There are many pieces of advice whenever you’re about to face a change, a new journey, a different experience. Of course there are a variety of emotions that accompany the experience - excitement, anxiety, fear, joy, nervousness, and uncertainty, to name a few. As this school year comes to an end and a new year begins in August with significant changes, I received a great piece of advice and encouragement from a colleague I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Mary Childress, the materials management specialist of PAUSD’s Science Resource Center, shared the following words with me. I absolutely appreciate the change of the one word that helps focus the experience, any experience on growth and learning.
"You can learn anything." I have always appreciated and believed in Khan Academy's mission and purpose for lifelong learning. It's absolutely wonderful to have a organization and an individual (Sal Khan) share their learning modules and resources for free, for everyone, forever. Khan Academy has been changing lives since 2006 when it was created by Salman Khan to help educate students of all ages.
For the past two years I've had the pleasure and privilege of serving as a Khan Academy Ambassador, sharing the wonderful resources of the non-profit organization, training others on the use of the platform, and connecting with other educators around the world to influence and impact student learning. I am especially fortunate to be able to say I was a part of the initial/inaugural cohort of Khan Academy Ambassadors during the 2016-2017 school year. It is with great excitement and enthusiasm that I continue to serve as a Khan Academy Ambassador for the 2018-2019 school year.
Spring. The spring brings with it rain, blooming flowers, and new life. In the classroom, students are growing at incredible rates, friendships are deepening, and testing begins. Spring also brings the time of job applications, interviews, and staffing changes.
In a recent conversation with a colleague who is applying for new positions, we had the chance to brainstorm possible interview questions and responses. One question/prompt was to identify the top three values in the classroom and the school. Together we thought of the following:
As I thought further about the conversation, this blog post came to life. We must Maslow before we Bloom.
Abraham Maslow was an American psychologist who was best known for his theory called Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a motivational theory in psychology. Maslow’s theory is that people are motivated to achieve certain needs and that some needs take precedence over others. In his five-tier model of human needs, Maslow called the four bottom levels of the pyramid “deficiency needs.” A person does not feel anything if these four levels are met, but experiences great anxiety if they are not. The bottom four levels include eating, drinking, sleeping, safety needs, social needs, and ego needs (such as self-esteem and recognition). The fifth level of the pyramid is considered a “growth need” because it enables a person to work towards a person’s fullest potential / self actualization. Once a person has met the deficiency needs, s/he can turn their attention to self-actualization.
Benjamin Bloom was an American educational psychologist who was best known for his classification of learning objectives known as Bloom’s taxonomy. Bloom’s taxonomy is a set of three hierarchical models - cognitive, affective, and sensory domains - used to classify learning objectives of complexity and specificity. The cognitive model is the one educators are most familiar with and is broken into six levels of objectives or levels of understanding: Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, Evaluation. Bloom’s taxonomy is definitely used as a teaching tool to help teachers and curriculum writers carefully plan their lessons, assignments, texts, and questions.
We must Maslow before we Bloom. As educators, we need to ensure that our students’ sense of safety and other basic needs are met before we can make significant impact on their learning. Students need to feel respected, cared for, valued, and safe - physically, emotionally, psychologically, … These are basic needs of any individual and a cornerstone to meaningful learning. Throughout the years, one of the many influential phrases that come up in conversations is “students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” We need to make school, the playground, anywhere kids are, a safe place for them to be. We must Maslow before we Bloom.
We must Maslow before we Bloom applies to learners of all ages as well. It absolutely applies to adult learners. Any school leader, district administrator, coach, grade level team member, PLC member, … must ensure that the basic needs of all learners are recognized and met. Everyone - teachers, paraprofessionals, specialists, administrative assistants, custodians, parents, relatives, ... - must be respected, valued, heard, recognized, celebrated, supported, ... I remember from my experience in Lesson Study groups through the Silicon Valley Math Initiative (SVMI), norms were always established and addresses at the beginning of every meeting. Some may think the time it takes to review norms cuts into the academic discourse but without it, the conversations are definitely not as respectful, rich, and meaningful. The time invested in establishing and reviewing norms is invaluable. In order to ensure a greater level of productivity, joy, happiness, and collaboration in the work between adult learners, we must attend to everyone’s basic needs. We must Maslow before we Bloom.
“In teaching … ‘You can’t do the Bloom stuff until you take are of the Maslow stuff.’” - Alan E. Beck
What are you doing/will you do to Maslow for your students and colleagues?
