Coaches motivate, inspire, and encourage their players by asking questions, dispensing advice, encouraging do-overs and repeating skills to achieve excellence, and providing opportunities for growth. How do coaches learn and perfect their own coaching techniques? How do they know the questions to ask and how do they practice their skills? As a peer technology coach, studying the ISTE Coaching Standards, I asked the question: What are examples of probing questions that allow for teacher to uncover a problem or dilemma that needs to be addressed while focusing on best practice of instruction? What questions will guide teacher to uncover-age without frustration?
Standard 1: Visionary Leadership
d. Implement strategies for initiating and sustaining technology innovations and manage the change process in schools and classrooms
Standard 2: Teaching, Learning, and Assessment
f. Coach teachers in and model incorporation of research-based best practices in instructional design when planning technology-enhanced learning experiences
Les Foltos told us in his text, “Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration,” that it’s not about the peer coach–it’s about the collaborating teacher. He reminded us that our role must always be to focus on the collaborating teacher and ensure her instruction is front and center to the discussion. As a peer coach, how do we begin our communication to help guide teachers to learning? Les Foltos shares here that when we are asking questions to our collaborating teacher, we must do the obvious,
First, it must be a question. This may seem obvious, but many people who use probing questions already have an answer in mind when they ask the question. If the questioner knows the answer he wants, he is simply masking his solution with a question mark.
I have found myself asking many questions to the many different teachers I work with but because of limited time with them or because I haven’t developed a deep professional relationship with my new colleagues, I ask the questions already knowing the answer. I am reminded to slow down and use probing questions to build collaborating teacher’s capacity “to create and offer students powerful learning activities.” I must also practice my coaching techniques even before working with collaborating teachers.
Which leads me to my initial question, “How do coaches learn and perfect their own coaching techniques? How do they know the questions to ask and how do they practice their skills?” Educator experts in coaching have developed a bank of powerful guiding probing questions.
Practice coaching is as important as practicing as the athlete. Finding time for a Google hangout with my SPU cohort colleagues or sit-down conversations with school district instructional coach colleagues have provided me the experience to practice the coaching methods I need to create a successful collaborative coaching relationship.
Aguilar, Elena. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://elenaaguilar.com/resources/coaching-tools/
Foltos, L. (2013). Peer coaching: Unlocking the power of collaboration. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Foltos, L. (2014). Https://learningforward.org/docs/default-source/JSD-June-2014/the-secret-to-great-coaching.pdf. The Secret to Great Coaching: Inquiry Methods Helping Teachers Take Ownership of Their Learning, 35(3), 28-31. Retrieved from https://learningforward.org/docs/default-source/JSD-June-2014/the-secret-to-great-coaching.pdf
ISTE Standards. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards
Thompson-Grove, G. (n.d.). Pocket guide to probing questions. School Reform Initiatives: A Community of Learners. Retrieved from http://schoolreforminitiative.org/doc/probing_questions_guide.pdf