“It has become fashionable to say that our present epoch is an information age, but that’s not quite right. In truth, we live in a communication age and it’s time we start taking it seriously” (Forbes).
Forbes magazine stated in a recent article that communication is the most important skill in business. I would venture to say that effective communication is equally important in the education sector and, in all of its various forms, is one of the most important life skills.
Oftentimes in our crazy day-to-day existence as teachers we are so busy with our routines that we are unable to find much time to communicate with our colleagues. That’s a real shame, because having the time to share with each other on a daily basis, beyond mere pleasantries, allows us the potential to grow as educators exponentially.
Enter the coaches, be it literacy, numeracy, or, in our case, educational technology. We are in the schools to help you. It’s our job to find ways to effectively interact with you and help make your practice and classrooms even richer places of learning. As coaches, we have discussed different ways to effectively communicate with our respective staff beyond our physical presence.
What follows is a short list explaining some of the ways that we are attempting to “reach out” and share our pedagogical and technological expertise. Our hope is that at least one (if not more — or all!) of these ways work for you and affords you the opportunity to learn from us and continue to develop as an educator:
- Email. Yes, we know that we all receive far too many emails and many are not even read because who has the time to teach and be checking emails all day long? That being said, we still believe that it’s one way to contact. We try to limit our emails to ONE per week, usually just to state what day(s) we will be at your school and/or give you a few “tech tips”. We usually send this email towards the end of the week, knowing that you have the weekend to read it and plan for the following week. For some, email is an effective communication tool for dialogue. For others, it’s purely informational.
- Twitter. I admit it; I love Twitter. In fact, I have pretty much replaced Facebook with Twitter – and, for me, Twitter is all about work (with the occasional meme posted for fun!). I feel that the time I spend on Twitter, sharing my ideas and learning from colleagues in the DDSB and all around the world, is time well spent and not time wasted. In fact, some of the best ideas, and most successful with staff and students with whom I have worked, are those that I learned about through Twitter. If you see me in person, at times I may sound like a Twitter Fan-Boy, but I really do strongly encourage you to follow your colleagues and coaches on Twitter. I think that you will be amazed at how much you learn and grow as an educator through an effective form of social media!
- Google Plus. Admittedly, this platform is in its infancy. This year, we have been encouraging staff to use Google Plus as a way to share and collaborate with their peers. For us at the DDSB, Google Plus is a closed community, meaning that we can share only with our district colleagues. This does have its strengths but also its limitations. It’s a great way to share resources and articles etc with a school team or entire staff. You can create groups and communities of learners and both share and learn from each other whenever you want and wherever you are. However, I do encourage people to post in both Google Plus and Twitter, because I think it’s also great to hear perspectives from educators all around the world.
- Websites. One of my absolute favourite Google products (among the many!) is Google Sites, which is available to both staff and students. Because I like to model the use of technology, I decided to create a Google Site for staff to visit. I wanted it to be available 24/7/365 and be a one stop place where they can learn from me as a technology coach. In fact we decided, as a coaching team, that individualized websites were one of the most effective ways for us to share our tips and tricks about technology, along with instructional videos and links etc. In our email signatures, we all share the link to our site. And all of our sites link directly with all the other coaches’ sites. Thus, while you might have me assigned to your school, you can also learn from any of the other seven coaches simply by visiting the “Coaching Team” section of my site found here. We also allow staff the opportunity to book us directly through our sites. I encourage you to browse through my site and enjoy all of the information that I have to share with you! You can find my website by clicking here.
As the role of technology coach is a new one, and already evolving, we will continue to brainstorm even more ways of sharing. For example, I have already offered my staff the opportunity for Virtual Coaching when I am not in the building, through approved software such as Google Meet and Google Hangouts.
It’s an exciting time to be an educator and I am grateful that I have the opportunity to share some of my 27 years teaching experience with my colleagues!
“As Walter Isaacson argues in his book The Innovators, even in technology—maybe especially in technology—the ability to collaborate effectively is decisive. In order to innovate, it’s not enough to just come up with big ideas, you also need to work hard to communicate them clearly” (Forbes).
This is our goal as coaches! If you have any ideas of how we, as a coaching team, can communicate more effectively, please write a comment below or email me here.
Thanks for reading!