In my own classroom, the use of infographics has been a valuable tool to teach not only visual literacy, but graphic design. Our society is a visual one and students need to be prepared to not only interpret the meaning of visuals presented to them but to present their own visual stories back to others. Many already do this in some capacity on sites like Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat. Of course, creating an infographic does go beyond taking a selfie, requiring students to think very critically. Above are some infographics of mine that I’ve shared with students.
What is an infographic?
I tell my students that infographics (informative graphics) are a way to convey information to an audience in a simple, engaging way. I tell them that it is a way of storytelling. I tell them that it counters the notion, often seen in writing, that longer is better. I tell them that synthesis is truly the challenge here. The key to a successful infographic is a finished product that looks deceptively simple.
How do you use them in your teaching?
Each time I’ve presented this idea, I’ve been surprised by how many student haven’t heard the term infographic. They are, however, familiar with similar images in nonfiction books from their childhood. Students are often surprised by how much they can “read” from a visual image, as well as how quickly they can identify the relationships present, such as in flowcharts and cycles, etc. I often begin by showing students some examples and asking them to identify key elements. This is an important first step to pave the way for students to create their own. Infographics can be used as a creative alternative to a typical project or even writing assignment. Students can share them in a printed form or with each other online. In the examples below, my students use infographics to share elements of symbolism from novels they had recently read.Click to view slideshow.
How do you make an infographic and not just a poster?
Get out of the habit of “go find and stick up” (Images are not stickers to place without thorough consideration.)
Viewer should be able to understand relationships at first glance (cross language barriers perhaps)
Overall imagery should be thematic or symbolic
Not just be content, but an analysis of this information
Does your infographic…tell a story? persuade? present an argument?
Consider the overall text structure (compare & contrast, sequence, cause & effect, etc.)
What tools do you use to create infographic?
There are many, many online tools available that can make this process easy and fun for students. Some examples are shown above. Please note that some of these tools have both free and paid versions with varying customization options. Be warned that “go find and stick up” is tempting with these tools. Additionally, by no means is a fancy tool necessary to create such a visual image. A simple tool like Google Slides, Powerpoint or even pen and paper can work just as well!
ISTE Standard 4: Professional Development and Program Evaluation
Performance Indicator B: Design, develop, and implement technology rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment.
What are the essentials of a technology rich professional development learning program?
As I reach my final blog post for my EDTC 6106 class on professional development and program evaluation I find myself reflecting on how eager I was when I first started my master’s program in digital education leadership. At that time, I was so excited to start learning about what it meant to be an effective coach, to learn “tricks” and “tips” that would make me excel as a school leader. I definitely did fill my “coaching toolbox” but I am now struck by the realization that what I’m really eager for is to gain experience as a coach, to learn through trials, reflections, successes, and failures. I feel ready to take on the role as a coach and instructional leader in my district and am confident that I feel this way because of the foundation this program has laid for me. So, for this final blog post I wanted to synthesize my learning relating to how to create a technology rich professional learning program to complete a more comprehensive bank of “musts” as an instructional leader. My resolution, outlined below in my “12 “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for Creating a Technology Rich Professional Learning Program” was developed by studying some excellent resources, included in the “references” section, as well as through the discussions with and feedback from my professors and classmates in my master’s cohort. My professional development toolbox is filling up and I’m eager to try it out!
Future Inquiries: Shoutouts to Awesome Resources!
I have come across a few awesome resource this semester that I wanted to reflect on but haven’t found a place to do so. Since this post is a synthesis of my learning I choose to include some commentary on these resources below in hopes that I will revisit them in the future.
Five Models of Teacher-Centered Professional Development – I LOVE this resource and want to try out each of the models for PD, each are underutilized and could be excellent tips for collaborative learning.
53 Ways to Check for Understanding – this document offers some excellent ideas for formative assessments, a vital, and sadly often missing, component of professional development.
Future Ready Schools: Empowering Educators through Professional Learning toolkit – I’m so glad that my classmate Liz turned me onto this resource! This will be the first place I look for valuable information on planning, implementing, and evaluating professional development.
