I recently saw this email about the end of AOL Instant Messenger, or more commonly known as AIM. Oh the memories of AIM during those nights I was supposed to be studying but chatting with friends instead. I still remember that familiar tone with messages came in.
It’s incredible to think about how much technology has changed the way we communicate with each other. Emails, text messaging, instant messaging, iChat, video conferences, Facebook, Twitter, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Instagram, Snapchat, Zoom, and more. I wonder what’s next to say goodbye as new forms of technology and platforms surface.
Thank you AIM. Thank you for all the memories and connections. You will be missed.
Failure is a part of life. It's something that occurs and something we can't avoid. It may as well be added to the phrase, "in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes" by Benjamin Franklin in 1789.
In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except failures, death, and taxes.
Failure is a part of life. We will all encounter it. It can be a daily occurrence, sometimes multiple times a day. I have blogged about this several times and have created different graphics around failure, and more importantly, how we respond to failures (one graphic I created within the "Quotes" section at the top horizontal navigation bar). How we respond and recover from failures is what defines us. How we get back up. How we keep going. How we learn from the experience. How do you respond?
Below is a new image I created after a conversation I had with my supervisor, the Chief Academic Officer of Elementary Education in PAUSD. Failure is a part of life. Embrace it. See it as feedback (just like in the above linked graphic). It is indeed the start of a new journey - one with new knowledge and wisdom.
The 2017-18 school year has started as well as the 2017-18 National Football League. There are many parallels with schools and football, including teamwork, lesson plans and football plays, anticipation (of the student responses and the other team), and the endless pursuit of taking the extra step or yard. This blog post will highlight another comparison between education and football.
The Offensive Line and Elementary Education
Today I had a conversation with an elementary school principal who has previously taught high school and served as a middle school principal. In our conversation we talked about the important work that happens at the elementary level that influences and impacts a child's degree of success later in their school years. Reading skills with decoding and comprehension, math skills with number sense and problem solving, and more. There really is so much much! (Time management, work management, impulse control, inquiry process, design thinking, lifeskills, interpersonal skills, and intrapersonal skills) The work during the elementary years is indeed important, essential, foundational, and every descriptive word you can think of.
In our conversation, the elementary school principal said that elementary education is very similar to the offensive line in football. The work they do isn't always recognized, doesn't come to the forefront of anyone's mind when a football team does well. Yet, the work of the offensive line leads to success of the offense. The running back gets the lanes to run through, the quarterback gets the time and pocket space to make passing decisions, ... He said that those in elementary education don't often get recognition, don't have the fanciest buildings or supplies, and often takes the most heat, just like the offense line in football.
That was definitely a new analogy for me. It's one I want to ponder more on. But for now, considering how the principal has experience at all levels of K-12 education, I am definitely thankful for his perspective, recognition, and appreciation of those of us in elementary education.
It is with incredible privilege and pleasure that I begin my third year in my role as a Math & STEAM Coach/TOSA. The third year actually started on Monday, July 31st, but I wanted to be sure to acknowledge this feeling. I have learned so much these past two years, connected with countless educators, and accomplished numerous tasks in Math and STEAM education within and beyond my district.
Each year I begin the year identifying goals for my work. It's been a great practice to focus on goals, check in every so often throughout the year, and reflect on the work at the end of the year. My first year's goals were definitely important ones but in retrospect seems quite general. I think it's because I really didn't know what to expect in the new role I was starting. Empowering students, highlighting student voice, and continuing my professional development were indeed huge focuses for my year. My second year's goals had more specificity, as I had a better understanding of the position, the work, and the influence and impact I can have.
As mentioned Year 3 began on July 31st and I am super excited for this third year.
My goals for this year:
-Launch and promote the use of PAUSD's STEAM Lending Library.
-Strategically support teachers, instructional aides, and administrators with the implementation of the district's new math curriculum for elementary education.
-Develop a multi-year plan for the pilot, adoption, and rollout of curriculum materials that address the Next Generation Science Standards.
