Monday, January 7, 2019

#edurolearning course: The Coach Approach Reflection

This blog post is a response to the question I answered in the Eduro Learning course: The Coach Approach.

Which of the coaching approaches is the most challenging for you? Why? What ideas do you have to improve in that area? What can you do to practice the skills needed to grow?

Due to my current context, the most difficult coaching approach is Coaching. The teachers at my school have a tendency to see me as a consultant because of my job title (Director of Educational Technology). For some teachers, however, I am a collaborator. Mostly it is the elementary teachers who see me as a collaborator and it is probably due to the fact that I have been very upfront about not having a great deal of experience as an elementary educator. I think that makes the elementary teachers feel like we both have something valuable to learn from each other in the process. It also has a lot to do with how elementary teachers at our school interact with each other anyway. In the elementary school, all grades (with the exception of G1) are single class grade levels, so the teachers don't collaborate with a colleague who teaches the same grade level, but rather with teachers from the grade level lower or higher. It seems to lend itself to the type of discussions that are similar to the type I have as the tech-guy and them as the grade level-person.

The middle school and high school teachers see me more as a specialist to get support, skills, and new knowledge from rather than a person to enter a coaching cycle with. I think the schedule the MS/HS teacher have also lends itself to sort of quick answers, instead of in-depth conversations, because as a smaller school, everyone feels the pinch of a lack of time.

I have worked well with one of the music teachers in a coaching capacity, which has been enjoyable for both of us. She has had ideas and we have discussions about student learning outcomes and the type of integration she would like to try in the classroom. I have observed those lessons and provided feedback and listened to her own reflection and due to that cycle (we are on the third round of it), she is now introducing her unit on Jazz with a virtual field trip to New Orleans with our class set of Google Cardboards and the Google Expeditions app. Her students have found the lesson very engaging and enjoyable.

Two members of the admin team are very interested in using a more coaching based approach with regard to dealing with teachers and we are in the process of changing the way we do teacher evaluation to be a more holistic view of the education professional. Currently the emphasis is 95% on classroom actions, but we want to factor in more about collaboration and professionalism. They are both interested in coaching, so we have been doing some reading on the topic and discussing how this new approach would look. The readings in this unit have given me some solid ideas of a direction we can do with the coaching cycle as a base. I have been using the approach with those teachers who are ready (like the MS Music teacher), but it hasn't been something systematically used. We will formalize the approach and adopt it as a method for helping teachers to reach their Professional Growth Goals (PGGs) and separate it the formal evaluation process, which will become more holistic and factor in things like how faculty members interact with parents, staff and colleagues.

We have also been in the process of making our department heads more part of leadership with regard to evaluation and curriculum. This new model will provide me a focus for discussions to move an entire department forward rather than trying to meet with only individual teachers all of the time.

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