I was asked to present ten coaching tips in ten minutes at ISTE. Here are the ten I presented today:
1. Building relationships is key. It takes time and energy to build those relationships, but it's the key in coaching.
2. Work with the willing. It is more effective to work with those who are willing, and forcing someone won't get the results the students deserve. If this were an ocean, I probably couldn't turn a whale. However, I can focus on turning and working with the leaders in a school of sardines, and the rest will eventually follow. (Thanks Jon Castelhano for giving me that imagery).
3. Cater to their readiness. It's the same idea as individualizing for your students -- pre-assess and adjust to their needs. I ask questions to assess their comfort level, if they use it primarily to teach, or use it for students to learn and create. In other words, is technology something that is used? If so, how? Is it used mainly by the teacher or also by the students, and in what capacity?
4. I provide them with positive feedback. This goes back to building trust and relationships. When I go in their classrooms, I actively look for great things they are doing. I make a point to leave them that specific, positive feedback via an email, a note, or verbally.
5. Cater to their strengths. They will be more successful if we focus on their strengths, and tap into those. Having a successful initiation fosters more trust and willingness to take more steps towards 21st century learning-centered classrooms.
6. Integrity builds trust. I am not there to "fix" anyone. I am there to bring out the best in them and help them grow.
7. Collaborate. Collaboration is two ways. Sure, I do the best I can to help them, but I also create opportunities for them to help me. I need their feedback and insight too.
8. Build in support and PLN. I support them with planning, modeling, and/or team-teaching. Providing critical feedback helps nurture ideas and think through steps. Guiding them to resources and setting up that infrastructure for sharing resources (i.e. through Diigo groups), is also extremely important for their success. Anytime we can provide opportunities for building PLN, it's a win-win.
9. Celebrate the successes. I like to celebrate their successes by blogging about it. Teachers and students are very proud to have someone else recognize their achievements, especially when they reflect on what they've learned and how they've grown from their learning experience.
10. Coaching should connect with the district vision. If it doesn't all connect, we won't have a common goal and vision. I'm assuming that the vision is valued by the district, and the administration believe in it. If they do, then coaching is a way to help them support and sustain their goals. Hence, administration buy in must be there to support coaching, otherwise it's limited to the influence and success of the coach.
Special thanks goes out to Peer Ed for all the support you have given AJUSD with Peer Coaching! I also want to thank Sandy Rollefstad and Lynn Cook for helping me brainstorm my ten tips!