Tag Archives: Coaching

Mooc complete, woop woop!

Wow, what a sense of accomplishment I am feeling from completing my first mooc.  I was getting nervous when I found out there was a final exam that included viewing a video of an actual coaching session then critiquing the effectiveness of the coach. I am so glad I “stuck” with it, haha get it changes that stick and I stuck with it, anyway It was definitely harder than I had anticipated but feeling good about my 90.8% for a final grade.

cerificate mooc

Learning in a mooc has been both interesting and challenging and I’d like to take some blog space to reflect upon my experience.  For those of you in the dark about moocs take some time to check it out, you just might find yourself joining one!


Digital Project Reflection

When I first began to think about my digital project back in September I was not sure what exactly to expect.  I decided on option c which was to join and share my learning in a mooc.  I started my search for a mooc that would be beneficial to my learning and career and ended up on the Coursera web-site. On the site I came across one that seemed to be perfect for me as I move forward in my teaching career.  I chose “Coaching Teachers: Promoting Changes That Stick”. I registered and I was on my way.  This was really my first mooc experience as I had joined a mooc earlier in the year but never fully completed all the requirements and it just sort of fizzled out for me so now was my time to see what a mooc was all about.

I started the introductory week and was immediately struck by one, how many other people were also enrolled in the mooc, and two, the distances they were enrolled from. I was in this experience with educators from all over the world.  This experience was already connecting me beyond how I’ve ever worked before.  So, I started with my introduction in the discussion areas and read and posted on other introductions.  The first week ended with a welcome video and introduction of what was to come.  The expectation was to every week watch the lecture videos, read the included text documents, complete a mandatory quiz, and make at least two posts on the discussion boards.  I could compare it to the expected weekly work in my ETAD classes.  I was feeling optimistic.

Week one of content went pretty good.  I watched the videos, did the readings, and completed my quiz in three tries.  By the way, you are expected to do the quiz and get 100%, good thing they gave me five tries!  To check out the content I covered in week one see my blog post “My effective coaching project is underway!“. It was going well with content, the trouble came when it came to the discussion boards.  I clicked on the link and was completely overwhelmed with posts.  With so many participants the discussion boards were flooded, where would I start?  I had to walk away and come back with a plan.  I decided I could not go through all the posts looking to comment so I made myself a goal.  Every week at a minimum I would create one thread myself and respond to one other person’s thread.  This seemed to work for me and I was able to get into using the massive discussion boards.  As a side note, as the course progressed I was able to do more on the boards for a few reasons. One reason was as the boards became less flooded possibly as people fizzled out of the mooc and another reason was I made some connections to other educators and was able to follow their threads better.

Week two content was my favourite as it was all based around the concept of mindset.  See what was covered by reading my blog post “The Four Horsemen of the what????“.  I continued my posting plan on the discussion boards and I felt I was learning.  I also got the chance to participate in one of the open office hours sessions as it fell in a time frame that worked here in Saskatchewan.

Week three and week four of content was the same.  I had no trouble going through the lecture videos, doing the readings and completing the quizzes.  I was down to one try on the quizzes so feeling a bit proud of myself. My week three blog post was “If life is a game, shouldn’t we be in the same team?” and week four “Feedback, who needs it?” reflected on my learning so far. I was really starting to feel like I was putting ideas together and building a good coaching framework.  So I was so excited when in week four I got the opportunity through my school to put some teacher coaching practice into use.  I was asked to work one on one with a few new teachers to improve their understanding and use of differentiation skills in the classroom.  I was ecstatic to get to plan and meet with these teachers using the Changes That Stick framework I had been studying.  The coaching sessions were relatively successful even though I of course couldn’t use all aspects as the sessions were in a shorter time frame than a typical coaching situation.  I still feel I got to practice what I had learned in a real world situation.

