As in any other relationship, in teacher-coach interaction, the same focus unifies the participants and allows for achieving substantial results in an effective manner. The development of learning-focused relationships is essential in professional development since they set the ground for unified efforts aimed at obtaining new knowledge and skills. Since teachers’ professional development ultimately affects the interaction with students and their academic performance, the cultivation of learning-focused relationships helps not only in teachers’ education but also in their everyday work.
Various learning formats
- Performance feedback
Speaker Notes: The improvement of learning-focused relationships is possible to be pursued by means of several learning formats within the cognitive coaching model. Firstly, through observation, the coach can see the teachers’ performance and identify the issues that require improvements. In such a manner, the mentor engages in “direct monitoring of the teacher in a learning environment” and can collect data necessary for the professional development (National Center for Systematic Improvement, n. d., p. 4). Secondly, modeling is a learning format that requires the mentor’s demonstration of the proper application of strategies for better performance outcomes. It allows for practical improvement via direct identification of the correct implementation of teaching practices. Thirdly, performance feedback is aimed at clearly establishing the weaknesses and strengths identified during the observation for accurate addressing of problematic areas through practice (National Center for Systematic Improvement, n. d.).
The responsibilities of the mentor or coach and teacher within each learning format
- Observation: Teacher’s active demonstration and mentor’s passive monitoring
- Modeling: Teacher’s perception of demonstrations and coach’s illustration or practical demonstration of proper practice implementation
- Performance feedback: Teacher’s active listening and mentor’s delivery of informed feedback and supported instructions for improvement
During the observation, a coach does not actively participate but monitors the teacher’s performance in the classroom. The teacher, on the other hand, is responsible for conducting the practices for demonstration. Within the modeling process, the roles and responsibilities shift, and the coach demonstrates the proper implementation of practice in case the teacher “is not correctly using a practice with the learner” (National Center for Systematic Improvement, n. d., p. 4). Performance feedback requires the inclusion of both parties where the coach is responsible for validating the evaluation of the teacher’s performance, while the teacher is required to perceive the feedback and engage in active listening for more enhanced learning.
How the mentor or coach can support (identify effective instructional support) the teacher in implementing strategies
- Inviting other teachers for discussion
- Teamwork and pairing of teachers
- Joint reflection
- Shared planning
Speaker Notes: To support teachers in implementing strategies, the coach might introduce several practices for more enhanced learning-focus relationships. It is advisable to invite other teachers for discussion to increase the number of actively engaged participants who would benefit from collaborative learning. When working in a group, teachers might be divided into pairs or small teams to cultivate peer learning (Killion et al., 2014). The reflection is also possible to be implemented jointly to encourage self- and peer-analysis. Through shared planning, the prospects for future improvements might be successfully discussed and amended for successful professional development.
An explanation concerning the relationship between professional development and effective instructional coaching
- Benefits in comparison with traditional professional development models
- Instructional coaching is a way of addressing relevant practice-related issues
- Prioritized skills acquisitions
Speaker Notes: Successful professional development is inherently dependent on effective instructional coaching since teachers have an opportunity to engage in guided learning via learning-focused relationships. Instructional coaching prioritizes teachers’ experience and provides more benefits in comparison with traditional professional development models (Kho et al., 2019). It is a method of accurate and thorough addressing of relevant practical issues that will help teachers build competence, confidence, and professional expertise. Since the acquisition of skills is prioritized, teachers are primarily engaged in performance analysis and improvement.
Characteristics of both professional development and effective instructional coaching
- Characteristics of professional development:
- Focused on practice
- Aiming at future improvement
- Characteristics of effective instructional coaching
- Relationship building
- On-going guidance
- Focus on students
- Informed decision-making
Speaker Notes: The characteristics of professional development and effective instructional coaching significantly coincide and have the same perspective. Namely, effective professional development might be characterized by collaboration, focus on practice, aiming at future improvements, and problem-solving (Sims & Fletcher-Wood, 2018). The characteristics of effective instructional coaching, include a school-based approach, and a supportive environment where teacher-coach relationships are enhanced by means of ongoing guidance. It prioritizes focusing on students and making informed decisions based on the identified problematic issues.
In summation, the development of learning-focused relationships is a pivotal element of effective professional development by means of instructional coaching. The cognitive approach to coaching allows for implementing such learning formats as observation, modeling, and performance feedback that are aimed at facilitating practical learning. Overall, the characteristics of professional development and instructional coaching share many similarities and allow for obtaining significant results in the professional growth of educators.
Kho, S. H., Saeed, K. M., & Mohamed, A. R. (2019). Instructional coaching as a tool for professional development: Coaches’ roles and considerations. The Qualitative Report, 24(5), 1106-1130.
Killion, J., Harrison, C., Bryan, C., & Clifton, H. (2014). Teacher-coach relationships. Tools for Learning Schools, 17(4), 1–3.
National Center for Systemic Improvement. (n. d.). Effective coaching: Improving teacher practice and outcomes for all learners [PDF document]. Web.
Sims, S., & Fletcher-Wood, H. (2018). Characteristics of effective teacher professional development: what we know, what we don’t, how we can find out [PDF document]. Web.