How do you listen?

Are you a good listener?

 

Do you nod and say ‘aha’ while thinking about something else? Do you make connections to your own life and hijack the conversation? Or do you really listen? Do you wait, ask clarifying questions, show genuine interest and thoughtfully consider your responses?

We explore these options as part of the GCI  Coaching Accreditation Course and I wonder briefly whether the presenters and participants think I’m not really listening, since my laptop is open and at any given time they might see Twitter, Google, Amazon or Youtube on my screen. Almost everyone else is taking notes with pen and paper.

I check with the world, and I appreciate the clarifying response from @CmunroOz:

Having just spent a week learning with @langwitches, I’m even more aware of the value of documentation, not just OF learning, but FOR learning.

I’m recording the learning, for myself, for others at my school… and for a global community of educators with and from whom I constantly learn. The documentation of today’s learning via my Twitter stream will be read by people whom I know in person, people I connect with online… and people I don’t know exist. (I might never know what they learned from my sharing!)

As the presenters speak, I distil the essence, documenting the big ideas via tweets. If a book is mentioned, I find the link and add that to the stream. As we go along, I Google the big names mentioned, make connections, share the video clips and add my own thoughts. If others in the room were doing the same, we’d be sharing the responsibility of documenting collaboratively.

At the end of the workshop, all the tweets, thoughts and links are collated into a Storify to which I (and you!) can refer later. It’s documentation OF and FOR learning – my own, that of my colleagues… and whom ever out there in the world is listening.

How do you listen?

Teacher coaching…

I could write a formal post using fancy language, quoting research about coaching if I wanted to, but I choose not to! (There are plenty of those around, just google.)

After much research, including reading, viewing and valuable conversations with experienced coaches, Joc and I have begun to coach teachers.  It’s part of an ever evolving approach to professional learning at our school, which includes teacher choice, a focus on growth rather than judgement and a desire to constantly refine and improve our practice.

The content of coaching sessions is confidential, but we regularly reflect on the process and refine it as we go. Most of the teachers being coached are less concerned than we are about confidentiality. One shares her reflections in a meeting, another talks animatedly in the staffroom and a third is blogging about the experience!

Here’s my take on the roles of the coach and the coachee…

COACHING

I’ve already learned..

  • to talk less
  • to listen more
  • to craft purposeful questions
  • the value of collaborative reflection
  • to see things through the eyes of the teacher being coached
  • that teachers’ goals shift and grow as they see evidence of change in themselves and their learners
  • the value of protected time for teachers to reflect and talk about their practice
  • that positive relationships contribute to effective coaching
  • that effective coaching builds positive relationships
  • that teachers’ observations of their own practice are even more powerful than observations by others
  • that some teachers are happy to share the process of their growth, not just with other teachers, but with their students too
  • that, even in the early stages, coaching can make a dramatic difference to teaching and learning
  • that instigating change requires trying something different
  • that self-directed learning is the most powerful kind there is
  • the power of using data (about yourself as well as your learners) to inform teaching and learning…

Next steps…

Can we replace the old, evaluative model of teacher appraisal with a growth model, based on the coaching process?

Watch this space…