So here we are, friends. The end of an arduous yet rewarding journey for COETAIL and the school year. The beginning of what will definitely be a new way of doing life and school in the months ahead. And as I sit down to write my final blog post for this course, I’m feeling a range of emotions. Fatigue and exhaustion from 14 weeks of online learning and being displaced from my home. Nervousness about closing out the year and preparing for the very real scenario that this might be how we have to start a new school year. Pride and elation at accomplishing a goal and completing this COETAIL journey. I’m sure I’m not the only one dealing with all of these thoughts and emotions though; it’s been a long few months with lots of time to think and reflect. But enough with all that for now. Let’s turn our attention to this final project and how I had to forego previous my plans, pivot in response to distance learning, and move in a new direction to finish.
Best Laid Plans
Back in Course 4, we spent a lot of time and energy looking at the final project guidelines and thinking about how we would bring the culminating experience of COETAIL to life by transforming a unit to reach that redefinition stage of learning with technology on the SAMR model. Much like everything else I had planned in life and work for the past few months, I was forced to rethink my final project when faced with the reality that online learning would be continuing and the opportunities to carry out the new unit in the way I’d planned was no longer an option. Not only did I have to rethink my own engagement with teachers and students as an Innovation Coach, but I also had to support 30+ teachers in rethinking how they would deliver lessons, assess learning and connect with students in new ways. For more on how that went, scroll back through the last few months of blog posts. That’s exactly what I did to begin reimagining this project and it was a great place to start.
As the weeks passed and the Course 5 project approached, I spent a good amount of time in reflection and asking for feedback from my colleagues, coaching partners and administrators. I went back and re-read some old blog posts, connected with previous colleagues from before my move to AISG, and asked my husband to remind me of what was happening when this journey with COETAIL began almost 18 months ago.
In the end, I decided to pivot and look at how my role as an Innovation Coach has changed in response to the school closures and highlight the ways in which COETAIL has equipped me with the mindsets, skills and resources to adapt to these changes. Looking back at my early blog posts from Courses 1 & 2 before moving to AISG helped me realize just how far I’d come and how much I’d grown and it seemed like a great place to begin the video and project.
In January of 2019 my life changed rapidly. I had been working as a Technology Integration Specialist and was tasked with helping the school redesign their approach to teaching and learning with technology from one that held stand-alone computer classes in a lab to one that used technology in authentic and meaningful ways to deepen learning experiences across the curriculum. But then one day we lost a teacher to a heart attack and I was asked to step back into a homeroom setting to get the kids through the remainder of their year. This coincided with the start of my COETAIL courses and helped me so much to see how each module and topic was applicable in both of those positions (homeroom teacher and tech integration). I didn’t realize how similar the last 2 years had been in some ways until I relived all of those memories. The sudden mid-year shift in roles, the traumatic underlying experience, the ability to be responsive to a changing situation; it all felt so similar to what I was going through this year. And as painful and challenging as both experiences are and have been, there is a tremendous amount of growth to come from them, so that’s where I wanted to take this final project. The challenge was… how could I possibly condense all of this down into a 10-minute video that meets all of the criteria and guidelines? Did I have enough evidence to paint a picture for an audience? Would I be able to show the connections to all of these things in a way that made sense to an audience? Could I highlight the ways COETAIL had shaped my practice and meet all of the standards for the project? I wasn’t sure where to start. But just like I never really know where to start when I have a lot to say for a blog post, I just sat down and started. And if that wasn’t enough of a challenge, I decided a final project was as good a time as any to teach myself a new video editing platform 🤦🏼♀️
So, without further ado, I present my final COETAIL video:
As much as I tried to edit my video down to 10 minutes, I just couldn’t do it. In fact, I could have easily gone up to 15 minutes by adding in more about my work with the grade 5 students in helping them plan out and select the best ways to share their projects for exhibition. But deadlines are deadlines and the kids’ shareout is still weeks away, so I had to make do with what I had. Overall, I think I managed to capture the essence of my work as a coach to support teachers and students both before and during school closures and connect that work to my learning in COETAIL, especially as it connects with the ISTE standards. I’m actually planning to use some of this video as part of my evidence for my portfolio in the upcoming weeks since there are so many parallels between this project and that certification.
And while this might be my last blog post for COETAIL, I have really enjoyed the way that blogging has forced me to be more reflective about my teaching and coaching practices, so I hope to continue this even after the course wraps up. My plan is to embark on a new website this summer where I can transfer all of this content over and keep adding to it as a professional portfolio. As always, I hope to receive some helpful feedback from my peers that will push my thinking and challenge me to try new things. Feel free to leave a comment here or find me on Twitter to continue this conversation. Until next time…