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Apr 17, 2018

The Coach

Learning Walk in Everett: A Reflection from Camlynn

Camlynn Tafa

The following blog is an example of the types of learning that happens in The Coach microcredential. Each unit you’ll receive an activity to help build your coaching skills. You’ll conduct the coaching activity at your school, then write a forum post that discusses your learning. Camlynn, an instructional coach based in Everett, Washington, wrote this reflection based on one of her learning experiences during The Coach microcredential.

 

Lead a learning walk in your school, facilitating pre- and post- discussions. Where do you see technology being used to deepen learning? How is technology helping to facilitate real-world connections to learning? Feel free to use the resource, Learning Walks: A Professional Learning Tool, for ideas on structuring this activity. Don’t forget to leave positive post-its for teachers whom classrooms you’re visiting! A specific follow-up email or quick visit thanking the teacher and pointing out a couple of bright spots you noticed while on the learning walk is always a great relationship-builder!

In our community forum below, post a reflection on the learning walk process. What did you realize? What were some of the takeaways from the team of teachers who accompanied you? How will this impact future teaching and learning? What would you do differently on your next learning walk?

 

I was asked by our deputy superintendent to set-up and run learning walks for all admin from the high schools in our district. Two of the high school admins went 1:1 this year (one being a comprehensive high school and the other our alternative high school) and then the other two high school admin will be going 1:1 next year. There were also some elementary and middle school principals sprinkled through both sessions. The format of the learning walks was 1. Review of the SAMR model, some of the principals had been through the Eduro trainings the previous year and some were going through this year and some had no training on SAMR, so it was important to get everyone on the same page. 2. Go in observe 4-5 classroom teachers in different content areas. 3. Debrief and discuss what they saw and learned doing the observations. At the end part 1 the SAMR review, admin needed to bring a small stack of sticky notes with them and as we were visiting teachers classrooms they would write examples of evidence of SAMR and if they wanted to leave a little note for the teacher. There was a schedule of what classes were visiting and I had made sure with all the teachers that it was okay for us to come in (it can be intimidating for 8-10 district admin to walk into your classroom :).

 

EHS Learning Walks

 

When we got back to the conference room, I had them pair up with someone next to them and they put their sticky notes into SAMR categories that they had in the handouts, then they all moved their sticky notes to one big poster for the group.  I know this was a learning walk about technology and we went not so techy with the sticky notes and posters but that was intentional. We did not want them on their devices because they would be checking their email, responding, and not giving their full attention, it is hard for principals to unplug and we helped them do that 🙂 Then we to time to reflect on what we saw in classrooms when it comes to instruction/SAMR model and also what it was like to be in a school that is 1:1. Each admin had to have one sentence learning takeaway that they shared out. One big takeaway for admin that came from both learning walks was seeing that most teachers are in substitution and augmentation levels of SAMR and that is okay and it will take more support, PD, and time for a teacher to move their instruction into the upper levels of SAMR. The other big takeaway was in the day to day classroom experience you may have students using their computers or using paper and pencil that many teachers at EHS are giving students the option for what works best for them. I think these learning walks were especially valuable for the two schools that are going 1:1 next year. There is much anxiety and stress from their staff about what will it be like in their schools next year and walking around our campus and being in classrooms and heard from students and teachers that they cannot imagine going back to not being 1:1 was a message they could bring back to their staff. My principal asked me to write up a summary of the learning walks for our staff bulletin celebrating our staff for all that we have already done. Here is the write up:

EHS leading the way!

Last week we hosted administrators from Cascade High School and Jackson High School for district learning walks. Since EHS is the first comprehensive high school in our district to go 1:1, CHS and JHS got to observe, discuss, and ask questions about what it is like to make the change to being a 1:1 school. Following our learning walks, we received these comments, “Thank you so much for hosting us today on the learning walk to get a glimpse of our future with one to one technology. We appreciated the time to see you in action and to ask each of you so many questions. We received some great ideas and valuable advice that we will be able to use in the upcoming year. “and “It was truly inspiring to see your work with students and your willingness to jump in and implement technology.” Kudos to all staff here at EHS in embracing this change and being a role model for the other schools in the district!

Here is a glimpse of what the administrators saw while doing their learning walks around our school. They observed students working in varied programs and platforms like Desmos, Kahoot, One Note Class Notebook, Google Classroom and Office Mix. But more importantly, they saw how instruction is transformed by becoming a 1:1 school and the positive impact it has had on learning for our students. In a foreign language class, they saw Heritage Spanish students exploring their childhoods and comparing it to the childhood of an adult in their life they feel connected to. Students were preparing to interview that person using their devices to record the interview and therefore be able to listen to it to create a storybook in which the two childhoods are compared. While in the science building during an Anatomy and Physiology class, students worked in groups designing a prosthetic arm (foreleg) for a dog by examining turkey bones, doing research, and then creating a model for a prosthetic that will be printed on a 3-D printer. The admin also had an opportunity to meet Craydi Moen one of our tech squad students in the library, she told them about her limited tech background before signing up for the tech squad and now she is creating tutorials that are posted on the EHS webpage for a global audience to potentially see and working directly with students solving student tech issues. Many adults are intimidated presenting to administrators and Craydi was a rock star in front of them. Each of these examples showed JHS and CHS the transformation in teaching and learning already occurring here at EHS after only a few months of going 1:1.

The impact of these learning walks was more for the entire district then it was our own building. I feel like I get pulled in these two directions regularly. I am an instructional tech coach at a building and those are the teachers I directly support but I am only 1 of 2 instructional tech facilitators in the entire district right now.  So while I am trying to impact my building, we (Jen and I) are also helping to shape the culture of learning in a technology-rich environment for the district. And sometimes I do not know how much time I should spend on each, or am I spending too much time in one area than another?

The next step is to do learning walks with teachers, the tech committee at my school is just getting started and I would love for them to be the next group that does the learning walks and see what instruction looks like in their colleagues’ classrooms.

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