The Clarity of Coaching

At one point or another in life we’re all introduced to something new. Sometimes it’s things we want to learn about such as how to ride a bike, swim, or drive car. Other times, it’s things we might not be so “gong ho” about learning such as an algebra or chemistry equation, but we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do to keep moving forward. Think back to all of the “new” things you’ve learned throughout your life, particularly throughout your career. Did you ever learn those things on your own or did you have teacher, mentor, or coach helping you? More than likely, you were in a coaching relationship.

How can a coach help a teacher gain clarity? Marzano & Simms (2013) state that a coach can help a teacher move from virtually no knowledge about a specific element of effective teaching to adapting strategies related to that element for unique student needs (p.362).  According to Kovalchuck & Vorotnykova (2017), the main advantages of coaching relationships are for teachers to deliver natural potential, raise self-esteem, form creative thinking and approaches to solving problems and situations, mobilize internal abilities and potential as well as achieve career and personal goals (p. 217).

The students in today’s classroom have one common need that is unique for teachers to adapt their teaching methods to, instructional technology. I recently led a instructional technology coaching relationship with two colleagues. While our overall goal was to increase technology implementation in the classroom, we focused specifically on Google Classroom since it is the learning management system our school district utilizes. Marzano & Simms (2013) explained that coaches may encounter teachers with different levels of respectiveness to coaching in schools and districts where teachers are required to work with a coach (p. 368). I definitely found this to be true throughout my coaching experience because our teachers aren’t required to work with a coach nor do we have coaches readily available. During the planning phase of my coaching session model, I knew exactly which teachers to promote to because they had expressed interest and frequently reached out for assistance with instructional technology.

This was a teacher-initiated coaching system which is defined by Marzano & Simms (2013) as a teacher asking for a coach or when a teacher independently arranges to be coached by another teacher (p. 362). I used facilitated conversations and clarifying questions to identify and set technology implementation achievement goals for both teachers. In order to plan an efficient and effective coaching session, a instructional technology implementation evaluation was completed before hand. At the conclusion of the coaching session, a performance evaluation was completed by the participants to gauge the effectiveness of the session.

Before the training session, one teacher rated her overall comfort level of integrating instructional technology in the classroom as a 1 out of 5. After the training session, she rated her overall comfort level as a 3 out of 5. The second teacher showed little to no change in their comfort level, beginning and ending with a 3 out of 5.

When asked about their comfort level in utilizing Google Classroom on the initial instructional technology evaluation, both teachers ranked as a 3 out of 5 before the session. On the training evaluation survey, one teacher showed an increase from a 3 out of 5, to a 4 out of 5 while the other teacher remained at a 3.

According to Marzano & Simms (2013), one of the most important elements in determining the success of a coaching relationship is the level of motivation from the teacher. The ball is in their court now but our ongoing relationship allows them to take a time out when needed.  The participants have access to our very own class on Google Classroom where they can post questions, seek clarity, refocus or even share successes.

For further clarification on coaching, check out this YouTube video:

References

Edutopia. (2015, September 18). Instructional coaching: Seeding district-wide innovation . Retrieved from https://youtu.be/G0IrZ5jrvCo

Kovalchuck, V., & Vorotnykova, I. (2017). E-coaching, e-mentoring for lifelong professional development of teachers within the system of post-graduate pedagogical education. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, 18(3), 214.

Marzano, R.J. & Simms, J.A. (2013). Coaching classroom instruction. Marzano Research Laboratory: Bloomington, IN.

2 thoughts on “The Clarity of Coaching

  1. I absolutely love the fact that you created a Google Classroom for your participants in particular. I think that was a very innovative idea. I too find myself in a very similar situation as you. Especially in regards to teacher-initiated coaching. As you pointed out, Marzano and Simms (2012) place emphasis on the fact that with adaptive strategies teachers can move from no knowledge to effective teaching. For example, Knight (2018) agrees by stating, “Professional learning is more effective in settings where educators adopt a focused framework for instruction and target specific teaching practices that everyone will implement” (p. 93).

    Knight, J. (2018). Coaching to improve teaching: using the instructional coaching model. In Coaching in Education (pp. 93-113). Routledge.

    Marzano, R.J. & Simms, J.A. (2012). Coaching classroom instruction. Marzano Research Laboratory: Bloomington, IN.

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  2. I believe you are right. I never really thought about coaches in the teacher setting in my early years of teaching. I honestly don’t even recall doing many PD’s or training for new material outside of classroom management & school law. However, I see the rapid change in our profession due to the use of technology & how fast change occurs. Due to the rapid change, it is very important to introduced new training, curriculum or strategies that could be implemented in your teachings. Using Google Classroom in your training is a great way to demonstrate its use. I think a coaching resource where faculty members can call on and initiate a relationship even by themselves is a great tool and resource to have. Marzano and Simms (2013) state that “coaching also serves as a way to pass along knowledge that has been accumulated over time” (p. 3). All teachers have something they can bring to the table to improve schools. I am in agreement that teachers need ongoing professional development in technology use in the classroom, if they are to keep up in our changing world. If we continue to mold and guide our educators with the right resources, we will see the positive results and impact learning. Coaching will play a role in making sure teachers have the training they need. Marzano and Simms write that “coaching has a positive impact on teacher’s knowledge and skill” (2013, p. 7); and “when working together, a coach and teacher must establish a set of shared understandings and conditions that will drive the rest of their interaction” (2013, p. 19)

    Marzano, R.J. & Simms, J.A. (2013). Coaching classroom instruction. IN: Marzano Research.

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