A school in Iowa in the USA is showing how coaching for teachers can be a valued and integral part of daily activity within the education environment.
Tucked away in an office off the main hallway in Cardinal High School in Ottumwa, three women are changing methods of teaching within the school district.
Sheila Fetter, Jenny Hadenfeldt and Jessie Greiner are instructional coaches for the school. Their job has different responsibilities including working with teaching mentors, infusing technology into classrooms, amending lesson plans and providing examples of model teachers.
Although the program is only two years old, teachers have already expressed their excitement for having the coaches come into their classrooms and have access to their advice and resources.
Fetter said: “Teachers don’t get a lot of time to sit back and observe, so it is helpful for us to come in and allow them that opportunity.”
All three have a background in education and each of them bring different strengths to the program.
Fetter has been a teacher for 30 years. She attributes her desire to be a teacher to what she calls ‘Princess Di Syndrome’. Fetter saw the impact that teachers were making on the world, and she wanted to be a part of the change. Even though she has only a little corner of the universe, Fetter takes pride in the work that she is doing at Cardinal.
Hadenfeldt had always wanted to be a teacher ever since she was a little girl. Currently she is in her ninth year of education with four of those being spent as a fifth-grade teacher at Cardinal.
“My favorite part of the job is that it is never the same day to day.”
Greiner had plans to be an accountant, but after a suggestion from her softball coach, she switched to education and has never looked back. She loves the challenge of having to constantly learn new subjects and technological advances.
Ways to improve
Fetter made it clear that the coaches are not there to single out poor-performing teachers. In fact, she has found that the higher-performing teachers are often the ones that come in because they are looking for ways to improve.
The coaches take on whatever role a teacher needs at the time, but they are not just handing out simple fix solutions.
“We are not the provider of answers, we are more like an avenue to the result,” she said.
Coaching as a resource for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is slowly taking off here in the UK. Coaching in education gained particular attention with the publication of ‘Student Achievement through Staff Development’ by Bruce R. Joyce and Beverly Showers back in 1981, but coaching courses only really started to make an appearance in the 1990s. They are now gaining ground with more and more schools and colleges using coaching as a means for professional development.
If you’d like to find out more about how we can help your staff be the best they can with a coaching and mentoring program specifically developed to meet your school’s needs, contact us for an informal chat.
You can also download our Aspire Case Study which looks at how we worked with four schools in a partnership agreement to help empower and provide best practice guides for staff working within a challenging environment.