This spring has been an amazing journey for me as I have ventured into two totally different and challenging areas of online learning. The first experience was my 5 week challenging but rewarding online course, “Introduction to Mind Amplifiers.” It’s a five-week experience using asynchronous forums, blogs, wikis, mindmaps, social bookmarks, synchronous audio, video, chat, and Twitter. Participation requires a serious commitment of time and attention by every member of the learning group. Right after I finished there I signed up for the PLP Connected Coach online course. It is just as intense as the Mind Amplifiers course and I have been exploring the Connected Coaching model and elements of coaching in online spaces.
It is fair to say that I consider myself an expert online connected educator! I know about a lot of cool tools to use in class and I have a lot of fun connecting with educators all over the world. Yesterday while raking leaves in my garden (one of my more boring chores), I established contact with a teacher in Hong Kong and we made plans for connecting our students. I recently came home from Lesotho, South Africa where we have established contact with a school as well.
When scoring myself after almost 9 weeks of connected coaching I am a little disappointed in my self assessment scores. I see areas of improvement! These 9 weeks have been illuminating and a huge awakening for me. I think in particular it is the active listening that spoke to me the most. When I listen to my colleagues in this connected coaches course, I think one area we have in common is that we see the urgent need for change and we are impatient. I read the article “What can we do about teacher resistance” by Jim Knight. Teachers are unlikely to implement a new practice successfully, if they implement at all, if they have had only workshops without coaching or other forms of follow-up support. Many teaching practices are sophisticated, and teachers can’t be expected to learn them without an opportunity to watch model demonstration lessons, experience job-embedded support, and receive high-quality feedback. To me this is where the connected coaching fits. The questions to ask according to the article are is it worth it and can I do this? But even more important in the role as a coach is your ability to listen to those you are coaching. Otherwise your change suggestions might be perceived as criticism of their teaching practice and they feel under attack. Coaches need to master effective communication and listen respectfully.
The connected coaching model is; trust building, questioning, and facilitating design thinking. Establishing trust online can be difficult and takes time. I think the element of f2f that you have in Skype can be very helpful. Using the team Wiki as a source of communication might be more difficult. If the team members are at the same school the Wiki is not going to be where they communicate.
Looking back at these 8 weeks I see many areas where I want to learn more. I will continue to study and apply the strength based approach, active listening and TPACK ( see video embedded below) . I will practice listening and asking questions related to practice, and I am relying on time helping me gain deeper reflections around these topics. I have learned to embrace the culture of collegiality that “none of us is as good as all of us”. It is something I have experienced in the late night Eluminate sessions with the rest of the connected coaches. All brilliant, committed and smart! It has been a pleasure learning from you all!