Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I'm starting a new MOOC on coaching

At ASB we are in the process of identifying tech integration coaches for next year.  We are fortunate that so many great teachers have stepped forward to apply for these new positions.  I'm also excited that it will be part of my new role next year to coach the coaches.  This summer I'm doing a cognitive coaching course with Bill and Ochan Powell, but I decided to get a little ahead of myself by enrolling in a 5 week coaching MOOC through Coursera at the end of this school year too.

We do already have a literacy and maths coach at ASB this year and I have heard many positive things about the impact of these coaching rounds.  The MOOC is specifically looking at how a coach can encourage lasting changes in teaching practice.
Effective teacher-coaches are not just knowledgeable about instruction; they’re also highly strategic in their approach to changing teachers’ behaviors. That starts with preparing teachers to receive critical feedback, and then continues with a careful selection of goals and scaffolds to ensure that feedback is implemented with fidelity.
This year every teacher, teaching assistant and classroom assistant at ASB has set a tech goal based on the NETS-Ts, and we have attempted to provide and support a personalized professional development plan for everyone.  During the year I have met individually with each teacher to discuss progress towards goals with the aim of helping them achieve the goals they have set.  Suggestions for such PD have involved webinars, online courses, prototyping and in some cases simply trying new things out.  My role has not been to evaluate whether or not they have achieved their goals, but simply to walk alongside them and help them to move forward.  The TAs and CAs have had the support of one of our educational technology specialists to achieve their goals and they have made spectacular progress this year following targeted sessions after school each week.  In fact our TAs and CAs have been so empowered with technology that they have felt confident enough to lead training sessions at school for both teachers and for assistants and to present at international conferences.

While I feel our approach to date has been extremely successful, I'm also aware that I have never had any formal training in coaching teachers.  I think that I have done a good job, but I think that I could probably do better.  I was interested to read this statement about the upcoming MOOC:

Even teacher coaching that’s described as “good” can sometimes fall short of resulting in meaningful change. The coach might see and say the right things, and the teacher might be very appreciative of the feedback. But unless the coaching drives true changes in behavior, the “good” in this case could actually end up being the enemy of effective.

The MOOC identifies 5 principles of effective coaching:

  • Permission-based coaching - teachers must want to be coached and want to change their practice.  They must be open to receive critical feedback following observations in order to grow.
  • Shared vocabulary and vision - there needs to be a shared vocabulary and vision about what excellent teaching looks like.
  • Setting measurable goals - teachers need to be able to prioritize the next steps they need to take to improve their instruction so that they can set a meaningful goal.
  • Directive feedback - teachers need to be clear about the steps they need to take to achieve their goals - coaches need to be clear about the direction that teachers need to move in order to successfully implement the feedback.
  • Opportunities to practice - coaches need to give teachers the opportunity to rehearse or apply the action steps in the presence and with the support of the coach before the teacher tries to do this in the classroom.
I'm looking forward to learning more about all these during the 5 week course starting in May.  Are you also interested in learning more about effective coaching?  If so this MOOC might be for you too.
Coaching Teachers:  Promoting Changes that Stick

Photo Credit: AlisonQuine via Compfight cc

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I signed up! I'm always trying to improve what I'm doing and this might give me some more ideas!