By Ellen Eisenberg

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

Sunday, March 17, 2019

It's not about the tool… it’s about the conversation!

Technology is great when it works and even greater when there is an instructional coach in the mix.

Sure, shiny tools and “state of the art” equipment attract like a magnet. But the coaching conversations and interactions that initiate and sustain those dialogues are what make the difference in an effective instructional coaching environment.

The February 14 ASCD Express issue shares some thoughts about integrating technology and coaching. Of course, I like to think that instructional coaches are inclusive; that is, they offer a broad range of support in many different areas with technology as part of and not separate from the big picture. For instance, I wouldn’t take a book or primary source document to a teacher and start the conversation about that resource any more than I would take a type of software to start the conversation. The goals and needs must drive the conversation, not the tool for implementation.

Teachers need to be clear about what they want to teach, why they want to teach “it” and how they will deliver instruction; coaches need to understand the same things, what the teachers need in order to accomplish their goals, and together they discuss the various ways to achieve the intended outcomes. This conversation or series of conversations happen before talking about materials or technology tools. It’s really the “before the before” planning stage.

I believe that the coach’s tools are their ears, heart, and soul… all are needed to understand the myriad complexities of teaching and learning.

The article does clearly list six important elements for successful technology coaching integration: developing coaches, recognizing effective instruction, offering multiple kinds of support, understanding the coaching role, planning for sustainability, and being a learner. Certainly, all effective instructional coaching models need these component parts.

Where are you and your school in the technology/coaching integration support system?

Friday, March 1, 2019

Each teacher in a school can make a difference in a student’s life, even with the most disenfranchised and apathetic students. And, as a group of teachers together who all believe they can make a difference in a school, there is no doubt that student and teacher attitudes and achievement will positively change.

That’s what John Hattie calls “collective efficacy” (2016). It is a shared belief that through collective action, teachers can influence student outcomes. He believes that collective teacher efficacy is directly related to student achievement. If the teachers and school community believe they can help students achieve and move learning forward, they will.

Think of the little engine that could…a story of optimism, a “can do” attitude, and a growth mindset!

Godard, Hoy, and Hoy (2000) later reported that a stronger collective teacher efficacy has a deeper effect… a stronger collective teacher efficacy encourages individual teachers to use their skills more effectively. There seems to be a ripple effect and a cumulative effect… the more I learn from my peers, the better prepared I am as an individual.

Hattie’s research indicates that the effect of teacher efficacy is more than twice that of feedback and three times greater than classroom management (Hattie, J. The Applicability of Visible Learning to Higher Education, 2016). Understanding this impact, school communities need to embrace the notion of ongoing professional learning as a job-embedded teacher talent development model. That is, develop the talent in the building individually and collectively.

This research on collective efficacy resonates loud and clear.

Instructional coaches move teachers into the role of architect. They help teachers find their voices, grow their voices, take control of their learning, and focus on professional learning that is designed to influence student achievement. They help teachers establish strong, trusting relationships with each other while building capacity and cultivating skills that yield growth. That means student growth and also teacher growth.

If everyone in the school community believed that each student, teacher, and administrator could individually and collectively influence student outcomes, what a world this would be!

How do you reinforce collective teacher efficacy in your school?