By Ellen Eisenberg

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

Monday, November 16, 2015

Providing opportunities for reflection and dialogue is critical for effective instructional coaching. In fact, it’s critical for growth in any organization.

In the education world, many teachers have only experienced the ‘gotcha’ factor… an administrator walking into a classroom without any prior communication, “observing” a lesson or snapshot in time, and then sending a checklist of what should be done in the classroom without suggestions for specific ways to make improvements.

Instructional coaching can change that paradigm. Coaches work with teachers and their administrators so that a mutually agreed upon vision of school wide improvement is shared with staff members. They work with administrators and help plan a strategic way to address student needs as a school wide endeavor, not as a plan for individual teachers who may be experiencing some classroom challenges. They help administrators give appropriate feedback that is specific and actionable, descriptive and timely.

Coaches collaborate with their teaching colleagues to plan, visit, and debrief about what happens in the classroom. They give feedback to their teaching colleagues and they also get feedback from them. It is a mirrored approach where the coaches model the teachable moments with their colleagues. Their feedback is descriptive, non-judgmental, timely, and specific helping teachers to identify what worked well in the classroom and what instructional practices need to be strengthened.

Instructional coaches ensure that the teachers with whom they work do not feel overwhelmed, ignored, misunderstood, or undervalued. They collectively problem-solve with teachers and provide individualized, personalized classroom support to the teachers with whom they work. They don’t just “tell” teachers what to do; they work together and “show” how instructional procedures continually improve through dialogue, demonstration, and practice.

How do you provide feedback to the teachers with whom you work?

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