Teaching is not my job; it's my passion. Getting better at it is my job.
That has always been my motto and attending professional development sessions, workshops, and conferences definitely help me keep getting better at my job. I had the pleasure and privilege of attending MDUSD's 3rd Annual STEM & EdTech Symposium on Saturday, February 24th. My experience during the first two years was amazing and this third symposium certainly lived up to the wonder of the first two years. There were over 500 educators in attendance, connecting with one another, getting inspired by a wonderful keynote message by Jon Corippo, learning about a plethora of STEM & EdTech topics, and getting better at our profession. Session topics included Interactive Notebooks, Desmos, Phenomena and Engineering, LEGO Mindstorms, Raspberry Pi, Breakout EDU, Supporting Newcomers/ELLs with Technology, Makerspaces and Libraries, Google Keep, and Storytelling through GIFs.
During the first session, I had the pleasure of learning about Google Keep while supporting a Merit17 member at her first presentation. It was great to learn about the integration of Google Keep with everything Google (this really should be a surprise). The killer feature is the SHARE option. The share feature in Google Apps and G Suite for Education is the killer feature for everything. The ease of sharing your files, documents, presentations, and now your notes in Google Keep enhances communication, collaboration, and productivity. Ms. Young did a great job at her first presentation!
For the second and third session time slots, I had the pleasure and privilege of presenting Google Expeditions with THE Karly Moura. This was our second year sharing the wonder of Google Expeditions (blog post from 2017's MDUSD STEM & EdTech Symposium). It's always great to discuss how we can take our students on virtual field trips, share the wonderful resources on the Google Expeditions platform, and discuss ways to connect Google Expeditions to the various curricular areas. Karly shared amazing HyperDocs that connects and extends the experience with Google Expeditions. This year we added a mention of Google Expeditions AR (sign up for their Pioneer Program) and the Merge Cube that brings AR & VR into the classroom in a whole other ways. To access our slide deck from our presentation, use this link: bit.ly/MDUSDGE.
It was great to see the Symposium highlighted in an article in East Bay Times. Access the article here.
It's been such an amazing journey serving as the Elementary Math & STEAM Coach/TOSA for the Palo Alto Unified School District for the past two and a half years. I have learned so much, shared what I've learned, and made impact on so many teachers and students throughout the district and beyond.
I recently had my mid-year evaluation meeting with my supervisor, the Chief Academic Officer of Elementary Education. These evaluation meetings always bring different feelings. I know I've done good work as an instructional coach. I know I've connected and made an impact in the district. As much as I think I've done a lot with my coaching, I always know I can do more. It's with this stance that I find it hard to write about my successes. There's always so much more I can do. There's so much more I can learn. There's always so much more. However, I also know that it's important to pause, reflect on the work, celebrate the growth, and also identify next steps.
Have you taken time to pause, reflect on your work (in any position or capacity), celebrate your growth, and identify your next steps?
Below is my beginning of the year write up, followed by my mid-year reflection.
Professional Development Plan
It has truly been a privilege and pleasure serving as a TOSA for my third year. It’s really incredible to reflect on the learning and growth I’ve experienced so far. The growth through experiences, reflection, and ongoing refinement has been incredible. Some of key highlights are expanding my view of 20 students and 180 days to all elementary students across multiple school years, expanding my professional learning in all subjects, connecting with countless educators, building systems/programs/structures for students at all 13 sites to experience and benefit from.
For this third year in this role, I have identified 4 elements of the CSTPs: 3.1, 4.3, 6.3, and 6.2.
3.1 – Demonstrating knowledge of subject matter, academic content standards, and curriculum frameworks.
Continuing my professional learning and deepening my understanding of standards in both Math and Science, I plan to invest time to understand the NGSS framework before, during, and after the NGSS Rollout #4 professional learning days in December. I plan to work on ways to help teachers understand how to use curriculum frameworks in both Math and Science to better address content standards and the needs of their students.
4.3 – Developing and sequencing long-term and short-term instructional plans to support student learning.
Throughout my career and the past two years serving as a TOSA, I have always looked for and encouraged teachers to identify immediate next steps after any particular lesson as well being mindful of the long-term plans and goals for students as a class and individually. I am excited to support teachers develop and refine clear, rich, rigorous, and measureable objectives for each lesson, unit, and more and their reflective adjustments for their short-term and long-term instructional plans. It’s a combination of being proactive and reactive.
