By Ellen Eisenberg

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

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

In the 2009 Status Report on Teacher Development in the United States and Abroad, Stephanie Hirsh states that “… improving professional learning for educators is a crucial step in transforming schools and improving academic achievement.” She continues by saying that we have a responsibility to ensure that teacher skills and knowledge must be strengthened so that every teacher is equipped with the tools necessary to teach “diverse learners, be knowledgeable about student learning, competent in complex core academic content, and skillful at the craft of teaching.”

Schools need to make sure that professional learning is planned and organized to engage all teachers regularly and to advance the learning of all students. This, of course, means that high-quality, sustained professional learning must be available so that all teachers are given an opportunity to nourish their own professional growth. Enter the coach!

As you prepare for the relaxing summer and reflect on your work as instructional coaches, mentors, administrators, or other school leader, take some time to think about how you have impacted student learning, encouraged teacher professional growth, and improved student and teacher engagement. Without influencing these elements in schools, student growth will not happen.

If you are like me, I’m sure you’ve had your share of advice not taken immediately or your suggestions for a different approach to student learning met with less than an enthusiastic response. When that happens, I reflect and engage in an internal monologue and think about how my intentions are shared and what my expectations are with respect to that conversation. I think back to Stephanie Hirsh’s words and remind myself that my role is to support, encourage, refine, and improve each and every coach’s and teacher’s practice so that every student is the beneficiary of a highly effective instructional practice delivered by a highly effective instructor.

Take some time and reflect on all the changes that have occurred in schools. Celebrate those changes and use this reflective process as part of the planning for next year. Build on the successes from this year and think ahead about next year’s goals keeping the focus clear and deliberate: improve professional learning for educators which will transform schools and improve academic achievement.

Monday, June 2, 2014

As I reflect on instructional coaching, mentoring, and one-on-one support, I am reminded about the power of watching, listening, and sharing what our colleagues learn. Several coaches with whom I’ve been communicating talk about how much being an instructional coach means to their own teaching practice, to collaborating with their colleagues, and about changes they’ve seen in classrooms. They talk about how rewarding it is to be part of a practice that honors the teachers’ voices and recognizes the importance of ongoing teacher professional development that leads to professional learning.

Seeing is believing… take a look at the videos by accessing this link: http://piic.pacoaching.org/index.php/resources/piic-videos/199-videos. You’ll see and hear from two instructional coaches, a principal, an instructional mentor, and a regional mentor coordinator talk about their experiences in their respective positions and schools and the impact of instructional coaching on teachers, their classrooms, their instruction, and their students.

Instructional coaches make deliberate time to talk, plan, and reflect with their colleagues. They understand that planning before, visiting during class time, and debriefing after classroom visits is the process to follow when providing support to their colleagues. Watch these videos and reaffirm what you already know… instructional coaching takes time but it is time very well spent!