I just returned from a trip to Muscat, Oman where I provided two days of peer coaching training for the teachers and administrators at ABA, a World International Baccalaureate School (pre K- 12).
The training included several coaching conferencing practice activities allowing staff to interact with others within and beyond their grade and content area groups. A grade 4 teacher videoed a learning activity with her students and shared it with the entire faculty. At table groups of six, participants roleplayed a post conference where a coach conferenced with a teacher playing the grade 4 teacher as others observed and helped the coach as needed. The videoed teacher traveled from table to table “listening in”.
Each time we debriefed a practice conference, individuals shared insights regarding the payoffs of collegiality:
- Knowing colleagues better
- Understanding curriculum connections
- Clarity in own problem identification
- Learning more about shared students
- Gaining instructional options
- Celebration, Respect, and Trust
A question from the group had us explore the value in working as teams…taking increased shared responsibility for student success. Moving from individuals to franchises to teams..(see earlier blog from Sept. 13, 09) A teacher who was retired from the Royal Navy suggested I look at John Adair’s Action Centered Leadership Model which he had studied years ago.
The three overlapping circles illustrate that each of the functions are interdependent. This is because individuals make up teams, teams/individuals complete tasks and without a task there is no need for a team or individual. If one element is missing or weak then the other elements will suffer. For example if the team is weak then the task will suffer and one weak individual can affect team performance and subsequently task completion. Adair said that leaders should therefore concentrate on:
- Task Completion (achieve the task)
- Creating and sustaining a group of people that work together as a team (build and sustain a team) and
- Development of individuals within the team (develop the individual).
Consider how the three elements align in school leadership.
Leaders work with staff to identify the definitions, components, and standards of student achievement (the task). Leaders coach and train to build the individual teachers’ skills set. Leaders build, design and facilitate, the teams that maximize student success.
The teacher who shared Adair’s model mentioned that communication was critical to building the balance between task, individual, and team. I got an “aha”! Peer coaching can provide the effective communication that supports effective teams.
I have been promoting connecting Professional Learning Communities and Peer Coaching. Coaching observations, patterns, and questions can provide work for PLCs. Issues that emerge from PLCs can lead members to classroom observations and coaching for more data or experimentation. Peer coaching across grade levels, departments, and even schools (grades 5-6 and 8-9) can provide a communication link.