By Ellen Eisenberg

By Ellen Eisenberg, Executive Director of The Professional Institute for Instructional Coaching (TPIIC)

Thursday, February 14, 2019

I just read Stephen Barkley’s most recent blog about pre-conferencing. While our vocabulary is different, our thinking is very similar. He says something that really resonates with me. He says, “…a large part of what differentiates coaching from a supervisory model is that most frequently the coaching post-conference turns into a pre-conference.”

In his lexicon, he uses the term “observation” which we do not. The words may be different, but the cycle is similar. For instance, he believes in the pre-observation, the observation, and then post-observation conference. We believe in the before, during, and after, aka the BDA cycle of consultation. In our lexicon, coaches visit with teachers and classrooms and together they co-create goals, identify roles, and meet to discuss the visit a few days after the actual classroom visit.  His conferences are observational.

To our coaches, observations are conducted by administrators while observational learning is handled by the teacher. Coaches help build teacher capacity by collaborating with the teachers and helping them identify the needs which create the goals and the resources follow. The needs drive the conversation and the visits are a data collection tool. The coach is a colleague in the process, a thought partner, with a specific role and responsibility. There is no “observation” but rather a learning environment where partners are learning together to meet the co-constructed goals of the lesson or group of lessons.

I think the key here is to remember that talking about practice is what makes a difference in the practice. Talk before and talk after… keep the conversation going so that student learning is always at the center. Ongoing conversations support continuous learning and help teaching colleagues make the adjustments that are necessary for improved teaching and learning.

How do you remind your teaching colleagues that continuous conversations help create continuous learning?

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