Why Coaching Counts
As we end the inaugural year of Coaching Counts, we felt it was appropriate to take a step back and reflect on this year of hard work. So, why DOES coaching count?
We know teacher professional development is one of the most impactful strategies to improve child outcomes, but “professional development” can come in all shapes and sizes. A significant proportion of professional development endeavors are unsuccessful in changing teacher behaviors because they are too short-term, provide vague or disjointed content, or are not linked to classroom practice. Evidence also suggests that coursework alone is not enough to bring about substantial change in instruction or teacher-child interaction. An effective coach changes the game. Effective coaching is grounded in inquiry, collaborative, sustained, connected to and derived from teachers’ work with their students, and tied explicitly to improving practice.
How does coaching differentiate itself as effective professional development? We’ve identified several key indicators that highlight the uniqueness of coaching and predict its success in changing teacher behavior. Effective coaches:
- acknowledge teachers’ philosophies in an effort to fit new information within existing attitudes and beliefs. In other words, a coach is a personal bridge between the old and the new, helping a teacher incorporate new behaviors without feeling overwhelmed or threatened by them.
- provide clear linkages between theory and practice. Coursework can impart a body of research on the importance of early phonological awareness on later reading ability, but where does a teacher go from there? A coach can translate this gravity into relatively manageable practices that are known to satisfy this significant need. Effectively communicating that big problems can be addressed with manageable solutions goes a long way in changing teacher behavior.
- use interactive, hands-on approaches to adult learning. Successful coaches understand how adults learn new practices, and so rarely is it out of a book. Sustained modeling and co-teaching are more highly effective strategies of making teachers comfortable with new concepts, and thereby changing their behaviors.
- provide opportunities for feedback and self-reflection. Acknowledging successes, providing constructive critique, and guiding teacher self-reflection ensure the quality of teacher practice by reinforcing effective behaviors and redirecting others.
- help keep the focus on students. Learning the theories and seeing demonstrations of quality instructional practices won’t necessarily lead to better child outcomes if the teacher is not attuned to the needs of her students. Coaches promote an awareness of opportunities for responsive interactions with students, and coaches can help increase a teacher’s awareness of how well children are responding to her teaching through reflective questioning.
In a nutshell, an effective coach builds expertise in research-based practices that result in enhanced instructional practices, improved teacher-child interactions, and greater numbers of children ready for school. So from the managers at Texas School Ready!, we thank you so much for your hard work this year. And from the editors of Coaching Counts, we will see you next year!
- Friday, May 30 is the deadline for submitting Collaborative Coaching video reflections.
- End-of-Year Surveys were released on May 15 for TSR teachers and administrators through email. Please encourage your teachers and administrators to complete the online surveys. These surveys help us plan for next year.
- TSR Coaches, we look forward to seeing you at two events in Houston: the Remote Coach Feedback meeting on June 9 and at the CIRCLE Training of Trainers (T-O-T) on June 10-12. See you soon!
- The 4th Annual Texas School Ready! Early Childhood Summer Institute is taking place in San Antonio on July 9-11, 2014. Registration is full but we do have a waiting list - click here to register and join the waiting list: http://www.texasaeyc.org/institute14/registration/
- We will be hosting a TSR Coaching Camp in Houston in August for our coaches. Look for more information coming soon via email!
- We hope you have a wonderful summer! See you next year!
The next Coaching Counts newsletter will be launched in September 2014.