Just like my first day post of my first year in this position: I have the privilege of engaging with many more educators. And with the support of the elementary TOSA team, my colleagues, and of course #TOSAchat ...
I am glad Year 3 has begun.
Let the wonder and possibilities begin.
Let the journey continue.
One of the many things that anyone in education encounters on a daily/monthly/yearly basis is continued professional development. I have had the pleasure and privilege of being involved in numerous professional learning opportunities - both as a participant and as a presenter. It is incredible the number of professional learning workshops, seminars, and programs are available to teachers everywhere.
The keys to professional learning are always time and self initiation. Initiating the professional learning and investing time are always the first step. One professional learning experience I recently initiated for myself was completing the Apple Teacher Learning Center modules. It was great to be able to learn and relearn things about the Mac, iPad, Keynote, Numbers, Pages, GarageBand, and more. I feel super fortunate to have worked at The Apple Store at both the Stanford Shopping Center and the Palo Alto stores as a Specialist, Theater Manager, and Creative. I learned an incredible amount of information on Apple products, Mac OS, iPods, iPads, iOS, iLife, iWork, Final Cut, iBooks, and more. That experience really helped me go through the Apple Teacher modules with great ease. The content in the modules also really helped me learn new options, structures, and ideas. I highly encourage every teacher to initiate the Apple Teacher modules.
My next self-initiated professional learning will be the Google Certifications.
What an incredible evening of celebration, making new and deepening existing connections, being pushed to continue to improve as TOSAs and educators, being mindful on how we can continue to support our colleagues, and exploring possibilities for @tosachat's continued growth.
It was a fantastic chat on Monday, August 14th for @tosachat's second anniversary. According to our Participate Learning transcript of the chat there were 45 participants and 579 tweets (that's of course not including the tweets and replies that didn't have the hashtag). What an incredible tribe we belong to. During the first half of the chat Les Dinerstein's tweet reminded me of a blog post Joanne Ireland wrote on January 7, 2016 titled, "I Found My Tribe." Joanne's post is super accurate for me and so many who have connected on #TOSAchat.
Here is the thread after Les' tweet answering the second question of Monday's chat.
It is truly incredible how much #TOSAchat has impacted my career, my coaching, my educational philosophy, not to mention personally with all the friendships I've made. I've been telling teachers I have the pleasure of working with that Twitter won't change your career; the educators you meet her will. I've been on Twitter with my professional account for six years and it's incredible to reflect on the growth I've experienced as a result of getting connected to other educators. Monday's chat being #TOSAchat's 2nd anniversary was another example of how the connections we make in professional learning network (PLN) have incredible effects on our lives. Coaches & TOSAs connected on how the growth we've experienced, ways to keep growing as an educator, how we can support our colleagues, identified goals for our year, and explored ways #TOSAchat can continue to grow. An immediate thing that happened after Monday's chat was the creation of @TosaChat's presence on Facebook. Another new addition to #TOSAchat on Monday night was the addition of two rockstars to Team @TosaChat - Ari Flewelling and Jody Green!
It has been such a pleasure to serve as an ambassador for some really influential and beneficial companies in education. I have been a Schoology ambassador since its inaugural group, a ClassDojo ambassador, a Khan Academy ambassador, a Swivl Pioneer, and a Flipgrid Ambassador.
This week I received my official message that I am once again a ClassDojo ambassador. It has truly be an honor to be a part of so many amazing community of educators in the ambassador programs, connect with other educators about the use of those education products and platforms, and continue to learn more about how students and teachers are influenced and impacted. I look forward to more of what these experiences will bring.
#TOSAchat is such an amazing tribe of educators who have made significant impacts on my career, both professionally and personally. The community of TOSAs, instructional coaches, and other educators who have participated in #TOSAchat exemplifies some of the strongest, collaborative, patient, and respectful educators I have met. It has been such an honor, privilege, and pleasure to be one of the co-creators of #TOSAchat and I am excited for the continued growth for the entire community as we enter our third year.
Below are some of the promotion tweets for #TOSAchat's second anniversary celebration chat on Monday, August 14th.
One thing you can count on teachers to do is engage in ongoing professional development. Whether willingly by reading professional books, attending conferences, or forming connections on social media, or sometimes unwillingly by attending district mandated professional learning sessions, ongoing learning is a part of an educator's life.
I have really enjoyed the self-initiated professional learning I've done so far this 2017 year. Engaging in numerous Twitter chats is always on the top of the list. I have truly grown through my connections with other professionals on chats like #TOSAchat, #tlap, #leadupchat, #ditchbook, #globaledchat, #whatisschool, #satchatwc, #moreedu, #teachmindful, #JoyfulLeaders, #eduar, #fitnessedu, and #caedchat. Below is a tweet that speaks deeply about the benefits of being on Twitter.
Professional reading has also been a great source of learning. One book in particular that I read (and wrote a blog post about) was Trevor MacKenzie's Dive into Inquiry. It's so great to read the book that affirmed my philosophies and beliefs, gave me new insights into the process of student inquiry, and inspired me to think of ways to support the teachers I work with. A few titles that are in my pile of professional books to read next include Launch by John Spencer and A.J. Juliani, Pure Genius by Don Wettrick, Deliberate Optimism by Debbie Silver, Jack C. Berckemeyer, and Judith Baenen, and Why?: What Makes Us Curious by Mario Livio.
I have also had the pleasure and privilege of attending many conferences as a participant and some as a presenter. Recent ones that stand out include the California STEAM Symposium (although not in 2017 - October 2016 - it definitely stands out to me), EdTechTeacher's Summer Institute, Silicon Valley Mathematics Initiative's Summer Coaching Institute, plenty of edcamps, MDUSD's STEM & EdTech Symposium, SCCOE's STEAM Symposium, and the recent California Teacher's Summit. I am looking forward to attending this year's Fall CUE in Napa, Region 5 Science Community of Practice at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and hopefully present at the California STEAM Symposium in December.
There are indeed countless options for educators to engage in professional learning. Twitter chats are available everyday of the week, and there are new ones popping up all the time. The choices of professional books are increasing each week. I know my list continues to grow on a weekly basis. And, of course, if you're fortunate to attend conferences, you will be amazed by the level of professional development through the sessions, conversations, and professional connections.
What are some of your favorite Twitter chats, professional books, and conferences?
I have always said my kind of R&R is Reflection & Refinement. I reflect on my work, thoughts, actions, and emotions everyday and constantly look for ways to improve and refine what I do, how I think, who I am.
As an instructional coach, feedback has been tremendous in promoting me to reflect and refine what I do. It's part of every interaction I have with the teachers I partner with, the students I have the pleasure of engaging with, my colleagues that I collaborate with, and my supervisors that push me and guide me.
During my first year as Math and STEAM Coach, in 2015-2016, I created a Google Form that I shared with the teachers I partnered with asking for feedback. It was definitely a way for me to gain insight into their perspective, my performance, and ways I can continue to improve. As the year progressed and definitely into my second year as a coach, I shortened the Google Form URL by using bit.ly and also added the link to my email signature (bit.ly/feedback4joe). I believe giving the opportunity for anyone to provide feedback at all times helps me continue to gain that insight. I didn't want to just share the link to selected individuals. Having the link on my email signature allows anyone I have any level of email contact with to be able to give me feedback. And as Alana Stanton and I have always tweeted, everything is feedback (link to my graphic - Failure is Feedback).
With the continued desire to receive feedback, reflect, and refine, this week I created another method for people to provide me feedback. #FlipgridFever is definitely contagious and educators all over the world have used the platform to enhance student engagement and amplify student voice. (This summer I used it with adult learners too in a professional development setting.) This week I created a grid to receive feedback. Using Flipgrid will bring a greater degree of voice, emotion, and tone to the feedback that I receive than the responses on a Google Form. I can't wait to see the video feedback I receive on the grid (https://flipgrid.com/feedback4joe). Even if I don't receive any video responses (maybe because of comfort levels with video recordings), providing this additional method of feedback will meet my continued goal of constant R&R.
