Source: Glove, Clker, http://bit.ly/1CVSonk; Stick Figure, Clker, http://bit.ly/1JoIB83; Bicycles, Pixabay, http://bit.ly/1LBEp94; Wedding Rings, Pixabay, http://bit.ly/1Kja7Jz; Social Network, Pixabay, http://bit.ly/1HPKIBb; Unconference, Provided By Author
Hello there and welcome. We are so fortunate to be teaching in the time when supporting one another as colleagues is valued and encouraged. In this lesson, we will analyze the role of one such support system-- instructional coaching. Let's begin.
I will preface this connection by saying I know absolutely nothing about competitive cycling, the Tour de France, or anything related to it. However, I recently saw a documentary on ESPN about two riders who are teammates. The story took a few twists and turns along the way, but for the purposes of this lesson, I want to focus on what I noticed about their relationship. One of the cyclists was a veteran, and the other was a young up-and-comer. However, that didn't stop them from training together and learning from one another. It reminded me of myself and how through the years, I have worked with and learned from so many teachers. I was once the newbie, and now I'm considered the veteran. In both cases, however, having a partner always pushed me to do better.
A peer coach. If you have one, you're lucky. If you don't, you should get one. Peer coaching is a relationship between educators that promotes reflection and dialogue. It's a mutual process that occurs between two teachers to develop and refine teaching skills. This can be done in many ways, by sharing and collaborating on teaching ideas, for instance, or by conducting observations and providing feedback.
Another benefit of peer coaching is that you always have a safe and trusted colleague to help you problem-solve or address specific classroom challenges as they arise. Peer coaching is certainly considered a form of professional development, and speaking from experience, I can tell you it's an empowering one. Peer coaching allows teachers to collaboratively work on each other's specific needs. These characteristics make peer coaching a great strategy to use as part of collaborative professional development planning, implementation, and monitoring. We've learned through practice and research that one-and-done conferences and workshops don't make for sustainable instructional changes. There is a need for embedded professional development that occurs daily in the classroom, not from a one-time off-site event.
Don't let the word coach fool you. It does not necessarily mean that one individual is more skilled or knows more than the other. More often than not, peer coaching is treated as a two-way collaboration, where the two parties coach each other. Another important point is that peer coaching is not evaluative in any way at all. The colleague's primary focus is on improving and refining of teaching and learning. Authentic collaborative relationships will lead to the most impactful results. There are situations, however, in which a principal may assign teachers into coaching pairs. This is usually because of an incompatible relationship or misaligned goals, teaching, learning, or feedback styles.
In some ways, teacher pairings are like a marriage, and the most effective are born organically and grow over time in a professional learning community through discussions and collaboration. The peer coaching relationship can last as long as both parties mutually agree. I guess that's like a marriage too. As time goes on, partnerships can continue to set new goals and address them through coaching processes. Administrators can potentially impose a time frame on coaching partnerships, however this makes for a less effective situation.
Peer coaching can take on a life of its own and the benefits are many. However, there are four main goals embedded in the practice. They are to increase student learning-- two heads are better than one, and that is a huge benefit when it comes to moving students forward. To promote collaboration among colleagues-- we all bring with us our own experiences to the job, and sharing instructional strategies that have been successful for us with others is the right thing to do. To encourage reflection on teaching practice-- having a peer coach allows you to do this in a safe and comfortable way. To significantly reduce teacher isolation-- when teachers feel abandoned and alone, they are far more likely to disengage and even leave the profession.
I will share with you a personal example of how a peer coaching relationship led to the development of a collaborative professional development plan. A few years ago, I began working in a new school as an enrichment specialist. The library media specialist was a first-year teacher, and we formed a peer coaching relationship. We agreed to meet formally once a week, but also knew that we could reach out to one another at any time.
After the first few months of school, we decided that we would create a plan to learn how to better integrate technology into our daily practice and share our knowledge with the rest of the staff. From that plan, came Tech Tuesdays, a weekly session that we hosted for anyone who wanted to participate. We also attended technology conferences together and gave our school a presence on social media. Through the process, we both grew professionally.
Let's take a look back at what was covered in this lesson. We introduced the concept of peer coaching and pointed out some key considerations. We outlined the benefits of this practice, and I shared with you a personal example. And now for today's food for thought. Think about the people you work with. Who would make a good peer coach? Now it's your turn to apply what you've learned in this video. The Additional Resources section will be super helpful. This section is designed to help you discover useful ways to apply what you've learned here. Each link includes a brief description, so you can easily target the resources that you want. As always, thanks so much for watching. We'll see you next time.
(01:00-02:09) Peer Coaching
(02:10-03:19) Points To Consider
(04:54-05:35) Summary/Food For Thought
Mentoring and Coaching Models
This document from the Queensland Department of Education and Training provides a useful overview of peer coaching and mentoring.
Peer Coaching for Improvement of Teaching and Learning
This article explores the benefits of using a peer coaching model as professional development to improve teaching and learning.