By Ellen Eisenberg

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

Monday, December 15, 2014

This is the time for thinking about what we do well, what we wished we did well, and what we need to do to move forward in our practice.  It’s where my teaching days of mythology come back and remind me that Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and transitions, has again raised his two faces. Not in a deceptive way as in “two-faced” but rather in the manner that is reminiscent where I think about change and the power of transformation, about what I have already accomplished and what I want to achieve in the future. I reflect on my goals both personally and professionally and recognize that with growth comes disruption, unease, and struggle. But, that’s all good… remember, “Without a struggle, there can be no progress” (Frederick Douglass).

So, friends and colleagues, during the holiday season, please take some time to reflect, rebuild and re-energize. You are not alone in your desire to make a difference in the lives of teachers and the students they teach.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year. Be safe!

Monday, December 1, 2014

What we should do is take time – at least the next 3 years – to develop curriculum resources that teachers can select, adapt, try out, and refine together in collegial professional development settings within and across their schools (Linda Darling Hammond on the Common Core Standards, DRavich, blog, Oct. 24, 2013).

Can you think of a more effective use of time than to work with colleagues to discuss teaching and learning??

Instructional coaches are perfectly poised to create opportunities with their teaching colleagues to discuss successful instructional practices regularly and without threat of evaluation. Teachers who discuss goals, curriculum, instruction, materials, and data in a no-risk environment with each other ensure that professional conversations are taking place every day with students at the center of those conversations. The collaboration and collective problem-solving that occurs during this time creates the norm that working together is the natural evolution of teaching and learning; it is the “expected” environment in which to work. Staff members working together towards common goals: increasing student engagement, improving student outcomes, and building teacher capacity helps establish a learning environment where every student is in a classroom with a highly skilled teacher.

Following the before, during, and after (BDA) cycle of coaching and consultation on a regular basis provides ample opportunities for coaches and teachers to work together to “unpack” the Common Core State Standards that require teachers to redefine what they teach and rethink how they do it. The cycle enhances the opportunity for teachers to co-plan, rehearse, co-teach, and then debrief with their coaches so that they can accomplish their goals.

Teachers and coaches who work together regularly have ongoing opportunities to talk about their routines and classroom rituals. They talk about data, how to use it, and then make choices that meet the needs of their students. They work with a partner to talk about things that matter most… their students and their learning needs.

Please share how you work with your coach to make changes in your instructional practice.