Blog on the 8/19 peer coaching session.
On August 19 fifteen teachers meet on a very hot and humid day in Lewiston Maine for a peer coaching session. It was the first session we had had since Laurie Clarcq met with us in January to train us in the “Coaching from the Heart” process that she developed in which teachers who “practice” are ONLY given positive feedback on what they did that was good TCI practice and what they did to help students learn.
As I outlined in a previous post, the process included a coach, a coach on deck, a panel of “students” and a panel of “observers.” The coach asks a series of questions to the teacher. The coach on deck makes notes on everything the coach did to help the teacher. The students give feedback on what the teacher did to help them learn. The observers tell the teacher what they saw that was effective in helping students learn.
The session was tremendous! More than a few teachers commented on how it was, by far, THE BEST professional development that they ever have as a teacher.
The incredible power of the process is that over the course of the day everyone gets to see all of the teachers do things that are effective. If one teacher does something that is not so effective or even wrong, you can be sure that before the day is over, someone will demonstrate that skill better or in a more effective way.
I learned many things from the session:
- I learned the how much more effective it is to tell the students to motion or indicate when I as the teacher am not being understandable or comprehensible. I have always told the students to tell me when they don’t understand. We discussed as a group how students would be more likely to indicate that they did not understand if it were clear that the responsibility was mine as a teacher to make myself understood.
means as a way to limit English on my part.
3. I was so impressed by how the board was completely clear after one of the teachers had finished teaching. He took only one
structure and did write anything besides that one structure for the entire lesson. That was so clear and so powerful. The entire
focus for the students could be on that one structure.
4. I was reminded of the “fuego artificiales” - how the teacher leads the students in the “cheer gesture” in the form of fireworks…
I asked the group at the end of the for some feedback/thoughts on the “Coaching from the Heart” process. Here is what members of the group said:
- Focusing on the what I am doing “right” is a nicer way to grow than to be told what I am doing wrong. Nice to be given the opportunity to grow by watching and taking away what one is ready to grasp. That is how I want to grow.
- Observing is SO powerful
- My experience is that any feedback you give is taken positively. Peer coaching allows me the opportunity to see what other do and see that it is what I do - that is reaffirming
- Coach and Coach on Deck are vital roles - we must train teachers for our students
- Training others as coaches is vital so they can take it back to their school and train their teachers. TCI depends on good teaching and good teaching depends on good coaching.
- It is a bit uncomfortable hearing positive b/c I am so apt to browbeat myself. Teaching is such a difficult job - I feel so inadequate that to get affirmation offsets the negative voices.
- I supply enough negativity for myself. I treasure positive feedback.
- I think reading and attending workshops is helpful and necessary - but peer coaching puts you in the moment.
- The positive feedback seems so rare. It seems that everything in education (like the Danielson rubric which lists all the ways possible to screw up) it is so affirming to get positive feedback.
- I think watching other people teach lets me know what I am doing “wrong.”
- I was really reluctant to play the role of the teacher at the session in January until I saw the positive approach. I saw the “user friendly” process. The feedback makes me want to be the teacher.
- Very few circles understand what I do and how challenging it is. It is so affirming to hear people who know how to teach compliment me. Much more meaningful when a fellow WL teacher compliments me than if my mom or husband does.
- It adds a whole new dimension to relationships seeing colleagues teach and appreciating them in new ways.
I am so excited by what is happening in Maine and the momentum that TCI is gaining! Thanks again to Laurie Clarcq for training us and giving us the process, skills and training that we needed to bring our peer coaching session to the next level!