Instructional coaching is very popular these days, and it should be, because when done correctly, it can have a huge impact on learning. Teachers who work with instructional coaches on a regular rotation, rather than attending a one-day conference, can retain up to 90% of what they learn (Knight).
Because educational coaches work with a teacher on a co-constructed objective… or an objective that a teacher must choose alone. Imagine that? Trust teachers to find their own purpose for instructional strategies or student learning (Knight), and have a colleague who will help them find the best resources and maybe even model what the instructional strategy should look like .
That’s not to say conferences aren’t worth going, because events like edcamps can be very powerful. However, when a coach and a teacher work together on a co-constructed goal, they will invest more in making everything work.
Unfortunately, teacher coaching does not work in all districts that adopt it. Not because educational coaching doesn’t work, but because of how it’s implemented. Coaches are sometimes placed in the position of being responsible for complianceand other times they are used as an assistant manager because the building manager doesn’t understand coaching or they are in crisis mode without an assistant manager and the coach fills that role.
Other times the coaching doesn’t work because the test results are out and they’re low… so the superintendent decides the coaches should work one-on-one with the students instead of allowing the coaches to create opportunities to empower all teachers so they can have more impact on students.
And unfortunately, coaching doesn’t last in a district because the school district is seeing their budgets cut or they’re running out of grants, and can’t sustain the coaching program regardless of the impact it’s having on the school. teaching and learning.
Focus on growth
Often when I train instructional coaches for Jim Knight, there are coaches who get the most out of teachers. Even teachers who may suffer from low levels of self-efficacy (Bandura) and do not believe they can positively impact students. Coaches help these teachers find their strengths and build teacher collective effectiveness around the building, which John Hattie found has an effect size of 1.57.
But coaches also have a blind spot in their own coaching role. They often believe that their only job is to help teachers have a greater impact on students, which is certainly part of their role, but not the only one. Coaches need to understand the impact they or they have on teachers, then provide evidence of this impact to their building level or to the central office administrator.
This is a topic I’ve covered before, as it comes up a lot in training programs, but I haven’t always been able to find something that helps support coaches in this way. Jim Knight has many forms, which you can find here below “Chapter Resources“, and they have been very useful for coaches and teachers to understand their impact. They can be used for quantitative and qualitative purposes.
Kick It goes up a notch!
As school districts search for additional resources to help understand their impact, I found one that may be beneficial. Recently I came across a company called KickUp. Created by former educators, KickUp helps coaches, school leaders, and district administrators understand, demonstrate, and increase the effectiveness of their professional learning efforts with teachers.
KickUp uses a combination of technologies and services to:
- automate the collection and analysis of feedback
- provide, in human language, meaningful next steps for coaches
- monitor and visualize the progress of support efforts over time
- easily track the connection of resource allocation with educational impact
- connect central office, curriculum department, PD office and classroom with a common language and communication flow to ensure alignment
For full disclosure, I am not a paid Kick-Up spokesperson. I’ve had several tutorials around the tool because I know that school leaders, coaches and teachers are looking for many ways to understand their teachers’ impact on student learning and the impact of their coaches over the teachers.
Also, Kick-Up is not free. This is a paid service as they not only offer an easy-to-navigate online system, but they also provide one-on-one support for leaders, coaches, and teachers.
As former teachers, the founders of KickUp do not want their tool to be used for evaluation. They designed it to give teachers a voice and tighten the feedback loop between administrators, coaches, and the class. Of course, as with any improvement tool, to use KickUp effectively, the school climate must be one of transparency and continuous growth.
At the end
Instructional Coaching is extremely beneficial to teachers when done in the spirit of what Jim Knight has been studying for decades. For it to provide the maximum benefit, coaching should consist of two adults working in partnership, and the coach and teacher should learn from each other.
As instructional coaches and teachers look for ways to show the impact of the coaching program on student learning, they need tools that will help them show their current reality and deliver the results at the end of the coaching cycle. Kick-Up certainly helps provide the proof of impact that coaches and teachers are looking for.
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Creative Commons photo courtesy of Geralt.