Thursday, September 13, 2012

Peer Coaching Has Potential to Radically Tranform Instruction at Any Grade Level

Teaching in the 21st century is at a major turning point.  Whiteboards, paper and pencil are still the major tools of most classrooms with a visit to the computer lab once or twice a month.  These "traditional" approaches are not working.  ELLs (1 in 5 in California alone) continue to fall further and further behind with ever growing dropout rates.

So how can schools reverse this trend and ensure that every child who enters public school has equal access to the content?  How can schools raise the graduation rate to acceptable rates (high 90%)?  How can schools guarantee that EVERY child will have life choices thanks to the education received in public school? 

As noted in this excellent webcast, professional developments are not enough.  Teachers spend a day or two listening to lectures and then have some time to discuss lessons/lesson planning.  Then the workshop is over.  Teachers return to class and continue doing what they have always done.  This does not mean that they don't want to try new and different types of lesson delivery.  Rather, without help/support, they don't have the time with 165+/- students to instruct every day.

Well, here is where peer coaching comes in.  Teachers don't need to be told what to do.  Rather they want to collaborate with a peer and, in that relationship, explore different strategies to make student learning more effective than it currently is.  Coaches, with training in key instructional strategies, can be that sounding board.  Communication is safe since coaches are peers.  They do not report to administration what they observed in the classroom.  Teachers can feel safe as they try to re-evaluate their teaching practices with a good listener who knows when to chime in and how much to say.  After all, telling teachers what to do never works.  Instead, a good coach guides the conversation to be one of discovery--that is the suggestions for change come from the teacher being observed.

There is so much more to say here (remember that I am a coach---it is now my 3rd year in this capacity and I am still learning).  Let the video take over.  It is excellent!




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