Kathy’s use of virtual coaching as a form of professional development started after seeing new coaches begin their career without having the experience of being coached themselves and experienced coaches wanting to strengthen their work as an instructional coach. She sees it as a vital tool for giving coaches their own coaching experience, and a chance for reflection on their own practice. Virtual coaching allows Kathy to work through a type of cycle with coaches to work towards their goals. Coaches gain the experience of a coaching conversation with Kathy where they can come to their own ideas through reflection.
Video is also a key element of Kathy’s virtual coaching, and serves to increase a coach’s own confidence. Video is easily shared in a virtual context, and it’s a great way for coaches to gain confidence in their relationships with teachers. Coaches record their coach-teacher conversations and then analyze them with Kathy as their virtual coaching partner. Kathy has told us that in the same way that teachers find success through differentiation for their students, video helps her give personalized coaching to her coachees. This is especially useful for new coaches who benefit from the first-hand experience of being coached and gain the confidence needed to help teachers make a positive impact on students.
Every Wednesday evening at 8pm CST Kathy and her colleagues moderate a live twitter chat with the hashtag #educoach. The online space started in 2011 and is still going strong to this day. It was developed to create a discussion platform, to share resources, and to support anyone interested in instructional coaching. She told us she has been participating in different online communities of educators since she first had a laptop in the 90s! She joined forums and started chat rooms to connect with educators around the globe, and eventually she took that search to social media. Each connection has had an impact on her as a person and educator — a happy outcome for which she is very grateful!
The twitter chat and hashtag were born out of that search for community, and the chat has grown to connect a global network of coaches and educators. Her search, and the subsequent twitter chat has been wildly successful, as it’s grown to include 9 moderators. Kathy has even written one book with the co-founders of #educoach, Jessica Johnson and Shira Leibowitz. She is currently writing another book with one of the #educoach moderators, Kenny McKee.
Principals and the Instructional Coaching Mindset
Co-authored with Jessica Johnson, and Shira Leibowitz, The Coach Approach to School Leadership: Leading Teachers to Higher Levels of Effectiveness, is a book that was developed in large part from online discussions about leadership in schools. The book addresses a challenge that faces many principals, which is the balance school leaders must strike between evaluating instruction, and being ‘learning leaders’ for their teachers. Kathy believes that principals can master the art of walking that fine line between supervising in an evaluative role for teachers, and being a partner for teacher growth. Instructional coaching techniques can be used across an entire school; principals specifically can use them to provide high-quality feedback to support teacher and student development.
Compassionate Coaching Practices
Kathy’s work with students, teachers, instructional coaches, and school administrators has always been rooted in kindness and compassion. She remembers reading the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey early in her teaching career, which had a profound impact that is carried out in her work to this day. Her recent writing project (ASCD in process) with co-author Kenny McKee, an instructional coach in North Carolina, is based on that same compassion. Kenny and Kathy have noticed in their conversations with instructional coaches some common and vexing barriers at the individual level. Their book is aimed to provide a compassionate coaching focus to several barriers such as low self-confidence, feelings of being overwhelmed, and isolation to name a few. These personalized coaching practices will empower teachers to navigate these barriers and result in transformational change for teachers’ effectiveness and work satisfaction, as well as shifting the learning environments of schools themselves. This work will be the topic of their TLC2020 presentation.
“Everyday the thing to do is learn a little something new.”
Kathy has always loved sharing resources and learning from people, and we love a motto of hers: “Everyday the thing to do is learn a little something new.” You can follow her on Twitter at @KathyPerret and learn more about Kathy on her website https://www.kathyperret.org/
Please visit our event page to see our complete list of speakers for TLC 2020.
As a series of posts leading up to our annual conference, Teaching | Learning | Coaching, we will be sharing thoughts and ideas by experts who will be presenting at the conference. The posts will surface many different ways of looking at coaching, and like the conference itself, we hope they inspire, educate, and provoke new thinking.
We don’t always agree with everything said by our colleagues, but we are grateful for others’ thinking. We move forward by challenging our beliefs, and we hope you feel challenged, too. You can keep up with the thought-provoking posts by subscribing to our newsletter.