By Ellen Eisenberg

By Ellen Eisenberg, Executive Director of The Pennsylvania Institute for Instructional Coaching (PIIC)

Monday, September 21, 2015

In the August 2015 issue of JSD, Learning Forward’s Director of Communications, Tracy Crow, reminds us that learning from one’s colleagues makes quite a difference in the “take aways” from those conversations. Whether formally or informally, the professional dialogue that emerges from conversations with one another helps to collectively problem-solve and to think “out loud” about problems of practice. These conversations are truly learning moments when colleagues share ideas, ask questions, reflect on practice, and focus on learning… one’s own learning.

When talking to my colleagues about what they value the most in a coaching relationship, the opportunity to talk to colleagues without fear of admitting their own weaknesses surfaces as the most valuable asset in the partnership. They readily acknowledge that their teaching peers have a wealth of information and are incredible resources in the learning environment. They recognize that gathering the collective wisdom from a group of experienced practitioners scaffolds their own learning and improves their practice by virtue of listening, sharing, collaborating, and discovering new ideas.

Instructional coaches are instrumental in creating environments that foster collaboration and long-term professional learning.  They help create a culture of change in learning communities and reinforce the notion that professional development is critical for school wide improvement and must be sustained. While not experts, coaches bring colleagues together so they can form partnerships, establish a critical friends’ learning group, and reflect on effective practices. They help their colleagues internalize what they learn and build on those ideas so that the learning becomes cumulative.

As a coach, what are some of the ways you can help your teaching colleagues take advantage of the greatest learning environment around… your building?

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