Instructional Coaches Make a Huge Impact

Instructional coaches are the unsung heroes of the education profession. They nimbly navigate the line between administrator and teacher as they strive to make an impact across multiple grade levels and school sites. Instructional coaches have a unique vantage point – they see things happening at the ground level and are able to offer a perspective that few educators have.


One of the biggest issues confronting schools today is how to provide continuous, high-quality professional development to teachers and staff. District budgets are not what they used to be and education leaders must come up with creative and cost-effective ways to continue to provide this level of training in their schools. One innovative way of doing this is to create the role of an instructional coach in their district by hiring a teacher leader from within. Many districts call these specialists TOSAs (Teachers On Special Assignment). Other districts call them coordinators, but they serve the same purpose: providing perpetual PD in a non-evaluative, non-judgemental environment. These “thought partners” work collaboratively with teachers by asking them what they need and showing them how it can be deployed.

My Instructional Coaches Quote

Instructional Coaches/TOSAs do many awesome things. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Provide job-embedded professional development.
  2. Model and demonstrate highly-effective best practices.
  3. Offer non-evaluative, objective feedback on a regular basis.
  4. Create an environment where student needs drive professional development.
  5. Offer guidance and feedback at the exact time teachers need it most – in the classroom.
  6. Inspire teachers to try new learning strategies and tools.
  7. Facilitate the transition from teacher-centered to learner-driven classrooms.
  8. Are site-based teacher leaders who support both students and their teachers.
  9. Collaborate with teachers in order to engage students in innovative ways.
  10. Help to close the digital use divide by ensuring that all students understand how to use technology to create content.


Click the image below to view my Instructional Coaches Smore digital flyer which includes links to a collection of resources I’ve curated. 


My #OneWord for 2016

My #OneWord for 2016 is:


As an instructional technology coach, I spend a lot of time in the elementary and middle school classrooms of my district. I am very fortunate in that I am able to interact with a large number of students and teachers on a daily basis. One of my goals is to make sure I make a positive impact on each and every individual I interact with. A bright smile, a few words of praise and/or a high-five go a long way in making this come to fruition.

In 2016, make it your goal to ELEVATE the students, their parents, and the faculty in your school. Make it your mission to encourage the people in your life to feel GOOD about themselves. Brag about them in person, on social media, wherever and whenever you can. Make a positive phone call home praising a student or tell your principal about an awesome project your colleague is doing in her classroom. Lift individuals up with words and actions. ELEVATE them on a daily basis!

Make 2016 the year you ELEVATE all those around you… and then take it one step further. Through your actions, inspire them to ELEVATE the people in their lives. Model and demonstrate how it’s done. Be the exemplar for it and watch it GROW.


What is your #OneWord for 2016? Write a blog post about it and share it on Twitter using the hashtags #oneword and #oneword2016

Apps For Administrators: Curate, Create and Share Content

Apps For Admins2

Click the image to view these awesome applications.

These digital tools help building and district level administrators maximize communication with all members of the school community. Principals can create beautiful Smore online flyers spotlighting upcoming events at their schools. District superintendents can use Remind to send important text-based notifications to their leadership teams.

How I Hacked My PD: The Power of Twitter As a 24/7 Learning Tool

THE BEST VIEWHave you ever wanted to be in two places at the same time? Do you often feel as if you’re being pulled in twenty different directions? In my roles as District Coordinator of Instructional Technology, ELA teacher, and father of four I frequently feel this way. Saturday was a good example of this as there were two education conferences in the NY Metropolitan area that I really wanted to attend, but family responsibilities prevented me from going to either of them. However, Twitter made it possible for me to “be” in three places at once!

Twitter Wordle 2013-06-25

Long Island Connected Educators Summit 2015 (#CELI15)


Teachers’ College Reading and Writing Project 88th Reunion (#TCRWP)


Learning NEVER Stops on Twitter

The awesome power of Twitter allowed me to participate in both conferences simultaneously while at my son’s snowy LAX practice. As I sat in my car, I “rode” or followed both hashtags simultaneously using TweetDeck. I was immersed in learning: gathering lesson ideas for my ELA classes, favoriting new EdTech apps for my students and teachers to try and interacting with the participants in both conferences. This was pure bliss for an education technology geek like myself. It’s a prime example of Personalized PD and it’s absolutely FREE!


Six Take-Aways From My Personalized PD Session on Twitter:

  1. Six Signposts Prezi Presentation: Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading is an excellent book co-written by one of the keynote speakers at the TCRWP  reunion. I’m somewhat familiar with the book, but the golden nugget I found yesterday was discovered via the #NoticeandNote hashtag. Jamison Renfro had shared a truly awesome Prezi of the six signposts that authors of fiction use to alert you to important information. This outstanding presentation includes video link examples for each signpost. It is one of the coolest Prezi’s I’ve seen. You can view it and save a copy of it here: Six Signposts Prezi The Six Signposts
  2. Sneak Preview of the Six Nonfiction Signposts: Kylene Beers gave attendees a preview of her brand new Nonfiction Signposts and Allison Wasserman tweeted it out.      CBNhyocUMAEqJvx-2
  3. ParentCamp & Voxer: Amy Nardone shared her team’s entire presentation on google slides. Now the world can view this awesome presentation on maximizing Family-School partnerships! ParentCamp & Voxer Presentation ParentCamp & Voxer - #CELI15
  4. Teaching Figurative Language With “What Does the Fox Say?” Paul McNeil shared this excellent video that I will use to review different types of figurative language in class tomorrow. 
  5. Scratch: If you’d like to change the face of education, implement Scratch Julian Aptowitz shared this amazing website that allows students to create and share stories, games and animations while learning to code. You can check it out here: Scratch super_scratch_programming_adventure
  6. SLIME: Students of Long Island Maker Expo: WWP Library in Farmingdale, NY shared this flyer for an amazing expo celebrating the creativity and innovation of Long island students in grades K-12. Click the image to get your free tickets to this event.


This is just a little taste of what I learned in one afternoon of riding hashtags. The awesome power of self-directed, personalized PD on Twitter is simply remarkable. I’ve learned more in a few months on Twitter than in years of traditional professional development. I strongly suggest you choose a hashtag or two and RIDE!!


For Further Reading

How to Become a Better Educator

How and Why Educators Use Twitter: A Survey of the Field

Engagement Through Microblogging: Educator Professional Development via Twitter