Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration
Publication Year: 2013
Teachers are better together!
Nationally and internationally, educators are excited about Les Foltos' techniques for effective peer coaching. The model for Peer Coaching outlined in his 2011 TED talk has been implemented in 40 countries and counting with powerful results.
Now you have it in this concise guide to effective coaching! Train teachers to help each other refine their classroom strategies and tailor them to 21st Century needs. Foltos' insights include
How peer coaching that makes a difference involves much more than just one teacher offering another advice.
How a coaching relationship is first built on trust, and then on the willingness to take risks.
Why peer coaching should focus on adapting teaching methods to the technological future of education.
For schools to effect the changes the future demands, teachers must ...
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
- Chapter 1: Coaching Roles and Responsibilities
- Coaching: Getting Started
- Coaching Roles
- Understanding the Environment for Coaching
- Defining the Coaching Relationship
- Relationships, Respect, and Trust
- Expert vs. Trust
- How Coaches Carry Out Roles
- Chapter 2: Why Peer Coaching?
- Professional Development: Wishful Thinking
- Professional Learning That Works
- Improving Practice Can Only Be Done by Teachers, Not to Teachers
- Characteristics of Effective Professional Development
- Highly Collaborative
- Intensive and Ongoing
- On the Job, Connected to Classroom Practice
- Peer Coaching and Effective Professional Learning
- Peer Coaches' Effectiveness
- Riding the Wave of the Ripple Effect
- Washington State: Enhanced Peer Coaching
- Wisconsin's Peer Coaching Collaborative
- Chapter 3: Preparing Coaches
- Who Coaches and Why?
- From Teacher Leader to Coach: What Do Peer Coaches Need to Know?
- Coaching Skills: Communication and Collaboration Skills
- Lesson Design
- ICT Integration
- Content-Specific Training?
- Peer Coach Training at a Glance
- Highly Collaborative
- Connected to Classroom Practice
- Intensive, Sustained
- Chapter 4: The Coaching Plan
- Is Coaching Right for Your School?
- Creating the Coaching Plan
- Elements of the Coaching Plan
- Academic Focus
- Collaborating Teachers
- Three Models for Choosing a Collaborating Teacher
- Coach Roles and Responsibilities
- Aligning Professional-Development Efforts
- Measuring Progress
- Coaching Plan: Next Steps
- Building Capacity: Bringing Coaching to Scale
- Chapter 5: Communication and Collaboration
- Collaboration Needs to Be “…Structured, Taught, and Learned”
- Meeting Norms
- Collaborative Norms
- Communication Skills
- Active Listening
- Clarifying Questions
- Probing Questions
- Inquiry Over Advocacy
- Developing Communication and Collaboration Skills
- Conducting a Planning Meeting
- Moving from Nice to Innovation
- Removing the Fear Factor
- Safety Net
- Small Changes: Continuous Improvement
- Model Risk Taking
- Challenging Probing Questions
- Chapter 6: Defining Effective Learning Activities
- Characteristics of Effective Learning
- Norm for Effective Learning
- Assess Lesson Design
- Start Positive
- Start Small
- Chapter 7: Lesson-Improvement Process
- Create a Task
- Define Standards
- Learning Context
- Student Directions
- Reflection and Feedback
- Chapter 8: Enhancing Learning by Integrating Technology
- Coaching: Linking Learning and Technology
- Test Scores and Technology Integration
- It's Not About the Technology, It's About the Learning
- Technology as Play-Doh
- Transforming Traditional Teaching and Learning?
