Coaching: Teaching Teachers to Teach

This is American Education Week (AEW). The National Education Association (NEA) is “committed to advancing the cause of public education.”  The vision of NEA calls “upon all Americans to do their part in making public schools great for every child so that they can grow and achieve in the 21st century.”  The goal of AEW is to honor individuals who contribute to the learning process.  Each year during AEW the NEA supports and recognizes parents, support staff, community leaders and substitute teachers.  Through this public celebration NEA acknowledges all those who contribute time and effort toward enhancement of student success.  The AEW tagline is:

Reach. Educate. Inspire.

The kickoff day of AEW schools celebrate excellence in education.  Excellence in education is a result of the characteristics of the learning environment and the characteristics of a successful teacher.  

TeachThought’s mission is to innovate education through the growth of innovative teachers.

My first thoughts and questions related to the opening of the week (excellence in education) were:

**How are these learning environments created?
**How are these successful teachers developed?
**Who teaches teachers to teach? 

The teaching profession has been redefined as the interest instructional coaching grows (Wolpert-Gawron, 2016).  Coaching is helping another person learn in ways that aids in growth afterward (Frankovelgia, 2010). It is based on: 

**asking rather than telling.
**provoking thought rather than giving directions.
**holding a person accountable for his or her goals.

John Whitmore (2017) author of Coaching for Performance describes coaching in a comparable manner.

**Coaching unlocks a person’s potential to maximize performance.
**Coaching is helping the person to learn.   

Pedagogy (method and practice), content expertise (subject matter expert) and personal characteristics (relationship building) are the general attributes of a successful coach in business, sports as well as education.

Frankovelgia outlines the keys of effective coaching as:

**Building relationships…trustworthy; shows good judgement; patient; follows through
**Providing assessment…timely feedback; desired vs actual performance; insight into building self awareness
**Challenging thinking….problem solving through pursuing alternative solutions; risk taking; guides but doesn’t direct
**Supporting and encouraging….strong listening skills; open to others perspectives; recognize success and aids encourages growth
**Goal setting….able to set meaningful and measurable milestones; accountability is data driven

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) outlines the keys of effective coaching as:

**Understanding the sport; leads by example
**Being a sponge for knowledge; profound thinker[ visionary
**Sharing the knowledge; educates others
**Highly energized; a motivator
**Knowing the athlete; values and respects that relationship
**Is an effective communicator & teacher
**Is a good listener
**Is disciplined; strong in character and integrity
**Leads by example with high attitude to hard work
**Displays commitment and clear passion for the sport

The purpose of coaching, in any setting, is to and set and achieve challenging goals through increasing effectiveness, broadening thinking, identifying strengths and developing skills.

The IOC summarizes by stating a good coach is positive, enthusiastic, supportive, trusting, focused, goal-oriented, knowledgeable, observant, respectful, patient & a clear communicator.

An instructional coach puts the AEW tagline into action.

American Education Week TaglineDescriptor
ReachAchieve, Attain, Accomplish
EducateCultivate, Develop, Improve
InspireInfluence, Motivate, Spark

An instructional coach is an excellent classroom teacher (experienced and successful); knowledgeable about learning theory and able to apply this knowledge to the classroom environment.

An instructional coach is a subject matter expert knowledgeable of content area AND a process-oriented person who makes determinations on classroom strategies in part by data driven decisions.

An instructional coach has strong interpersonal skills who is credible and able to build relationships.

An instructional coach embodies the qualities outlined from business and sports. The result are teachers able to help the NEA reach its goal of:

“…making public schools great for every child so that they can grow and achieve in the 21st century.”

The Brookings Institute (2017) concludes that instructional coaching improves teacher impact. By providing more personalized support to teachers, coaching can improve the classroom instruction students receive. Instructional coaching can ultimately ensure that more students are taught by effective teachers and benefit from a high-quality education.

The TeachingChannel mission is to create an environment where teachers can watchshare, and learn new techniques to help every student grow. The video archive has a 3-part series on instructional coaching.  Anyone interested in seeing the process at work should watch this series (total time 20 minutes).  

