Ask people outside of education what the job of an instructional coach might entail, and they describe a person blowing the whistle around her neck, calling out bad teaching as she walks through the halls.
In reality, my job is to be a good partner: to listen, ask questions, plan, co-teach, observe, and reflect. Some still might have a difficult time envisioning this model of coaching, where the coach and teacher are both partners in learning, so below are some examples of our work this week.
As I met with teachers from the Pioneer School of Business, we studied how to engage our students in evaluating the role societal norms should play in affecting our legal system. I refreshed my learning on the Bill of Rights and the Rule of Precedent, and together we learned which freedoms our students hold most dear. I researched Socratic discussion questioning and ways to encourage engagement, and then we reflected on the success of the discussion and ways to deepen student learning. I learned the power of SWOT analyses in determining appropriate marketing strategies for clients, and together we shared ideas on how to rebound from student setbacks. We reflected on the “why” of teaching and coaching.
Math and Science teachers talked with me about their desire to shift some of the ways they assess. We studied screencasting and TedEd; we deepened our understanding of the thought process behind constructing meaningful capstone projects that tap into students’ passions and challenge them in new and exciting ways. (I also learned about slope, bacteria, and the Never-Rise Region.) We talked, we planned, we learned from each other.
In World Language teachers shared their authentic learning experiences for students as I shared how to use keepvid.com to capture the videos they depend on so much for those experiences. The days of my WL teacher playing audio tapes of isolated vocabulary terms are over; students read authentic newspaper clippings, watch videos, and speak in their target language a greater percentage of their class time than many of us did in college.
New teachers experimented with web design. We researched, we played, we asked a great deal of questions (some of which we answered). We participated in the struggle of learning, and I walked away with the knowledge that once again, KHS has hired the best teachers.
You are teachers who take risks, teachers who put their students’ learning at the forefront of their decisions, teachers who are connected through the reasons or the “why” we teach.
We want to challenge every student every day, and no whistle-blowing is needed to spur us to action. A partner to sit beside us and support us is all we need.
How might having a coaching partner help you?