By Ellen Eisenberg

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

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Two weeks ago, the PIIC mentors met for their two-day statewide mentor meeting. They collaborated and designed a variety of professional development sessions that would be implemented throughout the year at their local, regional, and statewide professional learning conferences. This year, the focus is on “The BDA cycle in practice.”

You may remember reading about the BDA cycle of consultation in previous blogs: the “B” or before session is where the coach and teacher or group of teachers discuss and co-construct the agreed upon “look fors” as well as decide what the teacher’s and coach’s roles are when the visit takes place; the date and time for the debriefing are also scheduled at this time. The “D” or during session is the actual visit; this is the data collection stage with a list that was generated in the before session. The “A” or after session is the time for debriefing. This is where the coach and teacher reflect on what they saw or did (during) and align it to what they planned (before). Depending on the roles, both the teacher and the coach give/get feedback. This is where beliefs are discussed and ultimately where professional practice is changed.

In reality, not every teacher has the luxury of meeting his/her coach for each of the three sessions every time they work together. Every effort, however, should be made to meet for a complete cycle at least once or twice a quarter. When the full cycle occurs, the coach and teacher engage in a 3-pronged cycle that is collaborative, confidential, collective, and communal. Many part time coaches have blended their approach to the BDA cycle. They plan using an electronic tool, e.g., google docs, Crocodoc, NineHub, Wallwisher, or other collaborative tools when they do not have the opportunity to meet F2F. Unfortunately, there is no substitution for the “D.” A coach and teacher need to see each other in the classroom. That visit is the basis for the debriefing in the “A.” The conversation in the “A” can sometimes be virtual using Skype, google hangouts, GoToMeeting or similar tools.

Don’t let the shortage of time prevent you from meeting with teachers in planned and intentional ways.


How do you blend your approach and follow the BDA cycle of consultation in your coaching?

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?