Of course we have all heard the phrase, "Practice Makes Perfect." In a conversation I had with a young child recently, I was just about to say that phrase when I knew that I didn't quite believe it. I certainly understand its sentiment, as noted in my blog post from earlier in the year. I understand the phrase, but I don't agree with the destination or desired outcome. As we all know, there's no such thing as perfect. Every thing that amy be deemed as perfect can always go through another revision. And so, the phrase, "Practice Makes Perfect" isn't something I wanted to say to the child. Instead, I wanted to shift the focus to ongoing learning, ongoing effort, ...
#FlipgridFever has definitely hit educators all across the globe. Flipgrid is a tool for creating video-based discussions online and has been used in so many ways already. Teachers, students, administrators, and even parents have used the platform to share ideas, answer questions, respond to prompts, collaborate, and crowdsource projects. Flipgrid definitely helps amplify voice from all learners in classroom and beyond. It's one of those services that extend the classroom and learning environment beyond the four walls and the 6 hours of the school day.
This summer, @TOSAchat is using Flipgrid for its book study of Trevor MacKenzie's book, Dive into Inquiry. It's been an incredible experience so far reading Trevor's book, answering each week's prompt on Flipgrid, and engaging in conversation with other readers. Head over to @TOSAchat's dedicated site for the summer book study to check out the online discussion. [Another blog post reflecting on Trevor's book will come later.] Check out the #booksnaps of #DiveintoInquiry. Plus, hear Trevor speak about the book study in the video below.
It has indeed been such a pleasure and privilege serving as the Math & STEAM Coach / TOSA for PAUSD's Elementary Education Department. What an honor it is to work with so many teachers, their students, and administrators to influence and impact the learning and discovery of students.
I recently wrote a Year 2 reflection and it was incredible to reflect on my second year in this role. This post is meant to accompany that earlier post with the following image I recently completed. Inspired by Ryan O'Donnell (@creativetech) last year with my Year-End Reflection after year 1, I just completed my process of tallying, calculating, and summing my second year. Again, this in no way reflect every aspect of my 2016-2017 year but it does give a glimpse into my work as a Math & STEAM Coach / TOSA and offers a nice overview of my work. Just like last year, I was surprised by the numbers.
There are many highlights to my second year as a Math & STEAM Coach. Here are just a few:
It has truly been another incredible year collaborating with teachers in PAUSD and beyond, connecting with coaches and TOSAs from all over the globe, partnering with administrators, and ultimately continuing to impact students.
My #OneWord for 2017 is Joy. This one word definitely represents everything about this year. Live joyfully, experience joy, and share joy with the world.
This morning I was tagged on a tweet by Jennifer Williams reminding her PLN about the #OneWord campaign. It was a mid-year check-in. Her tweet included her blog post from the beginning of the year sharing her story of her word - intentional. It was such a wonderful tweet, blog post, and reminder for everyone in her PLN to reflect on their #OneWord.
How have I been doing with JOY? There are indeed so many reasons this year of 2017 is characterized as Joy. Here's my pie chart (as inspired by Jen's post). My pie chart will detail how I am living with joy in terms of fitness, work, relationships, and personally.
