Saturday, September 28, 2019

My Favorite Google Calendar Tip for Coaches

As an instructional technology coach, keeping up with my schedule is part of the daily grind. My approach to tech coaching is an organic approach. To this end, I try to be in classrooms at least 80 percent of my day. Maintaining my schedule is essential to this approach. Google Calendar along with Google Keep and Google Tasks help me make sure I know what I have to do and where I have to be. Google Calendar is a very robust, yet easy to learn tool. A popular feature among coaches is the Calendar appointment slots. In my experience, adding the school bell schedules has been my best Google Calendar trick. Adding school bell schedules require a little bit of work to set up, but once you have them in, planning in-class coaching with teachers becomes much easier.

Most schools don't have a bell schedule that can be imported directly to your Calendar. This is true of the schools I serve. I took it upon myself to manually input these schedules into Google Calendar.
The first step is to create a separate calendar for the bell schedule and add all the "class periods" to that calendar. In the GIF below, see how to create a new calendar.

To expedite the process, become a master of the REPEAT function in Calendar. This will allow you to create a "class period" once and make it repeat for the entire school year. In the GIF below, repeat the steps for each "class period" in your bell schedule.

After inputting all the repeating class periods into the Bell Schedule in Google Calendar, scheduling with teachers becomes a breeze. If I want to coach a teacher who is teaching 3rd period, I know longer need to know the exact times for the period to begin and end when entering this coaching session into the calendar. All I need to do is open the 3rd period event and duplicate it. I will then edit the duplicate with the teacher's name and purpose for the coaching. This makes scheduling teachers on the fly much easier. Take a look at the GIF below to see how.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Canned Responses in Gmail for Feedback

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In education, quick, meaningful feedback is so important. Whether you're a teacher giving feedback to students, admin to teachers, coaches to teachers and or district admin to site admin, automating and expediting the process is a good idea. The quicker someone receives meaningful feedback, the quicker it can be acted upon and work can continue to iterate. As an edtech integration coach the past five years, my feedback tools have varied and evolved. I've used Google Forms with Formmule to send quick emails to teachers during walk-throughs. I also use custom sticky notes (click here for a template) to leave quick written, personalized feedback. When doing longer observations, Canned Responses in Gmail have been my go-to.

Recently, as I began working systematically with entire departments on implementation of EduProtocols. I've developed a cycle of introducing a protocol in their PLC and scheduling in class demos with quick turnarounds for observation and feedback. During the observations, I use Canned Responses in Gmail. Though not completely different using a Google Form with Formmule, it has  advantages. Using a Form is more of one sized fits all approach to providing feedback. When working with different departments on different EduProtocols, creating a canned response for each department or protocol makes the feedback more easily personalized.

Take a look below to see how to create a Canned Response in Gmail.

Start by typing a subject and, in the body, type areas for you to fill in. From there, click the three dots in bottom right corner and select (depending on your domain) Template or Canned Responses. Next, select save draft as template. You can then close the message window. When you want to use the Canned Response, compose a new email, go back to the three dots, click Template or Canned Response and select the name of the template you created.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

My Favorites: Save to Keep Chrome Extension

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One of my favorite Chrome Extensions is Save to Keep. I use Google Keep daily for both personal and professional tasks. On a pretty regular basis, I find some amazing articles, social media posts, blogs, etc. that help me improve my practice. The problem is I don't always have time to sit down and read the entire article and really dig in and glean some great ideas. I don't want to bookmark every link I encounter. That would make my bookmarks bar a mess. To ensure I can save that link in a convenient place to check out later, the Save to Keep Chrome Extension is one of my best friends. 

You can easily find it in the Chrome Web Store. (Click here to access it.) Add it to Chrome and it will soon appear among your extensions on your Chrome toolbar. This extension will allow you to save any webpage on which you are browsing. To do so, click the extension. A small drop down will appear at the top of your screen with a link to that page and it allows you to type a message on a Keep note. To access later, go to Google Keep and you will see a note with the link and any message you added. See the GIF below to see how this works.

There is a similar functionality for Chrome on an Android device. On an Android device, you don't need an extension. Simply click the three dots in the top right of the browser window, click Share, then select Keep. Like the extension on your computer's Chrome browser, this will save the link to a note in Keep. See the GIF below to learn how to save a link to Keep on an Android device. On iOs, click the share menu in Chrome to accomplish the same thing.

Related image
Share Menu button for iOs

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

EdTech Coaches on Walkabout

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My wife Katherine Goyette and I have had the honor and pleasure of presenting our "Walking Coach" session at ISTE and various CUE events. In this session, we emphasize the importance of walking classrooms and being visible to the teachers and students you serve. As I put this into practice, I like to say, each day, I am going on walkabout.

According to Wikipedia, walkabout is a rite of passage for male Aborigines. This usually takes place during adolescence where they wander in the wilderness for up to six months to make a spiritual transition to manhood. As an edtech coach, going on walkabout transformed my practice tremendously.

In the aforementioned "Walking Coach" session, I share a story of my early days as an edtech coach. During those early days, I was excited to train teachers on the wonders of edtech, but I became lonely and isolated as days passed with the phone not ringing. I expected teachers to reach out to me. To combat this, I made a commitment to walking classes as much as possible. I've come to call this change in approach going on walkabout.

It was on this initial walkabout where I began seeing teachers and students in their natural habitat. These casual observations allowed me to leave quick feedback and solve problems on the spot. Being visible in classrooms led to teachers reaching out and allowing for the planning of organic edtech integration.

For Aborigine adolescents, walkabout is usually a once in a lifetime experience. As an edtech coach, my first walkabout changed my practice forever, but unlike the Aborigine, an edtech coach's walkabout must be ongoing. I cannot be a one time deal. As school initiatives and staffs change, it's important to have a consistent walkabout schedule to roll with the changes during the year to better serve teachers and students' needs.

Tips for Jumpstarting an EdTech Coaching Walkabout
If you're a classroom teacher, encourage your edtech coach to come visit. Many new coaches tend to sit in their offices and develop PD. Help jumpstart their walkabout by inviting them to your classroom.

If you're an administrator, encourage your edtech coach to set a goal for seeing as many classrooms as possible per quarter. My ambitious goal is to see every classroom at my two sites at least once per month.

If you're an edtech coach, develop tools for tracking the classrooms you visit and leaving feedback. I have created a Google Site with a page for each of the 100 teachers I serve. On those pages, I record each visit and any artifacts of student work or teacher planning. In addition, I use custom sticky notes (I made mine on Click here to access my template) for informal feedback and a Google Form with Formmule for automated, formal feedback.