Hate PD? Try Voluntary Piloting – this is a post from Cult of Pedagogy, my favorite educational blog, and discusses piloting as an alternative to traditional professional development–I’d love to explore piloting further!
How to Plan Outstanding Tech. PD for Your Teachers – this is another post from Cult of Pedagogy and is almost exactly what I would have liked my blog post to be, had it not already been done. In this post, blogger Jennifer Gonzalez discusses several tips and strategies for making excellent professional development.
Questionnaire Design Tip Sheet – This resource, provided by Harvard University and suggested by one of my professors, has some great ideas for creating effective survey questions. As feedback is so vital in creating powerful professional development, I would like to spend more time looking at question design in the future.
Burns, M. (2014, November 26). Five Models of Teacher-Centered Professional Development. Retrieved March 9, 2017, from http://www.globalpartnership.org/blog/five-models-teacher-centered-professional-development
Hertz, M. B. (2011, June 16). The Dos and Don’ts of Tech Integration PD. Retrieved March 9, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/technology-integration-teacher-development-mary-beth-hertz
Piper, J. (n.d.). 5 Don’ts for Teacher Professional Development. Retrieved March 8, 2017, from http://www.teachhub.com/5-donts-teacher-professional-development
Vilson, J. (2012, November 07). Three Dos and Don’ts of Transformative Teacher Leadership. Retrieved March 9, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/dos-and-donts-teacher-leadership-jose-vilson
After many conversations with educators and administrators, collaborations with my digital education leadership master’s cohort, a few months of pouring over professional development research, and reflections on my own experiences I can confidently say that most educator professional development opportunities are lacking in one way or another. A few repeated sentiments include: most PD is just not relevant to my classroom, or, I know it’s going to be a waste of my time, or, it’s just filled with a bunch of top-down jargon, how is it best for students? This makes me sad. Professional development should be an opportunity to observe, reflect on, and apply best practices in teaching. Educators should leave a PD session empowered, not deflated. So, how can we make professional development more inspiring and engaging?
To answer this, I began by taking a deeper look at a few of the common issues with professional development. I also looked at ISTE coach standard four indicator “B” which states that coaches must, “Design, develop, and implement technology rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment” (2016).
After understanding some of the the issues and standards, I had a framework to begin unpacking my triggering question on this topic: What collaborative learning strategies help create effective professional development opportunities?
What’s the Problem?
Collaborative Learning Strategies for Professional Development
In exploring great teaching strategies I relied a bit on my own experiences and a lot on two excellent resources: The Big List of Class Discussion Strategies from the blog Cult of Pedagogy and PBS’s Teaching Strategies Resources menu. I sifted through these resources and choose ones that most closely addressed the issues outlined above. I made an effort to limit the number of strategies that I shared to a few that I have tried personally, as a teacher or as a learner. With that said, I highly recommend checking out these two sites and seeing what more they have to offer!
Bishop, D., Lumpe, A., Henrikson, R., & Crane, C. (2016). Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State: Project Evaluation Report. Retrieved February 9, 2017, from http://www.k12.wa.us/CurriculumInstruct/WA-TPL/pubdocs/2016-WA-TPL-Evaluation-Report.pdf
Gonzalez, J. (2015, October 15). The Big List of Class Discussion Strategies. Retrieved February 9, 2017, from https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/speaking-listening-techniques/
Moersch, C. (2011). Digital Age Best Practices: Teaching and Learning Refocused. Retrieved February 9, 2017, from http://digitalis.nwp.org/sites/default/files/files/94/Digital%20Age%20Best%20Practices.pdf
PBS Learning Media (n.d.). Teaching Strategies: Resources for Adult Educators. Retrieved February 9, 2017, from http://kcts9.pbslearningmedia.org/collection/ketae/
Image adapted from UCBHCA: Training of Facilitators Manual for the Functional Adult Literacy Training Manual
Throughout my studies on digital education leadership, and specifically what it means to be an effective instructional coach and to design great professional development, I have continually been reminded that many of the teaching and learning practices used with K-12 students are effective with adults learners as well. In fact, this point has been the resolution to most of my inquiries over my graduate program studies. So, over these last few weeks I have been both delighted and intrigued to get to look at what sets adult learners apart from adolescent learners.
