Differentiated Coaching

I can teach children, I've been doing it for 5 years but now I've been asked to help teachers improve their skills both in my role as Director of ICT and as a tutor teacher for those new to the profession. I guess I haven't really given much thought until now about how that is different to teaching children but it is... a lot different.

I've just come back from a day where I learnt about exactly that - teaching or in this case coaching teachers. The day was run by Interlead and called Differentiated Coaching.

We looked closely at how different teachers need to be coached in different ways. Using the Myers Briggs personality test we analysed different ways of coaching different personality types. It was stressed throughout the day that although we might test as a certain personality we can all exhibit most of the personality traits at different points in our lives so there is no hard and fast rules that are going to work for everyone. However it's still worthwhile looking at different approaches that could be taken with different personality types.

There are many things to think about when you're asked to coach someone. The way people cope with change and the cycles we go through in order to change interested me, especially when it was put into this format:

1. classroom management
We just want to know how to do it. When something new comes along we're in the frame of mind of "great, how do I do that in my classroom"

2. Curriculum Knowledge
When we've had a few goes at teaching it, or we've been using it for a little while we move into curriculum knowledge, we're able to use it and now we're looking to make it part of our knowledge base, this might be when we need a bit more theory

3. Teaching strategies
It becomes part of our strategies we start to look at it as another tool and can pull it out when we need it.

4. Formative assessment
This is when the change really happens, it's when we're comfortable enough to make it our own and we can start to innovate.

I guess this appeals to me because as Director of ICT change is something that goes with the role. ICT is never the same from year to year, school to school or person to person. It's often seen as a scary thing rather than an important tool. There are many of us out there who see it at the formative assessment stage but we need to recognise that there are also just as many if not more teachers who are at the classroom management stage - how do I use it in my classroom?

One of the other things I took out of the course is just like children building a positive relationship with the person you're coaching is paramount. However with adults you also need to find out what keeps that person motivated. With children we know many of the different approaches we can use to motivate them in their learning and we as teachers a responsible for motivating them. With adults the story is a little different we can't motivate them ourselves we can only present things in ways that might interest them.

As coaches we don't have, I guess you could call it power, over the people we coach they are our equals. With children, they are the children we teach and we are the teacher there is always more power in the teachers hands than the children's hands - or there should be. This is why the coaching relationship is so different to the teacher/child relationship. I figured they did have to be a little different but I think when you have it laid out in front of you it's a lot easier to see what those differences need to be.

Interlead provided us with a course booklet that has a wealth of information about the topic as well as practical ideas for continuing your coaching journey. Many of my notes are in this booklet but here are the rest of the notes I took during the course.





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