Put Me In Coach!

16 Apr

As John Fogerty sings, “I’m ready to play” in my head while Day 2 of the Leading Our Way Forward Conference continues, I remind myself that Day 1 was about change, so here goes Day 2 all about purpose and support.

Joellen Killion, along with John Clarke, spoke about establishing a school site and school division wide instructional/learning coach program. As our school division is beginning the journey to engage in an instructional/learning coach program, (Yes, we’re ready to play!) this day of the conference is an important one. Many questions still are being asked and this day will allow us to answer a few and surely come up with more!

What kind of benefits are found in hosting a coaching program? Some shared group thoughts were:
– the idea of ‘We”; coming together for a common goal
– shared knowledge
– reciprocal learning
– security to take risks
– being able to push people beyond their comfort zones in a safe environment
– trust, positive collaboration
– accessibility of support
– time is planned to observe, review, refine
– build self-confidence
– just in time learning

What are /could be some of the challenges? Our group asked questions moreso than answer the question with:
– How do coaches invite themselves into a school/classroom?
– How do you build those trusting relationships?

More reflections:
1) We liked the discussion about a coach having ‘expertise’ rather than being an exert. Having expertise has a more positive connotation.

2) Joellen encouraged us to start with the willing/the early adopters, not the ‘rocks’. These ‘rocks’ will not engage themselves until pushed. Once they catch on they will roll on board.

3) See teachers as facilitators of information for all students. A collaborative mindset will successfully and effectively move instructional coaching ahead. Joellen spoke of a school which entirely adopted the instructional coaching model for ALL staff. This allowed all teachers to move forward in their pedagogy – great discussions, collective responsibility and success for both students and teachers. In this way, goals can be easily established school-wide (not just for individuals), interaction with instructional coaching is positive from the start and accessibility to administrators and staff is seamless.
Coaching Roles and Responsibilities
There are a number of roles that instructional coaches play. Joellen gave us time to review them and then place a % beside the roles we have in our own professional work. I liked this activity as it gave me time to review the roles, see which ones I truly fit and how much of my time/effort is placed in those particular roles. It would be a good activity for any instructional coach to complete in the Fall and Spring to tie in to their professional growth plan and the work they are doing in school(s). Below you will see an outline of the roles presented as well as my pie chart outlining where I see myself right now. I also will be comparing this chart to a Fall 2011 that I will be completing – I look forward to blogging about its similarities and differences then!

Resource provider – sharing resources (websites, articles, instructional materials, readings, lesson/unit plans, assessment tools, etc.) for teachers and students.
Data coach – leading conversations that engage analysis of student data and use this info to strengthen instruction.
Instructional specialist – implementing effective teaching strategies (such as DI, critical thinking) appropriate for the school/classroom and share findings with colleagues.

Curriculum specialist – understanding content standards, how various components of the curriculum link together and how to use curriculum in planning instruction and assessment.

Classroom supporter – working in a classroom to help teachers implement new ideas by demonstrating a lesson or co-teaching or observing and giving feedback.

Learning facilitator – facilitating professional development opportunities with colleagues.

Mentor – serving as a mentor for novice teachers.

School leader – serving on committee(s), acting as a grade level or department chair,

supporting school initiatives or representing the school/division on community task forces/committees.

Catalyst for change – always looking for a better way through continual improvement; posing questions to generate analysis of student learning.

Graph was created from

Where is PSD going?
In my opinion, we need to start with answering three questions:
1) What is the purpose of a coaching program in PSD?

2) What are the goals of this program?

3) What are our plans for monitoring, reviewing and refining the program?

I look forward to the many conversations, reflections, frameworks and relationship building pieces that will come about within our school division over the next year. The research from Alberta Education, ERLC, our speakers from the Leading Our Way Forward conference and the sage advice from our colleagues will guide us to new support in how our school division guides the learning of its personnel and its students. It’s an exciting and challenging time in Education!

Put me in coach, I’m ready to play! (Are you too?)


2 responses to “Put Me In Coach!

  1. Jody Watson

    April 27, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    I too was at the “Leading our way Forward” and enjoyed the presentations.

    The idea of a learning coach in a school and division is a great idea but with budget cutbacks something that many schools and divisions will not see. But if we do look at the potential in it I think that with some time, support from both division and admin, that it could be successful.
    A learning coach would have to be someone that had developed trust with staff members. That is why I like the idea of a staff learning coach. Someone that has been in the trenches with the other teachers. Many schools don’t have the luxury of having one that they can go to on staff so then it becomes a question of how can someone that is not in a teacher’s inner circle build that trust (and build it quickly).
    As you indicated you want to start with the ones that are interested and build it on from there.

    Thanks for the post!

    • slitech

      April 27, 2011 at 3:24 pm

      Yes, I agree with your staff learning coach idea. Relationships are already in place and this coach could receive further PD to be able to continue the professional conversations (without breaking the school budget!). Within the Edmonton area, some future considerations for PD in this area would be with John Clarke and Laura Lipton (both available through John offers cognitive coaching (as per our time with him at #lowf) and Laura offers collaborative groups at work strategies.


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