As a staff development trainer in a 1:1 school district in New Jersey, one question that I field almost daily can be summed up in three little words: How Do I…? With so many resources and applications available, it’s no wonder teachers have trouble keeping track of the best tools for transforming instruction. This obvious teacher need became my call-to-action.
When I first took on the challenge of creating a catalogue of digital platforms, I turned to Google Docs to help me create a simple chart that would help teachers take the guesswork out of planning and doing. I received a lot of positive feedback from the teachers about having this “one stop” list of tools to help them transform learning. But, why stop there? While the Google Doc was informative, it lacked the “special something” of the other resources out there. (Seriously...have you ever seen the stuff created by Kasey Bell?) I found that using a creation tool like Piktochart could make even a simple list truly jump off the page. My end result? An eye-pleasing infographic to take the guesswork out of tech tools. Please feel free to share!
Ask any teacher. As soon as they enter their pre-service training, there is one message that resounds the loudest: in order to be a good teacher, you need to be reflective. You need to take the time to think about what works and what doesn’t work, and, most importantly, what you can do next time to improve your instruction in the best interest of your students.
I guess the same thing goes for being a coach. How can one get better without reflection? Let's take football for example. Are the greatest coaches of the National Football League able to push their teams forward without reflecting on what they could have done differently in Monday night's devastating loss? I highly doubt it. Moving forward without reflection is, well, impossible.
As an instructional coach, I always begin my post-conference meetings with teachers using questions designed to prompt their own reflection: What did you like about your lesson? What don’t you think went well? If you could teach the lesson again, what would you do differently?
It’s funny, really. I find myself asking the teachers with whom I work to reflect, but upon reflection (ironic, huh?) I realize that I take very little time to reflect on my own work with the same individuals I am coaching. Of course I think about the teachers I work with after a coaching visit. I think about the great lessons I saw, the enthusiastic students who hung on their teacher’s every word. But...do I really take the time to reflect on my role in the cycle? Was I an effective listener? Did I provide meaningful and relevant feedback? What could I have done better? Am I really making a difference?
At this point in my career, I think I know what my strengths are, and I hope that I’ve learned how to capitalize on them during formal professional development sessions and workshops. But, to move forward, I realize that I’ve got to make reflection more of a priority. Because, unlike the NFL and Monday Night Football, our students just can’t afford even one devastating loss.
A few days ago, I made the decision to take part in a Blogging Challenge that was posted by a member of my ISTE Ed Tech Coaches PLN (#ETCoaches). While I am not entirely new to blogging (I used blogs with my students as a classroom teacher), I thought that this challenge was the perfect opportunity (and excuse!) to get JEN-ERATION ed up and running. I initially started this site last year as a way to share resources and best practices relating to tech, but in all honesty, I just couldn’t find the time to blog! I went into this with the best intentions, but as with a lot of things that I start, I just couldn’t close. (Sounds a lot like the Yankees this season, huh?) I am hoping that this challenge will ignite my passion for writing, and provide me with the parameters and guidelines that I need to help me stay focused and on track.
While I cannot officially define myself as a blogger, I can say that I am a full-time instructional coach and a part-time technology nerd. I work in a large public school district as a staff development trainer, and I love using my enthusiasm, creativity, and knowledge of educational technology to help teachers transform their instruction. While my seven year old describes me as being a "teacher of teachers," my ultimate goal is to help create meaningful and engaging learning opportunities for all students .
Before becoming a teacher trainer, I spent my first sixteen-plus years in the classroom as a middle school English teacher, and I can honestly say that my passion for teaching and literacy instruction has carried over into my new role. This summer, I was named a Google for Education Certified Trainer, and I am excited to start this journey and share what I learn through this blog. I look forward to expanding my reach through the power of technology and helping next jen-eration educators work smarter, not harder in the best interest of the students we teach. Thanks for reading and please be sure to connect with me on Twitter at @JenFischer18.
Jennifer Fischer is a former middle school English teacher, full-time instructional coach, and part-time edtech nerd, who strives to help next JENeration educators transform learning for all students.