Wednesday, September 4, 2019

EdTech Coaches on Walkabout

Image result for walkabout aboriginal
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.

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