In this #coachbetter episode, Kim talks with Lisa Stringfellow (teacher, coach, ed tech coordinator, and author) about the lessons she’s learned as a coach during both remote and hybrid learning; the ways that teachers can share successes with their colleagues, even when stress levels are high and time is limited; the development of this coaching role in her context and, of course, her book – and how she brings writing to life in her English classroom with her students! There is so much to unpack in this conversation from the strategies to make coaching work even when we can’t be in the same room, to bringing the enthusiasm and energy of being a learner to our students and our teaching colleagues. If you’re a coach working with teachers in many different grade levels and subject areas, this episode is for you!

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Featured Guest

Bonus! Watch the Spotlight Version on YouTube!

Show Notes

Our Guest

MS English teacher at an independent girls school in Boston, and also the author of Dark Tide (now titled A Comb of Wishes) to be released in 2022. Integrating literacy, equity, & social justice. 22 year of teaching, Ed tech coordinator, gr 5-12 school (500 students). School is in hybrid mode as of October 2020.

What is it like doing remote coaching for hybrid learning?

1:1 meetings, introduce ideas in faculty meetings or videos.  Email, group PD.

How do you keep relationships alive:

Being flexible, let people know that they’re not bothering me. Different now in the new school year because of new teachers and new students. Building trust and comfort. 

Academic Crisis Team. How much bandwidth do people have?

Because I’m a classroom teacher right now – I can take the cues from myself right now. When I meet with the team who are making tech decisions, I can say “this is how we’re feeling…”

Tell us about the structure of your coaching role.

6th year at this school. When I started, people in each department were facilitators. Started as English department EdTech facilitator. One was the coordinator. Changed that model a few years ago. Two EdTech coaches helping the whole division, open to everyone. Getting to know people from all departments and all divisions. Exciting but also challenging. TechEd Team: co-coordinators, Tech Director, Assistant Head of School, STEM teacher.  In the department-led group, none were admin, so we didn’t have any decision making abilities. We always had to make our decisions and there was a lag time getting approval. We didn’t have the right people in the room. New group has decision makers at all levels. 

Disseminating information out to all faculty members is difficult. One day in 5 day week with no classes scheduled (Wed): assembly and free for faculty. 

Interesting thing at school

Framework about what we believe about tech: Teacher/Student as learner, creator, communicator. Uncovered that “teacher as learner” was an area for growth. Not as many faculty members were participating in that. As a coach, working with teachers, there is more receptiveness to new ideas after going through remote and hybrid learning. This situation has pushed teachers out of their comfort zone. There’s more of a sense that teachers are curious about things, as much as they’re able to explore.

New things

Essentially having to be paperless, because part-time remote & when we’re in school, trying not to move things around. Feedback: commenting in Google Suite. App: Kami to annotate, Notability to write on iPad. Mote, Kaizena to leave audio feedback.

Sharing Successes

People are hearing through the grapevine. Interactive notebooks: Slip & Slide app to send presentations to students that are already created. Need to formalize that kind of sharing. 

What can we keep remote vs face to face?

Back to school night went really well – danger of adding instead of replacing

We have to keep asking: What’s most essential? What kind of experience do we want to create? Work backwards: What’s our end result? Why are we doing this? What do we want to accomplish?

Student led conferences: interactive notebooks

Tell us about your book

I wrote it in 2013. It takes a long time to get to being published. NaNoWriWo. Young Readers version. I have been doing it with my students for 8 years. Everyone writes a novel. Wrote the book with my 5th grade class. 

Middle grades fantasy. Just finished reading The Tale of Emily Winstaff about a mermaid. Wanted to write a story involving a mermaid who was a POC. Set in the Caribbean.

Young Readers for Nanowrimo. Sign your class up, watch word count on their story go up on chart. I give my students a 4000 word goal (based on recommendations for age of student). Divide by 30 days. Students have written 10,000. A ten year old girl wrote 20,000 words. 

Banning the inner editor, don’t worry about crushing your creativity, the idea is just to get words on paper. What writing experiences have been 

Ideas Play. The idea is to be playful. Exploring. Choice. The kids are excited to write because I’m not telling them what to write. Self selected PD where you can choose what you’re interested in (unconferences). Make it fun. You can dip in and out, try something, no wrong or right answers. Us giving ourselves permission to not be perfect in front of our students when we’re trying something out. Let the kids know that you don’t have all the answers all the time – teachers having that more ingrained. Play, Choice, don’t have to be perfect.

Time: scheduled time to write. Create the space for it. Sometimes we don’t do that enough on the administrative side, when time is given for PD. Might learn, but there’s no time to play with it. Need flexibility to allow creativity.