I had a request to assist a team of teacher leaders who had accepted the task of providing an introduction of peer coaching to teachers who are new to their faculty. These leaders have been in workshops with me during the past two years and have been taking part in peer coaching activities with members of their PLCs. I thought the outline and slides that we explored might be helpful to some of the readers of this blog who will also be welcoming new staff into a peer coaching culture.
We decided to open with this statement: Teachers coaching each other is a tremendous opportunity for teachers to receive support to maximize student success. Peer coaching provides time for celebrating success, gaining options, and implementing conscious changes in practice. At times, the phrase “everyone needs a coach” has been used to communicate to teachers “why” they should engage in coaching with an instructional coach or peer: Actually, everyone deserves a coach!
Exploring the need for teacher continuous growth could be reinforced with this video clip of Atul Gawande (From 5:25-10:08.) He describes how he realized, after five years into his practice, he was no longer improving and thus decided to request coaching. Coaching led to a decrease in complications in his surgeries. His description that there were times he didn’t like coaching sets the opportunity to discuss with teachers the discomfort that coaching can generate. Discomfort is frequently a component of consciously improving.
We decided to next differentiate peer observation and peer coaching (both valuable learning options) using these descriptions.
Discussing the difference between peer observing and peer coaching identifies the need for pre-conferencing as a critical component of peer coaching. A peer coach needs to be clear on what the teacher wants to gain from the coaching observation. What will the coach focus on to provide feedback that guides the teacher’s reflections and decisions.
We then planned for the teachers to see a model of a pre-conference and experience coaching and being coached with a colleague. A video of mine illustrating a conference [6 minutes 30:05-36:35] was an option as well as the presenters modeling a pre-conference with a colleague.
As a closing conversation we decided to reinforce that peer coaching was a valuable practice to build teacher collective efficacy.
I often hear that coaching activities are suspended or delayed in the early weeks and months of the year. I encourage putting coaching into action as soon as possible because what happens in the early days is important to students’ success and to teacher collegiality.