What Makes Adult Learners Unique?
I touched on adult learning in my last blog post, but to recap, the most prolific commentary on adult learning, also known as andragogy, comes from the adult educator Malcolm Knowles. Knowles narrowed his theory of andragogy down to six major principles (Knowles, 2015). He claims that adult learners…
Are motivated and self directed.
Bring life experience and knowledge.
Are goal oriented
Are relevancy oriented.
Like to be respected.
The Australian Catholic University does a great job of summarizing each of these principles, but I was left wondering how this differs from students. To address this inquiry, I found another great resource, from the Nebraska Department of Labor’s professional development site. Below, I include a screenshot of an interactive infographic that details what sets adult learners apart from children.
I found the first point especially interesting–that children base what is important in their learning on what they are told to study. If a teacher says the material is important, students will often believe them. Contrarily, adults want to know the value of what the are learning and specifically how it will be valuable to their teaching. I highly recommend all interested parties check out this resource!
Adult Learning Principles in Professional Development
In studying about adult learners I quickly realized that there are so many great resources already available it would be superfluous to make my own. Instead, I choose to search for a model for professional development that is designed with the adult learning principles in mind. I didn’t have to go far, as my own school district is currently preparing for a Learning Improvement Day (LID) that takes these principles into consideration. In fact, the following slides are from the recent facilitator training.
How does the LID consider adult learning principles?
- Adult Learners are goal oriented: our LID revolves around the Lake 8, which are the eight instructional components of student learning. Each professional development session is aligned with one of these standards. The infographic below details the Lake 8 standards.
- Adult learners are relevancy oriented: the LID consists of several sessions and participants get to choose which ones to attend. The sessions are grouped by grade level (elementary or secondary) and, while some are subject specific, many apply to various subjects.
- Adult learners are practical: the goal of the LID is to leave teachers with instructional tools or resources they could implement in their classrooms the next day. The goal is to keep each session quick and provide time to work. The LID site also includes links to presentation materials and suggestions for future PD for those who want to extend their learning.
It is unfair and inaccurate to judge just how effectively my district’s LID day accounts for all of Knowles principles until during and after the session. The follow three principles cannot be determined yet and should therefore be the priorities of the facilitators when designing and implementing their specific professional development session.
- Adult learners are motivated and self directed.
- Adult learners bring life experience and knowledge.
- Like to be respected.
- My goal for this blog post was to be reflective rather than to judge or evaluate. However, I am curious to know if and how my district intends to assess how effectively the learning from the LID is implemented into instruction.
- I keep reading that effective professional development is ongoing. How could the LID be extended?
ACU (Australian Catholic University). (n.d.). Retrieved January 27, 2017, from http://www.acu.edu.au/staff/our_university/faculties/faculty_of_health_sciences/professional_practice_resources_for_supervisors/interprofessional_resource_library/Facilitating_Learning/knowles_principles
CAV: January 13, 2017. (n.d.). Retrieved January 27, 2017, from https://sites.google.com/lkstevens.wednet.edu/learningstrategiespd
Functional Adult Literacy (FAL) – Training Manual: Unit Two: Facilitating Adult Learning: 2.1 Characteristics of Adult Learners and Qualities of a Good Instructor. (n.d.). Retrieved January 27, 2017, from http://collections.infocollections.org/ukedu/en/d/Jh0414e/5.1.html
LSSD Professional Learning Portal. (n.d.). Retrieved January 27, 2017, from http://lifeinthetechlab.com/LSSD/plp/
Professional Development: Key Differences. (n.d.). Retrieved January 27, 2017, from http://nelearn.myelearning.org/mod/page/view.php?id=423
Those in the profession of education are all too familiar with buzzwords, those bits of jargon that often come and go as topics of conversation and professional development. While these words can often feel a bit exhausting, one that has seemed to stick, and for good reason, is “differentiation”. Since I started studying the pedagogy of teaching, differentiation has been at the core of most of my learning . Educators are tasked with understanding how to modify the content, process, and product of instruction to meet the needs of individual learners (Carlson). If we understand that this is a fundamental component of effective teaching, it is safe to say that instruction should be differentiated for all learners, regardless of age level, experience, or background. Therefore, effective professional development for teachers must be differentiated so that it is valuable, effective, and efficient for everyone.
This is no easy task. In a classroom, a teacher may have around 25-30 students that they see every day as they teach them one, or a few, subjects. In this scenario, differentiating instruction is often an ongoing challenge. Contrarily, opportunities for professional development are much less frequent and, depending on the school, there could be 50-100 (or more!) educators who all teach different subject areas and grade levels. How can professional development be molded to meet the diverse needs of educators?
What’s Wrong With Professional Development As It Is?
Finding a comprehensive list of tips on differentiating professional development was a bit of a struggle, but it was easy to find a ton of commentary on what currently isn’t working in professional development opportunities. One of the best resources, the Center for Public Education’s “Teaching the Teacher’s: Effective Professional Development in an Era of High Stakes Accountability” findings report, offered a clear idea of why most professional development is ineffective. They looked at the types of professional development offered to teachers over the course of a year. They found the following:
This information is concerning because, “most development happens in a workshop-style model which research shows has little to no impact on student learning or teacher practice” (Darling-Hammond et al., 2009). Workshops, the report suggests, are ineffective because, in contrast, professional development programs that impacted student achievement were lengthy and intensive, but workshops are often only over the course of a day or two. Workshops are not ongoing and there is rarely any follow-up. Additionally, workshops assume that the issue teachers face is a knowledge gap and once they learn a few tips they will be much improved. In reality, the struggle is in implementing instruction. So, while a workshop may help educators gather resources, they must then have the opportunity to observe and practice good teaching in action (Gulamhussein, 2013). This report goes on to offer some excellent tips for creating effective professional development. While I highly suggest anyone in the education profession to check out this report, its focus is not directly on differentiation. In what follows, I use this reports tips for effective professional development, along with a few other resources, to provide an idea of how to differentiate professional development.
Tips for Differentiating Professional Development
- I found this topic really interesting, but as it’s one I’ve only just begun exploring, my resources were mostly introductory. I would like to find more resources that get a bit deeper into differentiating professional development.
- Most of the information I found suggests that professional development be differentiated in the same ways we differentiate learning for K-12 students. This makes sense, but are there other resources to consider when teachers are the learners?
Professional Development and Project Evaluation Mind Map
I created the following Coggle Mind Map based on my reading of Chapter 2: Evaluating and Assessing Professional Development from Sally Zepeda’s book Professional Development: What Works. I will be using this learning throughout the quarter as I continue to look at what makes professional development valuable, effective, and efficient.
Carlson, A. M. (n.d.). What is Differentiated Instruction? Retrieved January 12, 2017, from http://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-differentiated-instruction-examples-definition-activities.html
Gulamhussein, A. (n.d.). Teaching the Teachers. Retrieved January 12, 2017, from http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Staffingstudents/Teaching-the-Teachers-Effective-Professional-Development-in-an-Era-of-High-Stakes-Accountability/Teaching-the-Teachers-Full-Report.pdf
Guskey, T., & Suk Yoon, K. (2009, March). What Works in Professional Development? Retrieved January 12, 2017, from http://www.k12.wa.us/Compensation/pubdocs/Guskey2009whatworks.pdf
Project Evaluation Report. (n.d.). Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State, 1-87. Retrieved January 11, 2017, from http://www.k12.wa.us/CurriculumInstruct/WA-TPL/pubdocs/2016-WA-TPL-Evaluation-Report.pdf
Zepeda, S. J. (2012). Professional Development: What Works. Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education.
Zdonek, P. (2016, January 15). Why Don’t We Differentiate Professional Development? Retrieved January 12, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/why-dont-we-differentiate-pd-pauline-zdonek
At the start of the quarter,
Triggering Question: How can a peer coach effectively self-assess and gather feedback from others in order to grow as a coach and ensure that the feedback is accurate?
For my final blog post of the quarter, I chose to combine my exploration of how to best gather and share feedback in peer coaching with the resolution to my peer coaching experience.
