In the last chapter of Coaching Approaches & Perspectives edited by Jim Knight, the authors explored Classroom Management Coaching. Chapter 6 by Lucy West presents Content Coaching.
I started off the chapter with a clear idea of what content coaching is. I’ve heard the term Math Coach or Social Studies Coach. My idea is consistent with the definition in this chapter that a Content Coach has skills and understanding in the content area, knows the depth of content which is appropriate for a particular grade level, can break the content down into it’s key concepts, knows current learning theories, and has a toolbox of instructional strategies that complement the learning theories. The new component to the definition in this chapter is is that content coaches have “an understanding of organizations as living, dynamic systems” (Knight, 2008, p. 115). Content coaches build skills and understanding in teachers, so that teachers can in turn pass on the leveled skills and understanding to their children. As I was reading, I thought about the TPACK model which considers the importance of Technological, Pedagogical and Content Knowledge. It seems that content coaches should be knowledgeable of Pedagogy and Content, as well as Technology. Technological knowledge must be connected to knowledge of instructional strategies tied to current learning theories.
A new idea in this chapter to me is “the theory of incremental intelligence” (Knight, 2008, p. 115). This theory is in direct opposition to the idea of innate intelligence; it posits that a person can use metacognition to focus their effort on strategies and processes that will help them develop their intelligence in any given area. This is directly related to the idea that every child can learn. However, educational policy and practices in school still seem to value intelligence over effort. This is the case for students as well as teachers. Schools can advocate for the theory of incremental intelligence by providing coaching to teachers so that they can develop their knowledge and skills for improved teaching, resulting is greater student learning.
An interesting example was presented about Japanese Lesson Study. I remember seeing a video about this some time ago. Take a look:
As I keep reading these chapters, I wonder how a system of coaches can be implemented in schools. I’m wondering about the similarities between teaching adults and teaching children, and whether a coach would benefit from teaching both groups. I think that it’s important not to have too many coaching roles (to minimize overlap), so I’m wondering what is the minimal number of roles for the maximal benefit. I’m curious as to whether coaching needs to be a job or a role or both. In what areas is it possible for a coach to work within a whole school versus specific grades? I imagine that it would depend on the intervention.
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 5: Classroom Management Coaching. Visit the Coaching category for other related posts.
Book Citation: Knight, J. (Ed.). (2008). Coaching: Approaches and perspectives. Corwin Press.