By Ellen Eisenberg

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

Thursday, October 15, 2015

As this year goes into full swing, think about helping your colleagues learn together. If you have not done so already, walk around the building where you coach and elicit some ideas from your teaching colleagues about themes that support student learning and how you can collaborate to concentrate on those themes.  Work with your colleagues and strategize ways that those themes can become some of the learning focuses for the year. As a coach, think about providing opportunities for colleagues to work together and address some of the learning needs shared. This is a powerful way for colleagues to learn from each other.

Taking the pulse of the school is a very effective way to stay “in touch” with your colleagues, giving them a voice. It is also a way to plan professional development around topics that are important to them.  It’s really a grass roots approach that captures not only the short term items that may be on several colleagues’ minds but can also be developed into a long term plan for school wide improvement. 

If you haven’t created a needs assessment yet this year, think about gathering the collective wisdom of your colleagues and generating one. If you have one from last year, revisit it and make any necessary adjustments so that you can use the assessment to make suggestions and plan ongoing professional development sessions that are relevant to the individual and collective needs of the school. 

Use the assessment as a planning tool for the year. This tool can be useful for whole school, small group, and one-to-one interactions. Your colleagues might even organize PLCs around some of the ideas that emerge from the needs assessment. In whatever ways you use this kind of tool, remember that the key here is taking those ideas and providing opportunities for your colleagues to work together and share their learning.  Great content for the BDA cycle of consultation!!

How have you used a needs assessment as a rich resource from your teaching colleagues in your building?