the ability to add apps such as Google Drive, DropBox, & RSS feeds provide depth and increased productivity. Slack is also the preferred platform for another community engagement project I’m involved in called #PubPDAsia.  I cannot say enough good things about this platform and I’m grateful that I was introduced to it through my COETAIL / Eduro  PLN.

For those new to Slack or those considering learning more about it. I’d suggest you start here. The Definitive Guide to Slack for Organizing: What is Slack, and Should We Use It?


Troubleshooting, Timing, & Teamwork

With the intention to overcome time, space, & teaching loads, the #Coachbetter slow chat team (we gave ourselves that name) set out in the face of adversity to assimilate and make #coachbetter a success. The first obstacle to overcome was time zones. Janna who is based in Germany, Verena who is based in Singapore,  & and Kim and I based out of  Thailand, all agreed that a slow chat worked in our favor. The next obstacle was sustainability and reaching an authentic audience. 

When Verena came along we discussed with Kim the idea of scaling back and attempting making the questions more geared to a wider audience (beyond coaching). We experimented using different hashtags and tagging different PLN members in our photo.  I even attempted to make the tweets more alluring by incorporating some of the visual literacy takeaways  I learned from COETAIL Course 3

As we ironed out the kinks, it was Jana who took the leading role in organizing and allocating us the days to tweet out our questions. This really helped us divide up the workload.

In addition to our new proposed timetable which was communicated over Slack, we also used Google Slides as an additional structure to brainstorm ideas from the podcast, collaborate in real time, and push out the #Coachbetter tweets. Using Canva for the slide background and pre-made cards by Kim we found ourselves collaborating and creating a new Google Slide for each weekly episode of the video podcast.

It took close to three months of learning from our mistakes before we were able to assemble, organize, and produce like the well-oiled machine that is the current #Coachbetter slow chat you see today.  🙂

In the near future, we’ll have the opportunity to speak in depth about the challenge, choices, and changes we’ve endured along the way when the #Coachbetter slow chat team joins Kim on the video podcast for our very own episode! ( Talk about inception!) I’m curious to see how we will promote and push out tweets about this one 🙂

Having said that it will fun and rewarding to reflect on the early day of the chat and even before it’s origin. Taking this vision on board and collectively turning it from theory to practice wasn’t always an easy feat, but everyone onboard continued to persist and pick each other up over the course of the first month which looking back now can be viewed as somewhat turbulent.

In the video podcast, we will all most likely discuss the challenges, peaks, and valleys of collaborating from afar to achieve a common goal so #StayTuned  🙂

Looking back it was Coetail’s course two final project, (which you can read about here) really prepared me for this type of Global Collaboration. If I didn’t gain that necessary experience and work through the challenges and obstacles that that course presented than I would have felt very ill equipt to face those challenges throughout the #Coachbetter  collaborative learning journey.


In the meantime, if you notice the #Coachbetter hashtag in your Twitter newsfeed drop us a line and share your expertise. Each week there is a new video podcast and new slow chat. I am extremely grateful to be a part of this and have thoroughly enjoyed working with Kim, Verena, & Jana.  I personally have found Twitter chats in general to be the best way to keep my finger on the pulse of all things educational and innovative. Now that I am behind the scenes of one that is up and coming, I’m finding it even more rewarding.  Coetail’s collaborative and community-based approach to learning has inspired me to continue to seek out, lean on, and learn from my PLN. Ultimately, it was my experience with COETAIL which allowed me to realize the importance of being an inspired networker and an educator.


 

 

 

Final Wonderings?

What platform do you prefer to use when collaborating and communicating?

What part of Coetail has inspired you the most?

What Course 5 challenges did you face along your own learning journey.

Thanks,
@NicholasKGarvin

Now for Something Completely Different: STEAM in EY

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGK8IC-bGnU

If your reaction was anything like the above video, I won’t be surprised or offended. Raising the bar in the Early Years & unraveling misconception pertaining to what Kindergarten & Preschool kids can and can’t do has been my forte for the better part of the last 5 years.  Kindergarteners often get a bad wrap (or should I say how their ability to learn & take on big ideas is perceived by others gets a bad wrap).  There’s an air of aimless that seems to cloud and misrepresent the abilities of these young learners.

Now, don’t get me wrong no one is disputing the benefits of play-based learning.  I myself have been an advocate of it for years.  One thing I have noticed recently, however,  is that play (without a purpose) in the classroom can sometimes be a slippery slope. The same can be echoed about using technology without a purpose.  While students are playing, if you’re not observing what they’re doing & saying and taking (mental) notes, then using that anecdotal evidence to help gauge their interests to ultimately build better relationships, then you’re doing a disservice to both the students & the concept of “play time”.  It’s vital that we not forget how important our role is in play-based learning. The same can be said about using technology in the classroom.  If you’re using iPads as a pacifier and allowing students to use them to consume more content than they create, then once again you’re doing a disservice to the students & the iPads. (more on that here)


PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS… BUT NOT ALWAYS.

 

The title of this posts indicates that I haven’t done too much STEM while looking through the lens of an Early Years’ teacher.  Whether or not that was a conscious choice remains undetermined, but I’d consider it a blind spot and one that I’ve overlooked for too long. Perhaps it was because it’s not one of my strong suits or perhaps it was that I too underestimated their abilities to take on such “higher level” concepts.  Be that as it may, as educators, we often ask our students to venture into the unknown with the goal of shaking them ever so slightly out of their comfort zone (See the Learning Pit), but do we practice what we preach as well?

This year, I’ve made it apparent that I’ll no longer simply play to my strengths in order to broaden my scope as an educator and help enhance teaching in learning in my classroom. What better way of doing that, then diving head first into something I’m a complete novice at? As the great Carl Sandberg once said, ” I’m an idealist, I don’t know where I’m going but I’m on my way.”   < This is my STEM journey in a nutshell.

I’ve enrolled into two new courses the ISTE Computational Thinking Course & Apple Swift Codes Certification with the goal to change the perspective of what “technology looks like” at my school.

This tactile & tactical approach of balancing the digital with the analog will not only help promote big ideas, creativity, and innovation, but it will also help reshape the perspective of both parents and students when it comes to  #edtech  in the #earlyyears#makerEd,  and #designthinking.

by incorporating computational thinking and tech tools such as #MakeyMakey  & #BeeBots into my Kinder class I can also break down the age-old tensions & stereotypes about technology as only being digital devices (or simply something with a screen that you can swipe & watch Netflix.)


Below is just one example of the benefits of teaching STEM in the Early Years, followed by an awesome group of STEM-centered educators to help you get started.

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For further resources, I’d recommend you check out the hashtag #PrimarySTEMChat 


 

Our Kindergarten STEM journey began with a two-pronged approach. First, we introduced the students to Iggy Peck, the Architect (an awesome story written by Andrea Beaty,) as a way to get them thinking like architects and as a way to introduce them to blueprints  & design thinking.

 

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Second, we rolled out the concept of iTime (Feel free to read more about iTime here).  Andrea Beaty’s story taught them about the fun open-ended freedom of designing, while iTime provided us with the tools and parameters.  Furthermore, in the efforts of making iTime as fun and alluring as possible, our first collective task was to see if we could turn six bananas into a working keyboard.  Needless to say, it was very “appeeling” & that STEM in the early years was off and running.

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TO BE CONTINUED…

 


FINAL WONDERINGS

When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone for benefit of the greater good of your students  – what was it?

How did you navigate those initial feelings of stepping out of your comfort zone?

What does STEM in the Early Years look like in your classroom?

Thanks,

@NicholasKGarvin