Question Detail

I love supporting new teachers, but I also want to help experienced teachers in my district engage in continual growth and reflection. I want to build perceptions that working with a coach is something that excellent teachers do, rather than something only for those who need something to be "fixed."

Nov 12, 2014 8:06am

  • Coaching


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    • Nov 17, 2014 9:32pm

      Yes, this is great! Have you considered having a PLC group where experienced teachers could come together to brainstorm ideas & ways that continued learning & coaching could positively impact their teaching? Maybe over lunch once a month?

      • Nov 29, 2014 8:59am

        i think the problem many veteran teachers have is that they believe the coach informs the principal about teachers. I was a coach several years ago and the first thing we were taught was that for coaching to work, the coach must keep things confidential so that trust is built. Coaches were NOT to be in classrooms to evaluate. The fact that we received a lot of training beforehand made a huge difference.

        In my current district, we have coaches, but they have not been through training. They have been known to go to administration about teachers. Teachers often feel like they are being evaluated, rather than coached. Even during team meetings, the coach is often accompanied by the principal. This has made for an uncomfortable environment in which many would rather never have the coach inside the classroom.

        • Dec 1, 2014 7:26am

          I agree with Jasmine below that PLCs help veteran teachers continue to grow and learn alongside the new ones. As a coach, I sit in the PLC meetings and ask probing or clarifying questions. Additionally, when PLC members observe each other deliver a lesson that they planned together, I provide them with an observation tool that only requires data rather than opinion. I then have a debrief coaching conversation with the teachers (veterans and new). The reflective side of PLC work really lends itself to coaching.

          • May 4, 2015 7:17pm

            I would recommend you a training that I attended in February from ASCD, Building teachers capacity for success by Peter Hall. Or you can buy the book, gives great advice on how to keep teachers improving no matter what level they are at.

            • May 23, 2015 9:01am

              I have used the two resources below to support the idea of why teachers - all levels of teachers - need coaches. I an instructional in a middle school filled with a lot of coaches - sports - so I usually have some reference to Michael Jordan as well. If Jordan needed a coach at the peak of his career, then isn't it be a good idea for all of us?!

              1) Analogy about coaching from
              "Consider the difference between a neighborhood basketball game and the Philadelphia 76ers. In one game, there is no coach, no bench, and no organized time outs to discuss strategy. Whatever happened, happens with luck being the operative word. In the other game, each player's ability is analyzed and everyone is assigned to the position that aligns with a specific skill set. This discussion of the action is deliberate, structured, and well executed with time allotted before, during, and after the game for planning, studying, and reflecting. Winning is clearly the desired outcome and everyone collaborates and cooperates to make that happen. While a player may want the thrill of making the winning basket, the individual recognizes that several individuals together worked to make all the baskets that contributed to winning the game. .... Each player must understand the overall vision, know which plays to use, know how to adapt as a play unfolds on the field, and be accountable for what happens ... This fits with the description of how instructional coaches and school staff should collaborate every day and take collective responsibility for student growth. Instructional coaches help create the environment for open communication and ensure that professional learning is high quality, ongoing, focused, and natural - like preparing a team to win the game. They work to prepare the entire team for their collective and individual roles." ~ Ellen Eisenberg

              "What Makes Good Teachers Great" by Laura Varlas

              Atul Gawande: “In medicine, lives are lost in the slim margins between good and great,” surgeon and Harvard medical professor Atul Gawande told conference attendees at the second general session of ASCD’s Annual Conference. Gawande, who has written several articles and best-selling books, including "The Checklist Manifesto," has spent his career mining the nuances that separate competence from excellence. During his talk, he investigated a core dilemma common to helping professionals in fields like teaching and medicine: despite expertise, “we all get different results.”
              To illustrate this point, among the clinics specializing in caring for patients with cystic fibrosis, there is a 13-year difference in life expectancy rates between patients at the very best clinics and those at good clinics.
              On the surface, Gawande saw no difference between these clinics. But by observing the practitioners at work—in particular, a doctor in consultation with an especially reticent teenage patient—Gawande uncovered the roots of tenacity, bedside ingenuity, humility, and teamwork that drove all members of the clinic’s medical community.

              “Genius doesn’t make you great; how you work in a system does,” he observed.

              One doctor or teacher might make a difference, but not for long; going it alone is a recipe for burnout or reaching a plateau. Not only do the best in their field get better by working as a team and continually planning for improvement, but they also employ a set of “external ears.”

              He related that even renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman acknowledges that “the great challenge in performing is hearing yourself,” and so he uses a coach.

              Paradoxically, seeking this kind of help is perceived as weakness in many professional circles. “We’ve adopted a training ethic of self-perfection,” he explained. “It’s not only how we teach kids [to go to school, graduate, and then improve on your own], but how we teach ourselves.”

              That’s a narrow road to success, Gawande argues. In the world of athletics, they too believe that this model of teaching is a naïve approach to the human capacity for self-perfection. Consider that six months after a workshop, less than 20 percent of educators actually use the skills learned there. In contrast, if you pair your professional learning with a colleague who observes and reflects with you on your practice, studies show that 85 percent of educators are still using those skills six months later.

              That’s the difference a coach makes. They identify the small stuff that make good teachers great, Gawande related.

              Autonomy is highly valued in both the medical and education professions, Gawande said, but “self-sufficiency in a world of complexity will only get you so far.” When children’s success depends on a multitude of people involved in their lives, it will fall apart if each of us is doing our own thing, he added. We’ve made sure we are our best, now, for the whole child, and we must help one another do our best, he said.

              “We are cowboys,” he concluded, “but we need to be pit crews.”

              Links to articles: