ISTE standard 3a for Coaches refers to the importance of establishing trusting respectful coaching relationships that encourage educators to explore new instructional strategies. In order for coaches to earn trust and respect, they must consider and support educators’ interests first. Trust and respect take time to develop, but inspiration can be kindled in an instant.
In my quest to develop my own coaching skills, I would like to know What coaching strategies can inspire and encourage educators to explore new instructional strategies effectively and efficiently?
Two elements: relevance and simplicity. These can transform professional development for teachers. It takes skill to extract relevant details. And it takes skill to deliver simply relevant information, in a short time, with efficiency and passion. Once this mastery is achieved, even the busiest educator will be inspired to perform this, and enjoy the success of the outcome.
Relevant is defined by Oxford Languages as “1. Closely connected with the subject you are discussion or the situation you are in. 2. The fact of being valuable and useful to people in their lives and work.” Coaches need to understand the needs and interests of those they are coaching.
The article, How Administrators Can Design the Best Learning Experiences for Teachers, explains that teacher training should evolve to reflect the strategies educators use for students. Ellen Dorr explains that, just like students, teacher learning experiences need to be personalized, relevant, engaging, and empowering. This article addresses four important elements needed to be considered in order to meet the learning needs of teachers:
1. Setting a vision to speak to people’s passions, refers to starting with a clear vision of the end goal, and inspiring teachers to visualize and work towards that goal.
2. Providing whole learning experiences (rather than trainings), explains that teachers attending a training session ≠ teachers can implement strategies from the training session. Some of the Professional learning activities recommended in the article are: “site visits, 30 min. sessions with teachers sharing their best practices, PLC book study, teacher created classroom video…” In summary, professional learning activities need to be experiential, relevant and engaging.
3. Focusing on instructional practices, led by the right practitioners, refers to having expert teacher-leaders teach by sharing their instructional strategies, and supporting teachers who choose to give them a try.
4. Empowering teachers to be innovative and take risks with their learning, explain that administrators should empower teachers through collaborative PLC’s, informative professional digital networks, such as Twitter, and by continuing to learn the latest news on educational research. The emphasis is on empowering and supporting.
According to Inc.’s columnist and author Carmine Gallo, neuroscience proves 18-minute (or less) is the ideal length for a presentation, just like TED talks. Gallo believes in keeping communication simple. “Simply put, information acts like weights-the more you pile on, the more likely you are to drop everything.”
Similar to the workshop model, one hour of professional development may consist of
- 10 to 15-minute learning a new strategy
- 40 to 45-minute implementing the new strategy, with a coach available to answer questions and provide feedback.
- 5-minute evaluating the implementation of the new strategy
Simple is not just short, but condensed. The learning experience can be simple yet engaging and powerful, making the best use of time. This one-hour model, is a simple way of visualizing the input vs output ratio. Ideally, professional development should include regular continuing sessions throughout the year, allowing educators to gain mastery of the new strategies.
Several sources indicate the most essential characteristics of effective professional development include relevant, authentic, and collaborative experiential learning that is supportive and ongoing.
The video A principal’s Guide to Coaching, from the leadership team at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in Denver, serves as an example of successful coaching practices. This video explains the steps these leaders take to providing teachers with the tools and support they need to best improve.
- Focus on one action step at a time
- Have short sessions with teachers
- Provide teachers with exemplar models
- Provide feedback
- Ongoing support
Their system and structures are simple yet relevant to each teacher’s needs.
Regarding your professional development, how important is it for you its relevance and simplicity?
Dorr, E. (Nov 4, 2015). How Administrators Can Design the Best Learning Experiences for Teachers. EdSurge – Professional Development. https://www.edsurge.com/news/2015-11-04-how-administrators-can-design-the-best-learning-experiences-for-teachers
Education Week (Oct 17m 2019). A Principal’s Guide to Coaching Teachers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzykXPv8GjY
Gallo, C. (2017). Neuroscience Proves You Should Follow TED’s 18-Minute Rule to Win Your Pitch. Inc. https://www.inc.com/carmine-gallo/why-your-next-pitch-should-follow-teds-18-minute-rule.html
Hunzicker, J. (2010). Characteristics of Effective Professional Development: A Checklist. Department of Teacher Education, Bradley University. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED510366.pdf
ISTE Standards for Coaches. Retrieved https://www.iste.org/standards/iste-standards-for-coaches
NSW Government. Characteristics of effective professional development. Teacher Standards and Accreditation. Last updated: Jan 21st, 2021
Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries. Accessed July 18, 2021. https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/us/definition/english/relevant
Sims, S. & Fletcher-Wood, H. (May 2020). Identifying the characteristics of effective teacher professional development: a critical review. School Effectiveness and School Improvements 32(2):1-17 Abstract. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/341716623_Identifying_the_characteristics_of_effective_teacher_professional_development_a_critical_review