A Digital Literacy Coach may not seem to be the most appropriate choice for working with a kindergarten music teacher on a Halloween concert, but in fact it made perfect sense and helped make an even more beautiful concert. My role as a coach affords me the opportunity to work with teachers from K-5 in all subject areas and disciplines. I began working with Mr. Luis over a year ago. It started with me asking Luis if I could help him with anything technology related (in cold call fashion). His answer, “I don’t have time, I just missed a meeting and got in trouble.” I asked what happened and it turned out that Luis had an out of control inbox and he had just missed the meeting invitation.
What started as organizing an inbox has turned into a professional, collaborative relationship.Over the past year we have worked on classroom management strategies, global collaborative songs, using the Internet to find resources for teaching music and strategies for his dissertation.
When asked to update his traditional Halloween concert it seemed natural for him to ask me to coach him, and we got to work. We started by me videoing a Mexican Independence Day mini-concert and one of his classes. The next step was for Luis to watch the videos on his own and then we watched them together. The metacognitive process of watching himself and reflecting on his teaching as well as performance strategies was the starting point for our work together. This honest evaluation of his own work which he shared with me, was possible in part because of the trust we had developed during the past year working on smaller issues. Once he had identified areas of opportunity for updating the concert we got to work. Here are some of the results.
- Luis did not see the faces of the kids who were performing, because he was playing behind them. Through watching the videos he was able to identify students who were not performing as well during the main show as they had in class. This allowed Luis to develop a strategy to target these kids and work to build their confidence during the final show.
- He noticed that students had a hard time making transitions during the show. He had the idea to create a sound track with narration. Because this was a Halloween show we wrote a script to be narrated by a “witch” telling a sort of Halloween story thus tying all of the songs together. He also used several beats from a popular song at the start of each section of narration as a cue for students. Because this was prerecorded and students were used to practicing with the recording, the result during the final performance was smoother than in past shows. Luis already records his songs and shares them on YouTube so his students can practice at home.
- We are fortunate to have a beautiful Fine Arts Center where our students perform. However, we discovered that there are many features of the space of which we were not taking advantage. Things such as gobos for the lights, had not been used in the past. This year Luis requested Halloween gobos which added to the atmosphere on the stage.
- In addition to the gobos we asked Hugo, our in-house sound and lighting specialist what else we could do. He suggested using HD images for the background so we could use the full size of the stage. We were surprised to learn that there are so many HD images that work perfectly for a stage background. With help from our Carlos, our lab specialist, we also learned that to maintain the integrity of the HD image you can not simply drag and drop it into your presentation, you need to download it in the largest format and then add it to your PowerPoint presentation and change the slide setting for widescreen. This blog post from PowerPoint explains the benefits of creating a presentation in widescreen.
- Finally, we wanted movement in the background so we discovered a wonderful site, Envato Market that has a lot of great video HD background videos for looping, which you can download at very reasonable prices.
Our coaching partnership is just beginning and I am happy to say through this process I learned as much as I shared, which at its essence is the heart of coaching. The Halloween concert has come and gone and starting tomorrow we review the “game tapes” and begin to plan for the winter holiday concert. What new feature of the Fine Arts Center will we discover, I am thinking it would be great to make it snow in the heart of Mexico City.