Self reflection, analysis, practice and feedback are essential steps to mastery. See the TeachingChannel mission for more info

Student Development & Learning: It Takes a Village

A few days ago, I came across an article from the Leadership Exchange by Tull (2018) titled Revisiting the Student Personnel Point of View (SPPV).  The American Council on Education Committee on Student Personnel Work (1937) report The Student Personnel Point of View was one of the first documents supporting development of the total student.  SPPV provided higher education with the guiding principles focusing on the collaborative responsibility of educating young adults.

“…the full maturing of each student cannot be attained
without interest in and integrated efforts toward
the development of each and every facet
of his/her personality and potentials.”

Tull’s article points out that the SPPV initiated the call for cooperation between and across disciplines. 

“We must remind ourselves of the value
of shared partnerships to create conditions
that matter for those that we currently serve and
for future students.”

Reading Tull’s article reminded me of my work in higher education.  You can read more about my background and see that I am a supporter of those who believe it is the role of the entire institution to ensure student development and learning.

It has been 80+ years since the American College Personnel Association published the SPPV and 30 years since I completed my doctoral research addressing the impact of the out-of-class experience on student development.  The guiding principles that framed my philosophy and pointed the direction of my research and career path resulted from works expanding on the tenets of the Student Personnel Point of View.  Below I want to share a historical perspective on the academic/co-curricular connection and make some associations to today.  As you read the comments below think about your own educational experience. Consider how each segment of your development and learning intertwines.

Havighurst (1953) wrote about human development and education He stated in the opening remarks of his book that “living is learning and growing is learning.  To understand human development, one must understand learning.  The human individual learns his way through life.” 

Even today I aspire to put action to these words through my blog as I write about how we can integrate wellness, lifelong learning, and personal development.  Human development (our personal development) cannot be categorized by a chronological age, it is a lifelong process of acquiring, analyzing, and synthesizing information, ideas, and experiences. It is the process of learning.

Today educational philosophy emphasizes how learning takes place under varied circumstances outside of the traditional teacher-centered classroom experience.  We hear increasingly more about student-centered learning, action learning, leisure learning. There is a need for engaging activities that continue to connect the academic and co-curricular aspects of learning.

B.B. Crookston (1972) defines student development as the “application of the philosophy and principles of human development in the education setting” (p.12).  Specifically related to higher education, student development describes the impact of the institutional environment and experiences on students.  Loy and Kenyon, 1969 and Moore 1966 describe the sport environment as a mini-society or a participatory model of life.  If we agree that this is a valid description, it should follow that the development in the larger world and those in the sport environment are similar. I have discussed in prior blogs my thoughts on the impact of sports participation on development.  Harding (1971) grounds my connection of the academic/co-curricular experiences as an education goal by stating that “participation in sport as strictly recreational is passe.” (p. 39).  These ideas apply to any out-of-class experience.  Again, consider how each segment of your development and learning intertwines.

The vast potential for development during early adulthood is one of the major challenges in higher education today.  We generally agree that attending college has a significant effect of both the continuous and cumulative development of young adults.  Early adulthood described by Havighurst (1950), is not only the most individualistic period of life but also the fullest of teachable moments.  The phrase total student development (body, mind, spirit) often included in college mission statements as a descriptor of the college experience. I wrote about aligning departmental mission and goals with institutional priorities in my blog Recreational Sports Contributes to Student Development. Creating a collaborative teaching and learning community striving to meet this mission is the key to enhancing student development. 

Student development philosophy became the foundation of higher education. With this increased awareness of total student development, it places more responsibility on the individual student to be an active participant in his or her own development. 

Miller (1982) and Widick, Knefelkamp, and Parker (1980) outline the aims of higher education.  The purpose of higher education is not developed in a vacuum.  Society is a result of the educational system as much as the system is a result of society. American higher education focuses on self-realization, human relationship, and civic responsibility.  Ever since the SPPV administrators adopted a developmental orientation emphasizing and responding to the whole person, attending to individual differences, and working with students at their level of development.  

Developmental and learning contributions in and out of the classroom setting continue to be widely accepted.   The purpose of the out-of-class programs took on a more integrated approach. The focus was to provide students with opportunities that will aid them in achieving a better state of being.  We should direct all these experiences toward the individual’s total development: physical, social, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual. These experiences incorporate attitudes and behaviors such a promoting independence, critical thinking, citizenship, helping individuals to understand self and other, and managing emotions.

American higher education charges the professional community with three broad functions.  These functions are teaching, research, and service.  Higher education personnel strive to transform intent and apply theory to practice.  Student development theory serves as a core construct around which we had set goals, developed and organized programs, and evaluated outcomes.  

Doyle (2004) wrote:

In the mid-1980s, the Study Group on the Conditions for Excellence in Higher Education and several other groups (AAC, 1985; Boyer, 1987) were advocating the importance of student learning in higher education. A group of student affairs leaders recognized this move toward learning and were intrigued by the role of students’ active involvement in learning. These leaders, who included George Kuh, John Schuh, and Elizabeth Whitt, acknowledged the critical role of student affairs in stimulating student involvement in learning and strategically positioned student affairs at the crux of student learning outside the classroom. In their 1991 book Involving Colleges: Successful Approaches to Fostering Student Learning and Development Outside the Classroom (Kuh et al.), the authors compiled a summary of the research documenting the positive impact of the out-of-class environment on student involvement in learning. The book was based on a one year investigate on of how 14 four-year colleges and universities created intellectually stimulating environments outside of class. This book was closely followed by The Role and Contribution of Student Affairs in Involving Colleges (Kuh & Schuh, 1991) which used case studies to identify the steps that student affairs divisions could take in creating an involving college.

The understanding of the relationship of personal development and learning began to evolve. Student involvement in learning was the key to successful development and learning. I make the argument that a by-product of involvement is learning.

Additional publications from higher education organizations have been recognized for promoting student learning and encouraging collaboration across campus include:

The Student Learning Imperative (1996)  Discusses how out-of-class experiences can enhance student learning and personal development.

Principles of Good Practice (1997)  Outlines guidelines to achieve the educational missions by focusing on student learning.

Powerful Partnerships (1998)  All those who take part in the educational mission of institutions of higher education — students, faculty, and staff — share responsibility for pursuing learning improvements. 

Learning Reconsidered (2004)  Argues for integrating higher education’s resources in the education and preparation of the whole student. 

Learning Reconsidered 2 (2006)  Provide guidelines on how to put into practice the recommendations in Learning Reconsidered.

Today these publications guide the work in higher education.

**Preston & Peck (2016) cite Learning Reconsidered when discussing leadership development influenced by out-of-class experiences.

**Henning (2016) cite Learning Reconsidered when discussing assessment of the out-of-class experience.

**One of the most recent applications of the above works is Dunlap (2019).  She writes, in the NASPA Blog, an article on Online Learning Reconsidered.

The goal of higher education IS to enhance personal development and student learning.  Over the past 80+ years the path to achieve this goal has changed and evolved.  However, I think, and I believe that through all this time we as educators have two fundamental principles.

**First…higher education program depends heavily on the characteristics of the students attending  

**Second…higher education must recognize that there is more to learn than what is in books.

Student Learning, It Takes a Village

Practitioners and educators can operationalize these ideas by:

1. Don’t tell students, ask them to discover. The more we tell them, the less they learn.

2. We are here to guide, to help, to goad, to irritate, to stimulate, to make suggestions, point out problems, and above all, ask questions.

3. We are here to help them become their own explorers, inquirers, questioners, discoverers, experimenters.

4. We are here to help students learn how to learn and to learn to teach themselves.

5. We are here to raise questions, not provide answers; they are here to learn to question answers, not answer questions. 

Storytelling and Education: Tell Me, Show Me, Involve Me

What do you think of when you hear the word storytelling?
How do you think storytelling contributes to adult learning?

When I think of storytelling I think about sharing experiences and ideas with others in an interactive engagement.  The National Storytelling Network views storytelling as an art and states:

Storytelling is the interactive art of using words and actions to reveal the elements and images of a story while encouraging the listener’s imagination.

