By Ellen Eisenberg

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

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

For almost two years, the South African Department of Higher Education and Training along with their partner organizations have been communicating with us about instructional coaching as a job-embedded professional development model for their teachers. They want to provide a vehicle for supporting the teachers who work with students who are post-high school graduates but not quite ready for a 4 year college or university. These students attend TVET colleges which are similar to our community colleges. The government wants to provide the teachers of these students with every opportunity to improve their craft and address the needs of this student population.

So, four of us went to Johannesburg, South Africa, to provide a 5-day intensive professional development training to educate individuals who were selected to become coaches and mentors. As a “train the trainers” model, we worked with a small group of individuals who will now provide turnaround training for more potential coaches and mentors to the other TVET sites.

Our participants were receptive and responsive, absorbing all the lessons we have learned about working with adult learners, designing an instructional coaching model, building teacher capacity, and improving student engagement. They shared pieces of their culture with us and focused on our similarities rather than our differences. We modeled our 4-quadrant framework and our BDA cycle of consultation, helping them to understand why collaboration, communication, collective problem-solving, and critical friends groups are essential for change and school wide improvement. We talked about working one-on-one and in small groups to support teachers and school leaders; engaged in focused discussions about data collection and use; shared evidence-based literacy practices across all content areas; and conveyed the importance of reflection and non-evaluative practice for making sustainable change.

It is our hope that a team from South Africa will join us for our October PIIC Professional Learning Opportunity so they can see firsthand how instructional coaches collaborate and create safe environments. We want them to see how coaches are on the side of helping teachers implement effective instructional practices regardless of the student population or needs. We want them to see how the transparency and shared vision for helping students transcends culture and geography.

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