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June 17, 2015

2

Teaching is a ‘Way of Being’ — Part 2

by Peter Skillen

So How Do We Develop Expert Teachers?

The distinction between expert teachers and experienced nonexperts as described in Teaching is a ‘Way of Being’ – Part 1 forces us to think differently about our PD models.

So what has changed for me? At the same time as I was thinking deeply about expertise, I learned about these three models: Stages of Change, Appreciative Inquiry and Evocative Coaching. This confluence has given me a fresh perspective for approaching professional learning with the goal of nurturing expert teachers.

Stages of Change

Change is a process – not an event. We’ve certainly heard that before. But, so often we wish for people to make significant changes in their practice – in their way of being – after relatively few interventions. Prochaska and DiClemente’s Stages of Change model would suggest it can take a while. This change model is a multi-disciplinary approach that describes the five stages (pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance) involved in making a significant change in behaviour, and the specific interventions or supports needed at each stage. Although this model was designed for the addictions world, it also provides a guide for being in tune with teachers at whichever stage they may be in the change cycle.

File 6146This model uses an appreciative inquiry and evocative coaching approach, which respects and honours the individual.

When you look into the model you will notice the kind of language and interactions used to scaffold change at various stages.

Here is an abbreviated overview of the Stages of Change model.

Appreciative Inquiry & Evocative Coaching

With an understanding of the Stages of Change model, we could benefit greatly from adopting an appreciative inquiry and evocative coaching stance to work with individuals at their particular place in the change cycle. These are strength-based approaches that capitalize on the individual’s unique talents, skills and desires. Brenda Sherry has been learning and applying the skills of appreciative leadership in her role as vice-principal in Upper Grand District School Board.

The principles of evocative coaching include:

  • Giving teachers our full, undivided attention
  • Accepting and meeting teachers where they are
  • Asking and trusting teachers to take charge of their own learning and growth
  • Harnessing the strengths that teachers have
  • Inviting teachers to discover possibilities and finding answers for themselves
  • Supporting teachers in brainstorming and trying new ways of doing things
  • Maintaining and upbeat, energetic, and positive attitude at all times
  • Enabling teachers to build supportive teams
  • Inspiring and challenging teachers to go beyond what they would do alone
  • Assisting teachers to draw up blueprints for professional learning

Many strategies for working with teachers – based on these principles – are articulated in Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time by Bob & Megan Tschannen-Moran and in other literature.

These are challenging models to implement – to assimilate into our way of being. I have found that they require not just skill with the techniques; but, in fact, may necessitate a change in fundamental beliefs about human nature and learning.

In Teaching is a ‘Way of Being’ – Part 3, two examples of replicable professional learning models will be shared: the Teacher Learning and Leadership Program and Minds On Media.


This blog post was first published as part of CEA’s focus on the state of Teacher PD in Canada, which is also connected to Education Canada Magazine’s Teachers as Learners theme issue and The Facts on Education fact sheet, What is Effective Teacher Professional Development? 

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