- Supporting and Enhancing 21st-Century Learning
- Pedagogy Needs to Drive Technology Use
- Technology Integration Redefined
- Coaching Teachers to Integrate Technology
- Peer Coaching Technology Integration Toolkit
- Lesson-Improvement Process
- Peeling the Onion
- Emphasizing Student Tasks
- Chapter 9: Connecting Coaching Skills to Practice
- Learning from Successes and Challenges
- Collaboration to Improve Learning
- Focus on the Learners
- Preobservation Meetings
- Effective Reflection
- Collaborative Norms
- Video and Observation
- The Power of Protocols
- Ongoing Professional Learning
- Chapter 10: Sustaining Coaching and Building Capacity
- Implementing Peer Coaching: The Basics
- Peer Coaching: Expense vs. Investment
- Building Support to Build Capacity
- School Leadership
- Communicating About Coaching
- Vision Building
- Building Capacity to Improve Teaching and Learning and Build Support
- More Peer Coaches
- Creating a Norm for Effective Learning
- Peer Coaches and Professional Learning Communities
- Peer Coaching and Culture
- “It's a System Thing, Not a Single Thing”
- Edmonds School District's Peer Coaching Experience
- Peer Coaching in Flagstaff
- Apache Junction and Peer Coaching
- Final Thoughts
[Page i]There is much rhetoric in education around the role of peer coaching for teachers, but less understanding of how to make coaching effective. Dr. Foltos has been at the front of the peer coaching movement with more than a decade of experience working in over 40 countries to build communities of professional learners supporting each other. Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration draws on this experience to provide a detailed topography of why teacher professional learning through peer coaching is so important in enabling teachers as partners in improving learning for students. At the core is a simple message, working together on improving teaching and learning in a supportive environment makes a big difference for children. The book explains in detail the how to make this work!Greg Butler, Senior Director Education Strategic Partnership
The insights and ideas in this book work in many ways as a guide for the school leader and peer who wants to build a climate of sharing and collaboration built on trust and reflection. Based on his vast experience, research, and empathy Les Foltos shows anyone involved in education the path to future learning environments.Mike Hellgren, Teacher and Peer Coach
Dr. Les Foltos offers a wonderful insight into the theoretical world of peer coaching as well as invaluable practical lessons gained from many years of observing and supporting teachers across the globe. I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone with a passion for collaborating with colleagues to improve the future of their students.Christine Simmons, Master Trainer, Executive Coach
The book explains in words what every teacher and school leader should already be considering: how to prepare our students for the coming century by collaborating, sharing, and using technology as a powerful tool.Jerker Porat, Teacher and Peer Coach
Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration will be a useful tool for any district undertaking the development of a peer coaching program. The future of education rests on collaboration among teachers to provide the best learning activities and embedded technology for students, and peer coaching provides the vehicle that will allow that collaboration to be effective.Kay Teehan, Technology Resource Specialist, Polk County Schools
In this book, Les Foltos presents an outstanding and practical case for schools to develop staff by utilizing peer coaching. As a result, today's students will learn the 21st century skills they will need for the future.Dr. Linda Gross Cheliotes, School Leadership Coach, Coaching For Results Global
This book narrows in on an important concept: people discuss the importance of collaboration, but successful collaboration is rarely defined. Through Peer Coaching, Les Foltos analyzes factors and processes of how to develop innovative, coherent, educational instruction, with student learning central to its focus.Maria Muzzo, K–8 Teacher and PhD candidate in Education, University of Washington
[Page ii]To my children, Jack and Greta, whose support and patience made this possible.
Copyright © 2013 by Corwin
All rights reserved. When forms and sample documents are included, their use is authorized only by educators, local school sites, and/or noncommercial or nonprofit entities that have purchased the book. Except for that usage, no part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
All trade names and trademarks recited, referenced, or reflected herein are the property of their respective owners who retain all rights thereto.
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The idea to train peer coaches grew out of my search for strategies that would help teachers improve teaching and learning. Research and experience have shown that collaboration among teachers is the key toward this endeavor.
The early efforts I led at collaborative professional learning helped teachers improve their practice, but what they learned rarely spread beyond their classrooms. Spreading innovative practices across a school seemed to require some sort of key to unlock the power of collaboration. Schools needed teacher leaders to lead collaborative professional learning in their schools. Peer Coaches could be that key.
Four nucleotides make up the DNA of Peer Coaching. The first is the fact that effective professional learning results from collaborating with a peer, someone teachers know and respect and who is just down the hall to help when needed. The second is the belief that collaboration is more successful if one of the peers is a Peer Coach who is highly skilled in communication, collaboration, lesson design, and integrating technology. Third, successful coaches need a willing, engaged learning partner. Finally, if we want to avoid creating more small-scale, short-lived educational experiments, coaching needs to be part of a plan that aligns coaching with the school's goals and provides the support the Peer Coach and her or his learning partner need for success.
[Page xii]Today, in more than 40 countries, teachers who collaborate with a Peer Coach report that their Peer Coach provides a safety net that encourages them to take risks to improve teaching and learning. Working with a Peer Coach, they are engaged in a process of continuous improvement designed to help their students learn the basics and 21st-century skills. Peer Coaches have demonstrated that they are effective at unlocking the power of collaboration to improve teaching and learning (Ley, 2011; Liston & Ragan, 2010).How Will This Book Help You?
