By Ellen Eisenberg

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

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A survey recently conducted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation suggests that most teachers who regularly use digital tools in their instructional preparation are unhappy with the quality of the data collected or with the tools they use to collect the data.

Interesting… data are important to collect but not if these data are not used. A teacher and coach can certainly decide in the “before” conference which data to collect and then use a tool in the “during” to collect the agreed upon data. But, the real conversations take place in determining how that data are used with a follow up conversation in the “after” to debrief and review the initial goals and the purpose for collecting those data.

The report (Education Week Teacher, June 5, 2015) indicates that teachers completing the survey feel very uncomfortable and at a loss about data collection. They cite three reasons why: 1)teachers feel inundated with the data collection process vs. instructional preparation; 2) they want suggestions about using the data, i.e., so now what; and 3) they want more than just numbers in helping them guide the learning process for both themselves and their students. They want to know more about how students learn and what they can do to improve their practices.

Digital tools are really important. And, schools have a social responsibility to help prepare their students for 21st century learning by using a plethora of innovative tools. They also have a responsibility to help teachers understand which digital tools are appropriate for learning to take place without overwhelming the teachers with collection vs. usage.

How can instructional coaching support teachers and help them understand more about data collection, its use, and making learning more relevant, productive, and collaborative?

Monday, June 1, 2015

Last week, one of the PIIC coaches started an IU Instructional Coaching Chat on Twitter.  We were trying this communication thread to see how we can engage more coaches in conversations about their practices. This particular chat was about the coach’s reflection of the past year and strategies for summer engagement for coaches to initiate with teachers.

I must admit… I am a real neophyte (or dinosaur) when it comes to virtual communication. I am okay with email and text messages but not so much with Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! I do know, however, that I could ask any tween or teenager to help me navigate social media and s/he could do it easily!

The first question of the chat ( asked coaches to think about the “year in review” and reflect about the coaching role. This is so similar to how I felt when I reflected on my teaching for the year. Were my goals realistic and attainable? Did I have short range, mid-range, and long range goals? Did I accomplish what I set out to do? If not, what were the obstacles that stood in my way? If I accomplished my goals, did I accomplish them in the ways I thought I would or to the extent that I projected I would? What should I have done differently or not at all? What changes can I make for the next year both in content and process? What have I learned about myself as a learner and about my students as learners? As a coach, what have I learned about my teaching colleagues as well?

To me, reflection equals change. And that change requires some action. Sometimes, minor changes are needed and sometimes, a major overhaul is needed. Either way, the important “note to self” is that every action takes planning, delivering, and debriefing. As a coach, this process can be accomplished with your own coach, the IU mentor, or with another trusted colleague. Make sure you take this step in reviewing your coaching work and preparing for your own professional growth. Remember, no change takes place without reflection and modification.

What are some of the things you have learned about your coaching work this year?