Fitness: I have always known the importance of setting a priority to stay fit and live healthy. With a family history of diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and other ailments, I have made it a point to focus on fitness. Baseball, touch football, basketball, track and field in my youth started me off in many organized team sports. During college, I picked up golf, tennis, rock climbing, and cycling, which included three separate century bike races. In the past five years I have really picked up my running. It's been an incredible journey on my feet. (I use my Instagram account to chronicle my running) I remember my first 5K, back in 2012 where I struggled to keep up with my friend and my goal of finishing under half an hour. Five years later, I have many done many races, including 19 half marathons, and will be running my first full marathon at the end of this month. I feel incredible pride and joy about my accomplishments so far in fitness. JOY
Work: I recently wrote a post about this incredibly joyful journey I'm on in education. After 10+ years of teaching first, second, and fifth grades, I have had the privilege and pleasure of serving as a Math & STEAM Coach for PAUSD's Elementary Education Department. It has been such an honor to partner with, support, and, as my boss always emphasizes, influence and impact the work that teachers, administrators, and district personnel do on a daily basis. I absolutely love the work I engage in with teachers collaboratively and collectively assisting children in their discovery and development of their interests and passions. JOY
Relationships: The joy I've experienced in the area of relationships is by slowing down, being aware, reflecting, being mindful, and experiencing everything my relationships bring. Sitting with a friend, going on walk and talks with a colleague, sending a tweet to my PLN, connecting with the #TOSAchat tribe, phoning family and friends, writing a card to celebrate someone's special day, and more are all ways I've experienced the joy in relationships. In addition, I accept and thank others for their compliments and feedback, receive gifts with gratitude, listen to stories without distractions, and more. Joy in relationships definitely isn't just about the positives. I experience all the frustrations, confusion, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings. Those uncomfortable feelings are indeed part of the pie in any relationship and I know the importance of not only experiencing them but working through them in order to maintain/grow the relationship. JOY
Personally: Joy in my personal life is hearing, seeing, and holding my baby boy as my wife and I welcomed him into the world on June 22nd. He is in fact laying on me as I write this post on my iPhone. He is my JOY.
JOY is my #OneWord for 2017 and I have so many incredible reasons to live joyfully, experience joy, and share joy with the world. [Thank you Jen for your tweet and inspiration to do a mid-year check.]
It's the end of my second year as a Math & STEAM Coach and it has absolutely been an amazing journey so far. Throughout my time I've always said, written, and tweeted that it's a pleasure and privilege to be in a position of support to so many teachers who work with and inspire children. After 10+ years teaching first, second, and fifth grade, it has indeed been a pleasure and privilege. I, along with all the TOSAs and Coaches out there, get to work with countless teachers, curious students, and administrators at the school level and district level. The position of a coach is one that involves focus, humility, perseverance, constant growth, and lots of reflection and refinement.
At the beginning of this second year as a Math & STEAM Coach, I identified three goals for the year.
-Make systematic changes and support in math content knowledge and instructional practices in teachers through PLCs, Learning Walks, and Lab Days.
-Complete the Maker Mobile proposal and get ready for its launch after securing funding from the district's fundraising organization.
-Facilitate workshops on NGSS and begin the 3-year rollout of the Next Gen FOSS modules.
How was my year in relations to those three goals?
1) I focused a lot on a systematic method of engaging grade level teams in a standards mapping exercise to identify, understand, analyze, and map the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics. Each experience was a powerful, collaborative, and collective revelation of CCSS-M. The grade level teams were able to identify a progression of each standard and domain to address throughout the school year. Teachers gained a better understanding of the concepts that are important to assess and the building blocks of those concepts. Some teachers even shared, "I didn't know that that's what the standards said," "We've been teaching things that are no longer required in our grade level," and "I don't think my study of the standards was as complete as what we just did." This standards mapping exercise is definitely something I want to continue bringing to grade level teams across the district.
2) For the second goal, the Maker Mobile didn't come to fruition. However, the point of the project was to bring the Maker Movement to schools across the district, with a big emphasis on mobility. This goal was accomplished, not by the Maker Mobile, but through a partnership with the district's Advanced Authentic Research Department (AAR). The AAR Department brings a powerful experience of an authentic research experience for students at the two high schools in the district. As my colleague, Leslie Faust, and I shared our goal of bringing the Maker Movement to the elementary schools in the district, Dr. Jeong Choe of AAR jumped on board with our project of establishing the "Creativity Project" for elementary students to engage in creating, exploring, and making. The Creativity Project brought Maker Carts (a K-2 cart and a. 3-5 cart) to three elementary schools for our phase one of deployment that began during the winter trimester. Four more schools received carts a couple months later. Three more schools received their carts through a grant I wrote through the district's fundraising organization. Dr. Jeong Choe and her team decided to complete the project by funding the remaining elementary schools. It was truly incredible to partner with the AAR Department to bring a modified version of my second goal to the schools.
