In a gentle way, you can shake the world. ~ Mahatma Ghandi
As coaches it is important that we gather data about the impacts of our practice. As a coach we might feel a conversation or relationship has gone well, but how do we know? How can we find out the depth of our coachees’ perceptions, vulnerabilities or reflections?
This has been on my mind as this year my school’s teacher growth model, of which coaching is a central piece, moved from pilot program populated by volunteers, to mandated model which involves all teachers in the school. This is a big shift. Piloting a model with teachers who have volunteered to be involved and are keen to have a voice in school change, is very different to applying a model, no matter how flexible and differentiated, to all teachers at a school. We’ve been very aware that one size does not fit all. We’ve tried to design something which is relevant and adaptable from person to person, early to late career, pre-kindergarten to Year 12, Physical Education to English Literature. Coaching is a big part of this as the lesson data collected and the following conversation are all about the coachee; where they are at; where they would like to go.
Over the last two years I have used focus groups of teachers and coaches to gather some of the data I’ve been using to reflect and report on our impacts. This year, too, we want to gauge how we’ve gone. The intention of our model is that it is meaningful for teachers, rather than a box to be ticked or a process to be endured. We want it to nurture cross-school professional connections, open classrooms, and build internal teacher capacities. We want it to be a process which both trusts teachers and in which teachers feel they can trust. (I visually represented these intentions in this post.) So how can we see if that’s happening beyond what the coaches might observe or what information teachers might anecdotally volunteer?
In order to get a sense of how teachers are finding the process, I have recently set up an anonymous survey monkey survey with the following questions. Apart from questions 12 and 14, which are optional comment boxes, the questions are click-button ones on a Likert-style rating scale of Strongly Agree – Agree – Neutral – Disagree – Strongly Disagree. The good thing about that is that it is quick for teachers to complete, and easy to analyse. While it provides a snapshot of how teachers are finding the coaching cycle, a limitation is that it doesn’t drill down into the why of respondents’ answers.
The survey questions:
- I have a clear understanding of the cycle’s process, expectations and roles.
- I found the reflection survey useful in terms of my teaching practice.
- I have felt comfortable having someone (and/or a video camera) in my classroom.
- I found the data collected in my lesson observations useful in terms of my teaching practice.
- I found the coaching conversations useful in terms of my teaching practice.
- I have felt that my coach is approachable, supportive and trustworthy.
- I have found it ‘do-able’ to manage the cycle in terms of time, scheduling, and, where appropriate, technology.
- The cycle has helped me gain greater awareness and clarity around my teaching and what happens in my classroom.
- The cycle has helped me clarify my instructional goals (i.e. how and in which areas I would like to develop my teaching).
- The cycle has resulted in the development of one or more collegial relationships (with either my coach or another team member).
- I have made changes to my teaching or classroom as a result of the cycle.
- Optional comment: If I have made changes to my teaching or classroom, what have these been?
- I think the cycle has had a positive impact on my teaching practice.
- Optional comment: I would like to offer the following comments or suggestions for the development of the cycle from 2016.
It is important that they survey is anonymous as we want the feedback to be honest. While these are by no means comprehensive, they provide a piece of our data puzzle in looking to the impact of our observation and coaching cycle as professional learning. It is by listening to positive and critical perspectives that we can identify those things working well, and address those areas of challenge.