What is Peer Coaching?
Peer Coaching is a professional learning program that supports integration of 21st Century Skills into programming and learning activities. Through a ‘coaching cycle’ a coach works with a teacher to assess, plan, prepare, implement and reflect on a change in classroom practice that ultimately embeds 21st Century Learning opportunities in activities. Peer Coaches have skills that help them to work with teachers in a collegial manner that supports teachers making decisions and choosing outcomes that best suit their classroom. It is a program that nurtures sustainable change and ICT integration in schools over time.
Developed by Dr Les Foltos, Peer Coaching has been the focus of professional learning in many schools around the globe. In Australia schools from K through to 12 have found success and developed a positive, school outcome focussed professional learning community through peer coaching.
Approximately 60 participants from the Perth metropolitan area and Pilbara region in Western Australia’s North West have recently completed the fourth and final day of the Microsoft accredited ICT Peer Coaching course. The original Microsoft course was modified to include the Western Australian curriculum and the unique online environment Connect to build a relevant model of professional learning focusing on collaboration within schools and across networks of schools. Designed to help teachers embed the use of 21st Century ICT into daily classroom use for students, the course facilitated analysis, questioning, action and reflection of the ways Connect could be used by students, teachers and parents.
The course was delivered in a blended format by the Department of Education’s E-Schooling officers Jan Loftus and Jeni McAuliffe after working with Microsoft consultant Pip Cleaves. An ICT Peer Coaching Community was set up in Connect for coaches to seek and provide support, ideas and resources on their journey to becoming an effective coach. The success of this Connect community is now apparent with regular reflective discussions and sharing of resources. This opportunity for engagement in coaching conversations within or across schools has contributed to a shift from teachers being ICT experts to realising the significant value of using careful questioning, active listening and skilful reflection strategies.
Pilbara school coaches built confidence to support teachers to use features in Connect such as sharing student learning experiences with parents online, using digital resources with students and uploading learning activities into Learning Content in Connect Classes.
Emma Baker, from Baynton West Primary School in Karratha posted in the ICT Peer Coaching Community, ‘My Teacher Development Coach role has enabled me to work with many teachers across the Pilbara to build capacity in ICT. I have worked with coachees to embed Connect into planning, teaching and assessment, and develop video conferencing skills”.
Participants generally coached two or three other teachers in their school and the stage is now set for this professional learning model to continue to grow.
From here, some of the coaches will deliver the Peer Coaching modules to other teachers to receive a further level of accreditation as ICT Peer Coach Facilitators.