Feedback vs. Evaluation
The infographic below represents the difference between feedback and evaluations. I thought that it was important to distinguish between these two terms before looking further at the place for feedback and evaluation in peer coaching opportunities. It appears feedback is much more effective at encouraging growth, and is therefore more appropriate in peer coaching. Evaluations, while useful in determining areas of growth, are best suited for conversations between administrators and individual teachers.
Feedback in Peer Coaching
Question from Liz: Would you use this type of evaluation/feedback to plan PD for coaches or to collect data to advocate for adopting a peer coaching practice at the school/district level? What do you hope to learn from the feedback and how will you share it and who with?
- Conversation between the coach and the learners.
- Feedback form to be completed during, rather than after, the peer coaching session.
- Conversation between the coach and administrators.
- Conversation between the coach and other instructional coaches.
Reflection on My Peer Coaching Experiences
Feedback vs. evaluation (http://phoenixmed.arizona.edu/sites/default/files/content/facdev/rehman-512014.pdf)
Peer Coaching plan (http://www.pkwy.k12.mo.us/inside/programEval/file/Peer%20Coaching%20Process%20Outline.pdf)
Peer Observation Checklist (https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/48/e7/04/48e704e4f29c026819125c6c83225ab1.jpg)
One major “ah ha” moment I have had during my master’s program research in digital education leadership is that good teaching is good teaching. By this I mean that many of the best practices we use in our K-12 classrooms are equally effective when creating professional development for teachers. This quarter, my cohort has had the chance to look deeper at peer coaching and I recently had a similar “ah ha” moment; good coaching is good coaching. Specifically, efficient coaching strategies for educators are, at their core, very similar to those used in other fields of work. I have used this perspective most recently as I have conducted research for my module 4 triggering question:
What are a few essential resources to add to my “peer coaching toolbox” that will help create valuable conversations while ensuring I don’t come across as critical?
Asking “what makes a great peer coach” without limiting my search to only educational coaching led me to countless resources, some gems and some that were easy to pass by. As my intention is to create a “toolbox” of peer coaching resources, my resolution to my research was to synthesize some of the best information I came across into a document (shared in the “resolution” section). While sifting through resources, I attempted to really focus on the second part of my question, “[to choose tools that] create conversations that don’t come across as critical”. What follows is only the start to my peer coaching toolbox and I intend to build on it as I learn and gain more experience.
Peer Coaching Toolbox
Overview of Resources
Since most of my peer coaching toolbox is made up of resources created and shared by others, rather than simply created by me, I didn’t think that a quick link in the “references” section gave due credit. Below I include a brief overview of the resources I used to create my comprehensive toolbox.
- EDTC 6103 Course Materials: this quarter it has been a bit difficult finding resources that top those provided by my professors, David Wicks and Les Foltos. All that they have provided is already part of my toolbox, but for the sake of this module resolution I tried to narrow down to just a few resources that I found most valuable in general. Some which I included are the learning activity checklist and tips on listening and asking probing questions.
- Peer Coaching Resources: this resource was a gem and exactly what I was looking for to help address my question! This was actually created by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services and, as far as I can tell, is for nurses, specifically those working in nursing homes. That being so, I still found that just about all of these resources are equally relevant to peer coaching for teachers, or most professions. I liked that they included several ready-to-use resources and among my favorites were ones on setting goals, establishing a clear plan for peer coaching, active listening, and activities for reflection and seeking feedback. While not included in my toolbox, I really appreciated that they included a document that lists common peer coaching roadblocks along with solutions. This is something I would like to develop later on!
- How Google is Making Work Better: This episode of the podcast The Hidden Brain talks with Laszlo Bock about how his research on a successful workplace, outlined in his book Work Rules has been applied at Google. In this episode, Bock and host Shankar Vedantam discuss leading theories on what creates an effective work environment.
- What Makes a Good Sports/Fitness Coach: when I looked at how to be an inspiring coach, I came across many resources for sports/fitness coaches. While I didn’t come across many tangible items to add to my toolbox, I did appreciate that many of these resources seemed to focus on encouragement, positivity, and the attitude of the coach, which seemed a vital point to consider when selecting other resources.
Future Questions or Inquiries
- What resources am I missing? Is there an element of peer coaching that is totally neglected?
