Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Collaborative Coaching?

What is collaborative coaching?

Collaborative coaching occurs when educators from two diverse departments get together to plan, implement, revise and assess engaging, learning endeavor that integrates knowledge, concept and skill goals of a diverse set of content/process areas or expertise.

For example if a tech specialist and a classroom teacher engaged in collaborative coaching, the tech specialist would bring his/her experience and knowledge of technology while the classroom teacher  shares experience and knowledge of content and specific students. The two would work together to design, implement and assess learning focused on best effect for student learning.

In collaborative coaching, one is not the expert and the other the follower--instead the two or more coaches working together share knowledge and skill as the team plans and implements learning endeavor.

At times current coaching models are ineffective because one person may be seen as the consultant while the other person feels like they are doing all the work.  Friends of mine in a system other than my system comment about this often--the coach visits infrequently and brings a long list of "should's" and "have-to's" without any regard to what's really happening in the classroom or the teacher's level of knowledge, expertise and need.  It's an ineffective, costly coaching model.  Another friend told me a story of a coach who confided in her that the job was "much easier" than classroom teaching as he/she doesn't have to grade papers, bring work home or worry about the day-to-day teaching efforts.  Those kinds of attitudes don't engender respect or collaboration.

Instead, a collaborative coaching model would require all involved to be active in all aspects of learning endeavor from start to finish--all coaches would plan, implement, revise, assess, share, debate and plan next steps.  It would not be a leader-worker model, but instead a collaborative teaching model where the focus for all is moving students forward with learning success.

Where does a collaborative coaching model better replace the coaching models you have in place? Where does this not work as I know of coaches who devote considerable effort to build student skill and educator voice and choice--those are models that might not need change at all?

I continue to believe that most professionals in the school environment should have regular, direct responsibility for student learning.  Working with students regularly is what demands your best practice, thoughtful efforts and timely research and work--too much time away from students and their daily needs often makes one's efforts remote, ineffective and outdated. Collaborative coaching is one way to prevent this, and perhaps PLCs are the best venue for developing a collaborative coaching model.