“Cut to the chase was a phrase used by studio executives to mean that the audience shouldn’t get bored by the extra dialog, and that the film should get to the interesting scenes without unnecessary delays. The phrase is now widely used, and means ‘get to the point.’” Having spent a lot of time in peer coaching professional development over the past decade, this phrase comes to my mind when I hear the topic of coaching. A quick Amazon search reveals 152 resources for the topic “peer coaching.” Obviously, there are many experts in the field of study with many ideas, strategies, and techniques. I’ve been trained in different models of coaching, cognitive and content. I’ve studied and practiced different coaching stances. I’ve learned about and used listening protocols. I’ve role-played coaching scenarios on many occasions. However, I really want to cut to the chase. What is crucial? What is integral? What is absolutely essential for great coaching to take place?
My answers to this question come from my recent reading of the book Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration by Les Foltos. Foltos emphasizes that a district academic focus is vital, “One key step to using coaching to build a school’s capacity to improve is to align all the coach’s work with the school’s and school district’s educational goals” (p. 61). This was fresh learning for me, yet common sense in a way. I believe that quality learning for students comes as a result of a strong well-developed unit plan and skilled facilitation by a teacher. Likewise, it makes sense that a successful technology professional development implementation comes as the result of a well-developed plan aligned to district goals.
A coach can be well trained in developing relationships, listening strategies, and facilitating inquiry cycles, but not be headed toward a success trajectory if there is not a clear vision for the work. Furthermore, Foltos reminds us, “If a coach expects to be successful at helping another teacher improve student learning, the coach needs a clear idea of what roles he or she will play before beginning coaching” (p. 4). To cut to the chase, a clear vision and role clarity are job one. After that, norms around co-learning, allocating of resources, and inquiry cycles between the coach and partner in learning can begin. I see this as a stair-step approach to coaching as illustrated in my diagram below.
Working with educational technology, it’s easy to get distracted by new equipment, exciting software, technology glitches. However, if we really cut to the chase, alignment of vision for the work is most important and establishing and communication of the role of the coach is critical.
This YouTube video called Technology Coach provides a great example of this second step, defining the role of the coach. This video paints technology integration as not separate, special, or an additional item on a teacher’s plate. It is portrayed as a part of what teachers do. The technology coach’s role is clearly in support of the learning goals of the district. Done in this fashion, ISTE Coaching Standard 1 Visionary Leadership is supported including components: b) contribute to the planning, development, communication, implementation, and evaluation of technology-infused strategic plans at the district and school levels, and d) implement strategies for initiating technology innovations and manage the change process in schools and classrooms.
Cut to the chase. (n.d) Retrieved October 9, 2016 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cut_to_the_chase
Foltos, L. (2013). Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Lewis, J. (2009). Car Chase. Retrieved from https://flic.kr/p/6Lewhx
International Society for Technology in Education. (2011). ISTE Standards for Coaches. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/ISTE-standards/standards-for-coaches
Romstadt, R. (2014). Technology Coach. YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlj0aX6lG4M