At a recent conference, I was fortunate enough to attend sessions led by Steve Barkley, focused on building a culture of coaching. There were many great ideas shared, but I will reflect on two key take-aways.
1. Everyone working in the school should be observed once a week and receive feedback.
One of my biggest goals for this year, as the K-5 Learning Coach, has been for teachers to observe other teachers. Through Learning Rounds, Lab Sites, and coaching cycles, teachers now open their doors, and welcome observations from their colleagues. At the end of Learning Rounds, my favorite part is the reflective discussion, in which teachers share feedback with each other, ask questions, and develop next steps.
Yet, Steve Barkley is implying that everyone in the school should be observed and receive feedback. Everyone? Yes, everyone! This means that I should be observed weekly and be receiving feedback, too! Asking teachers to observe me and share feedback would help establish trust and build relationships as I put myself in a vulnerable position and show that we are all learning and growing together. I’m also excited to observe and be observed by my fellow coaches. I can’t believe we didn’t think of this before!
2. The most skilled and professional educators should be coached the most.
This was an eye-opener! Why would the most skilled educators need the most coaching? As Steve Barkley said, it is to provide options that will move good, or great, teachers to be the best! This will also establish a culture in which all educators are learning and growing (and failing) together, no matter how successful or experienced you are. Teaching is a challenging profession, but that is what makes it so rewarding and exciting!
It seems ironic that I have become a much better teacher since I have been a coach. This is because of all the amazing teachers I have had the privilege to observe on a daily basis. It is also a result of the engaging conversations I have had with educators about pedagogy and best practice. It is my responsibility as a coach to ensure that all teachers have that same opportunity to learn from each other.