- I started this module intending to look at questioning strategies for peer coaches. I ended up straying from that topic though because I feel like that’s already been done by many of my classmates and there are some good materials in our course documents. In the future, this is something I would like to revisit.
- I want to look a bit further into how to include feedback and reflections into peer coaching opportunities.
Goldburg, A. (2016). SPECIAL: What makes a GOOD COACH? Retrieved November 27, 2016, from https://www.competitivedge.com/special-what-makes-good-coach
How Google’s Laszlo Bock Is Making Work Better. (2016, June 7). Retrieved November 27, 2016, from http://www.npr.org/2016/06/07/480976042/how-googles-laszlo-bock-is-making-work-better
Peer Coaching Resources. (2015, August). Retrieved November 20, 2016, from http://www.alliantquality.org/sites/default/files/Peer_Coach_Resource_508_FNL.pdf
Quinn, E. (2016, April 5). 9 Qualities of a Great Sports Fitness Coach. Retrieved November 22, 2016, from https://www.verywell.com/what-makes-a-good-coach-3120792
Reeder, E. (2011, March 4). Retrieved November 20, 2016, from http://pimarsc.pbworks.com/w/page/37053775/LessonActivityChecklist
For the past four years I have taught an English support class for students who need a little extra help being successful in school, and particularly in reading and writing. While I typically change up my lessons each year, hoping to grow off of successes and missed opportunities, one unit that has remained mostly intact revolves around having students create SMART goals (detailed in the additional resources below). The task is simple–they make an academic SMART goal that they want to work to attain for the school year. They get frequent opportunities to reflect on their goal, discuss character traits that one might need to reach a goal, and they can revise and edit their goal as the year progresses. Ultimately, it does not matter whether or not they meet their goal, but having a clear idea of what to work towards helps students maintain clarity and focus on how they want to progress through the year. I was thinking about this project as I began to consider my question for this module, which was…
What is a SMART goal for a secondary level peer coach based on 21st century learning? What are the components of this goal and what resources are available to help attain it?
As I find myself in more peer coaching opportunities, I feel like I have way too many goals–listen better, don’t interrupt, help others take risks, create an environment for taking risks, and on, and on, and on. While there is nothing wrong with being aware of areas for improvement, these “goals” can seem a bit too vague or unspecific and leave me feeling overwhelmed as they aren’t exactly attainable. So, this week I chose to take some time to make one specific SMART goal for myself as a peer coach, which I will reflect on and edit as I progress. Additionally, I included five specific steps I will take to reach my goal to help have a more specific idea of how to move towards achieving it.
Moving Towards Coaching: My SMART Goal and Coaching Norms
As I previously mentioned, I teach a unit on writing SMART goals. Below, I have included the presentation that I use to introduce SMART goals to students.
21st Century Learning
I had intended to create a resource that took a deeper looking into the P21 Framework for 21st Century Learning. However, when I started my research I quickly learned that anything I had to say would be redundant as there is already so much great information out there. One particular article I enjoyed reading was by Jennifer Gonzalez titled “Buzzword Bling: Putting Subtance Behind our Big Words”. In it she explains that many belileve that teaching 21st century skills means teaching with technology, and while technology is a part, it is not the whole. She explains that “we must also include life and innovation skills along with the traditional core subjects” and to do this we need to “step away from notes and lectures and build experiences” (2016). To understand the P21 framework more completely, I am also including the infographic from the P21 site, which lays out each component.
- How can I effectively reflect on my goal over time? How can I ensure it will continue to grow as I grow as a peer coach?
- How do the 21st century learning standards relate to the ALA standards for the 21st century learner?