3) NGSS and the workshops my colleague, Leslie Faust, and I facilitated were indeed successful. We carefully planned the theme of studying the Science and Engineering Practices (SEP) with the teacher leaders at our STEAM Inquiry Group meetings. The teacher leaders were able to then take the learning back to their school sites to share with their staffs. The TOSA Team also planned and successfully facilitated two district-wide NGSS workshops, one in August called NGSS 101 focusing in SEP 1 and the other in February called NGSS 102 focusing on the Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI) and the Crosscutting Concepts (CCC). I was also a part of the South Bay Science Collaborative where we delivered three workshops during the school year on Science Notebooks, Design Thinking, Design Challenges, and Breakout EDU. It was an incredible year continuing to be immersed in the Next Generation Science Standards and STEM/STEAM Education. Having the chance to attend the California STEAM Symposium in October in Anaheim was indeed a fantastic way to immerse myself. [And of course, I got to meet Kelly Martin, a fellow co-creator of #TOSAchat, for the first time.]
It has definitely been a tremendous journey serving as the Math & STEAM Coach for the Elementary Education Department for my second year. Successes, challenges, courageous conversations, shortcomings, careful planning, missteps, #eduwins, errors, and everything the year brought are all reasons to celebrate. Celebrate what has been the journey - every part of the journey.
What an incredible honor to be able to present at this summer's edtechteacher summer workshop in Menlo Park! I had the pleasure of co-presenting two edtechteacher workshops last summer with Sabba Quidwai. It was definitely a fantastic experience partnering with Sabba to present ways to use the iPad in the classroom, Design Thinking, and more. Last year's workshop included experiences with BreakoutEDU and a trip to Stanford's d.school. It was from that workshop that the edtechteacher team reached out to me about presenting at this summer's workshops. I am beyond excited to facilitate the workshop on Design Thinking.
Menlo Park Summer Workshop
Creating Innovators with Design Thinking and Makerspaces Workshop
I saw the following mug at a store today with mixed thoughts and feelings. I understand there's a perception that the summer months are reasons for people to become teachers. This concept is often brought up at gatherings and dinner parties. If you're a teacher, I am sure you've heard it before too. You've probably heard it so many times you can't keep track. You probably experience that internal (or external) eyeroll, have your go-to response, and/or technique for ignoring the other person's ignorance. Yes, there is this perspective out there. Educators definitely enjoy the weeks during summer as a break from the school year (for those who are not in year-round schools). The summer months definitely bring a time of relaxation, recovery, and reguivenation.
However I know countless teachers who will say June, July, and August are NOT the reason they entered the profession. The only reason the mug is correct is if June, July, and August are names for three of the many students a teacher has in their class.
Teachers, how would you change the mug?
No matter who you may ask you will find very few, if any, people who would disagree with the statement that “Teaching is one of the most important professions in the world.” Being an educator goes beyond teaching content, engaging minds, managing classroom behaviors, planning field trips, conducting parent-teacher conferences, and summer vacation. Being an educator is about influencing and impacting young minds. It’s about helping raise young children. It’s about guiding them to do things they want to do but may not know how. It’s about reaching the minds, hearts, souls of children and their parents.
As another school year draws to a close I reflect on my influence and impact as an instructional coach. I reflect on my work each year and this year’s reflection includes being courageous with having conversations about mindsets. The end of the school year involves wrapping up units and projects, preparing students for their next school year, completing progress reports and report cards, cleaning the classroom and sending things home with students, and preparing for summer break. Recently I had several conversations with teachers about the mindset we take on toward the end of the school year. It’s not uncommon to hear the phrase, “There’s x days of school left until summer” coming from students and teachers. The anticipated start to summer definitely brings with it excitement, relaxation, adventures, sunshine, and even a sense of freedom with what the day brings - for both students and teachers. Of course there are countless media sources that portray this feeling. Videos of commercials, songs like “School’s Out for Summer.” Of course summer vacation is a well deserved break from the incredibly intense work educators experience for 180+ days of the school year. Summer is a chance to reflect, recover, and recharge from the past school year and in preparation for the next school year. I definitely value and am grateful for summer break. However, I challenge the focus of the above statement. In conversations I’ve had with colleagues and teachers I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of coaching and supporting, I encourage the shift of focus in that statement from summer break to the incredible value of our influence and impact. Instead of “There’s x days of school left until summer” I suggest “There’s x days of school left to make a lasting impact.”