The mission of the National Storytelling Network (NSN) is to “advance all forms of storytelling within the community through promotion, advocacy and education.” The NSN vision expands on the mission by stating, “all people value the power of storytelling and its ability to connect, inspire, and instill respect within our hearts and communities.”

NOTE: The National Storytelling Network blog has some great articles.

Storytelling is old news.

We all enjoy a good story, and 27,000-year-old cave paintings indicate that this has probably always been the case. Oral storytelling can be traced back almost 200,000 years. Historically, stories have been used to inform, teach, entertain, form friendships, and pass down family beliefs and values. Storytelling has always been a powerful method of communication. This could be because of the brain’s knack for finding patterns.

A basic dictionary definition of learning is “the acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience, study, or by being taught.”  The dictionary definition does not describe “how” or by what “method” is best to acquire knowledge.  How each of us learn the best differs and I believe depending on the content the best learning style could change.  The 3 learning styles are:

Type of LearnersDescription
Visual LearnersStudents learn best when they can see/visualize the concepts. 
Auditory LearnersStudents learn best when they can hear an explanation of the concepts
Kinesthetic LearnersStudents learn best when they can actively engage with hand/bodies to experience the concept.
Individual Learning styles

Associated with the learning styles above there learning theories to consider. Keep in mind, that there is no one size fits all adult learning theory but several prevalent theories that could describe how adults learn best.  

Adult Learning TheoryDescription
AndragogyAdults use experiences to guide learning
TransformationalInspirational aha moments; thoughts and perspectives trigger learning
ExperientialAdults learn by doing

Constructivist Knowledge builds from putting meaning to experiences
Learning styles combined with use of storytelling & learning theory

Learning through storytelling actively engages adult learners in the process of knowledge acquisition.  Learning occurs by connecting meaning to the content presented. A few examples of story-based teaching techniques include case studies, role playing and autobiographical writing. Think back to teachers you’ve had in the past. Teachers who stood out as the “best” were intuitively using storytelling methods as educational tools.  I published a blog on July 22 about my first mentor Miss B.  She was a storyteller.  Learning was transformative, experiential, and what we learned built on our active participation through reading, listening and movement.

Research Supporting Storytelling 

Yackley (2007) research titled Storytelling: A Key to Adult Learning concludes that storytelling situates learners in a transformative learning experience. Using stories to improve learning costs nothing, yet it returns bountiful benefits. Adult learners remember more and what they learn becomes a part of them as they become a part of the lesson. Stories engage the mind of the learner.

Findings from the study Effectiveness of Storytelling on Adult Learning by Caminotti & Gray (2012) confirm that storytelling is effective as an adult teaching strategy.

Smith (2012) Lead with a Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives That Captivate, Convince, and Inspire discusses how storytelling is effective because it works for all types of learners.  Storytelling provides for visual learning (mental pictures), auditory learning (focus on words and voice), and kinesthetic learning (emotional connections and feelings).

D’Abate & Alpert (2017) examine storytelling as a mentoring tool in their study titled, Storytelling in Mentoring: An Exploratory, Qualitative Study of Facilitating Learning in Developmental Interactions.  The focus was on how stories can convey meaning, inspire listeners, and transmit wisdom to help students grow, learn, and develop. They conclude that storytelling is a powerful tool.

Finally, for those interested in more research, a corporate training site discusses 3 ways to use the power of storytelling along with a summary of supporting research. 

Boris (2017) article titled, What Makes Storytelling So Effective for Learning highlights and confirms the points from the prior research. The use of storytelling:

**creates a sense of connection
**builds familiarity and trust
**allows the listener to enter the story where they are
**makes students more open to learning
**enhances level of engagement
**conveys complex ideas in a simplified way

Malamed (2011) article provides a good summary of the benefits of storytelling to the educational process.

**Stories are emotional glue connects audience to message
**Stories reshape knowledge into something meaningful
**Stories make people care
**Stories are more likely to be shared
**Stories give meaning to data

Next week the idea of storytelling will switch from education perspective to a more personal perspective and expand on a prior blog published on August 26, Keepsakes & Memories.

