By Ellen Eisenberg

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

Monday, May 20, 2019

I love it… this is exactly the message we want to convey to teachers, administrators, students and other school leaders… “failure is a part of teaching…” and it’s also a part of learning.

The April 19 EdWeek blog says it all… Lory Peroff expresses the good, the bad, and the ugly about teaching. She bears the pain and the joy of her experiences and shares them in a way that is recognizable to every teacher. After all, teaching gives us the “highest highs” and the “lowest lows” possible… the lights go on and it’s the best day; no lights shine, and we hang our heads in shame.

I used to say that I wished my last two classes were my first two classes. I learned so much from my students during the day that I was definitely a different teacher by the end of the day and I felt that I shortchanged my morning students on many days that I started a new unit or used new resources!

But, it doesn’t have to be and shouldn’t be that way. What was I thinking when I hid my discomfort? What did I deny my students when I didn’t reach out for support? Why didn’t I think my professional growth was important? I know why… I didn’t have the luxury of working with a trusted colleague, aka an instructional coach.  I was too much like Lory trying to be the perfect teacher, one that others could come to for support but not willing to ask anyone else for support; I was not willing to admit what I didn’t know.

Lory’s advice is what we all need and should commit to following: reflect – in, on, and about action enables problem-solving; make a plan and follow it while reflecting on what worked effectively; find support – learning is social; try it out – practicing with an instructional coach makes a difference; be real and admit when change is needed.

Word of caution… for those schools that claim, “Failure is not an option,” think about how to change that attitude… failure is the only option that creates change.

How do you promote the idea of learning from your failures?

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

I just read a blog from EdTech titled, “How K-12 Schools Should Define and Act on Digital Learning” (April 11, 2019). The gist of the article was about blending traditional learning with digital learning thus transforming a traditional classroom. The author, Brian Seymour, reminds his readers that defining the term “blended” is critical before the “blending” process begins.

His phrase, tradigital, refers to his district’s “hybrid version of the traditional classroom and a digital learning environment.” Good to know… I think that this definition accurately describes the merging of the two styles of teaching. But, is this an accurate description of the learning that takes place when the teaching styles are fused?

I don’t agree with his comment that a traditional teacher usually begins teaching as a lecturer, using digital tools infrequently and data only when expedient. I think when a traditional teacher, whatever that might mean, starts out working with an instructional coach and together they identify goals, what follows is a deliberate conversation that recognizes priorities, emphasizes open and transparent conversation, creates multiple opportunities for collaboration, and reinforces the notion that everyone is a learner – all in a safe environment. Resources and materials are determined according to the goals and priorities set. The tool doesn’t drive the conversation; the goals drive the conversation.

Yes, he mentions that learning needs to be more facilitator/learner centered and addresses individual needs. He also mentions how important data driven decisions are to ensure students are assessed appropriately. I agree.

Can this happen in every class? Probably not but what can happen is making sure that instructional coaches are at the heart of every conversation so that all students are in classrooms with highly effective teachers who understand how to help students make meaning out of text, traditional or non-traditional, digital or non-digital and deepen the learning for all.

As a coach, how are you able to help teachers “blend” their environment so that students are exposed to both traditional and non-traditional teaching styles?