The final assessment was next and a very interesting way to end the mooc.  I was apprehensive as I always am with assessment but excited to see if I had learned what was expected of me.  Basically I was interested to see if my learning in the mooc worked as it was intended by the presenters and designers.  Seeing as I had taken this for my EC&I 831 course originally to explore actual learning within a mooc I wanted to know if the learning environment of a mooc was successful for me.  The first step of the assessment process was I watched the video, completed the report, and submitted it.  Now the interesting part started.  The evaluation was done by peers.  So, basically every person who completed the assessment received three other people’s assessments and had to evaluate the answers using a provided rubric. Step two was to evaluate three peer assessments and submit that.  The final step was to self evaluate your own assessment using the rubric and submit that and whew I was done and playing the waiting game for results!

Well as you can see from above mooc complete!

Learning in a Mooc

In this particular mooc I feel there are things that could have been presented differently to better meet learning styles. For example the same lecture/reading format every week would turn some learners off because although the content was interesting, the delivery was a bit old school even though it was online.  Also I would have like to see some variety in the quizzes, not just multiple choice format.  I also would have really liked to see more face to face contact opportunities for example using Blackboard Collaborate software so I could hear and discuss with others.

I did appreciate the ability to connect with other educators through the discussion boards.  The content was well planned and organized for the learners.  I gained some useful resources and templates.

I found learning in this mooc to be worthwhile.  I gained skills and knowledge that I feel will be very useful to me in my career without leaving the comfort of my own home.  Moocs open up a world of opportunity for learning.  If you have the opportunity I recommend doing it, take a mooc.  I know this was my first but won’t be my last.

When I reflect upon the mooc I took as well as the reading I have done on moocs and their effectiveness I have come cross many opinions, research, and information.  I am left with these questions and want to know what you think;

Are moocs for everyone?
Are they accessible to all? 
Do they solve our global need for education?
Should moocs be recognized as formal education for jobs/careers/professions?

Feedback, who needs it?


Photo: Flickr-Alan Levine CC

The last learning section in the mooc I’m taking really focused on giving quality feedback and what an effective coaching session looks like and includes.  To me, it has been the most useful learning session so far as the learning lent itself well to all forms of effective coaching.  Whether it was interns, new teachers, or experienced teachers the information in this weeks session fit for all.  I thought this was important because up until now a lot has been focused on new teachers and I see a genuine importance in being able to coach and work effectively with experienced teachers as well.  In some ways working with experienced teachers may need the use of  more of the effective coaching strategies as they are coming to the table with experience and pre-determined ideas about the profession, perhaps more than that brand new teacher.

Feedback is important for everyone in the education system.  How do we know if we are getting it right without feedback. In an earlier post I shared a TedTalk video of Bill Gates discussing the need for teacher feedback.  Check it out of you haven’t already.  It is very American but I found the message useful.  Effective feedback can come for teachers from coaches but it is also important to consider feedback that comes from students, parents, other teachers, and administration.  I think the administration aspect is important.  I’m always impressed by admin teams that take time to work through goals with their teaching staff and spend some time int heir classrooms.  I found this additional read by Tim Westerberg  as I was researching this week and thought it made some good points about effective feedback and being on an admin team.  The big idea from my mooc this week was what to look for within that feedback that makes it effective.  The feedback should be goal driven, forward-looking, and directive in order to be most effective.  So basically effective feedback is focused, one skill at a time with follow through.  It is as much a planning session as coaching session.  The rule of thumb seems to be 1/3 discussion of past teaching and 2/3 time working on practice and feedback for moving forward.  I like this, keeps teachers from getting too focused on what they have done vs what they can do.  Finally coaches are direct.  They set up goals, practice, and framework that matches a shared instructional vision and allows for change and success.

What do you think about feedback…where should it come form for teachers?  Do we require feedback in all stages of our professional career?

Now in the mooc we have learned about what effective coaching is and looks like the last section dealt solely with having an effective session with teachers suing the effective coaching skills we have learned. The mooc provided me with a guide to organizing my time working with teachers.  The stand out ideas to me were goals, precise positives, and prep steps.


Previous Goals-Specific data should be used within the session to link feedback implementation to student learning or behaviour.

Big Goals-Do we change our big goal for the next session or stick with it.  Things to think about in this section had to do with whether or not teachers needed to master a skill to benefit and change or just be aware of it as well as what is most important for student learning.

