By Ellen Eisenberg

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

Saturday, March 21, 2020

I think Charles Dickens was on to something when he wrote, "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times."

As I sit in my house self-isolating, I vacillate between fear and uncertainty, and the "this, too, shall pass" hopes. And, I marvel at the wonderful way several people have offered to purchase food for the elderly, pick up prescriptions, and deliver necessities to those who are unable to do these tasks. I applaud those who are adhering to the social distancing behavior that is necessary for containment. At the same time, I wonder about those who do not recognize the severity of the health emergency and continue to ignore the warnings.

Let this be an awakening for all of us to reflect and answer these questions that a colleague sent to me from a Facebook post:
  1. What am I grateful for today?
  2. Who am I checking in on or connecting with today?
  3. What expectations of "normal" am I letting go of today?
  4. How am I getting outside today?
  5. How am I moving my body today?
  6. What beauty am I either creating, cultivating, or inviting in today?
So, it is truly the worst of times we have ever seen but let's all hope and pray that the best in us will shine and help each other through this catastrophic crisis.

Stay healthy!

Friday, March 6, 2020

I just read a report entitled, “Standard for Teachers’ Professional Development” out of the UK Department for Education. This report has determined the following standards for schools:
1. Professional development should have a focus on improving and evaluating pupil outcomes.
2. Professional development should be underpinned by robust evidence and expertise.
3. Professional development should include collaboration and expert challenge.
4. Professional development programmes should be sustained over time.
5. Professional development must be prioritised by school leadership.

Although we have embraced professional learning rather than professional development as our standards, these are relevant for our work. Each standard provides clarity of what should be recognized as effective professional development.

For example, #1 above indicates that effective PD has explicit relevance to participants; individual activities link logically to the intended pupil outcomes; and the PD involves ongoing evaluation of how changes in practice impact student outcomes. #2 includes effective PD develops practice and theory together; links pedagogy to content; has an evidentiary trail to support it; is supported by those with expertise and knowledge to help participants improve their understanding of evidence; and challenges teachers’ beliefs and expectations about teaching and learning. # 3 suggests collegial problem solving; discussions about practice and supporting students with similar needs; challenging existing practices to elicit multiple perspectives; and support from someone in a coaching and/or mentoring role to provide modeling and challenge. #4 above suggests that PD is iterative and needs ongoing support and follow up; may include singular activities as part of a PD plan; and includes opportunities for experimentation, reflection, feedback, and evaluation. #5 suggests leadership of PD needs to be clear about how student outcomes are improved; clear curriculum and vision are transparent, modeling PD is an expectation for all; time and resources are available to support the PD; and that priority and professional trust are critical for success.

Wow… sounds like a recipe for effective instructional coaching and mentoring.

What do you think?