Instructional Coaching: A New Trend In Supporting Students and Teachers
Two NYC speech-language pathologists travel to “America’s Heartland” to learn about instructional coaching and discuss how to effectively integrate this approach to support students with language learning weaknesses during classroom instruction.
Why instructional coaching?
Instructional coaching is a new trend in education to advance student performance through the development of an ongoing partnership between teachers and coaches.
Instructional coaching is an alternative to traditional professional development and attempts to identify what methods a teacher needs to use to produce more successful learning in the classroom. This approach is individualized and based on the needs of the classroom and the teacher. Coaches and teachers create a “toolbox” for learning, which can be immediately implemented in classroom tasks. Instructional coaching provides educators with ongoing education, consistent feedback, emotional support, and professional guidance.
Jim Knight and the Kansas Coaching Project
Dr. Jim Knight, director of the Kansas Coaching Project at the Kansas University Center for Learning, is a leading expert on instructional coaching. At KU, he conducts research on the effectiveness of instructional coaching and provides workshops for educators interested in this new trend in education.
We had the pleasure of attending Dr. Knight’s three-day training workshop in instructional coaching at KU this August. This training workshop discussed the guiding principles of instructional coaching and how to effectively implement this way of thinking in schools. The audience was a diverse crowd made of up teachers, instructional coaches, administrators, special educators, and researchers.
Based upon the teachings of Dr. Knight, instructional coaching is rooted in the belief that “progress is built on partnership”. Partnership is born out of seven guiding principles. The first being mutual respect and equality exist between coach and educator. Reciprocity is established by having both coach and teacher in the role of active learners. It is essential that educators understand that the coach is not there to judge or review their work but to provide support based upon mutually agreed upon goals and objectives. Coaches offer choices to teachers rather than give directives on what needs to be done with their students in their classroom. By discussing goals and choices, the coach encourages self-reflection for all those involved within the coaching process. A successful instructional coaching relationship is one in which educators feels their voice is valued and appreciated. Authentic dialogue is encouraged as the best way to develop goals that can be immediately applied to their classroom (praxis).
Speech-Language Pathologists as Instructional Coaches
The role of speech-language pathologist in the school setting is expanding rapidly. Aside from providing individual and small group intervention, speech-language pathologists need to consult regularly with teachers and specialists to support a child’s learning in the classroom. These specialists have a pivotal role in identifying students with language weaknesses, developing an effective intervention plan to target a student’s needs, and monitoring student progress. As an on-site resource for information on speech and language development, speech-language pathologists must be able to recommend essential resources and tools a student needs in order to experience success.
The instructional coaching approach is an excellent framework for speech-language pathologists to incorporate as part of their practice in working with school-age children. This approach clearly demonstrates how to work cooperatively with teachers and related specialists by establishing an ongoing partnership. Since the concepts of modeling and reflection are essential components of the instructional coaching model, speech-language pathologists can learn to effectively observe, guide, monitor and provide valuable feedback in a way that is constructive and useful.
To learn more about instructional coaching, you can visit the Kansas Coaching Project website at http://www.instructionalcoach.org/. Feel free to contact either of us for more information.
Rhonda Davis, M.A, CCC-SLP is a NYC-based speech-language pathologist in private practice. She provides comprehensive assessments, consultations and on-going support to address the needs of school-aged children with language-learning differences. In addition, she offers home-based visits for children birth to three presenting with speech and language delays. You can contact Rhonda at Rhonda@speechlanguagenyc.com
Bill McCarthy, M.S., CCC-SLP is a NYC-based speech-language pathologist who works in the Learning Resource Center at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School in Manhattan. He consults regularly with teachers and educators regarding how to provide effective classroom instruction to students with language-based learning difficulties. Bill also maintains a private practice working with children with language and learning difficulties. You can contact Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.