Archive for February, 2008|Monthly archive page

ITI Journal #5: Personal Coaching Portfolio

The word ‘portfolio’ brings a vast number of images to mind. I’m thinking large black plastic folders containing drawings and artworks, and plastic sleeve folders containing A4 sheets of paper containing something or other of interest to someone. I don’t really have a particular idea of what my own “personal coaching portfolio” should be looking like. I try to picture how it can be used and this does help me a little.

Firstly I would want it to be adjustable. It’s not exactly something that will ever be ‘finished’ as such, so I need to be able to alter it at any given time. So with this in mind I think it needs to be digital in some way, and not in paper form.

Secondly, I want it to be accessible. I don’t want it locked into a hard drive or CD somewhere where it ultimately will metaphorically collect dust. If I am going to put my time and effort into putting such a portfolio together I would like to think that I, and indeed others, will be able to easily access it. This leads me to want to have it placed online, and linked to my blog here is an ideal example. This way I can access it at any time to add or edit its contents, and any interested persons can also have easy access to the information contained within it.

 Initially I expect the portfolio will contain mainly links to external websites or other resources I have played around with over time. Right now I can think of three sub-sections, namely: (a) content specific websites, (b) tools for the classroom, and (c) real-time examples, which I anticipate would be examples of how I have made use of some of the tools for the classroom (e.g. my class wikis, podcasting, presentations etc).

Until I can begin to see it form and mould as I enter different links and resources, I’m really not completely sure how the finished product will look. But in saying that, I’ve just answered my own query – there will be no ‘finished’ product as such, because it will continue to evolve as new resources and links become known to me. Ultimately it will be editing the whole thing that could be a bit of a nightmare.

ITI Journal #4: The Coaching Cycle

The coaching cycle; assessing, setting goals, preparing, implementing and reflecting/debriefing seems a simple set of guidelines. It could be associated with so many things – general teaching practice, incorporating any new classroom practice or school project. As such the ideas within the cycle do seem a familiar concept that I have come across through university studies and other professional development experiences. To be used in association with incoporating a peer coaching plan though, is a different story and is new to me.

 As time goes by I’m getting more comfortable with the idea of introducing this all to my colleagues, and working collaboratively with them. The initial meeting should be an interesting experience, because I will finally be able to put some of my hypothetical ideas to comparison with what points come from the participating teachers.

I expect I will be finding myself consulting with peers within the forums for this subject and with others that I am in contact with throughout the school (including my superiors) and outside of my school environment. Just like with the participating teachers, I think it important that we all have a support network of peers and likeminded people that we can turn to in times of need, or just when we want to bounce an idea or two off. After all, peer coaching is essentially a collaborative effort where we all learn from each other.

ITI Journal #3: Peer Coaching and My School

 Peer coaching, as an official professional development activity does not really currently have a place within my school on a larger scale. It does have a place for Newly Qualified Teachers, where they have a mentor for the year. But as a whole school approach, nothing currently officially exists.

That’s not to say that peer coaching does not take place. On an unofficial, more casual level it certainly exists and actually has quite a large role to play. Our staff are quite a close bunch of professionals and a lot of time is spent talking with each other and bouncing ideas, sharing resources and the like. The dialogue that takes place is what contributes to a shared role in what we as teachers are doing within our own classrooms.

Introducing this form of professional development into the school will pose some great opportunities but also possible difficulties. In particular, there is great scope for some collaborative projects among some of the staff, but time and resources will pose some potential hurdles.

I am always keen to share resources and ideas amongst my colleagues, and to some extend have become known, amongst other staff, and a contributor of sorts, within our little professional community. As such, I honestly do not feel there would be any conflicting actions or feelings from other staff in respect to any perceived change in my behaviour in regards to introducing this peer coaching program on a quasi-official level. I say “quasi-official” because my intent is that it will be run at a relatively low key level initially and be evaluated throughout at at the end of the 12 month period.

Initially, I have one or two colleagues in mind that I would like to work with, based on what I know about their confidence with the integration of technology into their classrooms. I will though, hope to open to suggestion to all staff, keeping in mind that I will want to run it on  relatively low key philosophy. As such those that wish to participate will need to be happy with the idea of doing much of the collaborative work within in their own time (as would I). 

Technology in the Classroom: Friend or Foe?

I came across a forum here in regards to how teachers feel about technology integration in the primary classroom. It’s obvious opinions vary. Here’s what I wrote:

I find it quite amusing how people tend to swing in either direction of this debate. You find teachers who are willing to jump full-swing into the use of these technology tools in the classroom, and then you get those that are adamant that their teaching hasn’t been a problem in the last 10-20 years, so why should it change now?I have no doubt that the tools given to us can be a fantastic resource, not only for the staff development within the school, but for each child’s individual education. I also say confidently that all the technology tools in the world will not make a “bad” teacher “good”. As a matter of fact, badly used technology in the classroom can be detrimental. To be a successful educator, successfully integrating technology into the classroom, you must already be a successful teacher first and foremost.

So where does the problem lie? Some would say a significant proportion of teachers in today’s classrooms are afraid of the unknown, unwilling to accept that with new technologies will come an increased workload. No-one that knows what they are talking about will deny that learning to appropriately use and maximise the opportunities offered by these resources will certainly take more preparation time, if only in the intial stages of discovering the resource.

Ultimately, it all comes down to staff training. If a school is serious about wanting to successfully integrate these forms of technology into our classrooms, then it needs to put its money and time where its mouth is. And I don’t refer to mere one-day CPD insets. It all needs to be about on the job training and coaching from someone in the know, two professionals working collaboratively to achieve common goals. This way, each staff member’s CPD in this area can be personally tailored to exactly what they want to find out, and how it can specifically help them in their classroom. When the professional development systems such as this are in place, then and only then can our schools truly be maximising the potential of these fantastic education tools.