Precise Positives

During the session make positive feedback very precise.  Connect teacher input to student output.  Positive feedback should be legitimate to the skill being practiced.

Prep Steps

Have teachers use some of the time prepping for the next goal.  Use role plays, scenarios, immediate feedback, and confidence on practicing the new skill.  Help your teachers prepare, give ideas, and practice.  Keeping in contact between session is also important for coaches and teachers, use post meeting email to continue the support form the session.

The effective coaching session is so important in encouraging change in teachers.  The skills in this mooc are invaluable to the process of helping teachers new and experienced.

Learning through the videos, readings, and hands on experience in this mooc have been great.  In fact so great stay tuned for my next post that will include my reflection on using these skills with actual teachers in my division as I had a chance to do some coaching in the goal area of differentiation in the classroom!

If life is a game, shouldn’t we be on the same team?

The title of my post today comes from the above video, “A Pep Talk” from Kid President.  This video is a reminder to me that working together will always be better than acting alone.

The content of my mooc this week was focused around teachers and coaches needing to have shared instructional vision. Which really got me thinking about what we need as professionals in the field of education.  We need each other.  We need support.  We need to know that everyone has a shared instructional vision.  Education needs to be focused on what has the biggest and best impact on students regardless of what we like to do, what we have done in the past, or what is easy.  I think this is where the job of an effective coach comes in.

Education should be a student-facing vision.


When planning between an effective coach and teacher there needs to be shared vision in order fro teacher buy in to occur and for the teacher to see the effects of their changes on student learning.  This week a few strategies for effective coaches to help create shared vision were introduced.

One was the use if a rubric when observing teachers.  I though it was interesting although the example used was focused solely on teachers new to the profession.  I think with proper creation a rubric may be an effective tool for helping teachers make changes within their practice.  The rubric was data orientated and gave the participants (coach and teacher) a good clear shared vision on what was expected. In order to use a rubric idea within other contexts I think it would have to be carefully created with division initiatives in mind and discussed prior to any coaching taking place.  What do you think about coaching peers using a rubric, effective or not?  Would it be a helpful guide for discussing shared vision or would it be a reason for teachers to not play on the same team?

Four Horsemen of the what?????

A fitting title for today’s post it being Halloween and all, but no this title has nothing to do with anything scary unless you find giving feedback to fellow teachers scary.

The focus of my mooc this week was all on coaching teachers to move from a fixed mindset where they are convinced that skills are innate and cannot improve to a growth mindset where attitude and abilities are not fixed and with effort and feedback skills can be improved.  The focus of coaching is on growth mindset but the question is how do we get fellow teachers to embrace that growth mindset and not be stuck in a fixed point of view.  The answer according to my learning this week focused around the need for teachers to be open, willing, and able to accept feedback and the need for coaches to be able to recognize those teachers who are not open, willing, and able to accept feedback.  This is where the Four Horses of…wait for it…Fixed Mindset come in.

The Four Horses of Fixed Mindset

According to what I have learned the Four Horses of Fixed Mindset are the barriers that teachers who struggle to separate self-identity from their performance which in turn causes them to react poorly to feedback and reduces their ability to grow, learn, and change. So, the first step to improving coaching situations is to be aware of fixed mindset behaviour and work through it with teachers.  Below is a quick overview of the Four Horsemen but a more detailed description as well as video examples can be found on the blog of Mike Goldstein, founder of Match the company giving my mooc through Coursera. There is also a great video provided through the mooc that gives a polished example of each for use with coaches and teachers, let me know if you are interested and I can send it to you to view.

1. “You’re right, I suck.”

Teachers responding this way are beating themselves up and taking feedback personally rather than on their teaching performance.

2. “You’re wrong, I rule.”

Teachers responding this way argue feedback being given is not accurate and become defensive.  These responses often give a different version of happenings that don;t threaten their self-image in any way.

3.  “Blame it on the rain”

Teachers responding in this way are blaming external factors for their performance.

4.  “Optimist without a cause”

Teachers responding this way are not listening and internalizing feedback at all.  Teachers let it bounce right off without another thought.

