Sunday, January 13, 2013

Learning Communities: Coaching Meetings?

What are the similarities and differences between a parent meeting and a coaching meeting?

Oftentimes a conference is a chance for the teacher to present information about a child, and for family members to ask questions.  Many teachers invite students to run their own conferences as a way of sharing their performance strengths, challenges and goals.

In thinking about learning communities and the needs of families as part of those communities, I'm wondering about the addition of coaching meetings.

The quick response from educators and perhaps parents too might be, Another Add-On!  Where's the time? Before reading any further, know that I believe in restructuring school roles and responsibilities so that the day is reasonable, more targeted and as successful as possible for student learning.

What led me to this thought was the fact that what often stands in the way of young children's success is unanswered questions and underutilized resources.  Parents may not feel comfortable asking some questions and may not know about tools that can help their children succeed well.  Teachers may not have the time to respond to family's needs for questions and coaching on a regular basis as well.

How would coaching meetings run?

First, family members or educators would schedule a coaching meeting when necessary. The meeting would include family members, student and educators.  The meeting could be scheduled for simple matters as well as complex matters.

During the coaching meeting the following actions would occur.

  1. Family member(s), student or teacher would present a topic that the student is interested in and/or struggling with.
  2. There would be a conversation with the following questions:
    1. The student would be asked to explain why he/she thinks is interested in and/or struggling with that area.
    2. The child would be asked how he/she thinks the problem could be solved.
    3. The teacher and or family members would ask more questions until the problems and potential solutions are understood.
    4. Then all would brainstorm possible strategies for solution.
    5. After that the teacher would introduce and review tools, strategies or practice that have been suggested. The child and family members would have a chance to practice those strategies at the meeting
    6. A clear, concise plan would be made with a follow-up date to meet and discuss results.
Again, there's no way that most educators can implement such a plan at this time due to the current structure of schools, but in this information age, we may find that putting the time in upfront to meet with families and students to converse, strategize and learn about the best practices and tools will serve to lay a prosperous, engaging independent path of learning for the child.

Further, as we look at models of learning communities i.e. the intersection of families, community members, educators, support staff and students, how can we best use our time to bridge the gap between knowing and unknowing of essential skills, concepts and knowledge for student learners.  The coaching meeting may be one positive aspect of this journey.  What do you think?