Mentoring is Enduring…from Bloom to Blossom

Take a minute and watch the video below…I bet you will find meaning in the comments of these students while you are thinking about some of the people who were mentors or role models to you.

A high school classmate reached out this week for help with a project (part of her message is below). I shared her message on my Facebook page and have been thinking about Miss B. and my high school experience all week.  


Remember Miss B. (Betty Baumgardner) teacher from P.E.? Well, someone special is going to write a book about her life! She touched so many lives!!

There will be a chapter titled Bloomington High since that is where she dedicated the majority of her life. PLEASE help Miss Diana Chiles (English) and me by writing a few lines of appreciation or any stories about her from class or beyond.

I was a member the Senior Prep Assistant (SPA) program guided by Miss B.  

From high school yearbook

I now see that Miss B and being a SPA was the first step I took on the path of who I am and what I am doing even today by writing my blog.  She was the first person that influenced my personal development.  She was my first mentor.  I stated in my first blog

“Life is a bud that as we grow will bloom BUT how do we cultivate growth so our life blossoms to its fullest potential?  What are the pollinators that make this happen?”  

Serving as a SPA with Miss B. as the advisor I began to evolve and grow.

The term and meaning of ‘mentoring’ comes from ancient Greece, with the word mentoring coming from the Greek word for ‘enduring’.

Although the stories vary a little, around 1500BC King Odysseus was off to fight the Trojan War and needed to entrust the upbringing of his son, Telemachus, to a wise man who would teach and raise the young boy – help him learn what was right and just, be there to listen to his questions and generally, assist him to become a man of value and integrity.  This wise man’s name was ‘Mentor’.

The role of the modern mentor is not remarkably different from Mentor’s role 3500 years ago.

Teachers change lives…through education, inspiration, and guidance.

Miss B. wanted to develop a partnership with each of us.  She worked with us through a teaching strategy incorporating both ‘learning-centered’ (teacher decisions and actions will influence learning) and ‘learner-centered’ (teaching focused on how the individual student learns).  Her belief was that students should take responsibility for their own learning and her role was to aid in developing an active learning environment.  She accomplished this by knowing when to facilitate, guide, direct, coach, support, challenge, collaborate, cooperate, and share in the learning experience and how to incorporate various teaching styles.

Mentoring involves a close, individualized relationship with each student and this relationship develops overtime.  As a mentor Miss B. was a model, a motivator, and a counselor.  Miss B. built a relationship based on openness, trust, respect, encouragement, and constructive comments.  The willingness to learn and share was mutual. 

My time with Miss B. taught me that education can take place outside the traditional teacher-centered classroom environment. The impact of the entire educational setting provides this learning. The most important outcome for me, as a SPA, was an understanding of the educational impact of blending the academic and co-curricular experience.

Below are excerpts from Powerful Partnerships: A Shared Responsibility for Learning.  This document is a Joint Report by AAHE, ACPA, & NASPA published in 1998 and continues to be cited in current literature as guiding practice between academic and cocurricular collaboration.

Through Miss B.’s work as SPA advisor she was not only contributing to the educational environment at our school; she was preparing us for entry into college and life.

  • Learning is about making and maintaining connections.
  • Learning develops from challenges & opportunities.
  • Learning is an active search for meaning — constructing knowledge rather than passively receiving it.
  • Learning is a cumulative process. 
  • Learning occurs by individuals tied to others as social beings.
  • Learning improves by the educational climate in which it takes place.
  • Learning requires frequent feedback to be sustainable, practice to be nourished, and opportunities to use.
  • Learning requires an effort to transfer knowledge and skills to other circumstances.

This quote must have been written for Miss B.

I expect to pass through this world but once;
any good thing therefore that I can do,
or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature,
the time is now; let me not defer or neglect it,
for I shall not pass this way again. 
Stephen Grellet

Questions for your consideration:

What do mentors mean to you?
Who has been/who is your mentor?
In what way have you been a mentor?