Customized Coaching Course guest blog post

Melanie Sanchez guest blog post author

MELANIE SANCHEZ

Head of Department Language & Literature G6 -12, AIS-Kuwait
(now MYP/DP Language and Literature / Language Acquisition Teacher at International School of Tianjin)

We created a custom cohort of Coaching: From Theory to Practice for the entire AIS Kuwait Leadership team, including all Heads of Departments. They worked together, as a cohort, to build a coaching culture at AISK, using the Coaching course as a foundation. This post features one of their reflections, shared here with permission from the author.

Coaching has become an important aspect within international schools and a form of inspirational collaboration amongst teaching and administrative staff. At American International School Kuwait, the leadership teams (HOD, Coordinators, and Admin) joined the instructional coaching course from Eduro Learning to investigate ways we could utilize various coaching models to enhance creativity and interaction in our educational community.

The ideas that were formulated through the instructional coaching course are now coming to fruition as we develop programs and work to create a more cohesive collaborative community within our school. We are at the beginning, but are looking to the future and to coaching to enhance teaching and learning.

It was an excellent opportunity to discover the approaches to coaching and to understand that it really is about the relationships developed collegially and the importance of asking the “right” questions.

Peer to Peer Coaching Action Plan American International School – Kuwait
Strengths: Weaknesses:
Faculty Principal Support and Administrative Support Tuesday PD Days – Collaborative Planning PD Focused Commitment Time constraints – look into the various possibilities for teachers and coaches to meet throughout the year. With the IB self-study as well as other commitments, the coaching model introduced into the school needs planned and realistic expectations in order to work efficiently. Collaborative time could be used in order to enhance teaching and learning but must be made available and with clear guidelines. One block per month for coaching purposes advised. This would benefit departmental coaching goals, but not cross discipline coaching. Teacher buy in – Using my strategy from last week, we could work with volunteers at first to set positive outcomes and examples. We could use a Tuesday PD session to showcase coaching that has worked within the school and the positive outcomes for both the teachers and student learning. PD availability for teachers – PD Tuesday and other opportunities – to introduce the peer to peer coaching model and the expectations and goals that could be set, have a peer coaching workshop presented at the school. Stephen Barkley does wonderful training workshops in-house. Training should go into the development of the coaching model so that teachers on both sides of coaching know what to expect and feel comfortable working together. MSHS Schedule differences – A compatible class schedule could be introduced for MSHS teachers to collaborate and work together. It is an opportunity for our teachers to see another side of the school as well as teaching strategies and lessons that differ from their own.  As an IB school, understanding the MYP and DP from another lens is always beneficial.
Other groups of peers in your community (not just teacher-to-teacher). ●     Principals ●     IB Coordinators ●     Curriculum Coordinators ●     Literacy Coaches

Implementation of Peer to Peer Coaching

Using Jill Jackson’s Four Steps Your Successful Instructional Coaching Model, we could implement a peer to  peer coaching program at AIS that takes into account time restraints and teacher contribution as we look forward.

Step One – Start with a Focus

Start a focus committee that will consist of teachers from each IB program (PYP, MYP, DP), coordinators and principals. Agree on the focus of the peer coaching program at AIS. This should be non-confrontational and be seen as a program made for the enhancement of teaching and learning.

From the article, The Coach and the Evaluator (Moran, 2011)”evaluation and coaching can work at cross purposes if schools blur the distinctions between them.” Making clear goals and transparent expectations are key to the success and buy in of the coaching program.

This focus will be used as an invitation to teachers to join the coaching process at AIS.  For the start up of the program, we will work with the volunteers and those who are interested in the process to develop the program.

Step Two – Know Your Content

Working with the HoDs and IB Coordinators at first, the committee will create a list of instructional coaches and what they feel their strengths are for the peer coaching program. Michael Bond-Clegg discussed this at the beginning of this course. This gives credibility to peer coaching, but is not a declaration that the coaches are experts.

The list will allow coaches to have a focus as well and create a bank of materials for teacher support as they coach. These focuses can then be shared with teachers as they join the peer coaching program and once that have experienced the process, they can become a peer coach as well. The information accumulated can be shared on a Google Doc and those who begin to peer coach others will have the support materials available as well.  

They will not have to be “knowledgeable” in all areas of teaching and learning which for people who are also teaching in the classroom, lends itself to a more manageable process as building a study time into schedules that are already full is going to be a challenge and AIS needs to look at the time management issue of coaches who are also teaching and in leadership positions.

To inform the staff of these individual focuses, the coaches could hold a Speed Geeking session on the focus they have chosen and introduce it to the staff during a Tuesday PD session.

Step Three – Go for the Win

This is where my strategy comes into play. One way to do this is to start the peer to peer coaching community with volunteers. We would invite those who wanted to participate as a first step approach to incorporating peer coaching into the AIS community.

Using those that are keen to develop the cycle of coaching at AIS will allow for the process to flourish and also models its effectiveness for those who are “sitting on the fence” to see if the program does take off and improve the school’s teaching community or if it “falls flat.”

As Jim Knight states, “When teachers are forced to work with a coach, they often see coaching as a punishment. However, when teachers are offered coaching as one of many ways in which they can conduct professional learning, they often see it as valuable.” (Oct. 2011)

Starting with those who are excited about the process and moving it forward will enable the coaches and teachers who have had success share their experiences with other teachers. Showing how the peer coaching program has created more teachable moments create positive momentum for this who were not sure of its effectiveness and adds value to the process.

One way to share experiences is to have the peer coaching teams do an exhibition of teachable moments and give short practical presentations about the process and what came out of it. Those tangible concepts from the classroom are the best selling point of peer coaching.

Step Four – Measure your Work in Conversations

Reflecting and refining would be taking place throughout the peer coaching implementation process:

Peer Coaching Committee –  Reflecting and refining would be a key role of this committee. In order for the peer coaching program to attach itself strongly to the school’s community, implementation, feedback, acknowledgements, and restructuring would need to be common place.

Speed Geeking – After our speed geeking sessions, we could ask for reflections and comments of the focuses offered. This can come in the form of comment cards or a Google Survey. Suggestions on the focuses offered and what other elements of teaching and learning the faculty would like to see addressed could then be added to our list and improved upon.

Peer Coaching Exhibition – Once we collect experiences and evidence of success and failures, we have a strong collection of peer to peer coaching experiences which could lead to implementing other coaching models: Challenge Coaching and Team Coaching.

All of these elements of the peer coaching process allow for reflection and give those involved opportunities to reflect and improve upon the goals set and the skills evaluated.

Timeline for this would depend on the commitment from AIS for professional development, time allowance for coaches, and the scheduling of the coaches and the peer coaching committee.

Overview/ Rationale

Peer to Peer Coaching would benefit teachers, administrators and students as the key element of the program is to enhance what is already occurring in the classroom- teaching and Learning. By allowing colleagues to join in your teaching, you give yourself an opportunity to learn and enhance the skills you have already developed.

This program brings the positive aspects of teaching to the forefront, reminding us that teaching is not just about sharing what you know with students, but also sharing and learning with your peers.

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