Thursday, April 16, 2015

Self-reflection, states of mind and coaching

It's not the doing that matters, it's the thinking about the doing - John Dewey

Over the past few days I've been thinking about calling another meeting of our tech integration coaches to talk more about self-reflection.  Partly this comes as a result of working through the Reflecting into Planning Conversation at Days 5-8 of Cognitive Coaching, and partly it's because I'm facilitating an online workshop for the IB and this week one of the things we have focused on has been how we reflect on student learning, and then self-reflect on our reflections!  What we do know is that a teacher's ability to self-reflect has a direct impact on classroom effectiveness.

In the Reflecting into Planning Conversation we learned about how prompting a teacher to recall and summarize their impressions of a lesson, and then have them analyze what happened and why, is where new learning occurs.  Only at this point will a teacher be able to decide how they want to move forward and to clarify their goals and think about new approaches.

In the book Building Teachers' Capacity for Success, Pete Hall and Alisa Simeral write about a continuum of self-reflection.  They write that being able to identify what stage a teacher is in, will help a coach to determine the teacher's learning needs.  Here are the 4 stages they identify, along with the goals for a coach at each of these stages:

The Unaware Stage - teachers do not know or believe that their classroom can be any different. They have a limited understanding of their role in student learning.  These teachers may well be hard-working, but they see little gains in student achievement.  In this stage teachers need help to look beyond what they do and consider the impact they could have.  The goal of a coach is therefore to increase awareness of the need for change and to foster a desire to learn.  (Consciousness and Craftsmanship are both low)

The Conscious Stage - here there is a disconnect between a teacher's knowledge of best practice, and what is happening in the classroom.  Teachers know what they should be doing, but may lack the motivation to apply this knowledge.  These teachers often choose to do what is easiest for themselves, rather than what is best for their students.  In this stage there is the need for a coach to act as a motivator, to help the teacher set short-term goals and to provide the support to follow through.  The coach needs to ask questions about pedagogical knowledge and how it is being applied.  (Craftsmanship and Efficacy are both low, Interdependence and Flexibility are probably also fairly low)

The Action Stage - here teachers are motivated to change but may lack the knowledge of how to do it.  These teachers are open to advice and welcome constructive feedback.  They want to become better teachers and are prepared to work hard to develop their skills.  A coach can discuss different ways to approach issues and the goal is to build on experience and strengthen expertise.  (Craftsmanship and Flexibility are both low)

The Refinement Stage - teachers are competent and use formative and summative assessments to drive the instruction.  They are able to modify and refine their plans in response to students' needs and interests.  These teachers are best in situations where they can be innovative and creative. During the Reflecting Conversation the coach can provide the data that will help the teacher to self-reflect and analyze which strategies will work best for future planning.  The goal of the coach at this stage is to encourage long-term growth and continued reflection.  (Consciousness, Craftsmanship, Efficacy and Flexibility are all high)

Photo Credit: Alisha Vollkommer via Compfight cc

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