This book blends theory, the research behind coaching, and practice. Its unique strength comes from the practical experiences shared by dozens of highly successful Peer Coaches from the United States and across the world. Their shared experiences offer invaluable guidance and advice that will help coaches succeed. The book also features resources drawn from Peer Coach training activities that will be valuable to anyone interested in coaching. Some of these include a template for creating a Coaching Plan, the Learning Activity Checklist, a research-based tool that defines the qualities of highly effective learning, and a step-by-step lesson-improvement process used by coaches and their learning partners to translate the checklist into effective classroom learning. In addition, the book draws on my experiences helping educators implement coaching in hundreds of school districts around the world, experiences that provide rich resources that will guide coaches and school leaders to implement coaching successfully.Who Should Use This Book
The book is designed for educators who believe the future of education depends on effective collaboration among teachers to improve teaching and learning. It addresses a variety of issues [Page xiii]school leaders face as they implement a coaching program to improve teaching and learning. Teacher leaders who are moving into coaching roles will find the book provides a wealth of practical insights into strategies for effective coaching.Educators New to Coaching
I hope the book encourages educators who are considering coaching to adopt it and provides insights and resources vital to implementing a successful Peer Coaching program for those educators just launching one. For example, it defines the attributes of successful coaches to help schools make wise choices as they select Peer Coaches and offers proven strategies for selecting teachers to collaborate with coaches. The book provides an understanding of the roles Peer Coaches and their collaborating teachers play. Successful coaching is far more difficult than having one peer offer advice to another, and the book provides advice from successful coaches on strategies and skills they have used. Finally, this work is designed to provide prospective Peer Coaches and school leaders with ideas on how to align peer coaching with school goals and how to support and sustain coaching successfully.Experienced Educators
The book is also designed for principals, coaches, and educators in schools that already have coaching programs and are looking for ways to make coaching more effective. While the book emphasizes one type of Peer Coaching, much of what makes these Peer Coaches successful is immediately relevant to any coach focused on improving teaching and learning. The issues I address throughout the book, like building trust, using communication skills to build a safety net, and emphasizing inquiry to build capacity to improve student learning, have value for any educator involved in coaching. Schools involved in coaching should benefit from my materials on how schools and districts can successfully support and sustain [Page xiv]coaching. In addition, the book offers valuable insights into how to use coaching to produce systemic improvement in teaching and learning.Book at a Glance
Chapter 1 explains the roles Peer Coaches assume and how they play these roles to create a relationship based on respect and trust. It also explores strategies coaches can use to build this kind of relationship with their collaborating teachers.
Chapter 2 examines the research about the strategies that are most likely to improve student learning, research on effective professional learning, and how Peer Coaching aligns with both fields of research.
Chapter 3 defines three critical coaching skills, communication and collaboration skills, lesson-design skills, and technology integration and outlines why these skills are essential to build the coach's capacity to assist other teachers to improve instruction.
Chapter 4 outlines a step-by-step look at the elements of a Coaching Plan designed to align coaching with the school's goals and make Peer Coaching effective. It also explores how school leaders can use the planning process as part of their overall strategy to build their schools’ collective capacity to improve teaching and learning.
Chapter 5 offers insight into communication and collaboration skills Peer Coaches need to be successful. It also provides insights into how Peer Coaches use these skills to create a safety net that encourages their collaborating teachers to take risks and improve teaching and learning.
Chapter 6 examines the importance of creating a norm for effective learning for successful Peer Coaching and the broader success of schoolwide improvement of teaching and learning. It also provides practical insights into how Peer Coaches can use this norm to assist peers in the ongoing process of improving teaching and learning.
[Page xv]Chapter 7 gives educators a structured lesson-improvement process and related resources that coaches and their collaborating teachers have successfully used to improve learning activities to help students develop basic skills and 21st-century skills.
Chapter 8 provides insights into the ways Peer Coaches use learning tasks like communication or collaboration as the starting points for integrating technology and offers other key approaches coaches use to ensure that teachers use technology to enhance 21st-century learning.
Chapter 9 explores the ongoing development of coaches after they have gained some on-the-job coaching experiences. It examines the strategies and tools coaches can use to shape structured discussions about successes and challenges they face and their use of protocols to foster safe, focused reflective discussions after observing a peer.
