As a specialist with a fixed schedule, I find myself time and again returning the issue of time and its role in the peer coaching process. Time and time-related issues come up often in the findings section at the end of several studies regarding the efficacy of peer coaching in education. A solution often mentioned is to have the librarian cover classes so you can meet with your peer… (I mentioned this possible solution to myself and we agreed that this is not a viable option.)
ISTE-C Standard 1: Visionary Leadership
b. Contribute to the planning, development, communication, implementation, and evaluation of technology-infused strategic plans at the district and school levels
d. Implement strategies for initiating and sustaining technology innovations and manage the change process in schools and classrooms
With this concept of limited time influencing much of the framework of my peer coaching plan, I feel like working with a job-alike peer at another school within my district may be the most effective model. Dr. David Baker’s March 2013 article “21 Strategies for Teacher-Librarian Professional Development” in Library Media Connection is an amazing resource as it is quite evident the author in grounded in practicality. His ideas are not one-size-fits-all but instead model flexibility and adaptivity, two of the most vital skills present in a productive and sustainable peer coaching relationship. Strategy #3: Allow for scheduling flexibility. “Always be willing and able to make mid-course corrections and allow the PD calendar to be just what it is — a planning document. It should not be viewed as something that is set in stone.” (Utilizing Google Hangouts and other web-conferencing tools seem to be one of the most likely approaches, to eliminate travel and school scheduling issues). Strategy #6: Divide and conquer. “Holding professional development for a specific level allows for more focused professional development without making staff at other levels feel left out or bored.” (Primary and secondary staff have different needs — ignoring our differences does not make them go away. Why struggle to meet the needs of all simultaneously when smaller, targeted PD offerings can make a bigger impact?)
With Baker’s strategies in mind, I’m looking forward to developing a peer coaching relationship with a lesser experienced teacher librarian in my district. The peer coaching model lends itself to quality and impactful professional development (PD). As new reports continue to highlight the disconnect in PD needs for educators and PD practices in districts throughout the nation (Gates Foundation 2015; THE Journal 9/26/16), it’s becoming more apparent that waiting for a ready-made solution to fall from the sky is not necessarily a feasible approach. Instead, peer coaching strategies can lead to tailored and impactful PD. Chris Gustafson’s article “Collaborating with Colleagues: None of Us is as Smart as All of Us” (Jan/Feb 2013 Library Media Connection) doesn’t spell out peer coaching as a model approach, but all of the elements of a successful peer coaching relationship are there: mentorship, flexibility, sympathize and strategize, organization, sharing. Her article will act as a wonderful starting point in initial discussions and planning with my colleague.
I’m looking forward to seeing where this partnership leads in the months ahead, and I embark on the journey knowing full well that I lack the capacity to make lasting and impactful changes on my own. With Mister Rogers and Mother Teresa’s words guiding my way, how could I not find success? Every small step is an important one and will help develop trust with my colleague as we seek to enact meaningful change in our cohort’s practices. I don’t believe that this will be an easy process, especially keeping in mind the limited flexibility within my current school schedule. “Doing something that’s hard can help you to grow” but “together we can do something wonderful”. I’m looking forward to it.
Baker, D. C. (2013). 21 strategies for teacher-librarian professional development. Library Media Connection, 31(5), 38-41.
Beglau, M., Hare, J. C., Foltos, L., Gann, K., James, J., Jobe, H., … & Smith, B. (2011). Technology, coaching, and community. In ISTE, An ISTE White Paper, Special Conference Release. Retrieved from http://www.isteconference.org/uploads/ISTE2013/HANDOUTS/KEY_81724011/Coaching_Whitepaper_digital.pdf
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. (2015). Teachers know best: Teachers’ views on professional development. Retrieved from http://k12education.gatesfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Gates-PDMarketResearch-Dec5.pdf
Foltos, L. (2013). Coaching roles and responsibilities. In Peer coaching: Unlocking the power of collaboration (pp. 1-22). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Gustafson, C. (2013). Collaborating with colleagues: None of us is as smart as all of us. Library Media Connection, 31(4), 26-27.
Hirsch, J. (2015, June 4). Share “feedforward,” not feedback [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/share-feedforward-not-feedback-joe-hirsch
International Society for Technology in Education. (2016). ISTE standards for coaches. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-coaches
Jones, L. (2014, July 28). The power of teaching collaboration [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.teachingchannel.org/blog/2014/07/18/power-of-teacher-collaboration-nea/
Schaffhauser, D. (2016, September 26). Report builds case for failure in teacher PD. Retrieved from https://thejournal.com/articles/2016/09/26/report-builds-case-for-failure-in-teacher-pd.aspx
Mister Rogers: By KUHT [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/36/Fred_Rogers%2C_late_1960s.jpg