Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Coaching teachers in the "refinement" stage

In the past few weeks, as I've been reading the book Building Teachers' Capacity for Success by Pete Hall and Alisa Simeral, I've been trying to relate the various stages of teacher reflection with the 5 states of mind identified in Cognitive Coaching.  This is the final post in this series and deals with teachers who are generally high in all 5 states of mind.  How can a coach effectively work with these teachers?

Teacher in the refinement stage are very reflective.  Hall and Simeral describe how they reflect before, during and after taking action.  They are aware of problems that occur during lessons and therefore analyze and act on them during the lessons.  This shows they are high in consciousness and also empathy.  They also recognize that there are multiple "right" courses of action and modify lessons and plans to meet students' needs.  This open-mindedness shows that another state of mind that is high is flexibility.  They are also high in craftsmanship, having a vast repertoire of instructional strategies, and frequently engage in action research.  Finally since they pursue opportunities to work with and learn with colleagues, their interdependence is also high.  Teachers in the refinement stage think beyond the classroom and focus on the art of teaching.

In the classrooms of teachers at the refinement stage, assessment drive daily instruction, students are responsible for their own learning and there are multiple strategies in use, as they are aware of the individual abilities of their students and use various strategies to tap into each child's potential. Again, since everything appears to be going well and the teachers are already motivated and reflective, how can a coach impact the learning going on in these classrooms?

Hall and Simeral suggest the following when coaching teachers at the refinement stage:

  • With these teachers it is essential to encourage continued reflection through asking open-ended mediative questions and paraphrasing that can lead to cognitive shift.
  • Provide a wide range of pedagogical resources (blog posts, journal articles, online videos, web pages, professional books)
  • Encourage professional book club facilitation or initiation
  • Analyze group data together
  • Establish a team action research project
  • Encourage participation in conferences, seminars and publications - these teachers have a lot of expertise and experiences to share.
  • Arrange for student-teacher hosting opportunities - giving these teachers the responsibility to mentor and coach student teachers forces the refinement stage teacher to further self-reflect
  • Seek out opportunities for individual talent development
  • Encourage leadership (if this is a strength) - at ASB one of the things we have encouraged is for these teachers to train to be technology integration coaches themselves.
In an upcoming blog post I am going to reflect on the impact that tech integration coaching has had on our elementary school teachers and teaching assistants.  We recently conducted a survey and I'll be sharing some of the results on how coaching has impacted teaching and learning at ASB in it's first year of introduction.  I'll be reflecting on these results with our coaches as we plan on how to move forward next year.

Original artwork by an ASB student

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