I recently facilitated my first full day PD session and learned a lot about myself as a coach.
My Language Acquisition team had a day to work on several items, and I wondered how I would be able to meaningfully use the time, provide a diversity of activities, engage all team members and have a sense of achievement at the end of the day.
Through a cognitive coaching planning conversation, I was able to clarify my goals, establish success indicators, explore some strategies and establish learning outcomes both for my team and myself.
With the ideas from this session, a couple of readings from my Eduro coaching courses and some valuable conversations with more experienced coaches, I was able to come up with a plan for my day.
The 1st thing I did was to narrow down the main goal for the day. Instead of trying to tackle different items, I focused on unit design only for our curriculum development day. I believed it could meet what teachers want from PD.
I came up with these goals and agenda for our PD day:
It was important to me to state the overarching goal of developing common practices and understanding, our ultimate goal for this school year. But the whole day would certainly focus on the development of a set of units that we were about to start teaching.
I decided to start the day explaining/modeling the process with a unit that I developed with the help of the MYP Coordinator. After this introduction, groups worked independently developing units for different levels.
I wanted to enhance exchanges and give voice to all team members and, to do so, I followed the same structure twice.
I chose to work in two units (for different language levels) at the same time with different teachers responsible for each one them. Since most all of us teach the same units, I embedded sharing and feedback time after the unit design.
We followed the same process for another set of units, but with new groups.
At the end of the day, teachers had individual time to select activities that better suited their languages and teaching styles.
We started the day promptly at the fixed time with admin members recognizing the need of the time and thanking the team’s dedication.
After a quick review of the norms of collaboration and participant roles, I walked my team through the unit I had created stressing that it would never be finished, especially without the team’s feedback.
Although I had assigned groups, the team suggested a different distribution that I immediately accepted. I also proposed a time-frame for each element of Stages 1 and 2 of Unit Planning that was loosely followed.
During group work, I observed, asked clarifying questions, gave contributions when asked and tried to interfere in the process minimally.
After the group work time, each group presented their unit sketches, and we followed the warm and cold protocol for constructive feedback. I always offered my feedback 1st and successfully modeled the interactions.
We repeated the process for another set of two units and, before we parted for individual work, evaluated the day.
Facilitating this long session was incredibly rewarding not only because of the positive feedback from the group but because it enforced some beliefs that I try to live by when teaching.
- Always plan; exhaustedly plan! (and be flexible)
- Listen more. Talk less. Model!
- Give opportunities for choice & voice
It also allowed me to see the power of collaborative work and focused tasks.
As a facilitator, I wish to practice how to be more concise when presenting and exercise my paraphrasing. There is a lot of room for improvements in these areas!
Also, I am concerned that the same process won’t suit us again. I will have to try another structure, explore…
In fact, coaching reflects teaching and vice-versa. My strengths as one are the same as the other as well as my weaknesses. Growing as one will certainly make me grow as the other!
I look forward to facilitating another session!