FirstMagic Admin - Sat Jun 7. 2014, 2:25 PM
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Meet the Staff

FirstMagic Admin - Wed Jun 4. 2014, 5:01 PM
22514_31633_0.jpgFor seven years, Bette Manchester led the Maine Learning Technology Initiative as the first Director of Special Projects. Through her leadership, MLTI focused on the 'learning', not on the technology.

After retirement from MLTI, she co-founded the Maine International Center for Digital Learning with Angus King and served as MICDL's first Executive Director.  Bette has spoken nationally and internationally at the request of governments and organizations in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, France, New Zealand, and Sweden about leadership and sustainability in 1-to-1 programs, capacity building and 21st Century Learning, and the "Maine" story. 

Manchester is the recipient of many awards including Principal-National School of Excellence, National Distinguished Principal of the Year (1997), Milken Education Award (1991), Maine State Librarians Award (2004),  Dr. Inabeth Miller Education Technology Award (2005), the Friday Institute Award for Innovation in Education NC State (2007), as well as the Distinguished Leadership Award from Maine Superintendent's Association (2011).

Bette began her career as a teacher, director of special education, and principal at Bowdoin Central in Bowdoin and Mt. Ararat Middle School in Topsham. She now serves on the board of MICDL, and works part time on special projects and initiatives.


FirstMagic Admin - Wed Jun 4. 2014, 5:01 PM
For this post I'd like to focus on number 2.  Coaching support for teachers is a powerful means of both modeling and harnessing the potential of technology to improve teaching and learning.

Teachers who receive coaching in the use of technology tools to improve student learning, and who learn from and collaborate with peers via professional learning communities, develop confidence and effectiveness in designing and supporting technology-rich environments that maximize student learning.  Harry Wong, educator and coaching expert, says the responsibility of coaches is "to help maximize personal and professional potential while simultaneously upgrading their own professional proficiency."  Coaching is customized and focused on providing tailored support and instruction on what needs to be accomplished.  At the very core of the coaching model is relationships.  Relationships matter in this model.  

I've had the privilege of coaching both teachers and students
I continue to do both.  Both are incredibly rewarding.  I've been in the coaching mode for some time now. My first "coaching" gig was a multi-faceted science position at a career and technical high school.  I didn't have my own classroom of students, instead I teased out the science in carpentry, auto tech, small engines, welding and culinary arts and co-taught with my trade instructor colleagues.  It was wonderful.  My cadre of teaching skills, learned in a traditional college setting, shared and combined with the wisdom, knowledge and real-life experience of my trade-skilled colleagues was mighty powerful for everyone involved including the students.

That was the same year that MLTI offered one-to-one devices at the high school level and Teacher Leaders were designated in buildings to support technology integration.  I was the Teacher Leader in my building.  So many opportunities to coach.  My personality lends itself well to a coaching mindset...thank goodness, since I was relying completely on intuition and gut instinct in how to work with my colleagues.  The coaching model, hadn't become as mainstream and there was no explicit training to be had... at least locally.  Now resources for coaching are readily available and the model highly regarded.  Building relationships first was the one thing I did right.  You have to allow trust to grow one person at a time.  A collaborative, technology-rich coaching presence should be perceived as a personal trainer, not an unwelcomed monitor.

Same goes and maybe more so for students
Adolescents can see right through any facade so you best be genuine and honest with them or forget it.  I coached students in a virtual, project based environment for a couple of years and still have a couple of kiddos with whom I coach.  These teenagers were and are pretty disenfranchised with the traditional school culture and process.  They've associated learning with that school experience alone and I see my role as a coach to help them realize that learning happens anytime, anywhere with any question that pops into their head.  It's a bit of unlearning and then relearning how to learn.  

To close, I want to refer back the Harry Wong quote in my first paragraph
The last part "simultaneously upgrading their own professional proficiency" can sound a bit selfish and I'm okay with that.  I've learned and grown more as a person and as a professional by adopting a coaching mentality than any other skill set I've tried.  I want to learn as much as the individual I'm coaching.  We have lots to teach each other...coaching lets you open up to that experience.

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FirstMagic Admin - Mon Jun 2. 2014, 3:13 PM