6.3 – Collaborating with colleagues and the broader professional community to support teacher and student learning
Being on this tight TOSA team has been tremendous. I plan to support the TOSA Team by doing my part in team tasks, AND sharing my perspective, experience, skillset, and more to build up the entire team. A key phrase for me that reflects this focus is: “Don’t aspire to be the best on the team. Aspire to be the best FOR the team.” Working with other educators on the STEAM Inquiry Group and the South Bay Science Collaborative will also help me address this CSTP – to support teachers within PAUSD and beyond.
6.2 – Establishing professional goals and engaging in continuous and purposeful professional growth and development.
This fourth goal reflects my continued focus and need to develop both professionally and personally. As we’ve discussed, I have a strong drive to create flawless products and have had difficulty in that process. Experiencing failures, shortcomings, and stumbles is one half of this focus. The more important half is recovering from those failures. Identifying monthly (perhaps weekly) goals will be part of my process in addressing this CSTP.
It’s been a wonderful year so far during this third year in my role as a Teacher on Special Assignment. I have really embraced the process of developing positive and productive coaching sessions. It’s been a rewarding process beginning with building relationships, impacting instruction through individual and group coaching, and circling back by sending resources and follow up messages. It’s been great leading lab days and learning walks that guide teachers in the implementation of Bridges in Mathematics, analyzing the major clusters of standards, and identifying the progression of math content standards and math practice standards across the grade levels. Leading the STEAM Inquiry Group to look at the Next Generation Science Standards and the science frameworks has been another focus of this year for CSTP 3.1. Partnering with teachers for their unit planning, project based learning experiences, and other educational initiatives definitely addresses my focus on CSTP 4.3. Proactive and purposeful planning of curriculum rollout and professional learning experiences helps with CSTP 4.3 and long-term instructional plans. I have really enjoyed connecting with my fellow TOSAs, other educators, and connections outside of PAUSD for CSTPs 6.2 and 6.3. I truly believe we are #BetterTogether and we have so much to learn from each other. I always strive to bring what I can to collaborative planning groups and to arrive at a better solution together than anyone of us can accomplish alone. As I reflect on this year and also the past two years, I can really see how I’ve grown to just keep going. It’s about progress and not perfection. Just keep going because every bit of effort is definitely effort in the right direction.
What, in your work, are you proud of?
Last Friday, PAUSD’s Chief Academic Officer of Elementary Education asked the TOSA Team to reflect on our work so far this school year. What was I proud of? This being my third year in the role as a Math & STEAM Coach, what was I proud of? The transition to our new math curriculum sure makes the list. Co-facilitating the STEAM Inquiry Group with my colleague, Leslie Faust, is a definite thing. Supporting teachers and students in their math, STEAM, & inquiry based instruction definitely stands out.
How did I answer the question of what I was proud of? I am proud of partnering with teachers who have been “harder” to reach the past two and a half years.
There are many teachers who I have had the pleasure & privilege of partnering with and have made many connections with. And there are those who I have never worked with or have invited me to do a demo lesson once in the past two and a half years mainly because their principal made it an expectation. Those are the teachers, who I am working with this year, that I am proud of - of continuing my effort to partnering with them. Some of them have forever had their doors closed to TOSAs and coaching. Maybe it’s because they’ve had previous bad experiences with TOSAs. Maybe it’s because of a perception that they’re being judged. No matter the reason, they have always resisted any support. This year some of those resistors have opened up to my support. I’ve had the opportunities to co-plan with them, analyze student data, share resources, model lessons for them, and asked for their feedback. I am reminded of one of Simon Sinek’s quotes.
I am proud of those partnerships. What led to the partnerships? What was the difference this year compared to previous years? I’m not sure. What I believe, though, is that three factors are at play. Patience, timing, and readiness.
I’ve wanted to work with those teachers and their students since I first started as a coach. I’ve looked for opportunities, listened for access points, and partnered with their principals to identify how I can support. However, it never happened in the past two years. My efforts never stopped though. I remained patient. I kept listening for access points. I kept partnering with the principals. I kept making conversations, offering support AND asking for their input. I remained patient and trusted that an opportunity will come.
Another factor was timing - not anything on my end with timing but timing on the part of the teachers. Coupled with being patient, it was about their timing. The timing wasn’t right during the past two years. This year they were ready, they were open. The timing was right for them. The timing of content, the timing of struggles, the timing of process, ... The timing was right this year. It’s similar to sharing a message. You can say the same thing multiple times, but the listener may not hear it until the timing is right for them.
