Thinking back to my first year of teaching, I remember the first few weeks of school and asking myself---how could they have hired me---I really know nothing! Then I was quickly taken under the wing of a more seasoned teacher down the hall, and she helped me realize that as long as I had the intent to teach and teach well, then all would fall into place. I remember her saying, "They will know you are sincere and will strive to work hard because of your preparation for the learning." Luckily, I was a “hyper planner” and relished the prior planning before a lesson and also the reflection on what worked, what did not work, and how to do it better next time.
I left the traditional classroom 14 years ago and could not bring myself to “recycle” the tons of notebooks full of lesson plans until about two years ago—of course, I pulled a few favorites, “just in case." What do you have in your attic or garage? I wonder. Now, with resources such as Verizon Thinkfinity available and aligned to state and common core standards, new or veteran teachers have a great launching pad ready for their own individual touch and delivery style.
In my current role with the South Carolina Department of Education, I have put into place a peer coaching model across the state. I firmly believe that all teachers have strengths and weaknesses to be shared and improved upon for the benefit of a more satisfying teaching experience, and more importantly, for a successful learning experience for students. Our traditional model of teachers isolated in their classrooms is a disservice to both teachers and students.
Over the past six years, I have been training district based coaches in 44 different districts. The districts applied for competitive funds with district specific goals aligned to integrating tech effectively to improve teacher and student tech proficiency and increase student academic achievement. We have just wrapped up a year long grant with seven districts in the state. The approach this year was more aggressive than in years past with all seven districts committed to identifying 10 School Based Coaches who in turn would peer coach two colleagues on effective uses of instructional technology during the school year. Our mantra was "learn to identify which available tool will best handle the work, not using tech just to use tech." One of the key pieces was the training “tipping point” based on research from the Peer Coaching program out of Seattle, WA----"20 hours of coaching = change in instructional practice that integrates tech effectively." So that was our bull’s eye, and most of our coaches met that goal.
We pre and post assessed grant participating students using our state created ePortfolio Tech Proficiency online assessment system. All participating district students showed an increase in proficiency. We are eagerly awaiting the state academic assessment results coming out in September hopefully to see a correlating improvement in core academic areas of English, math, science, and social studies. We also saw positive results from teachers' assessments on proficiency.
A key piece of professional development for the coach project was Verizon Thinkfinity because a majority of our coaches are trained in using Thinkfinity resources and have found that they complement their coaching role. At the end of this school year, many of our coaches were delighted that for next year some teachers requested to be coached or trained to be coaches. The “tipping point” was achieved in part with the heightened awareness of Verizon Thinkfinity resources.
For further information about the Peer Coaching Model check out these links:
Here is a link to ISTE Coaching Standards:
Peer Coaching White Paper:
Also—be sure to check out many of the Verizon Thinkfinity Professional Development resources to help you as a teacher, trainer, or coach:
Thinkfinity Guest Speaker Series:
How have you used coaching in your professional development endeavors?
Catherine Giddens grew up in NC and came to Charleston, SC, to attend the College of Charleston and has never left. She has worked for the SC Department of Education for 12 years. She enjoys working with instructional tech coaches across the state.
Other blogs by this author: