In preparation for the final project, this week I wanted to think about how I can apply what I have learned over the past 5 weeks to an existing model of coaching at my school, namely the Leaders Of Learning teacher development programme. Again, I found Jill Jackson’s article 4 Simple Steps to Your Successful Instructional Coaching model very useful.
Right now teachers are invited to join LOL, first as a mentee then as a mentor. However, as the article mentions the issue with this is that invitation only coaching won’t catch those who really need it. Its important that all teachers are included and therefore the coach or programme leader needs an ‘in’, a particular focus for whole school. This makes a lot of sense to me as it removed the ‘exclusivity’ of the programme and encourages all teachers to take a degree of responsibility in a particular focus area.
It also benefits the coach as I wondered how can you be the ‘jack of all trades’ in terms of supporting colleagues. The truth it there is no need to be once you are knowledgeable and skilled or have mastered your focus area. The quality of support is heightened too. I liked this quote a lot;
‘Credibility leads to relationship. And relationship leads to trust. And trust leads to openness.’
Jill also mentions ‘going for the win‘ ie focussing on those who are close to mastery of the focus area. Which I think is how our LOL programme works. Those who are currently very good/outstanding teachers are identified and are invited to join. This may be an area for development as they are sharing with other teachers close to mastery themselves so the expertise isn’t shared with those who may benefit the most. Again, another reason why it should involve all teachers.
‘Teachers Teaching Teachers’
I was struck by the title of this article as I believe it is what we are trying to achieve with our LOL programme but it requires reflection and refining. I loved the idea of PLCs, Professional Learning Communities, within schools. As our LOL programme is by invitation only with a hierarchy of mentee/mentor it encourages an underlying assumption of exclusivity which can demotivating for those who may never be invited to join. If the development programme involves all teachers, they can choose where there area of expertise lies and become a leader in a specific PLC, motivating them to develop their skills in this area to master it so they can share that knowledge with others in the PLC who have joined because they are not confident in that area. Why not be a member of a couple of PLCs? For example, a teacher who identifies themselves as good at using higher order questioning in class may be the leader of a Questioning PLC while being a member/learner in another PLC where they have identified themselves as requiring development, eg a particular app/verbal reasoning in Math lessons.
In our school there are ‘What Works Well’ workshops but again, it is the same teachers from the LOL programme who run them quite often.
The most challenging part of this would be ensuring that this newer model doesn’t feel like ‘extra work’ for teachers, or take up a huge amount of their time. Therefore, it would be crucial to ensure that those coaching listen to the suggestions of teachers. And more importantly use this to reflect and refine their own practice in the development of the programme. This week I have a meeting with my principal and I would like to ask him if there is a reason that the whole school are not part of the programme we have and what other challenges leadership faces with such a programme. I intend to use the info I get from him to edit my plan for the final project.