By Ellen Eisenberg

By Ellen Eisenberg, Executive Director of The Pennsylvania Institute for Instructional Coaching (PIIC)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Welcome back...summer is over but I bet you are like me and have thought all summer long about how to help teachers increase student engagement, build their repertoire of teaching skills, and refine your own coaching practices at the same time. Of course, this sounds much easier said than done. After all, it probably took all of June and most of July to decompress and then all of August to start thinking about effective instructional practice, the variety of ways to help teachers meet the needs of their students, and how your coaching practices need to be differentiated according to the needs of the teachers you coach.

As a coach, the most important thing you can do is to listen to teachers and help them identify their needs, wants, and hopes for change. You are not in the position to tell them what to do or to pass judgment on what they do. Your role is to help them become more reflective practitioners and to think about their thinking in ways that will help them make changes to their practice. You need to provide them with ample time to talk together and discuss how students learn. You need to ensure that there are ongoing opportunities to collaborate with one another.

As Joellen Killion states, coaches are “catalysts for change” and are “visionaries who are never content with the status quo but rather always looking for a better way.” As you listen to your teaching colleagues, remember that your role is to ask questions and help your colleagues ask questions about how to refine their practice. You are not the expert who knows the answers; you are the one who helps colleagues question what happens in classrooms and schools. You are the one who disrupts the status quo by helping colleagues understand there is always “more” to learn about instructional practice. You are there to engage teachers in conversations where students are at the center and effective instructional practice is the focus of those conversations.

Best wishes for a wonderful school year. Be strong, be committed, and be collaborative. Together with your teaching colleagues, you can make a difference in your school community.

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