Monthly Archives: March 2012

A Coaching Culture

There are lots of inspirational practitioners in schools, piloting new approaches and ways of working, but often the ideas and initiatives they are exploring never make it beyond one or two classrooms.   How do we move from pockets of innovation to a culture of innovation?

One of the most important ways to make this transition it to develop a culture of coaching.   There obviously needs to be encouragement from school leaders to run with new ideas; to trial different approaches, to fail, evaluate and modify, but beyond this peer support can be a powerful lever for change.  The development of blogging is an example of how such an approach can be effective.

In many schools the development of blogging is limited to one or two classes where the teachers are confident in their use of technology, have the right attitude towards innovation and can see the tremendous possibilities of this medium to further children’s learning.  Our first attempts at blogging would fit this model.   With the encouragement of the head, one or two teachers with a passion for ICT made fantastic use of the blog, they got their children and parents on board and really enjoyed developing their learning and engagement.   We looked at where we wanted  blogging to go (a campus style blog with every class and pupil group represented) and knew that for us to reach our goal we had to have all staff comfortable in developing their skills in this area.

As with any new initiative, we anticipated, reluctance, fear, worry and concern across a large staff.   We had already begun to look closely at coaching in other areas of classroom practice and staff development and consequently explored how this might support us in promoting blogging.   Through careful planning and management we were able to arrange one to one support at various times, pairing up confident staff with those less so.   We had broad agreement that the use of web 2.0 would be a whole school objective for performance management and in pm meetings we outlined how this might be supported. The introduction of staff surgeries (see earlier post: the staff surgery) each term, to support each other and share concerns and ideas has also been helpful in promoting blogging across the whole school.

We spend so much or our time in schools isolated, working alone with children in a classroom, pressed for time and too tired at the end of the day to consider our own professional development.   Arranging coaching meetings gives staff time to reflect on their practice, to talk through things with their peers and to explore innovative approaches with the support and encouragement of those around them.  Sometimes the best resources are close at hand, we just need to create the time and space for coaching and support to develop.

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