For the past two years, my family and I have returned to Canada to spend our Christmas holidays with our extended family. What surprised me about returning home during the winter was not adjusting to the cold, but instead it was my learning curve. Since being away from winter, a lot has changed. The internet exploded, fax machines disappeared, and cars now have anti-lock brakes. This certainly made driving much easier. Technology also made skiing easier. When I left Canada to work in Mexico, snowboards were still not allowed on most hills. No one wore a helmet and the skis themselves were very different. Even though I grew up skiing all of my life, I booked some time with a ski instructor for some lessons. I needed to relearn how to ski using the new fancy parabolic skis. Thanks to a great ski coach and some new technologies, I was back skiing … possibly even better skier than before. What enabled me to experience immediate success? It was the coaching provided by my ski instructor — specific, timely feedback that provided very clear goals.
On the ski hill and in sports, coaching works. More and more teachers are adopting a workshop model for literacy instruction that enable them to coach readers and writers. Schools around the world are recruiting for a variety of instructional coaching positions — learning, literacy, math, science, cognitive, instructional, technology, etc. There has certainly been a great interest in the professional learning model that might be described as coaching; and for good reason. The coaching model is an incredibly powerful form of professional development. Jim Knight, from the University of Kansas Coaching Institute, shared the following on the chances of teachers implementing new instructional practices.
- Workshop on the new skill – 10%
- Workshop with modeling – 12-13%
- Workshop, modeling, and practice – 14-16%
- Workshop, modeling, practice, and feedback – 16-19%
- Workshop, modeling, practice, feedback, and coaching – 95%
It’s a no brainer. Coaching and coaches have the potential to make a HUGE impact on learning, both for students and teachers. So I find myself wondering, how can schools and educators take advantage of this great opportunity? What role do coaches and coaching play in your learning and your school?