Sunday, July 6, 2014

Conference Day 1: Coaching Skills

Following the Maryland College and Career Readiness Conference, and am continuing to try reflect on the eight sessions that I attended. 

Staring the session, there was a distinction established between being a mentor and being a coach. The main separation between the two roles is that an instructional coach primarily asks prompting questions that are meant to empower teachers to solve their own problems, while mentors primarily consult teachers and work to problem solve for a mentee. 

This was an important distinction, as most of the participants serve as coaches meaning to empower teachers. There are three stages of coaching that shift the approach of the coach. The first stage is a standard coaching relationship where the teaching is the main actor in the problem solving process. The second stage, which may be utilized depending on the level of capability of the teacher, is a collaborative relationship where the coach and teacher are working together to get through a problem. The third stage is meant to be a last resort where the coach takes on a consulting relationship with the teacher. This third stage is very similar to serving as a mentor. 

The idea behind the distinction in the three stages of coaching is to provide a structure for coaching that is flexible based on the teacher's needs. 

The most important skill that effective caches possess is being able to listen well. This took the session into a focus on determining what time of listener we are, so that we can better listen to teachers in order to better attend to their concerns. The key focus was to make sure that full attention and effective listening takes place no matter who the speaker is. In order for us to be effective coaches, the teachers need t know that we are listening fully, and devoting undivided attention to their needs in the moment. 

From being an effective listener, the focus went towards being able to paraphrase effectively so that the teacher knows that you have accurately listened and understood their problem. The main ways to paraphrase depend on how well you as the listener understood what was said. The coach can either acknowledge and ask for clarification, summarize and organize the information, or shift the conceptual focus appropriaty to a productive way forward. The important feature of each method is to affirm for the teacher that their concerns have been heard and you are ready to help them work out a solution. 

We had the opportunity to practice our coaching on a hypothetical dramatization of a teacher. This was a great exercise as it put us in the shoes of a coach trying to help possibly difficult clientels.  After engaging in this practice I realized that, just as with students, if teachers do not see the need for change and growth none of your suggestions will really help them. They need to own the process. 

After attending this session, my goals moving forward Into this year are to build trust from my colleagues and to improve my listening skills to better support teachers in ourcollective shift to new curriculum, strategies, and technologies.  

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