Here is a request I received from an instructional coach.
I read your blog titled, “Coaching Teachers’ Dual Roles” , and the following resonated with me:
“I think it’s necessary that coaches and instructional school leaders provide facilitation and training for PLC members to experience effective collaboration, debate, and reflection that produce new teaching and learning strategies leading to success for all learners.
Look over your recent coaching activities. Are you supporting implementers and innovators? What coaching skills do you need to support the two roles?”
I recently began partnering with ELAR teachers on “Learning Walks” in which we participate in three, 10-15 minute walk-through observations. Prior to the observations, the observer and I meet to determine what he/she would like to implement in the classroom, so I have an understanding of his/her purpose(s) or need(s), and I can make the necessary arrangements with classroom teachers. That being said, my first learning walk was Friday, and the teacher I accompanied was able to experience effective strategies and innovative practices. This was a meaningful learning moment for her, but how do I extend that learning and move her from observer to implementer? Once teachers visit effective classrooms and have observed innovators in action, how can I help them to implement the strategies in their own classrooms?
This request is right on as to where instructional leaders and coaches need to be focused. How do we move teacher learning to action that positively impacts student learning? Here are the steps I identified in my response:
Prior to the walk
Decide….What is the learning outcome the teacher wants to generate for students? What is the student behavior the teacher walking wants to gain?”
During the observation and after the walk
Where did you observe that desired student behavior?
What were the teacher behaviors that gained the student behaviors?
Maybe interview the teacher that was observed… “What is she consciously doing to get the desired student behaviors?
What change would you make in your behaviors to gain those desired student behaviors?
What support might you want to begin that change process, such as modeling in your classroom or support while planning?
The coach asks, “When would be good for me to observe a class where you are implementing those changes?”
“What feedback would you want from me? Observations of you? Or the students? Or both?”
Example…. If the teacher was looking at how she encouraged thinking by “helping less” or how she responded to students’ questions with answers, or clues, or questions, you might first just focus on teacher’s responses so that she can see if she is changing. When she knows she has changed her behaviors, she’d have you look at students to see how they are changing? Lastly, maybe observing specific students to see she how she has to differentiate her responses.
Elena Aguilar, the author of The Art of Coaching writes:
“Coaching is an essential component of an effective professional development program. Coaching can build will, skill, knowledge, and capacity because it can go where no other professional development has gone before: into the intellect, behaviors, practices, beliefs, values, and feelings of an educator. Coaching creates a relationship in which a client feels cared for and is therefore able to access and implement new knowledge. A coach can foster conditions in which deep reflection and learning can take place, where a teacher can take risks to change her practice, where powerful conversations can take place and where growth is recognized and celebrated.”
March 2nd, 2014 at 8:47 am
I cannot say thank you enough for this post. As a first year instructional coach,I am constantly working on my questioning skills so that I am encouraging teachers to question what they see, do, and want to do. The pre-walk, during, and post walk questions you posted are going to truly help me help my teachers to focus inward and to guide our peer observations. This has been an area where I have struggled this year. Peer observations have been approached from my administrations perspective of having the teacher being observed telling the observer what he/she wants him/her “to look for.” To me this is asking the observer to give advice or to possible solutions I struggle with this to some extent because I think that the observer should be observing quality teaching and noticing what is happening.(I could be way off base on this). Many teachers have asked to observe me this year which puts me on the spot to come up with something for them to look for. What I would rather see happen is for the observer to come into my room with something in mind to observe. For example, “How does she conduct conferences?” Now this opens the door for the teacher to observe that component and to give us an opportunity to talk about what was observed. This benefits both of us. I get a focused reflective look at my teaching and an opportunity to share, etc. I see this as a win win situation. Your questions will help me guide my ILA teachers attention, purpose, and intent as they have the amazing opportunity to visit other classrooms. So far many teachers have seen this opportunity as a waste of time. I am so excited about these questions. I think I see them as so much more than maybe what you intended. Thank you, thank you, thank you! So if my post just rambled on and on. It is truly making sense in my mind right now.
March 2nd, 2014 at 1:24 pm
There are so many benefits to the various roles that coaching can take. Sounds like your staff is ready for the type of observation mentioned in the blog…. Be open to note that as the teacher who gained an idea for change returns to implement in her classroom, coaching that provides feedback to the observed teacher becomes extremely valuable… its the point I was making regarding follow up near the end of the blog…. Let me know what you find as you implement your thinking… thanks
March 2nd, 2014 at 6:07 pm
Thank you so much for this post and all the previous ones you have posted regarding coaching. They have provided me with valuable insight and led me to reflect about my role as a coach when working with the teachers and students. I have been able to utilize many of your suggestions and resources and I can see how much I have grown, which in turn helps me to support my colleagues. I look forward to reading these each week and look forward to the week ahead so I can implement what you speak of- THANK YOU!!!