Peer Coaching

How can teachers use robust, respectful, professional dialogue to share their learning and bring out the best in each other while also building the quality of their relationship?

You will discover the answer in this Peer Coaching Program, designed for pairs of teachers who are already working collaboratively and who seek to extend their practice – in John Hattie's words, become "learners of their own teaching".

 

This is the preliminary online part of the program. Here, you will learn all you need to know before starting the fieldwork and the following face to face session. This part includes:

 

 

Introduction

About this course

How can teachers use robust, respectful, professional dialogue to share their learning and bring out the best in each other while also building the quality of their relationship?

You will discover the answer in this Peer Coaching Program, designed for pairs of teachers who are already working collaboratively and who seek to extend their practice – in John Hattie's words, become "learners of their own teaching".

This is the preliminary online part of the program. Here, you will learn all you need to know before starting the fieldwork and the following face to face session. This part includes:

  • A brief introduction to coaching and the GROWTH model
  • Bringing skills of listening, questioning and paraphrasing to conversations about practice
  • Exploring a model to make meaning of classroom observation data
  • Demonstration of coaching conversation with the GROWTH model
  • Reflections of coaching demo
  • Practice conversations
  • Summary and Next Steps

Please, watch the introductory video

Activity: Observational feedback

Recall an experience of being observed and receiving feedback.

  1. What was positive from the experience?
  2. What was challenging?

Please, answer in the space below and use your notebook to take some additional notes.

Read me: Observational feedback

Read me: Program outline


This program is underpinned by considerable research into adult learning and how teachers learn best. Like parenting, where we take it very personally, if people give us advice of what to do, advice on your teaching can be taken in an equally personal way. Therefore in teaching, feedback needs to be given in a highly respectful way which recognizes not only the professional capacity but the personal commitment of the teacher. 

In this program you will learn how peer coaching uses evidence to have goal focused conversations which lead to professional growth and better learning outcomes for students.

Activity: Begin with the end in mind

 1. Suppose it is 3 months from now. You have been successfully implementing your learning from this workshop.

  • What will you notice about others?
  • What will you be noticing about yourself using coaching to support teacher practice? 
  • What difference will that make?

 

2. Given where you want to be in 3 months, what would be one key takeout you would like to walk away with?

Please, answer below and take some additional notes in your notebook. You may need to recall them during the face to face workshop.

 

 

Session 1: What is coaching?

What is coaching? Introductory video

 

Activity: What is your own definition of coaching?

Please, write your answer in the space below. 

 

Lesson 1: Coaching definition

For the purpose of this program, our definition of coaching is

A one-to-one conversation focused on the enhancement of learning and development through increasing self-awareness and a sense of personal responsibility, where the coach facilitates the self-directed learning of the coachee through questioning, active listening, and appropriate challenge in a supportive and encouraging climate. (Christian van Nieuwerburgh)

Lesson 2: Mentoring and coaching

What is the difference between coaching and mentoring?

Please, watch the video and read the text below to find the answer. 

 

Example

Imagine you have attended a Professional Development Course to learn a new method of  print-making. If you are coached in your implementation of the new skill when you return to school, there is a 95% chance you will implement it



In summary...

Coaching is about helping to create awareness around a topic and allowing the coachee to take responsibility for taking action on it.

Lesson 3: Why coaching

 

Lesson 4: The 3 elements of coaching

At Growth Coaching International we believe that effective coaching requires three elements.

  • Firstly, a coach needs to have a process that they follow during the coaching conversation. 
  • Secondly, that a coach needs to have coaching related skills
  • And thirdly that the coach demonstrates a particular way of being.

We see these three elements as fundamental to a good coaching conversation.

In the following lesson we will start by looking at the process, GROWTH, and afterwards, we will look at some of the necessary skills of coaching.

Lesson 5: The GROWTH Model

Watch this video to learn about the GROWTH model.

 

Lesson 6: Coaching observation

In these videos, you will have the opportunity to observe a coaching session. 

Please, as you observe, record some of the questions related to each step of the model and anything else that you notice (i.e. non-verbals and body language) on your notebook. 

 

 

Activity: Be prepared for peer coaching

Think of a lesson that you’ve taught in the last few weeks that really pleased you.

What pleased you about it?

  • Your preparation?
  • The response of the students or perhaps one particular student?
  • The “flow” of the lesson?
  • The energy in the room?

Please, write about this lesson in the space below. 

Then take some notes in your notebook and bring them to the face to face session.

Take a break

 

Session 2: What is peer coaching?

What is peer coaching? Introductory video

 

Lesson 1: Peer coaching definition

Peer coaching defined

Peer coaching is a staff development model you can use to help you and your partners develop and try new strategies and determine what does and does not work by critically evaluation your own beliefs about teaching and learning.

 

Peer coaching is built upon trusting relationships and develop between teachers. It is based on mutually working together to improve teaching skills in order to improve student learning.


Lesson 2: Why peer coaching?

Why peer coaching?

“Teachers who were supported by coaching used a wider variety of teaching strategies and kept students more actively involved in lessons than colleagues who had only participated in workshops”Collaborative Professional Development has a more positive effect when there is “…emphasis on peer support and coaching rather than leadership by supervisors.”

Cordingley, P., Bell, M., Rundell, B., Evans D. et al. (2003). The impact of collaborative CPD on classroom teaching and learning. How does collaborative ContinuingProfessional Development (CPD) forteachers of the 5-16 age range affectteaching and learning? London: Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre (EPPI). University of London.

Activity: Peer Coaching and Other Forms of Coaching

Please, think and answer the questions in the space provided below.

  • What do you see as the features of peer coaching that distinguish it from other forms of coaching?
  • What do you see as the potential of this approach for your personal growth as a classroom practitioner? 

Lesson 3: What makes peer coaching work? Trust as key for all forms of coaching and mentoring

 

Activity: True or false?

  • What makes coaching work is a mixture of trust, quality learning conversations, partnership principles and dialogue.
  • According to Bryk and Schneider (2003) trust is a key skill of coaching but not a vital part of the learning relationships.
  • Personal integrity is the consistency between what people say and what they do.

In summary: Building trust

In summary, coaching is about helping to create awareness around a topic and allowing the coachee to take responsibility for taking action on it.

Before you move forward, please, think and answer this question taking some notes in your workbook. 

  • What am I currently doing that ensures I am seen as being trustworthy? 

Lesson 4: Learning conversations focused on work

Self-directed professional learning

The expectation that teachers will work collaboratively is consistent across schools and sectors. Some systems have an explicit statement directing this, for instance: Professional learning is collaborative, involving reflection and feedback (not just individual inquiry).

Teacher professional learning opportunities should relate to individual needs but be organised around collaborative problem-solving. Organised in teams, educators take collective responsibility for solving the complex problems of teaching and learning and improving student outcomes. Teams share knowledge, expertise and experience, in order to deepen learning and to foster a mutual understanding of effective classroom practice. Teams create the conditions for collegial reflection and support and help to spread workloads more evenly.

Constructive, objective and actionable feedback on teacher practice is important for targeting areas where a teacher needs to improve his or her performance and for the purpose of designing professional learning opportunities that address areas for improvement.

Competent, experienced teachers, school leaders or an expert sourced from outside the school can also provide teachers with feedback on their professional learning. For example, feedback from a trusted peer on the operation of a professional learning team.

Source: Principle 4, Professional Learning in Effective Schools, Victorian Department of Education

This list summarises the key features of learning conversations based on the work of Louise Still and others.

Repetition and practice. Learning conversations are not one off and they should become habitual.

Attentive listening is key skill of coaching that we will look at later in this course.

Positive relationships are essential and we will also look at this in more deep later.

Challenge beliefs is perhaps something we are not used to doing, both with our owns beliefs and with others'.

Encourage reflection. This is essential to making meaning by drawing on prior knowledge and experience.

Create new knowledge. A key outcome of learning conversations is moving from tacit to explicit knowledge. 

Lead to action. The conversation is purposeful and intentional -the goal is action.

Learning conversations are different from “normal conversations” because there is a specific focus or motive for thinking and talking.

Let’s consider two definitions of learning conversations:

“The way educators make meaning together and jointly come up with new insights and knowledge that lead to intentional change to enhance their practice and student learning”  (Louise Stoll, 2010)“A planned and systematic approach to professional dialogue that supports teachers to reflect on their practice. As a result the teacher gains new knowledge and uses it to improve his or her teaching”.  (General Teaching Council for England)

Activity: Learning conversations

Consider what you have learnt about learning conversations and answer these questions below. 

  1. When have you had these types of conversations?
  2. What new insights did you gain from the conversation?
  3. What did you do as a consequence of the conversation? 

Activity: Meet with your partner

We have all had experiences of working effectively with colleagues. How can we make these working relationships even better? To make Peer Coaching valuable we need to establish “partnerships”.

Partnership is stronger than “the land of nice”. Partnership is an authentic, collaborative relationship.

You are asked to complete this activity with your peer between this online workshop and the following face to face session. Please, arrange 30 minutes to meet with your peer and to answer the following questions in your workbook (page 9).

  1. Think in your best ever working relationships. What made them effective?
  2. What would be in place for a partnership to work?

 

Finally, please, comment briefly, in the space provided below, the result of the meeting with your partner.

Take a break

Session 3: Preparing for peer coaching conversations

Preparing for peer coaching conversations: Introductory video

 

Lesson 1: What is peer observation?

Peer observation

Peer observation if for self-evaluation and development. It offers first-hand experience and direct evidence about what happens in classrooms. It is a very practical and powerful way to support your practice and knowledge about teaching and learning.

Peer observation involves one teaching observing another colleague’s practice and feeding back, in a reflective way, what they observed.

It is about trust and support between colleagues so that the observation is mutually productive. It works best when colleagues choose to work together.

Versions

There are different versions of peer observation, but most include these 3 steps:


  1. Pre-observation conversation
  2. Observation & data collection
  3.  Post observation conversation

Please, watch an example of a peer-observation conversation in this video.

 

Activity: Reflect and decide

Before the peer observation process, you will start by deciding what you want to know about a specific area of your teaching practice that is impacting on students' learning.

  • How do you know that this is impacting on your students' learning?
  • What is telling you this? For example, a small number of students in my class are not using paragraphs in their writing.
  • How do I know that this is impacting on their learning?
  • What evidence do you have? For example, class and grades assessments in which that group of student showed little progress.
Reflect on this and take some notes in the space below. Then copy the answers in your notebook and bring it to the face to face session.

Lesson 2: Peer observation process

There are different versions of peer observation, but most include these 3 steps.

Coaching works like a bookend for this process.

 

Activity. Fieldwork setup: Preparing for our peer coaching conversation

Fieldwork set-up: Preparing for a peer coaching conversation

Preparation is the first part of a pre-observation conversation. Based on Temperley's model we suggest starting with the following questions related to students' learning needs. Please, write the answers in your notebook. 

Defining the focus

  • What are the students' learning needs that could inform your professional learning need?
  • How do you know? (Evidence)
  • What will you like to be different in your teaching?
  • What will you choose as your focus for classroom observation?

What data needs to be collected?

  • Qualitative or Quantitative 

What observation tool will you use?

  • Scripting, eg. Transcribe interactions between teachers and students 
  • Counting, eg. Percentage of students who respond to questions 
  • Tracking, eg. Teacher movement map 

How do we best work together to make this classroom observation work? 

Which standard and which focus area is the observation related to?

 

Once these questions have been answered, the next step is to agree on the date for the observation and to maintain confidentiality at all times in the peer coaching process (what you see, hear and record).

If you had to define the focus answering to the first four questions, what would be your answers? Please, reply in the space below.

Lesson 3: Observation tools

There are great advantages of having your partner in the room observing as lots of things can be picked up by being in the room. However, you also need to focus on what your partner has defined as their chosen focus.

Once a teacher has identified a focus for observation, she/he then has to determinate the date she/he would like her/his colleague to collect as evidence for the focus.

The next question is around how the data will be collected –what tool will be used. Consider three observation tools:

Scripting

The method requires observers to transcribe interactions between the teacher and students.

For example:

To script the questions the teacher asks, the responses students give, the interaction among a small group of students, or the dialogue between the teacher and certain students

Scripting engenders a wealth of details and so is relevant to nearly every observation focus area.

Counting

Counting methods let observers capture a high-level view of one particular element of the classroom.

For example:

A teacher may use counting to examine the distribution of class time. The number of questions she/he asks at each level of Bloom’s taxonomy, or the percentage of students who voluntarily respond to questions.

Tracking 

Tracking can also help illustrate patterns in a classroom. An observer may use tracking methods to collect data on movement in a classroom.

For example:

Recording on a map of the classroom the movement of a teacher during the lesson, or of a student during transition time.

Activity: Observation tools ideas

1. After considering the tools (eg. Scripting, counting, tracking) which one does your partner wish YOU to use when observing them? The tool needs to be relevant to the focus area your partner has with shared with you. Note the tool being used in the space provided below.

2. Does your partner need to provide you with this tool for you to be able to undertake the classroom observation? If so have you agreed when they will provide that to you?  Take some notes in your notebook.

Activity: Bring for feedback

Fieldwork

1. Observe your partner using the focus and tools you agreed upon.

2. Put the data in an envelope and seal it.

3. Do not look at it or talk about it. Bring to workshop. In day 2 you will be shown how to give feedback and how to move to action.

This has been the last activity of this online course. Please, before you leave, use the space below and write two or three sentences explaining what have you learnt about peer coaching. Thanks.

Final video

Follow up resources


Australian Institute for Teaching and Learning website 

Videos, infographics and other resources.

Further readings

Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. (2014). Classroom Observation Strategies. (Videos, infographics and other resources).

Dolci Grimm, E.; Kaufman, T. & Doty, D. (2014). Rethinking classroom observation. Educational Leadership, 71, 8.

Queensland Government. Department of Education and Training. Mentoring and coaching models