Monday, January 14, 2019

#EduroLearning course: The Coaching Cycle Reflection

I am experienced with the coaching cycle from a previous school, but my current school isn't experienced with the coaching cycle. 

How does the coaching cycle work in your school?

At my current school, the coaching cycle is rather new. In fact, it didn't really exist until I came along two years ago. I have been trying to get the ball rolling (with some success and some failure). In the successful moments, it has followed the regular coaching cycle. I have either approached a teacher or they have approached me with some technology integration question. Usually it has been teachers approaching me, due to other duties tied to my job as Director of EdTech. When it has been present, things have flowed fairly smoothly. We have met and formalized a goal for the teacher. Usually the goal comes from the teacher with me possibly shaping the goal into something measurable. A couple of times, I have had to do the heavy lifting of making a goal because the person was completely unsure of what he/she should work on. Next I would observe the teacher and his/her class (usually on three to five occasions due to time constraints) and report back my observations to the teacher. Sometimes these discussions lead to altering the original plan, but they usually supported the continuation of the original plan. Articles could be identified to reading, videos could be identified for watching, a couple of times I lead a class to demonstrate a strategy. And finally we would reflect on what was learned/achieved and what we could point to as students growth. Often the student growth component was done via survey, so students weren't required to take a "test" to show us growth, they could explain growth to us. 

What works well? What could be improved? What makes you say that?

The fact that it is voluntary works well; it is also what makes it not work. Everyone is busy, so being busy becomes and easy excuse for opting out of doing new and potentially challenging things. I believe this is why I have had more success with the elementary and middle school teachers than the high school teachers with actual use of the coaching cycle. The elementary and middle school teachers seem more open to the process... And the former high school administrator wasn't pointing out the value or expectation that coaching should be a thing that teachers do. As a institution we could start expecting teachers to at least meet with me as part of their Professional Growth Goals (PGGs), but currently they are only really required to meet with their division directors. The division directors are all too busy to really meet in a genuine way with each teacher. Up until now, I have not been seen as a possible other option by the directors. Rather than shouldering the entire load, they could be utilizing me as a resource for teachers. 

What are some aspects of the coaching cycle that you feel you could improve on, as a coach? What makes you say that?

I feel like where I need to improve is actually not really in the coach cycle, but with the admin team itself. I need to advocate more for them seeing me as a person who can support them with PGGs that deal with items in my ability set. This would allow them to also decrease their loads and support teachers more. The load needs to be spread out more across all of the admin team to provide all teachers more support. 

Are there areas where coaches often struggle? What suggestions or ideas do you have to address those challenges?

I'm the only official coach, but our division directors are also expected to be coaching faculty members. None of us have been formally trained and I have the most actual experience as an administrator and as a coach. I feel like I need to coach the directors in order for them to coach the teachers. It is a slow process to build a culture, but I feel like we are heading in the right direction. It simply requires patience and continually pushing things in the right direction on my part. The division directors mean well, but they are overwhelmed with work and aren't seeing the way they can decrease some of their current burden. It is my job to help them see how they can do a better job coaching.

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