The idea behind coaches being able to recognize these behaviours is that through the simple act of sharing these named behaviours with teachers it may make it easier to help teachers recognize them within themselves through normalization and conversation.  Coaches can promote more productive behaviours to grow growth mindset for teachers struggling with fixed mindset.

I really related to this section as I know I have used the Four Horsemen before and seen in it in my peers, pre-interns, and interns.  I think as teachers we sometimes don’t want to admit we are struggling so we “blame it on the rain” or are “optimistic without a cause” or maybe just plain feel down on ourselves and are “you’re right, I suck”.  What should be acceptable is making mistakes and struggling, knowing it and learning and growing from it.  The most important thing is the learners and their education and that should be at the forefront of teaching.

What are your thoughts on these descriptions; have you seen them? have you been them? how do you overcome them?

Coaching Growth Mindset

What I found particularly useful was the included ideas for strategies to help ourselves grow our own mindset.  I sort of see these strategies working to improve positivity in a number of situations not just from a coach/teacher standpoint. Check out some of the list of strategies you can use to grow your own mindset.

  • Smile-smiling even a forced one improves your mental state
  • Body Language-sit-up, lean forward, make eye contact, stay active and engaged
  • Voice-when you sound positive you build positive energy
  • Take notes-notes help you to not block out important feedback you may be reluctant to get
  • Ask Questions-clarifying questions help you to ensure you are getting out of feedback the most you can

Mindset really is an important factor when thinking about making changes that stick in your teaching.  I think when coaching others being aware of a person’s mindset and allowing time and support to change and grow will improve the percentage of change made through effective feedback.

Again this week I referred to Silvia’s blog, I just love her sketches for organizing ideas.  I can’t help giving her a ping back from my blog now that I know what that is.  Maybe I will get brave and make my own for my next post, maybe.

My effective coaching project is underway!

As you may have read in earlier posts I have decided to do my project through a mooc.  This week was week one of “Coaching Teachers. Promoting Changes that Stick” and I am happy to report that I am throughly enjoying the learning so far.

This week the focus of my learning was on the introductory section.  This section included videos, readings, and discussion boards to present information and because the mooc is promoting changes that stick I am going to tell you what stuck with me this week.

The first thing in the course that stuck with me this week was a description of the purpose of effective coaching.

QUote 1

The class began this week with a role play video of an instructional coach and a new to the profession teacher.  Although the video showed a positive relationship between the two participants it was easy to pick out what was ineffective about their interactions.  The instructional coach (Mr. Goodcoach) was consistently positive and open to sharing with the new teacher (Miss Rookie) but offered little in the way of suggestions and opportunity to practice for improvement.  The interactions made Miss Rookie feel supported and positive about her work but it did little to offer an actual coaching for improvement opportunity.  I quite enjoyed watching the role plays this week as it gave me some visual examples of what to look for as effective and ineffective coaching as the course continued or the week.

The second thing that stuck with me this week were the elements of effective coaching.

The course included four elements of effective coaching; highly intensive, sustained, individualized, as well as high teacher buy-in.  They explained them a bit and moved on but I was left unsatisfied with this section and so I will explore this area more on my own.

The third this that stuck with me this week was The Coaching Formula.


It does look a bit strange to me using a formula to describe teacher coaching but I guess the visual helps us to put into perspective the steps we must have in place for effective coaching to take place.  I’m sure I will be able to describe each section in detail as the weeks go on but here is the quick overview I was provided with in the course this week.

Clarity of Instructional Vision

  • shared idea of the optimal classroom
  • “student facing” articulates what students are doing, saying, thinking
  • agreed upon by both the coach and teacher

Quality of Feedback

  • structure of feedback
  • components of feedback

Fixed Mindset Tax

  • change occurs depending on mindset tax

mindset tax

I did do a bit more exploring on my own this week into the topic of feedback and came across this Ted Talk Video about the need for real feedback by Bill Gates and even though it is based on education in the states I liked the message.

As a bonus I came across Silvia’s blog when searching for additional resources and ideas.  Silvia took the same mooc as I am and completed it earlier this year.  I love her use of Sketchnotes  to summarize each week so wanted to link to her blog as I feel like this is something I want to try a version of next week!