In the January 19, 2016 Education Week Teacher blog, Elena Aguilar recognizes what has been our belief (and one of our strengths) since the inception of the Pennsylvania Institute for Instructional Coaching (PIIC) as it evolved from our days with the Pennsylvania High School Coaching Initiative (PAHSCI for those who may remember). She shares what she’s learned from working consistently with a coach and how working with a trusted colleague has made a difference in her practice. She mentions four big ideas: 1) coaches need to be heard; 2) coaching is a give and take process; 3) coaching needs to be safe; and 4) coaches need to care.
Well, these are the things that coaches learn and practice every day with PIIC. In our world, the coach has a trusted colleague, a.k.a. an instructional mentor, who works one-on-one and helps coaches shape their practice. The mentors are experienced practitioners who care about changing the landscape of teaching and learning. Their job is tough but so is the job of a coach… coaches have so much responsibility for not only another individual’s practice but the collective practice of the community and their own practice as well. It helps to hear another person’s perspective and to think about the answers to the kinds questions needed for making changes in classroom practice. It helps to have a reflective practitioner model what reflection is and what it looks like.
So, yes, coaching is scary but it is also incredibly rewarding. Where else can a teacher work with a colleague in a non-threatening environment to talk about practice and new learnings gained from the conversation? Where else can a teacher “rehearse” with a colleague and iron out the kinks of a new lesson making the kinds of mistakes from which one learns without fear of evaluation?
Where else can a group of professionals meet regularly to just talk about what’s going on in classrooms and how they can continue to make a difference in the lives of our most precious commodity… our children?
What do you think?