Reflections of a Peer Coach

Peer Coach Straightening

While the entire Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University is designed to be a hands-on experience which embeds learning opportunities into students’ current workplace, this course, in particular, provided students with a meaningful opportunity to practice our newfound skills in a professional environment. Under the tutelage of Dr. David Wicks, Associate Professor and Chair of the Digital Education Leadership program and Dr. Les Foltos, Director of Educational Innovation at Peer-Ed and author of Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration, students were trained as peer coaches and we worked with a collaborating teacher from our respective schools. I chronicled that learned and the skills I obtained in posts throughout the quarter and now, as this course comes to a close, I’m reflecting on the work that was done and thinking about how to sustain my skills as a peer coach in the future.

The importance of peer coaching practice in schools became evident to me very quickly into the quarter. Teachers that are supported create students that are successful. Well-renowned researchers of teaching methods and staff development, Bruce Joyce and Beverly Showers, have found that teachers that have been coached generally demonstrate the following:

  • Practiced
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No Experts Here, Just Collaborating Colleagues

This quarter, through the Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University, my classmates and I are building skills towards becoming peer coaches in our respective schools. As I describe in an earlier post, peer coaches work with a collaborating teacher to help them to recognize their amazing abilities through questions and periods of reflection, allowing the collaborative teacher to solve their own challenges with the help of a safe, supportive cheerleader on the side. One essential aspect of the peer coaching role is exploring the lesson improvement process, where the collaborating teacher and the peer coach examine a current lesson plan and find ways to enhance what is already being taught. As I move forward with the idea of lesson improvement, I am left wondering how to balance the role of coach without crossing into the position of “expert.” In Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration, author, Les Foltos, warns readers that “teachers want a coach to be a peer, not an expert” (Foltos, 2013, pg. 19). Teachers don’t want someone to telling them what to do, they want a friend and a colleague to talk though a lesson and share ideas that could enhance … Read More

Establishing Norms for a Successful Peer Coaching Partnership

This week I continue my exploration of the first and second ISTE Coaching Standards through the Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University. As I delve into these standards, I also hone my skills as a peer coach, merging my studies with my new role as Technology Integration Specialist. These opportunities of real-time implementation of my education has me wondering why more graduate (and even undergraduate) programs don’t follow a similar model, with students catering their learning to fit their “real lives.” I am so very thankful that my homework is directly connected to the responsibilities of my job. This week, for example, I was introduced to a variety of communication tools to make the peer coaching experience equally effective for both the coach and the collaborating teacher. My classmates and I devoted time to hold mock coaching meetings to practice these new skills, an exercise that initially felt silly, but proved to be a great confidence builder.

While this activity was designed to train peer coaches, the communication skills are useful in all collaborative relationships (they were a great reminder for all areas of my life). Les Foltos, Director of Educational Innovation at Peer-Ed and author of … Read More

Stepping Into the Peer Coach Role

Last semester I began to explore the ISTE Coaching Standards through the Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University, this semester I will continue that examination as I start the journey of serving as a peer coach. Before diving into my individual experience as a coach, it was necessary for me to understand the expected roles and responsibilities of this position. Les Foltos, Director of Educational Innovation at Peer-Ed and author of Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration, describes a peer coach as a “teacher leader who assists a peer to improve standards-based instruction by supporting the peer’s efforts to actively engage students in 21st-century learning activities” (2013, pg. 3). What I quickly realized after reviewing the various roles of a peer coach is that this is an educator who is expected to wear a multitude of hats simultaneously. Foltos outlines the various roles below:

Peer Coach Hats

  • Facilitator – Planning and leading meetings, activities, and staff development in one-on-one, small group, or large group situations.
  • Collaborator – Working together with colleagues to plan, implement, and evaluate activities.
  • Expert – Acting as a subject matter expert on a variety of topics.
  • Catalyst – Helping teachers reflect on and improve
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