By Ellen Eisenberg

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

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A dream has come true… our book about instructional coaching has been published by ASCD. The title is Instructional Coaching in Action: An Integrated Approach That Transforms Thinking, Practice, and Schools (www.ascd.org). What an amazing thing!

So why did we write this book? We wanted to send a message… helping teachers get better at their craft is not something to hide; it’s something to celebrate. We gathered the collective wisdom of a group of instructional coaches, mentors, regional mentor coordinators, and other school leaders to share the thinking about how working with instructional coaches helps to achieve school-wide improvement in a safe environment, builds teacher capacity, and increases student engagement. Each scenario in the book touches those of us involved in education. Who wouldn’t want to help our most precious commodity… our children… in a no-risk environment where innovation, collective problem-solving, collaboration, and transparent communication are valued?

Coaching is not a deficit model. We need to share our message that if musicians, artists, athletes, and even Fortune 500 executives work with coaches to move their practice forward, why shouldn’t education embrace that same philosophy for growth?

So, yes, I am on my soapbox to shout my beliefs about the merits of an effective instructional coaching model. We need instructional coaching to hit the tipping point… we need everyone to talk about how instructional coaching helps teachers and administrators think more deeply about their work and about their collective responsibility for school wide improvement.  

What can you do in your school community to spread the word about how instructional coaching supports teaching and learning?

Friday, May 5, 2017

What an amazing 3-days!

PIIC coaches, IU mentors, administrators, RMCs, and other school leaders just participated in our 3rd multi-day professional learning conference of the year in State College. It was AMAZING!! 18 breakout sessions were offered along with a whole group general session. Participants were engaged, energized, and rejuvenated as they engaged in professional talk with their colleagues from across the state. Talk about incredible karma!

One emerging theme throughout the 3 days was the profound benefit of working with colleagues. The collaboration and shared learning in a safe environment with trusted and experienced colleagues ensured that every participant had a voice, an ear (actually two), and ample opportunities to learn and talk to each other about problems of practice; gain multiple, practical solutions offered by other practitioners; and gained new ideas to add to their inventory of instructional practices.
 
This kind of collaborative learning illustrates Vygotsky’s “zone of proximal development.” This zone is where learners learn with the help of guidance. Remember, learning is social and our professional learning conferences demonstrates the notion that interacting with other practitioners helps the learner achieve higher levels of learning and retain more of what they learned (Gokhale 1995). Coaches and mentors support and follow up this learning to ensure that what is learned is applied deeply and effectively. These kinds of opportunities for ongoing collaboration facilitated by coaches and mentors create a culture of shared learning that is transformative.

How do you engage in collaborative learning in your school?