Just like timing, readiness was another factor. The teachers’ timing and readiness were in place. They were ready. However, when I say readiness, I mean my readiness. I stayed ready. I know I can’t control the teachers’ readiness for support, but I could control my readiness to provide support. So I stayed ready. I stayed ready for when the timing was right, for when they were ready. I stayed ready to listen. I stayed ready to provide resources. I stayed ready to co-plan. I stayed ready.
I am indeed proud of being able to partner with teachers who I haven’t had the pleasure and privilege of working with during the past two years. The work with them may be at beginning stages compared to partnerships I have with others over the course of two years, but it’s work I’m proud of.
There are still teachers with whom I haven’t partnered with yet. There are still some resistors. But I will be patient. I will prepare for the right timing. I will stay ready. If and when I get that opportunity, I know I will be proud of that too.
As PAUSD elementary teachers continue their implementation of the district's new math curriculum, Bridges in Mathematics, it's always important to be mindful of equity and access. Have we ensured that every class received their necessary materials? Do all teachers have what they need in terms of professional development and support structures to implement the new curriculum effectively? Do principals have what they need to learn how to be the instructional leaders at their sites? If there are technical needs, do all teachers and students have the hardware and infrastructure to support the educational technology integration?
One impressive thing about Math Learning Center, the publisher of Bridges in Mathematics, is their math apps. On their website, they offer ten (with one in beta) mobile apps for users to download and install. Not only are they helpful tools for math instruction and practice, Math Learning Center has developed these apps to be cross-platform - iOS, Chrome, Windows, and web-based. Equity and Access.
Not only are these cross-platform apps helpful tools for math instruction and practice, they are apps that can be used with any math curriculum!
Full STEAM Ahead!
What an incredible experience attending the 5th annual California STEAM Symposium. This was my second year attending this symposium (formerly the STEM Symposium). It's always powerful and fulfilling to attend a conference for professional development, connections, and inspiration. Last year's symposium that took place in Anaheim definitely did that for me and my colleague, Mangla Oza. We were inspired by the keynotes (especially Sir Ken Robinson's keynote), made many amazing connections, and attended many wonderful sessions. One of which we were able to share with our district - blog post.
This year's CA STEAM Symposium was just as inspirational. Captain Mark Kelly kicked off the Symposium with stories of his journey into NASA and into space, his wife's perseverance and resolve, and shared words of wisdom. Some of the key points include:
The entire California STEAM Symposium was indeed an inspiring experience! The words from their website accurately describes the experience. "The 2017 ... Symposium convened over 3,000 educators ... for ongoing rigorous, collaborative, and inspiring professional learning and resources to support high-quality science, technology, engineering, art, and math instruction for all students."
PAUSD's Maker Movement
It was such a pleasure and privilege to be one of those 3,000 educators who engaged in professional learning. I was able to experience the symposium as both a participant and a presenter. My colleague, PAUSD's Literacy & STEAM Coach for Elementary Education, Leslie Faust, and I presented a session on our district's Maker Movement. It was such an honor to be able to share the work of so many educators in our district. Our session shared the process and development of three initiatives that addresses the Maker Movement and our three focus goals.
It was great to excite creativity with the hands-on design challenge to start the session. There were many fantastic ideas for an ideal school playground from each table group. The session then went over the work of educators and parent volunteers at three elementary schools in our district and the collaboration between AAR and Elementary Education in PAUSD to launch the Creativity Project (Creative Carts). Leslie and I concluded our session by sharing our work on creating a STEAM Lending Library (from the inspiration of Mount Diablo Unified School District's STEM Lending Library - news article).
Again, it was such a pleasure, privilege, and honor to be able to engage in professional learning, connect with other educators, and share the work of PAUSD. The slide deck that Leslie and I used in our session is linked here as well as some of my tweets from the symposium.
It’s been an amazing year so far as elementary school teachers in Palo Alto Unified School District have all worked hard at implementing the district's new math curriculum, Bridges in Mathematics. After three years of work, learning about the curriculum choices available during the 2014 - 2015 school year, exploring curricula in the classroom during the 2015 - 2016 school year, and then piloting and adopting the new curriculum last school year, implementation is in progress.
