Teaching and learning coaches in schools

At this weeks district Principal’s meeting we heard a report from one of DEECD’s appointed teacher coaches working in our local public schools. She spoke about frustrations over the system’s need for accountability data  verses the need to just do it with people and I understand both view points. Her report perhaps in my view laboured the point about confidentiality between the coach and the teacher.

While I agree about the need to respect a person’s personal disclosures I was a little disappointed that the culture of instruction being a public act was not an an explicit underpinning of the support. We are all working to improve or strengthen our instructional capacities – or should be.

I heard from our secondary colleagues that coaching was a really powerful tool to improve instruction when teachers are all working in more open and flexible spaces where de-privatisation was more an expectation or norm of working. Coaching in this setting promoted collegiate dialogue about teaching and learning generally and individual feedback on what work might occur in the coming weeks to strengthen or initiate new strategies and skills.

However my secondary principal’s colleagues comment  about open spaces was really encouraging as we at Elsternwick Primary are discussing transitioning into new open and more flexible spaces, at least the 5/6 teachers in this phase. 

All this also affirms a comment a teacher made at this weeks staff meeting during session 3 of learning to use protocols when looking at student work: “its about sharing knowledge about teaching and learning”, ” using protocols reduces the time coming to that realisation yourself” [about what an individual or groups of students need to do next in their learning].  Session 4 of learning to use protocols when looking at student work is in two weeks after the years 5/6 camp. I’m really looking forward to these sessions as teacher volunteers take on the teacher presenter and facilitator roles.

I must say when I heard the comment relayed by the coach made by one of her teachers that no one had entered her classroom for 25 years I cringed – where have our instructional leaders been – and I include principals in this group.

So perhaps the model of coaching I’m pondering about is really instructional coaches. All this makes me even keener to visit all classrooms on a fortnightly basis [includes walk throughs] and perhaps do a course in cognitive coaching.      

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