Knight (Knight, 2008) presents eight components of instructional coaching: Enroll, Identify, Explain, Model, Observe, Explore, Refine and Reflect. I’ve posted about Enroll, Identify and Explain, and Model and Observe.
Knight explains that the exploration stage should happen soon after the model and observe stages. The two collaborators should meet very soon after the observation to discuss the observation, using the data for further dialogue. It is important for the instructional coach to highlight the positive aspects of the lesson observed, ensuring that any compliment is genuine and authentic. Knight reminds us that positive feedback should be specific, direct and nonattributive. The explanation given is that vague or attributive compliments do not give a person any new knowledge about what he knows about himself, but a specific, direct, nonattributive compliment highlights a specific act that the person may not even have been aware of the action or impact. The instructional coach also shares her opinion, and should be careful to present it in such a way that it is clear that it’s just one perspective and there are other equally valid points of view. Dialogue is very important here so that both the teacher and instructional coach can learn from the observation and come to agreement about next steps.
The next component is refinement. This component is concerned with customizing the process for the needs of the teacher. This means deciding which of the ?? components of coaching to use, and in what order. In deciding the components to use, the instructional coach must know what the teacher needs, because the coach should provide the optimal amount of coaching to the teacher, which is just enough for each chosen intervention. When the teacher has attained the goal set, the collaborators shift their focus to a new goal.
The final component of coaching is reflection. Both the coach and the teacher should be learning from the coaching experience. While the teacher is learning a teaching practice, the coach can be learning a variety of things including coaching skills. It is important for the coach to record what she is learning. One useful model may be to keep a record of the desired outcome, the actual outcome, an explanation of the discrepancy and a discussion of possible modifications to the process for better results.
I was unclear about what was meant by nonattributive. Knight explained it as making sure that the compliment focuses on an action/experience rather than an attribute. The example contrasts the impact of wait time (you waited 10 s which gave Ashley enough time to correctly answer a question and she was clearly excited about her success) over patience (you were patient).
I used to think that Knight meant the components to be linear, and was struggling with that. The refinement step clarified the process for me and made the components seem more useful in practice.
I do reflect about my experiences working with teachers but I don’t always make time to write down what I learned, or I don’t keep track of my reflections in an organized way. I’ve recently decided to use Evernote for all my note-taking, unless the minutes are being kept in a collaborative Google document. I think that it would be a good idea for me to make an Evernote for every meeting that I attend, even if to indicate that the minutes are in a Google document. It’s easy to lose tract of information or become overwhelmed with the multiple ways of receiving and accessing information. It would be useful to me to have one tool for everything. Because I take lots of notes on my phone and iPad, Evernote seems a good option.
Book Citation: Knight, J. (Ed.). (2008). Coaching: Approaches and perspectives. Corwin Press.