I just finished a great day of learning with coaches and administrators from Ankeny, Iowa and surrounding school districts. The participants were tweeting at #iacoaches2013. I found it interesting during small group discussion times to check the comments they were sharing as a way of understanding what in my presentation was striking a cord or raising a concern.
Here are some of their tweets with my extended comments:
Debra@debcale Do teachers, instructional coaches and building admins have common definition of student achievement?#iacoaches2013
Agreement defining student learning outcomes (vision) builds trust and focus among the leadership team at a school. An administrator can build increased shared leadership knowing that time the coach spends with teachers and decisions made in PLCs will focus on the shared, desired result. As a teacher I can make myself more vulnerable and open to my coach when I am aware that she wants the same outcomes for my students as I do. A frequent re-examination of crucial student achievement goals and the student and teacher behaviors likely to achieve them keep the coach and administrative team connected.
Mark Stallman: Educators work in an experimental field. Teaching is not a trade. #iacoaches2013
I suggest that if you were coaching skills in a trade the focus would be on learning the right way to do something (X-ray technician). After the coaching the client would be ready to complete the work the “right way”. Because teaching is a profession our coaching is supporting the teacher to develop skills and strategies used in experimenting with learners to identify what works. I believe that coaching professionals is a more complex task. Some teachers want to approach teaching as a trade. They are the ones that state, “Just tell me what to do.”
Annalise Kitchen #iacoaches2013 Are we modeling the model and walking the talk? Are we comfortable with criticism to benefit students? #actionaccountability
Modeling what it means to be “coachable” is just as important to modeling how to coach. I heard several coach/principal teams in the session creating plans for coaching each other publicly for teachers to observe. One strategy is for the principal to observe and coach a coach’s modeling activity while the classroom teacher watches.
Katie Claeys @katieclaeys We study data until we discover something that makes us uncomfortable. Then we create an action plan. – #iacoaches2013
When examining teachers’ work in PLC’s, I identified that ACTION was a motivating force in gaining teacher participation. Many teachers have shared frustration regarding meetings with no tangible outcomes. [Disaggregating the data only to have disaggregated data]. Once a teacher identifies with the coach that student achievement is insufficient, the stage is set for teacher study with coach’s support to positively impact a very particular student need. Discomfort provides the motivation for change.
Michelle Lettington @mlettington Teaching is a team sport! Collegial relationships are key! What is your culture? #iacoaches2013
Teamwork and collegiality rarely happen by accident. Very conscious efforts from leaders help build a sense of team. When PLC conversations and peer coaching among teachers focus on each student’s success being the responsibility of everyone, a common mission is set. When teachers observe each other’s commitment to students, trust is built that is key to continued team work. The coach/principal partnership is an important example for teachers to witness.