Sunday, August 30, 2015

Reflections on the first week of a Digital Learning Coach

When I talk to teachers and admins about the benefits of blogging, I always mention its usefulness as a reflection tool. This concept is often mentioned in the blogosphere. I love reading other blogs for that very reason. It gives me a chance to see the raw reactions other educators have to experiences, activities, and projects they go through in their own classrooms. I like to read about what worked and didn't work.

As I look back on my own blog I realize that I'm ignoring this very element. Therefore my first post of the new school will be a reflection!

This is my second year as a Digital Learning Coach and this first week has been a mini roller coaster ride for me. I started the year out with high hopes, based on my experience from last year, but then the news that I would have 8 new schools brought me down, followed by the thrill of meeting new schools and teachers.

I went in to this year with the expectation that I would keep the same 8 schools that I had last year. I had spent time developing relationships with teachers and even had several teachers emailing me over the summer with ideas they wanted help with. Prior to ending the the last school year I met with several principals and we outlined several school wide technology initiatives for this school year. I was stoked to get back to work after the summer break!

Then a few days prior to the school year starting I found out that 7 of my 8 schools would be new to me this year. I would have to again start the process of meeting new teachers, explaining my role as a Digital Coach and what I can do for the school as a whole and teachers individually. With 8 schools in my assignment it takes time to build those relationships, sometimes months into the school year.

I sent out emails to principals introducing myself and asking for a few minutes at the beginning of the year staff meetings so I could introduce myself to the staff as a whole. A few principals replied back immediately, others I never heard from. I have found in my limited experience, that when I can introduce myself and the DLC role to the staff as a whole, they can put a face to the name and are more likely to seek out and accept my services. Unfortunately I missed out on this opportunity at several of the schools. 

Several of the schools that I visited this week were schools that I didn't hear back from the principals. My first visit on campus would be to meet them and then spend all day with a staff that I did not yet know. I'm happy to say that all of my experiences this week were great!

I love the chance to meet the principals and hear about their vision for their school. I am impressed with the pride they have for their staff and their students. They are excited to have me on campus and to work with their teachers.

Probably the best thing about being a Digital Learning Coach is the chance I get to meet so many awesome teachers and see the phenomenal job schools are doing. At one of the schools I was talking with a learning strategist who was showing me some data from beginning of the year tests students had already done. The students were showing a significant improvement in the start of the year from the start of last year. She immediately went to the principal to share the data, who then got on the intercom to congratulate the students and tell them how proud he was.

This week I will visit a few more schools for the first time. At two of them I already had the chance to introduce myself to the staff, so I'm hoping to already have the foundation laid and I'll be welcome in to the classrooms.

All in all I'm excited for the schools I have this year. There is a lot of technology out there and schools are doing some phenomenal things with their students. I hope that teachers will take advantage of me and let me work with them!

Share your first week of school experiences with me in the comments below!

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