On Monday evening, at the final gathering for 2017 of the College of Teachers was held to share some insights and thoughts on the year gone by, while also looking to 2018.
After inducting new members into the college, our guest presenter and 'Teacher Coach' from the Wenona School, Andrea Stringer shared her journey as a coach in her setting and provided a range of interesting reflections and thoughts for the attendees. This was a fascinating and insightful presentation that reiterated the subtle difference between mentoring and coaching, while also highlighting the need for coaches to challenge those they are working with to reflect and really think deeply about their practice.
Using a series of personal anecdotes, and some interesting videos, Andrea challenged the Barker College of Teachers to think about their own involvement and work as coaches. The acronym AWE - 'And What Else?', was a valuable reminder about the need to go beyond the comfort zone and push beyond the comfortable spaces when coaching others.
Andrea reminded us that coaching can take on a number of different formats, through small shared groups of teachers working together, through the observation and video analysis of a lesson, via an informal discussion about a section of a lesson taught and reviewed, a professional discussion in general about teaching and shared practice or just a phone conversation about ongoing development and improvement. Coaching can take on a multitude of forms and it is important that a high degree of trust is placed on the process.
As our lead coach, Len Nixon highlighted that "even the best in their fields have coaches, so it makes sense for us to have one". As Andrea completed her guest presentation, Dr Brad Merrick engaged members of the college in an activity where they shared their identities as teachers and how they came into the field, which provided a valuable opportunity to find common ground within the group. Prior to enjoying some light refreshments, Dr Greg Cunningham overviewed some of the key initiatives of the COT in 2018 before thanking those in attendance for their involvement in 2017.