By Ellen Eisenberg

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

Friday, October 7, 2016

“There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse! As I have found in traveling in a stagecoach, that it is often a comfort to shift one’s position, and be bruised in a new place.” Washington Irving

Coaching has often been symbolized as a stagecoach, depicting the journey between stations. Much the same can be said about instructional coaching; it is the journey of a scaffolded approach to teaching and learning. Instructional coaches work with their teaching colleagues to promote growth and identify ways to grow as a learner and reflective practitioner. And, it is often accompanied by some bruising; that is, the recognition that some instructional practices are not effective and need to be adjusted. Or, what I thought I did, in fact, was not what really happened.

This kind of “bruising” is critical to making changes in practice, the primary function of an instructional coach. Yes, coaches help teacher collect data; yes, coaches help teachers identify professional goals for growth; yes, coaches help teachers navigate curriculums, standards, assessment tools, and many other elements of effective instruction. But none of this is done in isolation or without ongoing dialogue.

I think most people want change but don’t want to be the first one to experience it. You know, “You go first!” Our teaching colleagues may know something must change but not know how to make those changes. So, while one bruise may supplant another, rest assured that every instructional decision creates a “shift in position” that will lead to another bruise. But, with time and continued conversations, being proactive and addressing those changes will result in fewer “bruises” and more practitioner driven resolutions!

What kind of “bruising” have you noticed in your coaching interactions? How have the practitioners with whom you work tackled their bumps and bruises?

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