Get Off Your Island

During our Cognitive Coaching class this week, all of our current instructional coaches are taking this course, we were to focus on an issue that was making us “stuck”.  For me this was easy, I was “stuck” on how to develop the last round of professional development times with our teachers that was going to involve teachers looking at how they are using technology in the classroom.  Due to scheduling issues we will not be able to all meet in person so this is a great time to do some blended learning.

The part that was making me stuck was that this idea, of evaluating our own use of technology, is so important that we definitely should be doing it but the “stuck” part was “how”.  We could make it mandatory or we could give people the option, and then face the fact that not a lot of people would do this if they did not view it as important.  The AHA moment came when I was being coached and we clarified my goal, not to make sure everyone did this, but to make it compelling enough that people will want to do it.  Too many times we face bouts of professional development where we are forced to be there and have no desire to learn or grow in relation to the topic at hand.  By making it a compelling activity, teachers will take more ownership and the coaching relationship will not be damaged.

This idea of making something compelling should not have been hard for me to get to, especially after reading “Teach Like a Pirate” by Dave Burgess.  In the book, he discusses how we can increase engagement and learning by focusing on improving various aspects.  By focusing on passion, immersion, rapport, asking and analyzing, transformation, and enthusiasm, we can create a learning experience that is effective and is one that our students want to be part of.  This book is definitely a must read for teachers out there and you can find a good number of people discussing the book or talking about how they are implementing what they learned by searching for #TLAP on Twitter.

My mindset was not correct when I was thinking about this last activity and it was through coaching that I was able to adjust my mindset and be able to plan for a more successful activity.  Even though I already had some knowledge that should have helped me, thanks to TLAP, I needed some coaching to help me get past this “stuck” moment.  There is a reason why our district has instructional coaches and why so many other districts are implementing them, coaching can be very helpful if we make use of it.  Too many times we, as teachers, try to survive on our island because it is what we are used to.  The idea of coaching can seem foreign and too different for many because they are so used to their island, but getting off that island is the best thing we can do for ourselves, and our students.  As teachers we should be model learners and this means knowing that we are never done learning.  Coaching can help us learn how to be better through the conversations and reflections that we have together.  Instructional coaches are not here to consult but to help in these planning and reflecting conversations that can help us all get past our “stuck” moments and be better for our students.

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