What Is Strategic Coaching? Workshops, trainings, courses, and conferences build teachers’ declarative knowledge (factual knowledge teachers bring to a task) but are insufficient in impacting what teachers do on a daily basis in their classrooms. Coaching supports the development of procedural knowledge – knowing how to perform a specific strategy; know the steps: what to do first, what to do next. FIE defines Strategic Coaching as the art and science of improving performance of others by providing needed support and tools, building a climate of trust, and creating the conditions needed for ongoing learning for themselves, for the teachers they coach, and for the children.Strategies which reflect proven effective instruction are selected to address instructional need and improve the overall quality of the teaching/learning process. The Strategic Coach focuses on how best to ensure the growth and development of teachers – finding the best way to address the needs of teachers and the children within their classrooms – which in turn increases children’s opportunity to learn.
Six questions give direction to the FIE Strategic Coaching Model:
With these questions in mind the FIE Strategic Coaching Model was developed. The coaching model elicits explicit behaviors, which are observable and measurable and allows for specific communication and recordable feedback and documentation used to improve teacher confidence and proficiency in implementing effective practice. Two principles undergird the work of the model: (1) Strategies coaches use to increase teachers’ knowledge and skill are the same strategies they want teachers to use with their children and (2) if teachers experience these strategies as a learner, they will use these strategies in their role as teacher.
The FIE Strategic Coaching Model (Click Here to Download FIE Strategic Coaching Model) is made up of 5 interrelated structural elements that define the knowledge and skills needed to influence behavior and change teaching:
The structural elements are designed to influence the knowledge, skills, and dispositions of teachers within the context of their own work. What makes the FIE model unique is that it recognizes that changing practices has two interconnected domains: (1) acquiring needed background knowledge and (2) scaffolding in the form of job-embedded coaching in which coaches model behaviors for teachers to use with their children.
One critical characteristic of effective teaching is deep content knowledge. If we are to teach content to others, we must have developed expertise in content ourselves. To ensure that teachers have deep understanding of the content they teach and the skill to use scientifically-based curriculum, coaches, too, must have deep content knowledge as well as the skill to transfer that knowledge to teachers. They must understand the central facts and the concepts of subject matter, how ideas and concepts are interrelated, the processes to establish new knowledge, and determine the validity of the claims. This knowledge not only affects what we teach, but what we notice, and how we organize and represent information. Two Core Competency areas are embedded within Strategic Component 1.
To enhance children’s conceptual understanding, teachers must have a solid foundation in the subjects they teach. Teachers’ level of understanding is reflected in quality of instruction and achievement of children. Strategic Coaches:
Ensuring quality instruction begins with establishing an appropriate learning environment that includes understanding and use of classroom organization, rituals and routines, instructional materials, differentiated instructional groupings, and effective use of instructional and non instructional time. Strategic Coaches:
Influencing behaviors reflects changing teachers’ knowledge, skills, and dispositions within the context of their classrooms. The ability to influence teachers begins with understanding the beliefs and needs of the teacher, identifying and managing barriers, and jointly determining goals. The ability to influence – create and sustain positive change in others – encompasses related core competency strategies: trusting relationships and collaboration, positive interactions, motivation and reinforcement, active leadership, and acknowledging and accommodating important aspects of the change process. Five Core Competencies are embedded in Strategic Component 2.
The coach-teacher relationship is a learning relationship in which both the coach and teacher gain knowledge. The relationship is built on mutual trust, shared goals, and commitment to growth and change. It manifests itself in the willingness of both the coach and the teacher to take risks, make mistakes, and accept each others’ strengths and weaknesses. Communication skills, such as [active] listening, empathy, questioning, clarification and reflection, and restatement of content knowledge and feelings are essential to relationship building. Strategic Coaches:
Adult-child, child-child, and adult-adult interactions are important aspects of every classroom, impacting children’s security, behavior, and learning. Strategic Coaches:
Motivation affects the amount of time people are willing to devote to learning which affects positive change. Preconceived ideas and resistance can be overcome by motivational strategies. Strategic Coaches:
Leadership requires coaches to have the tools to influence teaching and improve classroom instruction. They must have a clear and informed vision of what they want the classroom to look like, translate that vision into goals, develop and implement an action plan and monitor progress, and intervene in a supportive manner when necessary. Strategic Coaches:
Strategic Coaches are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner as they work with teachers and staff, colleagues, and families and their children.
In order to effect productive change, one has to understand that change is a process not an event and that a person (adult or child) goes through a series of stages as they adopt new behaviors and practice to automaticity. These stages range from no engagement in activities to full engagement and vary in intensity and expression across the stages. Coaches and teachers must attend to the process of change if, in fact, learning is to occur. Strategic Coaches:
1 Archie George, et. al., Measuring Implementation in Schools: The Stages of Concern Questionnaire (Austin, TX: Southwest Educational Development laboratory, 2006).2 George, 2006.
Planning provides the framework for productive instruction, focuses on important aspects of instruction, and links preparation and implementation with what needs to be done. Planning is intentional, organized, and thoughtful. Two Core Competency areas are embedded within this strategic component.
Instructional effectiveness can be improved when specific learning goals for children are set. Goal setting requires teachers to think more purposefully about what to teach and how to teach it. It helps identify missing information and needed materials and also helps maintain focus on critical knowledge to be taught. Strategic Coaches:
Ongoing evaluation encourages teachers to refine current practice, use assessment to inform practice, and assess the impact of strategies and materials on children’s achievement. Informed decision makers administer a variety of assessments and use the information to adapt instruction to meet the needs of different learners. Strategic Coaches:
A coach plans and implements professional development experiences designed to help teachers improve the teaching and learning process through support in selecting and using instructional materials, providing in-depth content knowledge, increasing teacher understanding and use of effective teaching strategies, and providing sufficient scaffolding support for teachers to master new knowledge and skills and to assimilate knowledge and skills into their daily routine. One Core Competency area is embedded within this strategic component.
Coaching increases the likelihood that new strategies will be implemented as part of teachers’ daily instructional routines. Coaches’ support for teachers fosters collegiality, deepens teachers understanding of classroom practice, and facilitates the transfer of new strategies from the workshop environment to the classroom. Strategic Coaches:
The goal of the FIE Strategic Coaching Model is to increase teachers’ opportunities to learn, practice, and internalize a set of research- and standards-based instructional strategies, thereby increasing children’s opportunity to learn and readiness for school.
In order to provide coaches with the necessary skills and knowledge to support teachers’ consistent use of effective teaching practices and increase children’s learning, an intensive institute is designed to infuse coaches with the necessary knowledge bases (learning about something) and coaching skills and strategies (learning to do something) to help teachers develop and implement classroom activities that positively influence children’s learning. The FIE Strategic Coaching Institute is a three-day intensive institute designed to increase participants understanding of the coaching roles, explore the knowledge bases supporting the Strategic Components, practice and become confident in implementing specific behaviors related to the Core Competencies, and use tools for planning and assessing quality of implementation. Participants will engage in an in-depth exploration of the following topics:
Workshops, trainings, courses, and conferences plus coaching supports teachers as they practice new skills and strategies, apply them in the classroom, and build confidence and proficiency in using research-based curriculum.
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