Wednesday, April 9, 2014

More thoughts about PD and coaching

With interviews for our new tech coaches being held at the end of this week and the start of the next, I have been thinking a lot and reading a lot about the type of professional development that is most needed in schools today.  I've been looking at a book that was left for me by my predecessor entitled The Leader's Guide to 21st Century Education by Ken Kay and Valerie Greenhill, in particular looking at Chapter 4 that deals with building professional capacity.  There are 2 suggestions here that I think pertain to what we are about to embark on.

One of the suggestions for improving PD is that it needs to be focused around the 4Cs: critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity.  The idea behind this is that these are not really skills that are focused on by colleges of education/teacher training and so the chances are that many teachers have not had any training in these 21st century skills.  The chapter goes on to outline different ways to doing this, including reviewing and refiguring the roles of current personnel to make them more focused on PD.  This list can include merging the responsibilities of tech coaches, 21st century skills coaches, librarians, curriculum specialists and PD specialists.

Peer coaching is also something that is recommended.  Rather than hiring new PD personnel, the suggestion is to identify teachers who have the most potential for serving as peer coaches and then training them as teachers are likely to turn to trusted colleagues for professional guidance (this is basically the idea behind what we are hoping to do next year).  Generally these coaches have strong communication and collaboration skills and know about best practices in tech integration.  We are not expecting them to be experts, they are collaborators and facilitators and most important of all they are co-learners.

When we invited teachers to apply for the position of tech integration coach we asked them what appealed to them about this role.  A number of responses were that they have experienced being coached themselves and know what a difference it has made to them, and now want to help, encourage and support their colleagues.  Many wrote about the satisfaction they get from working with other teachers and helping them to develop skills and confidence.  Of course they do - this is why they became teachers in the first place - because they wanted to help students to become they best they could be.

I am really looking forward to the interviews this week and next week.  I'm really looking forward to hearing more about what our teachers can offer as we develop our coaching and PD programme.

Photo Credit: ffaalumni via Compfight cc

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