Bernard, S. (2008, December 03). BookmarkCollaborative Crusader: Creating a Twenty-First-Century Learning Community for Teachers. Retrieved November 4, 2016, from https://www.edutopia.org/collaboration-age-technology-lisa-huff
Gonzalez, J. (2016, July 17). Buzzword Bling: Putting Substance Behind Our Big Words. Retrieved November 04, 2016, from http://www.cultofpedagogy.com/buzzword-bling/
Partnership for 21 Century Skills (P21). (2007). Retrieved November 4, 2016, from https://www.imls.gov/assets/1/AssetManager/Bishop Pre-Con 2.pdf
Standards for the 21st-Century Learner. (2016). Retrieved November 04, 2016, from http://www.ala.org/aasl/standards/learning
“Leap, and the net will appear.” (Zen saying)
This fall I began my fifth year of teaching, a milestone in many ways. While I am still at the beginning of my career, I am no longer a “new” teacher. I have greater confidence in my instructional strategies, classroom management skills, and collaborative relationships. I no longer have slight dread while wondering how am I going to make it through the year but now find myself asking how can I shape myself into a phenomenal educator? As I have been wondering this, an answer has presented itself in my module one explorations for my digital education leadership program. This quarter, my cohort is looking at the role of peer coaching in the professional learning environment. While my learning has been very general so far as I am just delving into this dynamic topic, it is clear that great educators are shaped by great educators. So, if I am to become great and help others do so as well, I must work to create an environment that successfully integrates peer coaching into professional development.
I start this exploration with a strong advantage as I get to learn about peer coaching from Les Foltos, an expert on the topic and one of my professors for the quarter. In his book Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration, I was struck by how frankly Les explains that creating a successful environment for peer coaching requires educators to be extremely vulnerable. In his introductory chapter he explains that, when confronted with a peer coaching opportunity, the learning partner hears, “my coach is asking me to open the doors of my classroom and to demonstrate want I know and what I don’t know. My coach is asking me to take risks and make mistakes in public” (Foltos 2013). While I am eager to get into the intricacies of models for peer coaching, this point stopped me in my tracks. It made me realize that, before I can understand what meaningful peer coaching looks like, I must first look at what elements are essential to establishing an environment where peer coaching can happen. Without a safe learning environment, educators will not feel comfortable being vulnerable and therefore cannot open their doors to peer coaching opportunities.
What is essential to creating a successful environment for peer coaching?
As is often the case, when I began exploring essential elements of a successful peer coaching environment, I was met with an overabundance of information. After skimming through multiple blog posts, educator resources, and scholarly articles, I started to see many overlapping ideas and decided that, rather than reinvent the wheel, I would synthesize my findings into a comprehensive list. Below are what I found to be the leading tips on creating a successful environment for peer coaching.
What topics relating to peer coaching will I explore in the future?
All that I have learned this week has been both fulfilling and overwhelming. Now that I have gotten to dive into the topic of peer coaching, I am aware of how much great information there is out there to explore! Since this week’s blog post only scratches the surface, I wanted to take a moment to mention a few ideas that have started to spark in my head which I would like to look at deeper in the coming weeks.
- Now that we have created an environment where peer coaching can be successful, how do we get teachers to “open their doors”?
- What is the role of an instructional coach?
- What behaviors and strategies should an instructional coach master in order to be effective?
- My school district currently has nine full time secondary level instructional coaches. How are their roles defined? What are the next steps my district is taking to create an environment for peer coaching?
- How can we make time for feedback and reflection more valuable in professional learning opportunities?
Aguilar, E. (2011). Four Conditions Essential for Instructional Coaching to Work. Retrieved October 06, 2016, from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/four-conditions-instructional-coaching-elena-aguilar
Dupree, O. (n.d.). What is an Instructional Coach? Retrieved October 06, 2016, from http://piic.pacoaching.org/index.php/piic-coaching/what-is-an-instructional-coach
Foltos, L. (2013). Peer coaching: Unlocking the power of collaboration. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Gonzalez, J. (2016, September 25). How Pineapple Charts Revolutionize Professional Development. Retrieved October 06, 2016, from http://www.cultofpedagogy.com/pineapple-charts/
Gonzalez, J. (2016, March 20). How to Plan Outstanding Tech Training for Your Teachers. Retrieved October 06, 2016, from http://www.cultofpedagogy.com/tech-training-for-teachers/
Guest Post: Who Sits In the Big Chair? Reflections on Building Collaborative Partnerships with Teachers. Retrieved October 06, 2016, from https://yourinstructionalcoach.com/2016/09/07/guest-post-who-sits-in-the-big-chair-reflections-on-building-collaborative-partnerships-with-teachers/