The goal of content coaching is to improve student learning, by making instruction more effective. This is done though the mindful consideration of lesson design, teaching and assessment. There are many tools that teachers can use; they need to decide which tools are appropriate for use at what time. They may have to select a variety of tools to meet a variety of needs, in a way that makes sense to them. “It is possible to build coherence and also provide for individual freedom when everyone keeps an eye on student learning as the bottom line” (Knight, 2008, p. 120). However, this is a challenge in education with the push for standardized testing which is in opposition to the idea of differentiation for each student to meet high standards.
To implement learning for every child, teachers need to have strong understanding of their content area, the curriculum and the tools available to them. Tools that are well-designed and well-understood can be useful in assisting student learning. One challenge in schools is to provide adequate support and time for teachers to explore a tool and understand how it aligns with their beliefs and the context of the school. This understanding would allow teaching to be a mindful exercise as opposed to a mechanical one, with mass produced content being seen as an example instead of a recipe. It’s a challenge for teachers and schools to think holistically about subjects and about meeting the needs of each student when they have to follow pre-defined curricula and pacing guides.
The standards movement has raised questions as to what should be learned, when, how, and why. Most schools operate within the factory model with little flexibility of scheduling and instruction. It’s important for teachers to think about lessons, being mindful about the resources that they use, and the assessment of student learning.
One of the tools available for training teachers for technology integration is TPACK. The idea of pedagogical content knowledge has come up earlier in this chapter; this section adds in the technological component of TPACK. The integration of technology is not just about the tools but knowing the affordances and limitations of different (available) tools in lesson planning helps teachers design lessons that take advantage of technology. On the flip side, having a good understand of the content and pedagogy associated with the content points to technology tools that can add value to teaching and learning. One of the effects of TPACK has been the development of activity types for different content areas. I will be exploring the site further for sharing with teachers. The SAMR model is also useful for considering the value of the technology integration to teaching and learning.
The factory model applies to teacher education. Concerns about accountability and equality make the provision of individualized professional development a challenge for schools. Many educational stakeholders still see conferences as being a major component of professional development. Research shows that effective professional development is needs-based, specific, content-based, and ongoing. I think that conference workshops can be a good opportunity to gather information, but is only a starting point (platform) rather than a vehicle (train) for professional growth. The advent of unconferences and cohorts of study, with opportunities for individualization through application and blogging provide examples of disruptive teacher education practices.
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.