Building trust within a team

I believe that one of the first things in building relationships and a culture of trust in your team is by being available for your team members. One of my teachers had a major breakthrough last week and shared with me that she experienced an “A-ha moment” by feeling supported. She knew that I was there to help her and I would continue to encourage her. Teachers will more likely be willing to take risks when they know that they can rely on their coach. I also believe that active listening is an important skill to develop trust. And not just listening, but caring. Taking the time to find out how your team members are doing, looking out for their health and best interest, and reminding them when it is time to take a break, are all important things to remember. Coaches also need to be open and honest, and available for discussions. They need to celebrate with their team when things go well and provide guidance when things don’t go as planned. Coaches also need to be able to provide constructive feedback and not be afraid to ask questions. Many of my teachers also say that they see me as their cheerleader, because no matter how big or small, I will always be on the sidelines to help see them through to the finish line.

What does your team say about you?

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My journey from CanadianTechEd to Alex Lianne Carter – Innovator & Coach

Six years ago when I was first introduced to Twitter and blogging, I was quite shy about having my name and picture all over the web. Only I knew, that if I wanted to break into the online world of Educational Technology, I needed to create a presence for myself online. So like any problem solver, I found a solution that would help me create an online presence without being “too out there”. I decided to create a brand CanadianTechEd and chose to create a cartoon avatar, as my image. At the time, I was living in Ottawa and feeling very patriotic, I created my brand with the goal of being known as THE Canadian technology educator. Being fully bilingual, I thought there would be quite a market for myself, as I would be able to reach out and support the instruction of technology education in schools across Canada, in both official languages.

Over time, the role of technology instruction has changed, and my career has brought me across Canada, around the world, and now back in Alberta. As I stop and reflect, I realize am no longer THE Canadian Technology Educator, but that I have become an international innovator, who is very passionate about the integration of Educational Technology in the classroom to support the innovation of student learning.

So today, I found it quite ironic when George Couros contacted me this afternoon to discuss my Twitter handle. I just so happened to be reflecting the other day on my brand and my website, and asking myself if @CanadianTechEd really reflects who I am today.

After six years of being CanadianTechEd, it is time to move forward and focus on who I am at this stage of my career.

Thank you to the #IMMOOC community who have played a huge role in this self-reflection over the past few weeks.

If you missed #IMMOOC Season 2, Episode 3 – Check it out! And keep your ears open around the 14-minute, 10-second mark, when George makes a special shout out to yours truly!

How I embody the 8 characteristics of the Innovator’s Mindset!

I believe that in order to be an innovator, you need to demonstrate an innovator’s mindset. During week two of the #IMMOOC discussion, one of the blog prompts was to reflect on these eight characteristics. To do so, I decided to create my own image of how I demonstrate these traits, using Canva, and answered the 8 Characteristics of the Innovator’s Mindset (Interview Questions) created by George Couros.

As I am in a leadership role, I have slightly reworded some of these interview questions to reflect my day-to-day interaction with educators and students around the school.

1. Empathy – 
Describe your office from the viewpoint of a teacher or student. What would they tell me if I was to walk in?

I actually had a teacher tell me the other week that my office is calm and inviting. Between the pink lights that are up in my office, accompanied by music often playing, and a shelf a student built me as part of their Design & Innovation course that has pink flowers, the teacher explained that this all creates almost a spa ambiance and atmosphere. I was so touched to hear that because I wanted to create a safe space that is a reflection of my personality, but also a comfortable place that teachers and students feel welcome to visit to be able to ask me questions, get advice, discuss project ideas, or even to come ask for help when they need it.

2. Problem-Finders/Solvers – 
a) How do you encourage teachers and students to make an impact both locally and globally? 

I am very lucky to be working in a UNESCO school where at each grade level students are encourage to create partnerships with other schools and to organize and lead a philanthropic initiative.

Here is a list of ideas I shared with the school’s Core Experience representatives to support connecting with classrooms and schools from around the world.

Kidnected World * The Wonderment * Digital Pen Pals * Mystery Skype * The Wonder Guides * Dancing Around the World * Our Global Friendships * Global Read Aloud * Making sense of this world * Flick-It-On! * Peace Day – September 21st * Global School Net * Dot Day – September 15th * iEarn * Travelling Teddy – great for grade 1 * Flat Stanley Project – great for grade 2 * Global Education Conference – lots of great resources * Connected Learning Partnerships * Global Classroom Project * Taking IT global * Connect To Learn – connect classrooms in impoverished communities with classrooms around the world to foster collaborative learning, cross-cultural understanding, and global awareness. * Around the world in 80 schools

I also encouraged the Core Experience school representatives to follow #GlobalEdu on Twitter.

Furthermore, I began teaching a Design & Innovation course that encourages students to think about an invention that could help solve a problem or to work on something that could help make a difference. For example, one of my current students is working on a project to reduce the amount of plastic bags that are being used for shopping in Calgary. She has done a lot of research about other cities that have stopped using plastic bags in their stores and would like to be a part of that change here in Calgary.

b) What are some ways that you help tap into their passions for learning?

