Content coaching recognizes that teaching can be improved with effort, and applies principles of learning in building professional capacity. The four principles presented in this chapter are accountable talk, self-management of learning, socializing intelligence and learning as apprenticeship (Knight, 2008, pp. 117-118). This principles are useful for teachers working with students, and also for coaches working with teachers. By engaging in the practices presented, coaches and teaches can model different strategies for students, which is the best reflection of lifelong learning.
Coaches can use verbal discourse to explore the accountability that teachers feel to professional standards, content standards and student learning. Listening to what teachers say, both explicitly and implicitly, can provide valuable insight into their understanding.
Self management of learning is concerned with reflection and awareness to recognize what aids and hinders your own learning. By being able to identify when we need assistance, seeking assistance including information when needed, and being able to determine the appropriate times to persevere or to give up are strategies for lifelong learning. Learning isn’t only about content but also about the habits of mind that assist in learning the content. Coaches can help teachers develop their habits of mind in a content area, and teachers can incorporate habits of mind into their teaching.
Socializing intelligence is related to Vygotsky’s concept of learning as a social activity. It is possible in schools for teachers to become isolated or in competition to each other rather than collaborators. Teachers and coaches can model the creation of shared knowledge and understanding for students by engaging in public conversations that explore possibilities, including taking risks together. The principle of socializing intelligence is reflected in a school that has scheduled shared periods for teachers to work together on designing lessons, assessing student work, and problem solving issues that they encounter in their classrooms which impede student learning.
We learn from each other, through apprenticeship. This happens in coaching or co-teaching situations where teachers work together dynamically to implement best practices, recognizing that best practice evolves over time.
In one of my schools, I remember colleagues complaining about the fact that we never had time to talk together as professionals who could help and support each other. They wanted more opportunities for social discourse and socializing intelligence to developing their understanding of some of the programs of the school. At another school, we had a system which used a modified version of critical friends in assisting teachers in professional development (apprenticeship). I’ve had conversations with many language teachers who explain the importance of students knowing how to learn a new language. My experience confirms the importance of these principles of learning in the process of teaching and learning.
I use the principles of learning in my work. Dialogue is important for understanding peoples needs, the beliefs, their assumptions. It also reveals their self-management. I have the best results when working with people who are self managers. Interesting, this is one of the attitudes that we have adopted in the elementary school. There is a feeling of mutual respect and partnership when working with someone who is a self manager. I think that self managers are also aware of when they can contribute to social learning experiences and to apprenticeship. In addition to knowing when to ask for help, they also recognize what they have to contribute to the collective. In working with teams, we learn from each other, creating shared knowledge and teaching skills to each other so that we can better support our students.
This post is part of a larger series based on the book Coaching Approaches & Perspectives edited by Jim Knight. This post is based on sections of Chapter 6: Content Coaching. Visit the Coaching category for other related posts.
Book Citation: Knight, J. (Ed.). (2008). Coaching: Approaches and perspectives. Corwin Press.