I was asked to facilitate 15 elementary coaches’ reflections on their past year’s experiences and gather direction for the next school year. I think that the questions I used can be helpful to others who are leading instructional coaching teams. If you are an instructional coach you can use the questions individually for personal reflection. I also feel that the questions would make a great principal/coach end of year conversation.
We began by exploring impact on student achievement.
The coaches in groups of five shared their choices and explained why they believed the selected coaching activities would impact student achievement. Each group shared their list and then examined the total list to seek insights. This group, which consisted of first year coaches and others who are more than 5 years into the position, identified some system wide signs of growth:
We are moving ahead as a district….. seeing learning as ongoing
Coaching is accepted and seen as having a purpose
Teaching is more public—sharing, learning , capacity building
Teachers are moving away from one right way—seeing leaning as a messy process
There is an increased sense of urgency for student learning—learning focus vs teaching
A desire exists to take action with learning
We next examined the roadblocks that coaches encountered and how those challenges produced learning for coaches or identified areas to seek professional growth in the coming year.
We now examined what coaches felt were the important changes that needed to occur in their schools classrooms to reach desired student outcomes and what roles they as coaches would play in gaining those changes.
We concluded by looking back on the list of desired PD for the coaches and added a few items that this examination of their roles for next year uncovered.
Listening to the coaches sharing their interest in continued learning reinforced for me that learning is a critical leadership skill. In a Harvard Business Review blog, The Best Leaders Are Insatiable Learners, Bill Taylor wrote,
The best leaders I’ve gotten to know aren’t just the boldest thinkers; they are the most insatiable learners.
Taylor quotes John W. Gardner, ‘It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.’
Whatever reflection process you use as the school year closes out be sure that it leads to identification of future learning opportunities.