The Coach and The Coached – Collaborative Self-Development

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Right at the moment my mentor suggested to me that she was searching for a ‘subject’ to coach, the prospect of collaborating with her to enhance my own practice was something I knew I wanted to do. A part of me felt that it was now time, after two years in the system, to be more proactive with my self-assessment and development.

Over the summer holidays, I thought about the ways in which I wanted to improve myself so that I could provide a better learning environment for my students.

Like most 20-something year-old males, admittedly, sometimes my organisational skills leave a lot to be desired. My office desk a shambles. I had files and folders scattered over my computer desktop. My learning space would frequently look like a bomb site, and while it was moderately humorous to have the school cleaners joke about the state of my room, it was in fact a reflection of me, the way I teach and the way my students learn.

I felt I was being pigeon-holed as the ‘young guy who is good with ICT’ by staff, and ‘Mr Kuran is a good teacher because his lessons are fun’ by some students.

I felt like I wasn’t being seen for what I am truly capable of.

So, I sat down and established my goal, which sounded something like: ‘Implement routines and structures to better manage myself and my students thus maximising use of class time for effective learning.’

What did I specifically want to change, improve or modify? It begins with me, and my own self-management. Improve the way I manage myself and that will lead to better management of my students. What did that include? Planning. Preparation. Time management. Tidiness. Establishing (and sustaining) structures. Establishing my role in our teaching team. Modelling respect and responsibility.

My mentor would come in and film me. I would observe the video with her and name and notice the behaviours in my class. Instructions. Engagement. Focus. Modelling. Are the children sitting for too long? Is my instruction repetitive? Have I explained the learning engagement in the best way?

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How would I know if I have been successful? Would it be as simple as knowing in my own mind that I have improved? That my classroom management had improved? Would I need to see it documented in the video?

SO MANY QUESTIONS!

Being coached for the last few weeks has already dramatically changed my practice. I’m pleased that the structures I have put in place, linked closely to the class’s essential agreement, have meant that I am beginning to maximised learning time. The 9:10am starts have moved to 9:02. Talking for 8 minutes has become 5 minutes. While waiting for other classes to congregate for our literacy rotations, we have been watching videos on Wonderopolis. We are asking questions and thinking about our learning before our classes begin. We (our teaching team) are maximising the amazing space we have in our open learning area, as kids spread across beanbags, stand at tall-tables, collaborate, investigate and create.

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What now?

Regular meetings with my mentor, in which I think about what I have seen on film, reflect on my actions, planning, management and goals, have made me feel more confident in my own practice. One of the strengths of this program, in my opinion, is that I’m not told ‘how to do things’. I am assessing myself, with support, and analysing data to inform my teaching. Yes – just as we do with our own student assessments!

As I think back to this time last year, and even further back to my first year of teaching in 2013, it is heart-warming to actually see and hear myself now.

The reflective process through filming, noticing and applying change, is an absolutely beneficial one that teachers, new and experienced, should try. Even just once.

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About Dean Kuran

I'm a primary school teacher at an IB PYP school in Melbourne, Australia. I believe in establishing positive environments in which students can develop confidence and curiosity, while nurturing the skills that will benefit them outside of the learning space.
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12 Responses to The Coach and The Coached – Collaborative Self-Development

  1. Dean your post warmed my heart. Your openness to refect, learn and modify practice is a credit to you.

  2. whatedsaid says:

    Here’s what I love about this:
    – your ability and willingness to reflect on your practice and to grow
    – your desire to be the best teacher you possibly can and your commitment to achieving that
    – how quickly you have become aware of things and are making changes in your practice
    – how openly you share this with the world, so that others can learn from the process
    – the way you make connections – between theory and practice, between your own learning and that of your students, between what you believe and how you carry it out…

  3. whatedsaid says:

    And also..
    – the way you have connected the coaching process to the whole school goal of using data to inform teaching and learning

  4. Leah Osborne says:

    “I volunteer as tribute!” Thank you for doing so and then sharing how positive the experience has been. A credit to your school and mentor for creating the right culture to make opening your doors a positive experience.

  5. lsacker says:

    Your post also teaches coaches what might be possible. I found it so exciting and now am looking forward to the process. I see I will learn so much from the person I coach. great learning for all.

  6. CmunroOz says:

    Wow! A great post Dean. It’s very clear that you are experiencing the power of an effective coaching relationship. We can “hear” your learning and growth in your writing. I like the way that you have analysed the video using “notice and name” and the lesson structure headings – gathering information rather than judging. Video can be confronting, did you watch it yourself first? Congratulations to your coach too – they will definitely be getting as much out of this as you! Thanks for sharing so honestly.

    • whatedsaid says:

      I’m wondering… How different would the coaching model look if the coach and coachee had not already established a relationship prior to the coaching?

      • Dean Kuran says:

        I think it is important to have a level of trust and willingness to be open and honest with your communication – to that end, it would be different but not necessarily detrimental.

  7. jbelnick says:

    Awesome reflection and sincere insight and willingness to change to make learning more meaningful. Thank you for sharing , Dean.
    Jina

  8. Stephanie says:

    I love this post for so many reasons.

    Firstly I find myself nodding along at some of the problems I had in my first year of teaching. I wondered how much learning time was lost through me looking for stuff and over explaining things.

    Secondly I love that you are sharing a powerful model of professional learning. I’m wondering if I would have the honesty to really look at my teaching through a lens. I’m happy filming stuff that is happening in class but rarely have myself filmed.

    Thirdly I hope to help contribute to your learning. I obliterated the messy desk by simply getting rid of it. It forced me to regularly declutter.

    Stephanie

  9. Pingback: Why do some teachers hide away? | Teaching the Teacher

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