Teachers' Use of Coaches - Steve Barkley

Teachers’ Use of Coaches

What responsibility do teachers have when instructional coaches are placed in their buildings?

In my workshops for coaches and principals I often suggest that principals should be communicating to teachers that there is a professional expectation to make use of the coach as a resource provided to the school.

In the February 2011 issue of JDS from Learningforward (Vol.32 No 1), Davis Yopp and others wrote, “How to be a Wise Consumer of Coaching….Strategies Teachers Can Use to Maximize Coaching’s Benefits”.

They suggest the following:

An effective consumer asks the coach for targeted feedback.

In my coach’s training we focus on the skills of the coach in assisting the teacher during a pre-conference to develop a focus for the observation. As teachers become aware of the value of coaching, they often begin a pre-conference stating at the onset the specific feedback they want to receive from the coach.

“Identify the engagement of students at centers while I work with guided groups.”

“Record the responses I give to students during the discussion.”

An effective consumer tells the coach the type of classroom interaction they desire the coach to take.

“Feel free to ask the students questions as you observe their group work.”

“Please, add any suggestion that enhances the student collaboration as the lesson progresses.”

An effective consumer is open and active to the reflection elements of coaching.

After training the question skills of coaching and having teachers practice pre-conferences with each other, I often have people report that during the conference they defined a problem that was unclear as they began. Sometimes teachers actually redesign a lesson as the pre-conference progresses.

An effective consumer tells the coach what he or she needs.
(The authors include a survey that they use to help teacher identify needs.)

“I have too many students that are not really engaged in the class. I need ideas.”

“I’m not sure how to manage student behaviors with all the movement the activity requires.”

An effective consumer helps schedule pre-lesson conferences, observation, and post-lesson conferences.

Coaches often mention to me that they are uncomfortable scheduling these conferences in a busy teacher’s planning block. The teacher offering the times that they are comfortable can assure that the time for quality conferencing is set.

In Quality Teaching in a Culture of Coaching, I include the Salem- Kazier Public Schools “Roles and Responsibilities” for instructional coach, school administrator, central office and teacher.

For teachers they include:
1. Develop understanding that everyone can benefit from a coach.
2. Use coaching to demonstrate that you desire to be the best teacher you can be and are willing to embrace new ideas in your teaching.
3. Recognize coaching is not evaluation- it is part of your resource/toolkit.
4. Schedule coaching individually and with PLC to move from professional isolation to a culture of collaboration
5. Translate new learning into practice with the coach as part of your feedback loop.
6. Reflect and dialogue with your coach to make changes that you feel are needed.
7. Monitor your effectiveness with assessments.
8. Provide quality learning experiences for your students based on their learning needs, the district curriculum, your lesson plans, and assessments for learning.

Adding coaches to a school staff is an investment of district resources. All members of a school staff have a responsibility to maximize the value from that investment.

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2 Responses to “ Teachers’ Use of Coaches ”

  1. Esra Sagol Rehill Says:

    This summary will help everyone to answer this basic question: “Why do we need coaches at schools?” Thank you.

  2. Cyndi Bowman Says:

    Thank you for this information. I will be entering a new position of Technology Coach in the fall and will use these suggestions.

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