180 days of influence and impact. What an incredible gift we have as educators to make a lasting impact in the minds, hearts, and souls of young learners and their parents. So, let’s not count down in positive anticipation for the beginning of summer break but instead count down in positive urgency of the work we do daily with children. Everyday we have with children is a gift. Let’s make the most of that gift.
It's been a rough few days, personally and professionally. However, in the midst of the struggle, it is truly amazing to experience the kindness, thoughtfulness, and care from others around me.
Today, I received a handmade quilt for a gift that incredibly touched my heart. There's really so many emotions I'm feeling but I don't think I can articulate them so I will just leave it at, Thank You Former Classroom Family.
Each year, teachers engage in goal planning, reflection, and numerous professional learning experiences to meet those goals. As a Math & STEAM Instructional Coach, I have been looking at my work and my goals these past two years. It's been an incredible process of dreaming big, identifying my growth areas, reflecting on my growth, and determining next steps. Below is the mid-year TOSA self-reflection I submitted to my supervisor a week ago based on the three CSTPs I chose for the school year.
Alignment, flexibility, purpose, manageable, and meaningful are key words that describe this 2016-2017 school year so far for my work as a Math & STEAM Coach.
Alignment: This word begins my reflection as it is the word that has guided my work in both math and science. This is true in standards mapping activities in math I’ve facilitated with several grade level groups, connected to my CSTP #1 and #6. Each session was highly successful in helping teachers align their mindsets and their understand of the Common Core Math Standards. Teachers commented that they weren’t aware that their grade level’s standards had changed in content that’s covered, content that’s no longer required in their grade level, and the specific language of some of the standards. Having a foundational understanding of the Common Core Math Standards is paramount as new math curriculum is anticipated to be introduced next school year. This is true for the teachers in the Math Adoption Pilot Committee as well as every classroom teacher. In addition to the specific grade level CCSS Math standards, I have facilitated study sessions for teachers to examine, implement, and apply the 8 Math Practices in their own practice and in their students. With each demo lesson, co-planning, co-teaching, and debrief session, the teachers and I always have an eye on which of the 8 Math Practices are being used and fosters in each activity.
In science, alignment is also a key aspect of my work this year so far. Along with Leslie Faust, our STEAM Inquiry Group has been studying each of the 8 Science and Engineering Practices (SEP). As we’ve learned more about the direction of science education in California during the school year, particularly the timeline of when curriculum will be available that’s specific to California’s Next Generation Science Standards, Leslie and I have directed the group’s focus on the three dimensions of NGSS. In our meetings, we explore each of the 8 SEPs, look at science phenomenon through the lens of the 7 Crosscutting Concepts (CCC), and explore the changes in each grade level’s Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI). This was definitely evident in the design and implementation of the February professional learning day on NGSS 102. Continued work on this is definitely important and essential to transition to new NGSS-aligned science curriculum.
Flexibility: This is a must in both math and science this year. As the year begin, the plan was to explore the new Next Gen FOSS modules anticipating a possible easy transition from CA FOSS modules to the Next Gen modules. After attending the NGSS Rollout Phase III sessions that fits with my goals for CSTP #6, Leslie and I gained a better picture of the specifics with California’s NGSS adoption, science frameworks publication, and an anticipated timeline for new science curriculum that’s aligned with CA’s NGSS. Due to these changes, a process was needed to clarify PAUSD’s science instruction of elementary education. Partnering with Barbara Harris, Leslie Faust, the TOSA team, and the STEAM Inquiry Group members, a carefully and purposefully crafted message was shared with the elementary classroom teachers. My CSTP #3 goal at the beginning of the year indicated a project of creating content maps for the Next Gen FOSS modules. As a result of the changes in California’s timeline, this project is not as critical now. Another flexible element to this is the addition of Discovery Education and Mystery Science in our exploration of science curricula. Managing the feedback from these explorations have called for careful purpose, attention and flexibility.
