For our community engagement project this quarter in EDTC 6105, my cohort members and I were worked with coaching partners to develop peer coaching relationships. Through these peer coaching relationships, the goal was to collaborate with a coaching partner to improve a lesson of their choice. In order for this coaching partnership to be successful, I first needed to work to foster a trusting relationship with my coaching partner. Through this experience, learned the importance of building this foundation of trust, grew in my understanding of the roles learning coaches assume in peer coaching, and how to effectively implement a coaching plan. Below I have shared my experiences moving through the phases of this community engagement project and my reflections on what I have learned as a peer coach. To protect the confidentiality of my coaching partner, a vital component of peer coaching relationships, I have removed the names of those I worked with.
Phase 1 – Creating a Coaching Plan
To begin phase one of peer coaching, I met with my Assistant Head of School to discuss the coaching partnership I would be engaging in. In meeting with my Assistant Head of School, she offered insightful advice on her experiences with coaching and ideas of how this work could align with our school’s goals and the goals of my coaching partner. In selecting a coaching partner, I had an idea of a colleague in mind who I have supported in the past and who has shown an interest in wanting to collaborate more to improve his instruction. My Assistant Head of School and I connected to discuss ways she felt I could best support him and shared growth goals he has shared with her previously. I then met with my coaching partner and worked to fill out the coaching plan listed below. This coaching plan was filled out together in our first coaching meeting and was a useful tool in probing questions, guiding him to share his goals for student learning, and helping to begin identifying potential technology tools for integration. While in the end these goals changed from the final lesson improvement we collaborated on, using this coaching plan proved to be beneficial in helping to navigate our initial coaching connection and focus the conversation on student learning.Community-Engagement-Project
Phase 2 – Meeting with my Coaching Partner
When my coaching partner and I met a second time during phase two of this project, we had continued our conversation about the learning goals my partner wanted to focus on as we collaborated together. My coaching partner identified that he wanted to improve student engagement for his 2nd graders (for students learning both in-person and remotely) and learn more about technology tools he could use to support the delivery of his mathematical content. In this coaching meeting, he shared that he was experiencing challenges with teaching mathematics simultaneously with students who were both learning in-person at school and remote from home. Our school had made the transition to offering families a virtual opt-in choice and he was experiencing difficulty with student engagement in mathematics and wanted to design lessons that were more interactive. During this coaching conversation, I practiced using paraphrasing, active listening, and asking probing questions to understand my coaching partner’s ideas for increasing engagement and improving learning outcomes. At the end of our meeting together, we decided that the goal would be to enhance a math lesson using Nearpod, which would support student engagement in-person and remote, and increase collaboration by allowing the lesson to be interactive. My coaching partner also tasked himself with wanting to spend time exploring Nearpod before we met again, to gain a better sense of its capabilities as an effective digital tool.
Phase 3 – Co-planning a Lesson
During phase three, my coaching partner and I met again to discuss the development of his lesson ideas and goals for improving student learning. As we began this coaching conversation, my coaching partner shared with me that since our last meeting he had shifted his thinking around a lesson he wanted to co-plan. Instead of focusing on mathematics, he shared that he instead wanted to co-plan and social-emotional learning (SEL) lesson. My coaching partner shared several different reasons for wanting to make this shift. At this moment I was reminded of an essential component of peer coaching, which is that the coach doesn’t have the agenda, the coaching partner does. As a peer coach, it is my responsibility to move with my coaching partner, adjusting and navigating the coaching session to best fit their needs. This phase of my community engagement project was very humbling in letting go of where we had planned to go with the peer coaching and recognizing where we ended up. In reflection, this turned out to be an incredibly important and successful pivot for my coaching partner and resulted in a meaningful coaching experience for him. After we transitioned to focusing on this new SEL lesson, we used the Learning Design Matrix to identify an area of improvement. My coaching partner shared that he wanted to focus on building an engaging task, and we then worked to fill out the Co-Planning Learning Template with ways to improve this lesson.Cory-Colin-Co-planning-Learning-Document
Phase 4 – Lesson Improvement
As my coaching partner and I met during phase four, we worked to fill out the Lesson Improvement Template (shown below) and outlined details about improvements to the SEL lesson he chose. This SEL lesson focused on students learning and practicing the process of giving and receiving compliments. My coaching partner and I developed improvements to the lesson and creating engaging tasks by thinking about the connections this lesson has to the real world and helping students to improve their communication and collaboration. By using the Lesson Improvement Template, we worked to identify learning objectives and plans for assessing student learning, as well as outlining directions and instructions to provide to students and for teachers to use. In addition to working to improve the lesson, my coaching partner and I added in an engaging task by extending the learning beyond the lesson and offering ways to connect learning with families at home. Lastly, we developed strategies for integrating and implementing technology tools to enhance these tasks and provide opportunities for students to be formatively assessed on their learning.Cory-Cummings-M4-Lesson-Improvement-1
This peer coaching project has provided me with an incredible opportunity to learn alongside my coaching partner and grow in my ability to be an effective coach. My coaching partner will be teaching the three parts of his improved lesson over the next week. I look forward to connecting with him afterward to hear about how the improvements to this lesson strengthened student engagement. Additionally, it is my hope to continue our coaching relationship and collaborate together to improve other lessons in the future.
As a learning coach, what are your experiences supporting teachers through the coaching cycle? What has been successful for you as a peer coach? Please share your thoughts and experiences, as well as any feedback or questions you have, in the comment section below.
Foltos, L. (2013). Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration. Corwin.
Foltos, L. (2018). Learning Design Matrix. Peer-Ed, Mill Creek
ISTE Standards for Coaches (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches