This strategy provides Instructional Leaders with a ready-made agenda, as well as supporting resources, for five different activities that allow them to reflect on progress made by a cohort of teachers being coached, set new goals for their coaching, and collaborate on the design of creative solutions to support the achievement of these goals.
The effectiveness of this strategy resides in its ability to push coaches to take an elevated view over the progress of a group of teachers they are coaching and to leverage the knowledge and experience of a coaches' Professional Learning Community (PLC) to identify solutions they might not have thought about on their own.
The same agenda can be used multiple times a year and continuously lead to growth.
Identify a group of colleagues with whom you'd like to create a Professional Learning Community (PLC) of coaches (reference the Establishing Goals and Roles for a PLC and the Building a Professional Learning Community strategies in the BetterLesson Lab to learn more). Identify times during the year when you could block time to meet to collaborate to analyze progress made by the cohort of teachers being coached and plan on adjustments to coaching. A good starting point would be quarterly meetings.
Make a copy of the sample three-hour agenda included in the resource section below. It was created to generate a five-step reflection-to-action process in an elementary school in Charlotte, NC, and it is replicable in any context.
Start your session with a simple 3-2-1 Reflection with the group. Ask group members to share in person or digitally:
3 celebrations of the work with the teachers they've coached so far, focusing on shifts, successes, and growth.
2 shout-outs for members of the coaching PLC.
1 early idea for growth moving forward.
Ask each member of the coaching team to place their teachers on a delight-engagement matrix. You can use the example provided in the resources section below. This tool will help team members estimate where their teachers are in relation to two important factors in success of the coaching relationship:
Delight: How excited teachers are to have you as a coach? Do they show up to the meetings consistently? Do they express satisfaction in what they tried thanks to your feedback?
Engagement: How engaged in the process of trying new ideas are your teachers? Do they test out new ideas and bring back evidence and reflections to your meetings? Do they welcome you observing them trying out new ideas? Do you see students making positive shifts in learning practices and overall growth?
Have participants brainstorm potential big ideas to move teachers toward the high delight, high engagement quadrant of the matrix.
One way to facilitate this brainstorm is to create three posters for each quadrant (that is not high delight, high engagement) and ask participants to brainstorm ideas for teachers in each quadrant. See the Carousel Discussion using a Graffiti Board strategy in the BetterLesson lab for more details.
Once these general big ideas for improvement have been extracted, give your teammates a moment to write down a few that resonate with them. Then, ask coaches to select up to three teachers they want to focus on during the GROW Consultancy Protocol (see the "GROW: 4 Steps to an Effective Coaching Conversation" strategy in the BetterLesson Lab to learn more).
This protocol, included in the resources below, will allow each team member to host a consultancy during which a small group of peers will listen to the specific case study of the teacher the coach selected and then ask probing questions and offer suggestions to help the coach come up with new ideas to improve the work with the teacher.
Wrap up the meeting by giving each participant the RAP template included below. It will push them to summarize reflections, goals, and new ideas for the teachers they focused on strategically supporting during the upcoming quarter.
Before doing the delight engagement matrix activity, take a moment to define with coaches the levels of delight and levels of engagement in teachers being coached.
Create a scale from 1 to 3 and engage the group in thinking about what each level would look like.
It will be interesting to compare what different coaches consider an engaged or a delighted teacher. This norming itself makes the activity already worthy of your time!
When doing the gallery walk brainstorm, push coaches to think about potential reasons behind a teacher being delighted but not necessarily engaged and vice versa. This reflection will help extract interesting ideas to boost engagement or delight for specific situations or profiles of teachers.
The GROW consultancy protocol can be used for many other challenges an individual faces. You might find yourself wanting to bring it to a teacher PLC, for example.
Seesaw can work well to support this collaborative activity by providing different ways to share with a group (drawings for the matrix, recording for the 3-2-1, etc…) via the blog function. It also provides a group of coaches with an interesting tech tool to generate a more student-centered learning experience in any classroom and at any grade level.