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.”