Chapter 10 provides insights into strategies successful Peer Coaches have used to build support for coaching within the school and how these efforts can align with school and school district efforts to create capacity to improve teaching and learning.
I have been constantly amazed at the ways these dedicated and skillful professionals have helped peers to improve teaching and learning. I hope this book encourages schools to rely on Peer Coaching to unlock the power of collaboration to improve teaching and learning in their schools.[Page xvi]
Many people contributed to Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration. Karen Meyer, Karen Peterson, and I shaped the initial curriculum and implementation model for Peer Coaching while we worked together at a nonprofit now known as the Edlab Group. Karen Meyer took the lead in drafting much of the curriculum we use to prepare coaches. Over the past 20 years, she has also taught me the value of collaboration and what it takes to make collaboration between teachers effective. Karen Peterson provided badly needed organizational skills to bring the curriculum together and brought those same skills to our efforts to implement and assess the Peer Coaching program. Eeva Reeder joined the three of us at crucial points and provided critical ideas on the attributes of highly effective teaching and learning. Without them, Peer Coaching wouldn't exist. Mike McMann, Vicky Ragan, Shelee King-George, and Matt Huston joined us at various stages along the way and helped partners around the world to implement Peer Coaching. They drew on these experiences to revise and improve Peer Coaching in ways that better met the needs of educators. In addition, I learned a great deal from each of them and hope some small part of that learning is reflected here.
Late in 2003, Greg Butler recognized the value of collaboration for educators and gave us the opportunity to make Peer Coaching part of Microsoft's new Partners in Learning program. He opened the door to expand Peer Coaching [Page xviii]beyond Washington State. Ana Teresa Ralston immediately recognized the value of Peer Coaching and led Brazil to become the first country to implement Peer Coaching. Her ideas and support gave me the confidence to encourage other countries to adopt Peer Coaching. Since then, more than 40 countries have adopted and implemented Peer Coaching. David Walddon also understood the value coaches could play in improving teaching and learning and championed Peer Coaching throughout his tenure in Microsoft's Partners in Learning program. Their support gave me the chance to work with thousands of educators from around the world and provided the learning opportunities that made this book possible.
Many educators provided direct assistance as I wrote this book. Over the years, hundreds of Peer Coaches and the teachers they have collaborated with have shared their experiences with me. More than 100 Peer Coaches from eight countries were willing to endure my interviewing skills and share what they learned from their experiences. Mary Knight, Mary Lou Ley, Kim Mathey, and Tracy Watanabe repeatedly offered me extensive insights into the successes and challenges they faced as they implemented Peer Coaching. Without the experiences of each of these educators who were willing to share their learning, this book would be nothing but theory. Norm Lee and Eva Pethrus both offered a different kind of support. Each repeatedly encouraged me to write this book because they felt educators would benefit. I needed that push.
Maria Muzzo, Bryce Nelson, Chris Simmons, Karen Soine, and David Walddon read each of the chapters and offered critical insights into how to improve the text. Julie Lorton and Karen Meyer also read some sections of the text and shared their wisdom and expertise. The book is much stronger as a result of the contributions each of them made. Any weaknesses are a result of my failure to listen to their advice more closely.[Page xix]Publisher's Acknowledgments
Corwin wishes to acknowledge the following peer reviewers for their editorial insight and guidance.
- Dr. Linda Gross Cheliotes, School Leadership Coach
- Coaching For Results Global
- Hoyt, KS
- Maria Muzzo, K–8 Teacher and PhD candidate in Education, University of Washington
- Seattle, WA
- Dr. Marceta Fleming Reilly, Leadership Coach, Corwin Author
- Coaching For Results Global
- Hoyt, KS
- Kay Teehan, Technology Resource Specialist
- Polk County Schools
- Lakeland, FL
- Dr. Claudia Thompson
- Academic Officer, Learning and Teaching
- Peninsula School District
About the Author
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CORWIN: A SAGE Company[Page 209]
The Corwin logo—a raven striding across an open book—represents the union of courage and learning. Corwin is committed to improving education for all learners by publishing books and other professional development resources for those serving the field of PreK–12 education. By providing practical, hands-on materials, Corwin continues to carry out the promise of its motto: “Helping Educators Do Their Work Better.”