Saturday, January 21, 2012

I don't want to...

After a fairly typical week of my work in classrooms and in collegial coaching conversations, I found myself thinking about the approaches that I find promising when working with teachers and those that I will not try for fear that I might find myself working with teachers in a way that devalues what they bring to their work or betrays the trust that seems central to my work.

When I think about it too hard, I’m reminded of Lloyd Dobler explaining his thoughts about his future to Diane’s dad in the movie Say Anything. 

Here’s what the instructional coach version sounds like:

I’ve been giving my approach to instructional coaching a great deal of thought. I have decide that I don’t want to mandate anything, prescribe anything or require anything as an instructional coaching strategy. I don’t want to prescribe anything mandated or required, or mandate anything that is required or prescribed. I know I don’t want to require a teacher to teach in way that is prescribed or mandated.

I also do not want to monitor for teaching strategies that have been mandated, prescribed or required. Nor do I see myself assessing anything someone has monitored in response to a mandate, prescription or requirement.

I don’t want to report on anyone, assess anyone or try to read deeply into someone’s thinking to see how they are responding to a mandate, prescription or requirement.

I’ve read several books on instructional coaching now, and gotten just enough experience with it that I think I can support teachers with their instruction when they want support with planning, teaching, assessing and evaluating.

What I am really interested in now are Jim Knight’s partnership principles and using dialog to identify the best ways I can help a teacher with the thinking work and the teaching work they do in the course of their sometimes-hectic jobs. Basically, I cannot figure it all out right now, so I’m just going to listen to teachers and ask them in a lot of different ways how I can help with what is currently interesting them or challenging them the most.  

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