Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Coaching Sessions at ISTE

During my days at ISTE I attended a number of sessions on coaching including several poster sessions. Here are my notes based on the various sessions that I attended.

Success Stories from ISTE's Coaching Academy

I was interested to attend this to see if the online courses offered by ISTE might needs the needs of our new tech coaches.  Les Foltos explained how the courses developed key coaching skills:
  • Communication and collaboration
  • Lesson design
  • Technology
The idea is similar to cognitive coaching - to build capacity not by giving the answers but by having the coaches bring out the ideas of those they are coaching.  He talked about the role of coaches in helping peers to move step by step towards improvement and about the importance of pairing technology with active, engaging learning strategies.  The courses focus on analyzing and synthesizing real world problems and sharing findings with others.   He discussed how the strategies don't start with the technology but with the learning goals (communication, collaboration and creativity) and how these can strengthen learning - and then after this coaches should start to talk about how technology can enhance this learning.  He talked about what coaches do being important, but that it is even more important HOW they do it.  Finally he talked about how over time coaches can bring innovation to scale in every classroom in a school.

Personalized Coaching for Teachers:  Creating Time and Resources
Another coaching session I attended was about coaching and Flipped PD.  This session started with a list of the advantages of moving to coaching:
  • Move from being exceptional to world class teacher 
  • The fastest way to grow
  • The most powerful way to nuance. 
  • Allows for deep risk taking
  • Minimizes professional failure
The Flipped PD model that this group discussed was one that pulled teachers out of their classrooms during the school day one day per month (with the same permanent subs covering the teachers' lessons and running a separate guidance curriculum during these sessions).  They discussed the features of their model:
  • Start with a question
  • Require professional autonomy
  • Supportive leadership
  • Fail fast and iterate
  • Personalized PD
  • Time
  • Access to coach
  • Small collaborative groups
  • Individual goal setting
  • Accountability through record keeping
  • Providing digital resources to support learning
  • The group started with grade level teams, but later changed this based on interest or tech skill so that PD was based on what teachers wanted. 
One thing I did like about this model was the way this district documented time with the coaches and what had been worked on.  There was also a focus on setting personal goals that the coaches would support with finding resources.  The documentation forced teachers to reflect on what they were doing and helped to build confidence.

Here is what this group found as the outcomes from their coaching model:
  • Supports mastery learning for teachers
  • Greater job satisfaction
  • Better decisions because of shared expertise and wisdom
  • Increased consensus 
  • Horizontal and vertical conversations around leadership goals
  • Increased trust
I was interested to hear what they said about the fact that there will always be innovators and early adopters, but that personalized PD was the thing that really got the majority of their teachers onboard.
Resources for this session can be found here.

TIME (tools, integration, models, engagement) for Technology Coaches
This was the final session I attended on coaching at ISTE.  This session discussed the role of technology coaches:
  • Co planning
  • Co teaching
  • Modeling a lesson
  • Observing teacher/class
  • PD sessions
  • Resource preparation
  • Teach literacy
  • Tech support/troubleshooting
In addition there were 2 challenges that were discussed:

Coaching challenge #1 -Track your time

  • Set a goal as to how you want to spend your time
  • Review time log in relation to your goal
  • Have coaches submit this spreadsheet weekly
  • Tool suggested for scheduling of meetings:  Doodle
Coaching challenge #2 - how much time do you give for reflection?

  • Important to build this in.

Resources for this session can be found here.

Photo Credit: Holtsman via Compfight cc

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