Accountability. Qualitative Feedback. Quantitative feedback. Data. Evaluation.
These words loom over educators and schools every day. Often, these terms carry connotations of “reward and punishment” and “top-down management style,” concepts that are typically at odds with a partnership model of professional development such as coaching. The use of data need not be punitive or top-down. Data surrounding individual performance can help a professional grow and thrive, especially when partnership and personal improvement are the foundation of data collection.
In our coaching cycle model, the Impact Cycle, the first stage of that process involves identifying the “current picture of reality” in a classroom: What is really going on in there? What does the teacher see? What do students see? What does the coach see? Including those multiple perspectives and varied data points is crucial in setting goals for students that will be powerful for them and emotionally compelling for the teacher. Seeing reality is the first step in making meaningful changes in instruction.
Having a clear picture of reality in one’s coaching practice is just as crucial for coaches. To improve in meeting the needs of teachers and students, coaches need information from a variety of perspectives to target goals for themselves accurately. Because coaching interactions are complex, data points should embrace that complexity and should not focus solely on students’ academic numbers when measuring success. “Data” should not shy away from the “fuzzy” or the uncertain because to do so is to minimize the importance of the humanity in the work. In the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald, “To write it, it took three months; to conceive it, three minutes; to collect the data in it, all my life.”
ICG’s new Impact Cycle Coaching Feedback Form is an attempt to assist coaches in gathering data that addresses all of the key elements of the coaching interaction but without being cumbersome for the teacher or coach. Adapted from the work of Chris Munro at Growth Coaching International(Sydney Australia), our form uses the language of partnership and the Impact Cycle to provide coaches with data that enables them to target areas of success and areas for improvement.
The three categories of data in the form (The Coaching Partnership, The Impact Cycle, and Overall Ratings) will not only enable coaches to set goals for their practice but can also serve as valuable data for administrators who respect the value of confidential coaching interactions but also want data on the success of their coaching programs. The form can be used confidentially while still providing information about the coach and the coaching cycle.
Our feedback form is a work in progress. Practice using the form with coaches and teachers, and let us know what you think. The heart of everything we do at ICG, indeed the heart of coaching, is to get better at what we do. Using data in the interest of growth and improvement is the most useful and humanizing way to move things forward. When we view “accountability” as “accountability to students” and “accountability to each other,” we move everything forward, not just the numbers.