Complete & Concise

I did something risky today.  I updated my Twitter profile.  Allow me to explain why this is risky.

As part of a Movers & Shakers unit, I recently started ‘teaching’ (what does that word even mean anymore when it comes presenting the use of digital tools to teenagers nowadays) my HS students how to use Twitter.  The purpose is to connect with contemporary M&Ss through social media and determine the impact a 140character tweet can have.

We started with the basics: creating an account, getting rid of the egg, following each other and following different M&Ss on social media.  I then tweeted our Director of Learning Innovation Mark McElroy, and asked for his input to which he responded:

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Great advice! We dug deeper into the twitterverse to find people to follow that interested us, topics and hashtags, and of course our M&Ss.  But what struck a chord with me that I didn’t even think about was the part about writing “a concise, complete profile”.  Sure, I thought, that makes sense.  But again, what does that really mean?

So I looked at mine which included my name, my position, a link to my most influential PLN (#SISrocks), a link to this blog and then something about me being “a confessed granola bar thief and dumpling lover”…?

I wondered, what is complete and concise about that?  What is that really saying about me, my beliefs as a teacher, my passions, my practice?* I just couldn’t continue to preach something so banal let alone use it as a model for my students.  As I struggled to show what a ‘complete and concise’ profile I realised I needed to quickly update my own.

This is what I came up with:

Screenshot from TweetDeck

“Disrupting and innovating the traditional methodologies of ELL (English Language Learner) support through coaching and inclusion”

Yes, risky.  Why? Because this is my digital self.  Most people in my PLNs will meet me, get to know me and make assumptions about me through my Twitter profile.  Most importantly, it’ll be expected that what I share and post, support the statement on my profile.  Yes, yes, risky.  I basically just tied myself to this statement, this philosophy, this disclaimer that yes ladies and gentlemen on Twitter:

  • I’m disrupting the traditional practices used to support English Language Learners in schools
  • I’m using innovative tools to move these methodologies out of the classroom and focusing on authentic not scripted learning
  • I’m showcasing student work to empower ELLs to find a real voice in a language they didn’t grow up with
  • I believe that ‘it takes a village’ and coaching models allow for real collaboration, flexibility and creativity in schools

I like it.  I believe in it.  Complete.  Concise.  Boom.

*To be clear, I do often steal granola bars when they’re offered as snacks in in-house PD days and yes, I do absolutely love dumplings.

Six Week Coaching Crunch

Apparently, I can’t stay away from anything Kim and Jeff do.  So it only made sense that I signed up for EduroLearning‘s Coaching: From Theory to Practice, six week online course.  I will be sharing my tasks and reflections here because the forum where we are posting is private, but I want to archive and share all my learning experiences in one place.  It’s a no-brainer that I use my COETAIL site since it all this learning connects so well.

The task is essentially to have a ‘coaching conversation’ with a colleague.  Read on for my reflection on the first task.

Choosing a coach to collaborate with at SIS was surprisingly difficult – but because I’m spoiled for choice! After consideration I decided to ask Marty Ruthai to be my coaching course collaborator. Because I admire his work, respect him professionally and he is a great friend.

First a bit about Marty. Marty is our MS Innovation Coach ( He is one fourth of the SIS Innovation Dream Team composed of Diana Beabout (@dianabeabout – ES Innovation Coach –; Mark McElroy (@mcelroy23 – HS Innovation Coach –; and their unequivocally innovative leader John Burns (@j0hnburns – eLearning & Innovation Director). I apologize if that reads like a shameless showcasing of our school and this coaching team. But trust me, this team of coaches/innovators/educators, are the elite and deserve to be showcased as such. If you don’t know them or haven’t heard of them, if you’re doing this course, you need to.

Back to Marty. I emailed him to ask if he’d be willing to collaborate with me and be my mentor for this course. His response was my first lesson in coaching: if someone asks for your support, you say “Yes, how can I help you?” and “Let’s chat more about it”.

We met yesterday to plan out my first task. It was a quick meeting during our prep time but we used the time effectively. Marty mostly asked questions about what my ultimate goal was for this course and what my first steps were to get there. He shared knowledge about his experiences as an iCoach and the standards he bases his work on in order to be a successful one. He made references to coaching in sports and how by definition, a coach “guides, trains and teaches” others in enhancing their performance. He also alluded to the fact that coaches model but are not actually the ones ‘on the field’. Needless to say it was a great conversation and a great first step towards completing the task at hand. I knew I’d chosen a supportive and motivating mentor in Mr. Ruthai.

It’s important to note that I’m not a stranger to the idea of coaching. As an EAL support teacher, my job is to support teachers with English language learners, as well as supporting the students within their classes and subject areas, where the target language of instruction is English. What I do isn’t that far removed from the practice of coaching. By taking this course, I’m solidifying my practice as a coach. To answer one of Marty’s first questions, my ultimate goal for this course is to be able to branch out in my practice of instructional support and approach it more as a teacher coach – not just to encompass support for ELLs, but rather to be a facilitator for differentiation strategies, eLearning tools and instructional strategies to build up an educator’s toolkit to apply in their classrooms.

Due to scheduling conflicts, Marty and I won’t be able to meet until next week to plan the observation and decide exactly what to target in developing my coaching skills. Our initial thoughts are that he will observe me in a planning session with a couple of the teachers I support and take it from there.

I’m incredibly excited about the next six weeks! It will be a great journey of exploring my potential as a coach and how it directly impacts my collaboration with teachers and enhances my best practices.