Monday, April 4, 2016

Instructional Coach and Story Listener

Ahhhhhh-Spring Break! I'm sitting here at the local coffee shop doing some reflection on the last few weeks of school. We had some practice flex time this week at school. For about two hours, teachers switched classrooms as their students worked on course content in Canvas. This was practice for a day in May when students will stay at home and we will have a full day of eLearning...and our teachers and students rocked it (we found some things we can improve upon, but that was all part of the deal!)

For the last couple months I have taken 1/2 days and worked with grade level teams corporation wide to prepare for this--some grade levels have jumped right in and are finding the great benefit to blended, on-line learning...others are struggling...and I have to caused me to struggle, too. We teachers  and instructional coaches have a "I can fix it" mentality, and sometimes it's just not that easy.

Being an instructional coach for technology integration is an interesting endeavor as coaching sometimes means that we push aside the technology content, and just listen to another's story. We listen about a child that is struggling with peer pressure. We listen to a story about how juggling school and elderly parents is a trial. We listen as a teacher tells us that they should have just retired before all of this technology became a part of education. While very little of these stories have anything to do with technology, it's important to first listen, and then skillfully find a way to focus on what I am there for--not always easy, but here's what I've found. I've found these times are what build relationship and in turn, make a better way for learning the technology.

As I sit here at the coffee shop and look around me--there are two young men in army fatigues, both intently looking at computer screen. There is a group of young girls taking a selfie (many actually,) there is a lady that looks to be 40ish reading from her phone the signs of hypothyroidism to her friend, there is a man perhaps in his 80s sitting with a young man in his mid-twenties and I find myself wondering what stories are being told...and I take note that they have not once looked at a piece of technology as they hold what seems to be gratifying conversations for both of them. And then there's me--by myself, blogging and taking notice of it all and thinking about how it connects to what I do. All of us have a story.

For many, technology is easily interwoven into their everyday lives--for others, they wouldn't dream of coming to a coffee shop with only a device and a desire for a good cup of joe. Spring break is the perfect time for me to have a break from meeting with teachers, and think not about where they are with regard to technology, but to remember that it is likely not the most important part of their life.
To remember their story comes first, and that as an instructional coach with an open ear will bring reward with regard to tech integration and blended learning-- later.

This blog is all over the place...I guess it comes down to one of my favorite quotes--

"There isn't anyone you couldn't love (teach) once you've taken the time to listen to their story."
~MaryLou Kownacki (With an insert from me.)

Happy Spring Break!