There were, of course, challenges the district - Curriculum and Instruction, Ed Services, the Elementary TOSA Team - encountered. To name a few:
Among the many things the things the Elementary TOSA Team have been working to help with the transition to our new math curriculum is creating screencasts to share resources, processes, and more. It's been great to work on the screencasts, partner with one of my colleagues, Leslie Faust, who does the voiceovers, and share the videos on our district's intranet and on YouTube. Adding visuals to any professional learning resource is always a good idea to help visual learners. Below are a few of the screencasts we've made.
The three questions that always go through everyone's minds at one point or another are: Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? These three questions go through my head every time I encounter a challenge, struggle, or change in my lifestyle, work, and life with family and friends. This has happened in high school figuring out what college I want to go to, during college figuring out what field to major in and what career to choose, and while teaching in the classroom being faced with the opportunity to become an instructional coach. Who am I?
This concept came up this week during one of the TOSA Team meeting as we discussed our workload, our position, our roles and responsibilities, and what we can and cannot do. Elementary school principals and district level coordinators in our district have been asking the TOSA Team to do projects that are both outside our role and responsibility and add to our already loaded plate. Will you do this? Can you join me in that? I need you to do this? ...
"Stay in your lane." Our supervisor, Barbara Harris, the Chief Academic Officer of Elementary Education, always reminds us to stay in our lane.
As educators and caregivers we all "suffer" from being people pleasers. We want to say yes. We want to help. Although this is an honorable and noble thing - to help others - it often comes at a detriment to ourselves, our workload, our stress level, our mental health, our physical health, and our continual process to balance our lives. Today, Barbara emphasized the importance of setting limits and boundaries in our conversation of workload and learning how to say the positive no. She recommended for each of us to read the book The Power of a Positive No.
During this past Monday's #TOSAchat, this question of how to balance your workload came up and I responded with the following tweet. Needless to say I continually work on this and by no means claim to be able to set limits.
Who am I? I am a Math & STEAM Coach. I am a teacher. I am someone who serves. AND I am someone who is continually working on balance. I am someone continually balancing my life. Balance is a verb - something we do daily. I am someone who is continually working and communicating my capacity and limitations.
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!
#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.
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.
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
Meaningful, manageable, authentic audience, student voice, Mindfulness, and empowerment. Those are words that stand out from my experience at today's MDUSD's 2nd Annual STEM & EdTech Symposium (another info link from East Bay CUE). What an incredible day of professional learning, making professional connections, learning together, and finding ways to impact, inspire, and empower students.
The day started with an inspiring keynote by Nicholas Zefeldt. How can we make our students' experience meaningful and manageable for us? Nick inspired the crowd of over 400 educators with many concepts, including two key points - providing our students with authentic audiences and the value of student voice. Whether through blogs, podcasts, Twitter, students' work from Writer's Workshop, when we give our students an authentic audience it changes how they see themselves as writers. Students will then be more empowered and willing to share their voice. Focus on listening to our students. Focus on student voice. Nick took the crowd through a segment about podcasting and shared a wonderful web based resource that's simple to use - http://vocaroo.com. It was super cool the way Nick creating an interactive part of his keynote by creating a podcast with the 400 educators in the room, giving tips on how to create podcasts with students, teaching students to say, "Whoops, what I meant to say was ...," and singing a childhood favorite song. Check out Nick's tweet below, especially the link to the podcast!
Nick also shared several pro tips, including offering extra recess as a purposeful teacher move and using QR codes to connect physical elements to the internet. His keynote was indeed an amazing way to kick off the day! Nick pointed out the necessary step of asking yourself two questions - Is what you're about to do with your students meaningful? Is it manageable?
Is it meaningful? Does it change the learning opportunity in some way? Saying it's engaging isn't enough.
Is it manageable? You do something amazing. Three days (weeks, months) later can you do it again with ease? Do you want to do it again?
STEM & EdTech Symposium Sessions
The sessions I went to focused on ways to incorporate EdTech tools in the classroom for student discovery and empowerment. Breakout EDU is always a topic that draws curiosity and interest and the sessions during the symposium today were full, engaging, and fun. A session I had the pleasure of going to was one offered by Roni Habib focused on Mindfulness, positivity, and relationships. Participants in his session learned about the impact of games in the classroom. When teachers incorporate collaborative games in the classroom it promotes positivity which in turn fosters an environment where learning thrives. Roni referenced the work of a psychologist whose study showed that positivity leads to a greater ability to learn. It was great to hear Roni share some of the practical things we can do in the classroom. The following is just a part of the list.
