Intentional Leader: The Joy of Giving Back

08 Mar

Monthly Theme: Legacy

Week 2


When I think of building a legacy, in the professional sense, I see our school division successfully able to build one via our Learning Coaches program.

Our Learning Coaches are now in their second year of implementation at all of our school sites. Their role is to facilitate job-embedded and ongoing professional development for teachers. They help identify, model and share promising practices related to inclusive education. (For further information, see Alberta Education’s Exploring Learning Coaches in Alberta 2010 publication.)

We also have specific expectations set up which include our five commitment statements, goals, daily work, results, interactions, engagement, reporting and evidence of success as seen below.



Move from …

  • The idea of fixing students to the idea of improving environments
  • Dependence on staff (teachers and EAs) to focus on independence
  • Special Education to ALL students being special
  • A deficit model of thinking to a strength based model of thinking
  • Having high expectations for some to having high expectations for ALL

Each of these ideas are located along a continuum.  Historically, in education, we have been more on the left  side of the continuum and over the last decade we have been moving towards the right side of the continuum.  These statements are an explicit declaration to our commitment to inclusion.


In relevant and meaningful ways all students will learn, contribute and be active members of their learning community in the most inclusive and enabling environment. The ultimate focus is student learning.

DAILY WORK (of the coach)

With both individual teachers and/or groups of teachers the coach can:

  • Support collaborative work at the school – solution focused – are growth agents
  • Model lessons
  • Observe students and provide feedback (identifying instructional needs)
  • Facilitate lesson study or other professional learning structures
  • Promote reflection
  • Support joint problem-resolving efforts
  • Assist in planning – curriculum,  environment, supports (technology, human, and other)
  • Team teach
  • Participate as a member of the school-based success team
  • Facilitate data conversations to improve instruction (common assessments, PATs, DIPs, etc.)
  • Supply resources with follow-up reflection (relevant, meaningful, research-based and “learning appropriate” information and resources )
  • Promotes continuous learning experiences (asks questions, researches possibilities, seeks a variety of options)


RESULTS (benchmarks)

  • Number of teachers engaging with the coach and the frequency of contact
  • Types of supports that are accessed


  • Coaches and Principals should meet a minimum of once a month
  • Consideration should be given to additional meetings at start up, reporting times and year end
  • Discussion is focused on the following:
  • types of supports provided
  • trends and themes the coach is observing
  • number of contacts with teachers
  • supports that the coach needs (PD, helping the coach reflect on their role, troubleshooting, etc.)

**Individual teacher performance is not a topic of conversation


  • All teachers will work with the coach; how they work with the coach is flexible.
  • Individual conversations
  • In PLCs or grade level meetings
  • In classroom or outside of classroom


  • A minimum of two times per year the coach reports to staff general data about numbers of teachers they worked with, trends and themes, types of supports provided and additional supports that could be provided.­


Intentionally, coaches and Principals gather ‘good news’ stories and new learnings (testimonials from teachers) to be shared regularly with staff – What is Coaching doing for the staff and students?

As well, our Learning Coaches and Administrators read through an amazing article written and shared to us by Joellen Killion entitled, Are You Coaching Heavy or Light?, at the beginning of this school year. This article really dug into the ‘meat’ of what we would like to see our Learning Coaches working on with staff.

My role is working with the Learning Coaches to support their work at their school sites, to offer professional learning opportunities during our monthly meetings and to engage in thoughtful dialogue with them as they continue their work with staff. So far, this year has been incredible to watch these Learning Coaches truly work with staff to build their capacity, to network with each other (some Learning Coaches have different skill sets than others) and to share this learning on our PSD70 Learning Coach Blog.

This program, I believe is leaving a lasting impact and I hope this will continue despite the Alberta governments’ financial squeeze on educational resources.



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