In Math, flexibility has been a must with the math pilot process. Barbara, Mangla, Amanda, Nikole, Amy, and I needed to be flexible throughout the year. This started with adjusting the curricula choices from last year’s exploration year for this year’s pilot, sharing and explaining the process of the explanation year into this pilot year to the school board, and patiently working through the demands for third-party validation of a curriculum teachers wanted to pilot. I foresee the continued need to be flexible with both Math and Science as the school year continues. Continuing to connect with other coaches and professionals, engaging in continued professional learning that’s aligned with my CSTP #6 goal, and keeping an eye on student data that’s aligned with my CSTP #1 and #3 goals will help me and the entire TOSA team with the direction of both math and science.
Purpose: As a result of not mentioning anything about my work with summer school at the beginning of the year’s goals, I want to focus solely on that for this word of purpose. For the past few years, summer school for elementary students have taken on a STEAM theme. This definitely matches my passion and I was excited to be charged with organizing the summer school program. After reviewing the documents and objectives of the past years of summer school, I wanted to be purposeful in the changes and revisions I envisioned. I wanted to bring the A in STEAM to summer school. I wanted to build in dedicated music instruction by PAUSD music teachers and art instruction from Spectra Art teachers. Since the role of summer school coaches wasn’t completely utilized and maximized last summer I decided to use the funds that went to the coaching role to bring music and art teachers to the summer school program. For the past years, music and art instruction during summer school fell on the classroom teacher and there wasn’t any consistency with that structure or expectation as well. Purposefully building in art and music instruction into the summer school structure will help bring more of the A in STEAM to the STEAM-themed elementary summer school program.
Manageable: Throughout the year I have really worked on ensuring that every project I take on is manageable for my workload, schedule, and the products. In addition to the joy in managing my schedule and the support for classroom teachers, I have enjoyed working on projects and initiatives that include the Math Pilot Committee, the STEAM Inquiry Group that now has expanded to include parent and community members, professional learning sessions for science, CCSS Math standards mapping, summer school, partnering with Leslie on the City of Palo Alto Utilities Grant, the SouthBay FOSS Collaborative, the AAR Creativity Project, and the PiE & AAR Grant application to secure additional funding for the creativity carts. Reading the list I just typed up makes me realize how much I have grown since my first year as a coach last year. I have been increasingly able to manage my time, focus, and schedule on the projects I have. I have maintained a balance of my energy and focus in supporting teachers and students at the school sites and the district-level projects I manage and co-mange. I have been able to support teachers in using student data to inform instruction and engage in ReEngagement lessons - aligned to my CSTP #1 goal. I have engaged in professional learning for myself through webinars, speaker sessions at Stanford, local edcamps, STEM and STEAM symposiums, and more - aligned to my CSTP #6 goal. Within the structure of the Math Pilot Committee, I have worked with teachers to understand, analyze, and organize math concepts and content for effective math pilot - aligned with my CSTP #3 goal, although I didn’t write it for goal #3 at the beginning of the year.
I wrote a recent reflective blog post about my attitude towards my work and the effort, attention, and passion I have for the projects. This may or may not add to my mid-year reflection, but I want to share it nonetheless. http://jyoung1219.weebly.com/blog/progress-not-perfection
Meaningful: This word encompasses all of my work. Is it meaningful? Is it meaningful for teachers? Is it meaningful to students? In all I do - the math pilot, standards mapping, STEAM Inquiry Group, SouthBay FOSS Collaborative, summer school, AAR Creativity Project, and supporting teachers - I always ask if it’s meaningful. Is what I’m about to do something that will positively impact students and teachers? Is what I’m about to do something I want to keep doing? If the answer to any of those questions is no, I engage in reflection and evaluation of my work. I want everything I do, or at least as much as I do to be meaningful.
Math & STEAM Coach / TOSA in Palo Alto Unified School District.