Friday, March 18, 2016

Professional Growth in Coaching

Recently, on the blog, Two Writing Teachers, they have featured a series about professional development opportunities.  I love all their posts, but this series in particular is near and dear to my professional heart. On Thursday, March 10, 2016, Beth Moore posted an entry titled, Teaching Side by Side:Coaching and Classroom Visits.  Beth identified four types of classroom visits.
  1. Research Visits
  2. Coaching Teachers to Support a Goal
  3. Demonstrating Methods to Support a Goal
  4. Combination Visits that include pieces of #1-3
Using Beth's framework I was able to reflect on my work.  It was an important opportunity for me to analyze how I'm progressing in regard to my own professional development goals as a first year coach.

Research Visits
During these visits I have the opportunity to gather information for teachers.  This might be data on a particular student, observation of particular teaching techniques, collecting data on student engagement and stamina, etc.  I've been doing a lot of this work in grades 2 & 3 especially in the area of independent reading.  I love the opportunity to have conversations with teachers about the data we collect.

Coaching Teachers to Support a Goal
Coaching visits are when I actively participate in a lesson with a teacher.  We "coach" each other along the way, I'm a co-teacher in the classroom. In these settings I work side-by-side with the classroom teacher, we teach and learn together. I've been fortunate to do a lot of this in grades K and 1 this year implementing both the WUOS and RUOS. In grades 4 and 5 we did a lot of this when teaching students discussion protocols and I've just begun this work with grade 6.  I love the thinking "on our feet", and the "two heads are better than one" ideas that come from this type of coaching.  

Demonstrating Methods to Support a Goal
Demonstration visits are visits when I'm the primary teacher.  I plan and implement the lesson(s) the classroom teacher is my "wingman/woman".  I love these visits because teachers give me the opportunity to use my own pedagogy and try out new lessons.  I learn with and from our shared students.  Demonstration visits have really promoted my own professional growth this year.  They give me an opportunity to stretch my skills and get feedback from my colleagues.  This work often spills over into discussions in our weekly PD sessions because we've all had a common experience. I've been fortunate to do this type of work in grades PreK-6 this year.  The variety of grade levels and lessons from discussion, to mini-lessons, and interactive read-alouds has been diverse and FUN!  I love getting feedback on my own teaching!

Combination Visits
I have to say, I think everytime I am in a classroom it is a combination visit.  During these visits I sometimes co-teach, sometimes demonstrate, sometimes meet with small groups or one on one, sometimes collect data, sometimes problem solve.  The most important part of these visits is the time I spend with students and the reflection I do with teachers.  It is amazing how we have so much to talk about!  I thrive on the professional conversations and insights I gain through every visit.  I love sharing the joy of teaching with my colleagues.

I have to admit, when I first saw the topic of Beth's post, I was a bit scared, actually petrified.  I was afraid to look at my own novice coaching practices and see how I might measure up.  I'm truly my own worst critic. Yet, I was pleasantly surprised at the variety of coaching I've been able to do this year, in year one.  How has this happened?  The answer is easy, I work with some of the most amazing children on the planet.  I work with some of the most amazing colleagues on the planet. Collectively they continue to help me learn and grow in my new role. Our students and my colleagues have supported me in the bumps in the road. To all of them, I am eternally grateful, our work has just begun.

I began this year with this quote in mind:

"One can go back toward safety or forward toward growth.  Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again."~Abraham Maslow

I thank our students and staff everyday for giving me the opportunity to live out this quote on a daily basis.

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