Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Coursera MOOC on Coaching - Week 2

My big take away from Week 2 of the Coursera MOOC on coaching is that there are 4 fixed mindset behaviours that you may observe in teachers being coached that prevent or slow down the impact of coaching on teacher improvement.

The advice given this week was to name the behaviors that show a fixed mindset so that teachers are aware of them - it allow you to have a conversation around them and let teachers become more mindful about what they are doing that is preventing them from moving forward and improving.

  1. You're right, I suck:  the teacher takes feedback as a personal criticism rather than seeing it as a way of helping them to improve their performance.  In this situation he coach becomes a therapist and has to spend a long time building up the teachers' confidence and supporting the teacher to try again.
  2. You're wrong, I rule:  the teacher also takes feedback personally but also doesn't accept the feedback about the problem that the coach has observed. This teacher gets very defensive and tries to rewrite the observation from his or her point of view.  The coach has to try to justify the data s/he has collected leaving little time to discuss solutions or ways of improving.
  3. Blame it on the rain:  teachers don't accept the problem is something they can solve - they blame their performance on external factors that they cannot control (such as it being the last period of the day, the end of a unit and so on).  The coach then has to refocus the session onto things that the teacher can change because the teachers don't accept the data that is being presented as anything that they can do much about.
  4. Optimist without a cause:  these teachers agree with the feedback but they don't treat the feedback with any much thought so don't move forward in solving the problem.  They are not internalizing what they need to do to make changes.  
It seems that with all of these behaviours, the first step is to encourage more of a growth than a fixed mindset.  Once this is done, and the teacher sees he or she is becoming successful and students are learning more based on accepting the feedback and implementing and practicing the suggestions of the coach, the teacher becomes more confident about his or her own ability to grow and improve - which leads to being more open to additional coaching.  Learning new skills from the coach will take less time as the teacher has developed more of a growth mindset.

Reflecting on this I'm thinking that all these strategies can be used to coach students as well as coach teachers.  I have seen examples of all of the fixed mindsets in students, but have also seen that students become more confident in their own abilities with just small successes.  These can be built upon to encourage further student learning and successes.

Original artwork by an ASB student

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