By Ellen Eisenberg

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

Monday, January 16, 2017

We just came back from our multi-day, statewide professional learning conference with about 200 participants. They were energized, ready to share, and empowered to learn. They were passionate about instructional coaching and helping teachers reach their fullest potential. They were “stoked” as they collaborated on ways to increase student engagement and teacher commitment.

Coaches, mentors, administrators, and other school leaders engaged in a variety of breakout sessions designed around the components of effective instructional coaching. Conversations were rich as participants reflected on how they help teachers move along the continuum of instructional coaching and strengthen their school, classroom, and individual instructional practices.

What never ceases to amaze me is the depth to which coaches connect with each other to talk about promising teacher practices and share their innermost thoughts about their own practices. These very skilled and knowledgeable coaches wanted to talk to like-minded practitioners with whom they could collectively problem-solve and share a common language.

One of the many things shared was the recurring theme that effective coaching happens once strong relationships are established. Yes, we want our coaches to engage in the before, during, and after cycle of consultation (BDA) but that only happens when the relationship is ready for those deep, reflective conversations to take place. Not every teacher is ready to bare his or her “teaching soul” at the same time. This is not a requirement but rather a goal that can be realized through a time sensitive series of conversations designed to be probing and not invasive, reflective and not dismissive, expressive and not trivial.

Take your time and build strong relationships. Nag and nurture with a pat and push to keep yours and your teaching colleagues’ practices moving forward.

How do you know when your teaching colleagues are ready for deep conversations that influence student learning?

Monday, January 2, 2017

We know that students and teachers learn from each other; learning is social. We also know that our teaching colleagues have a wealth of knowledge and incredible skills that encourages collective problem-solving and creates wonderful learning opportunities for each other. What we also know is that coaching is deliberate so make the time that you work with your colleagues intentional, targeted, need-based, nonjudgmental, and data driven. Engage in real time conversations that are designed to impact teaching and learning.

How does this happen in a tightly packed schedule?

It seems that time is of the essence… it can be a friend or it can be an enemy. For instance, coaches and teachers need to work together in the time they have. “Chat and chews” are a great way to bring practitioners together to discuss problems of practice. Nothing is insurmountable when you have chocolate to share! Let this kind of time be your friend.

Trying to work with teachers only before or after school is complicated. That can be your enemy. After all, if you only work with teachers when they are rushing to get ready for the day or when they have finished a long day with their students, the net effect can be minimized. And, if you cannot plan to visit to see the implementation, there’s not much to talk about that could change practice.

Short bursts of mini professional development sessions during the day where coaches and teachers work together to facilitate learning sessions and then follow up with ongoing conversations about the learning, is an effective use of in-school time. Try it!

How is time both your friend and enemy?