I tap into their passions for learning through conversations and relationship building, both with educators and students around the school. Taking the time to show an interest, asking how their weekend was, getting to know what activities outside of school they partake in, and following up after a competition, race, game, performance, and asking how it went. In addition, I try to attend school organized events, and volunteer with sports and the school musical to help build relationships with the students and teachers throughout the school. Furthermore, the goal of the Design & Innovation course that I am teaching, is also to tap into students interests. And one of the first activities I do in this course is to get to know my students and what their interests and passions are.

4. Risk Takers – 
Share a time that you tried something that didn’t work with students. What did you learn from the process?

Just like I teach my students when they print something for the first time with the 3D printer, is that everything doesn’t work perfectly the first time that you try something new. You may have to make small adjustments and try again. Just because it doesn’t work well the first time, don’t give up. Take a step back, reflect, and try again! As my role heavily involves tech integration and using technology, we all know that it is often two steps forward and one step back when using it. It is great when it works and it can get frustrating at times when it doesn’t! What I have learned over time with working with technology is to remain patient. Stop. Take a deep breath and think what are the reasons why this may not be working. I try my best to share this with anyone I work with, students and teachers, so that everyone can learn to be a troubleshooter.

4.  Networked –
a) Outside of teachers and leaders that you have worked with, who is a “current day” educator (or thinker) that has influenced your leadership role? How have you connected with them?

At the moment it is George Couros and all the amazing educators currently participating in the #IMMOOC discussion. I currently connect with George via Twitter through the online Twitter discussions and via private messaging.

b) How have you made connections both locally and globally? 

I am also currently connecting with teachers globally through the online book study #CogCoachStudy. This book study is organized by some leaders at a school in India. We will all be learning together for the next several months and I look forward to advancing my knowledge and skills on cognitive coaching with this group of educators.

c) What does networked mean to you?

Having a network of leaders, coaches, and educators available with a click of a button that I know that I can reach out to with questions and receive suggestions when something comes up, is being networked. This is especially important in my current position, as there is no one else at my school in a similar role. Therefore, it is so important to me that I have a community outside of school that I know I am able to connect with.

d) What opportunities will students and teachers have in your school to make connections outside of it?

Whenever the opportunity presents itself, I introduce teachers from my school to other educators with similar interests via Twitter. I also coach and offer PD opportunities in my school to help guide teachers in Twitter chats using common hashtags to be part of a discussion about a topic that interests them. Some of the most recent Twitter chats I have introduced my team to are: #DesignThinking, #Gamification, #IMMOOC, #MinecraftEdu, #Frimm, #GlobalEdu and #flexibleseating. In addition, as previously mentioned, each grade level is encouraged to connect with another school, therefore I am always supporting and working with teachers to help them connect their classroom with other ones.

5. a) Observant – Share a time you were inspired by something outside of education and brought it into the school.

Recently I have begun the Miracle Morning and I often will speak about this or make reference to this when I get asked how do I have time to blog or to be on Social Media all the time. I share and explain that I have built these items into my Miracle Morning routine and it really helps me advance and stay on top of being connected.

b) Where do you find your “best ideas”?

Currently, I find my best ideas on Twitter & Pinterest!

6. Creators –
What have you created from your own learning? What impact did it have on you? Explain opportunities you have developed, or you would develop, for students to “create” to delve deeper into the curriculum. What about outside of the curriculum?

I have recently created a Design & Innovation course that encourages students to design an invention that helps solve a problem. Students work through the Design Cycle, based on the IB MYP Personal Project Design Cycle, that has students work through four steps: Inquiry, Planning, Creation, Reflection. This course is also very similar to what I have read about Genius Hour and Passion Project.

Cycle du projet -Design & Innovation- (1)

7. Resilient – 
Talk about a time that you overcame adversity in your life, either personally or professionally. What did you learn from the experience? How do you model resiliency to students? How do you develop resiliency in your students with varying levels of learning?

What I have learned so far to overcome adversity is to set goals and be determined to reach those goals. Having completed the Strengths Finder 2.0, I discovered that my top strength is achiever, which would most likely explain why I am a very determined individual who successfully reaches any desired objective. Therefore, this is something I constantly try and model for my students and teachers, and I work with them in putting together a realistic plan to help them reach their goals.

8. Reflective –
How do you make time for reflection in your practice? What impact has “reflection” had on your role as a leader? How do you implement reflection time in learning for your students and teachers?

I believe blogging is a way to reflect on your practice and participating in online Twitter discussions, such as #IMMOOC. I am quite impressed by the amount of questions being asked on Twitter chats that provoke reflection. As for the teachers I work with during our one-on-one meetings, I often ask questions to encourage them to reflect on something new they tried. For my students, they are asked to fill out a reflection journal at the end of each Design & Innovation class. Students are also asked to complete a self-evaluation that encourages them to reflect on some of the challenges they were faced with throughout their project. Next steps, in collaboration with the principles, we would like to incorporate reflection as part of something we ask of the teachers to do when they have completed a workshop, seminar or other PD opportunities. Reflection is a very important process of the role of an educator as it helps us improve and allows us to continue to tweak the things we do each day.

Question for you –
How do you demonstrate the eight characteristics of the Innovator’s Mindset?