A huge highlight for me at today's MDUSD's 2nd Annual STEM & EdTech Symposium was partnering with THE Karly Moura for a session on Virtual field trips with Google Expeditions. I have had the pleasure of partnering with Karly on many projects and initiatives, include #TOSAchat, #GAFEhelp - now known as #gsuiteEDU, and various edcamp planning. Today Karly and I facilitated a session on the use of Google Expeditions for a room full of educators. It was great to begin with a discussion of what VR is and what participants thought of virtual reality in the classroom. There were thoughts of positive use and aspects of VR in the classroom, such as access for students, being cost-effective (after the initial cost of the equipment), and creating global connections. It was also good to hear the devil's advocate and cautious point of view of VR too. Is it just a gimmick? A participant said since 3D in television hasn't taken off even though it was projected to, is VR also something that's getting premature attention? The discussion was definitely a great way to set the tone for the session - emphasizing and referencing one point from Nick's keynote in the morning - it's not about the tools, it's about the teacher. It's the verbs we want our students to engage in. Empowerment. Creativity. Access.
It was definitely a fun, hands-on session with devices from the Tesoro's MDUSD STEM Lending Library. Karly and I took participants through three virtual Google Expeditions field trips connected to three curricular areas - Social Studies with Pearl Harbor, Literacy with Roald Dahl's estate and stories, and Science with the human body. All three field trips were definitely very engaging with the images, notes from the guides, and interactivity with the iPads and headsets. Special thanks to the Golden State Warriors and Accenture for supporting our session with the donation of the virtual reality headsets!
The session ended with a review of the value of the verbs and concepts such as access, empowerment, and connections, rather than focusing on the tools. I'm always reminded of the image below.
Let's all remember to make our learning and teaching meaningful, manageable, impactful, and inspirational for our students. I will end this blog post with the video Nick shared at the end of his keynote. The video will definitely speak for itself.
Update as of Tuesday, February 28th: Since the STEM & EdTech Symposium, Karly and I have gotten great feedback about our Google Expeditions session and experiences with students.
Elementary school teachers in PAUSD experienced the second of two professional learning sessions on the Next Generation Science Standards during this 2016-2017 school year on Thursday, February 16th. This second NGSS PD day, titled "NGSS 102," followed "NGSS 101" in August where teachers were introduced to the architecture of the Next Generation Science Standards, an overview of the Science and Engineering Practices (SEP) of NGSS, and a look at SEP 1 - Asking Questions and Defining Problems.
For this second PD session on NGSS 102, there were three session goals to bring elementary school teachers into the awareness phase and the beginning of the transition phase.
It was great to continue examining the architecture of NGSS from the Fall into this Winter session analyzing the changes in the Next Generation Science Standards vs. the old 1998 California Science Standards. Teachers were given time to not only explore their grade level's Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI) but dive deeper into NGSS with the other boxes in the standards. As noted by teachers in the sessions, the words of the 1998 science standards are, "Students know ...," "Students know ..." while the words of NGSS identifies other verbs and goes into higher levels of thinking - analyze, evaluate, predict, model, and interpret. The analysis of the words and phrasing in NGSS' performance expectations, three dimensions, and connections to CCSS ELA and Math definitely showed a more complete approach to the next generation of science instruction.
The second session goal of diving into Crosscutting Concepts (CCC) during NGSS 102 completed our study of NGSS' three dimension (SEPs in the Fall and throughout the year and DCI during session goal 1). This was certainly a completion of only an introduction to the three dimensions of NGSS. There will certainly be a lot more professional development in the future. This second session goal was definitely a very engaging time as teachers engaged in two activities that the PAUSD Elementary TOSA Team received from the California Academy of Science. The Crosscutting Concepts Speed Dating and Station Rotation activities definitely gave teachers the chance to become familiar with what the CCCs are and how they are defined.
The third session goal provided teachers the chance to engage in inquiry based instruction through a video (below) as well as a hands-on exploration called the Skittles Experiment. It was great to connect the CCCs in this activity. Teachers were asked to choose one of the seven crosscutting concepts to view the phenomena through and record their noticings and wonderings. Teachers were very engaged, asking questions based on their observations that could lead to more experiments, and working collaboratively to write their scientific explanations with claim, evidence, and reasoning. Below are pictures of the Skittles Experiment along with other pictures from NGSS 102 from the professional learning session with PAUSD fifth grade teachers.
NGSS 102 was a very successful day of engagement, awareness, conversations, planning, and professional learning.
Math & STEAM Coach / TOSA in Palo Alto Unified School District.