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Amplify Your Impact

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Amplify Your Impact presents K-12 educators and school leadership with a framework for improving collaboration and teambuilding for teachers in their PLCs. The authors share best practices and processes teams can rely on to ensure they are doing the right work in a cycle of continuous improvement. Discover concrete action steps your school can take to adopt proven collaborative coaching methods, fortify teacher teams, and ultimately improve student learning in classrooms.

Adopt a team-teaching approach to coaching using this book:

  • Gain insights from teachers and empirical evidence from schools that confirm the benefits of how coaching and refining collaborative teams can strengthen PLCs.
  • Use the Pathways Tool for Coaching Collaborative Teams to guide your team's conversations and team-based learning.
  • Learn how to develop and use the strategy implementation guide (SIG) to map out your collaborative team success.
  • Analyze coaching scenarios that illustrate how to turn ineffective team meetings into positive collaborative learning experiences.
  • Increase instructional leadership development that promotes reflective coaching and a collaborative approach.

Contents:
Introduction

Part I: The Why, How, and What of Coaching Collaborative Teams
Chapter 1: Combining Coaching and Collaboration
Chapter 2: Coaching Collaborative Teams in a PLC

Part II: The Framework for Coaching Collaborative Teams
Chapter 3: Amplifying Your Impact With Clarity
Chapter 4: Amplifying Your Impact With Feedback
Chapter 5: Amplifying Your Impact With Support

Part III: Putting It All Together to Amplify Your Impact
Chapter 6: Making it Real: Coaching Scenarios


Afterword
References and Resources
Index

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Chapter 1

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CHAPTER 1

Combining Collaboration and Coaching

Research findings indicate that effective coaching structures promote a collaborative culture where large numbers of school personnel feel ownership and responsibility for leading improvement efforts in teaching and learning.

—ANNENBERG INSTITUTE FOR SCHOOL REFORM

Collaboration and coaching are familiar concepts in schools. There is a considerable body of anecdotal and empirical evidence that show both have a positive impact on teaching and learning. However, these two powerful concepts remain largely independent from one another within the context of improving schools. We believe it is time to re-examine the traditional perspective on both coaching and collaboration in order to amplify the effect each can have on teaching and learning.

When implementing a new teaching strategy or curriculum, teachers often seek out colleagues and form informal coaching relationships. In creating these ad hoc, sometimes impromptu partnerships, “They seek out relationships with more knowledgeable or experienced colleagues to ask advice, model lessons, or start an inquiry group” (Yang, 2016, p. 50). Schools can capitalize on teachers’ natural inclination to work together by creating formal coaching structures that support the work of collaborative teams within PLCs.

 

Chapter 2

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CHAPTER 2

Coaching Collaborative

Teams in a PLC

A well-designed and supported coaching program weds the core elements of effective professional development with the essential goals of professional learning communities in ways that advance both school and systemic improvement.

—ANNENBERG INSTITUTE FOR SCHOOL REFORM

At their core, educators are driven to make a difference and provide students with productive options beyond their high school years. Many school and district leaders select the PLC model as the major improvement initiative for their school. Some have come to this decision after years of struggle with lower-than-expected levels of student achievement. Others enter this work knowing most of their students are already achieving at high levels. Regardless of their student-achievement scores or demographics, these schools commit to learning for all—whatever it takes (DuFour et al., 2016).

When we, as a staff, commit to learning for all, we agree to take collective responsibility for all students, no matter what their circumstances. We commit to the uncomfortable work of being self-reflective and changing our practice to become a more productive collaborative team. More productive teams lead to better teachers, and better teachers lead to increased student achievement.

 

Chapter 3

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CHAPTER 3

Amplifying Your

Impact With Clarity

The importance of clarity is based on the premises that we move toward what is clearest to us and that it is very difficult to create what we cannot describe in detail.

—NICHOLAS SPARKS

When reflecting on the growth and popularity of the PLC process as a model of school improvement, DuFour and colleagues (2016) comment:

It has been interesting to observe the growing popularity of the term professional learning community. In fact, the term has become so commonplace and has been used so ambiguously to describe virtually any loose coupling of individuals who share a common interest in education that it is in danger of losing all meaning. (p. 10)

They go on to point out that, “This lack of precision is an obstacle to implementing

PLC processes” (p. 10).

Indeed, clarity is key. This clarity is a fundamental element of our coaching framework. Before teachers can benefit from collaboration’s power, they must understand what it takes to fully implement the PLC process. As we mention in the introduction to this book, a critical difference between teams operating as either PLC lite or

 

Chapter 4

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CHAPTER 4

Amplifying Your Impact

With Feedback

Feedback is not just what gets ranked; it’s what gets thanked, commented on, and invited back or dropped. Feedback can be formal or informal, direct or implicit; it can be blunt or baroque, totally obvious or so subtle that you’re not sure what it is.

—DOUGLAS STONE AND SHEILA HEEN

In the best schools, leaders know not to limit feedback to teachers who are new to the profession or struggling in their classroom. Nor should they reserve feedback for teachers who are in the midst of an evaluation cycle. All teachers benefit from having regular opportunities to seek out and receive feedback from their peers and school leaders.

Collaborative teams also benefit from frequent opportunities for feedback. Indeed, highly effective collaborative teams do not occur by hope or happenstance; they need clarity, feedback, and support. This chapter focuses on the second element in our coaching framework: feedback. It defines feedback, identifies what makes good feedback, looks at how to provide feedback and how to apply feedback, and how feedback connects to the SIG.

 

Chapter 5

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CHAPTER 5

Amplifying Your Impact

With Support

A positive school culture is a place where . . . educators create policies and procedures and adopt practices that support their belief in the ability of every student.

—ANTHONY MUHAMMAD

So far, we have discussed how to help collaborative teams create a SIG to clarify their vision, and we described why providing teams with feedback about their development is so important in helping them become more effective. Eaker and Dillard

(2017) find that:

Helping collaborative teams perform at a high level requires recognition of the fact that adults, like students, learn at different rates. 

. . . For leaders of PLCs, this means that some teams will require more, and different, additional time and support in order to continually improve the quality of their collaborative efforts. (p. 47)

This chapter focuses on the pathways for coaching collaborative teams in a PLC, which provide collaborative teams with differentiated support and increase their effectiveness in answering the four critical questions of a PLC (DuFour et al., 2016):

 

Chapter 6

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CHAPTER 6

Making It Real:

Coaching Scenarios

Coaching is aimed at trying to help someone learn, grow, or change.

—DOUG STONE AND SHEILA HEEN

In this chapter, we focus on application, examining two different coaching scenarios. The first scenario takes place at the fictitious A. C. Doyle Elementary, where we observe a fourth-grade team and watch as it meets to discuss the results of a language arts assessment. The setting for the second scenario is the fictitious Pratt High School, where an algebra 1 team is working to improve its instructional practices. Although these two schools are fictional, the scenarios draw on our extensive work in real schools as coaches with real teacher teams.

Our hope is that these lifelike scenarios provide concrete examples of how coaches can use clarity (the SIG); feedback (the three different coaching stances—consultant, collaborator, and coach of reflective thinking); and support (the pathways) to positively impact the overall productivity of collaborative teams in a PLC.

 

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