My personal policy for using technology in teaching and coaching can be condensed down to a short phrase: privilege pedagogy over technology. Those four little words have served me well, ensuring I use my purpose for learning to choose technology tools and not the other way around. As I’ve continued coaching virtually, I’ve refined my personal policy further to include guidelines like these:

  • Is it intuitive and easy to use?
  • Can I use the tools flexibly in different ways?
  • Is it free?
These personal guidelines have pointed me to consider a newer tool for virtual instructional coaching: Google Jamboard. Jamboard is a collaborative, digital whiteboard to create and collaborate in real time. It’s a digital version of a large pad of chart paper that allows us to use colorful markers and sticky notes online. The beauty of Jamboard is that it comes with unlimited pages. You can curate thinking on one slide alone or assign grade level teams and small groups to individual pages that contribute to a larger flipboard of thinking. And, while I prefer to have teachers share their thinking on the moveable colorful sticky notes, teachers can easily write their thinking using their touch-screen devices instead.

Initially, I turned to Jamboard as an alternative to Padlet so I could offer teachers a free way to curate resources, share thinking, and cultivate collaborative learning. But now that I’ve been using Jamboard in my coaching, I realize this tool can do so much more. Here are three powerful ways that I’ve been using it in my coaching recently, and how you can too.

Build Connection and Community

The challenges of quarantine have highlighted our need for human connection and community. While we can no longer pop into each other’s classrooms for a quick hello or gather together for social experiences, Jamboard offers a quick and easy way to bring the spirit of collaboration to any learning session.

I like to open up a professional learning session with a fun slide that brings a smile to teachers’ faces and gives them a moment to simply breathe and connect. Here’s my favorite so far:

Teachers add a sticky note with their name and move it to the location on the image that best represents their preferences. Not only is it engaging for teachers, It’s also easy, fun, and flexible, too. There are many other options for creating slides like these: Which meme do you identify with most? Which dinner option represents you most? What’s your favorite dessert?

My top tip? Keep a running collection of these images so you can easily copy and paste one into your presentation when you need it. Here's a simple collection I've started that works great for students, too!

Create Entrance and Exit Tickets

While I love starting sessions with connection and community, I also want to find out about teachers’ knowledge, interests, and needs before we get started with the session. Jamboards’s sticky notes and textboxes are a great way to do this.

Here’s one I created to elicit teachers’ thinking on running records to guide our session. Notice how teachers can share their thinking on a sticky note, move their note around to the appropriate column, and view their colleagues’ thinking as well. Jamboard keeps teachers’ thinking anonymous, yet offers a window into the shared understandings of the group. It’s also something that can be archived and saved to illustrate teacher learning over time.

You can also use Jamboard at the end of PD sessions as an exit slip to archive teacher learning over time. Here’s a simple one I created to invite teachers to share their thinking at the end of book club session:

Curate Collaborative Thinking

Our virtual sessions with teachers should be just as interactive and engaging as our in-person ones. We might be on opposite sides of a virtual screen, but we can still  collaborate and curate our shared thinking.

I like to use Jamboard to ask teachers to share their own independent thinking, document their conversations in breakout rooms, contribute a resource to share, and more. Here’s an example of a Jamboard asking what teachers felt mattered most in virtual instruction:

If you haven’t given Jamboard a try to support your virtual coaching, I hope this offers a few ways you can do just that. There’s one more reason to consider: it offers teachers a powerful model to bring Jamboard into their own virtual classrooms, too!

Note: This post was originally featured on TeachBoost. You'll find even more of my posts there, along with MANY others perfect to support your instructional coaching. 

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