How does Peer Coaching fit with Professional Online Learning Networks for Teachers?

Professional Learning for teachers can take many different shapes and forms. There can be workshops, presentations, action research and peer coaching. Most recently Online Learning Networks have emerged through the Read/Write Web allowing teachers to learn anytime, anywhere.

In their research Joyce and Showers tells us that Coaching (Peer Coaching) is the most effective way to ensure skills and knowledge are transferred to the classroom.

My question therefore is - how do we blend online networks (web 2.0) with face to face peer coaching to gain the best possible results for our students?

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Dear Helen,

In your country, you may contact with Les Foltos, Puget Sound Center (PSCTLT: Les Foltos)

Send him hugs from Brazil.

All the best,

Thanks Neli. Yes, Les Foltos was my trainer and I have kept in contact with him. I am from Melbourne, Australia and setting up the training here in my school region. Les has been a wonderful support.

I still like face to face instructions and sharing but online networks are the most valuable as they are there 24/7. I have found that my online networks can be similar to face to face networks with the use of skype, elluminate etc we can still relate on a one to one basis. Yesterday I was amazed again, when Lorraine from Boston used a virtual classroom (developed by someone in Perth, Autralia for outback online instruction) to demonstrate how she teaches online. We could see her on video everytime she talked, we could work together on the whiteboard, chat to her etc so it felt like we were face to face. The grade 6 students also communicated well and they just love this type of activity. So I think that the collaborative online tools can help us develop an online face to face instruction. With software like bridgit conferencing tools, our desktops can also be displayed for the person at the other end of the globe, or district or another classroom.
That is amazing Anne. I think the traditional face to face is incredibly important but like you said the technology to bring others into the classroom is getting better and better and allows for great learning to happen.

I love hearing about your experiences,
Peer coaching is only available for limited amounts of time during set hours. Having a PLN or OLN as you said, supplements that. I agree that f2f working with someone is really important, but its soooo limited. Everything I have learned in the last couple years, I have learned online. Although, when I was really stumped about something technical there was always a guy at work I could turn to for a quick question. Never had a peer coach, but can definitely see the benefits and limitations.
Interesting observation. I have to agree with you about the level of learning I have had through online communities. So, do you think a PLN would suit all teachers, or do you think that once you have some level of competence with ICT or lesson planning that a PLN becomes of greater importance? Does the balance shift the more competent you become? Thoughts...
I think both peer coaching and having a PLN only suit select people, with a PLN being less likely to work for "all teachers." At least in the generations of teachers teaching right now. Many teachers don't like to be told or shown how to do something they aren't comfortable with by a peer who is obviously more talented in a certain area.

But, there are also a lot of teachers who don't use the Internet for connecting to others in any other way than emailing.

We deal with this everyday at our school. One of the new programs we are putting into effect for next school year is that teachers will have regular evaluations (much more frequent than in the past) of their online courses, lesson planning, and use of emerging technologies in those courses. Then teachers will get helped by another teacher (probably me) to show them how to improve courses based on admin recommendations. This sounds a lot like peer coaching, but most are hypothesizing it will be a painful transition from our current hands off system.

The best use of peer coaching, it seems to me, is to get teachers introduced to new tools and PLN's. Get them working with kids on a level they never have before. But, after they are given a basic tool set that includes access to other edtech teachers from across the country, let them search out their own learning just like we are trying to get our students to do in these reformed classes we are all so interested in.
Each year at one of my previous schools we would begin with a unit of work on Learning to Learn. This provided our students with an understanding of the type of learner they were and the tools and strategies to enable to learn better. When you talk about giving teachers an opportunity to explore new PLNs online, I think we are giving them the tools and strategies for themselves. I think this is a bit like setting up a teachers tool box not only for teaching but for learning.
I agree, but has to be guided in the beginning and a coach could help with that. Also, I want to amend something I said in my last comment. Peer coaches should help teach a basic skill set then get them access to edtech and innovative teachers from around the WORLD for their PLN's.
You may be interested in Growing Through the Stages: A New Look at Professional Growth I have other links too at Diigo

Interesting that your teachers will now be evaluated in this area. Will that evaluation have some meaningful ramification -- positive or negative -- upon salary, teaching assignment, etc? Will tenured teachers who resist using technology be motivated somehow by this new evaluation policy?

Also, my sense -- from working as a literacy coach in a 7-12 district -- is that many teachers need individualized peer coaching in conjunction with the PLN. Unless teachers are intrinsically motivated to explore and participate in PLN's, then I find a considerable level of anxiety about moving in that direction. And large-group workshops/inservice programs tend to be ineffective. I find teachers respond better if a more knowledgeable guide is willing to sit beside them and help them explore and try things. I know that's a lot of time and energy, but I don't see buy-in otherwise.

I'm beginning a new job next month as assistant professor of literacy. As I teach college freshmen (college reading and study strategies), junior-level pre-service teachers, and masters' students who pursue a degree in reading & a reading specialist certificate, I plan to lead all my students in exploration and eventual registration & participation in online learning communities. I believe that familiarizing pre-service teachers and future literacy leaders with the PLN experience is key to moving large numbers of school teachers in this direction.

Carol- Glad to hear that you are planning on introducing your pre-service teachers to online PLN's. That part of the education system needs serious work in order to begin graduating teachers who are ready to ditch the old ed system.

To answer your questions, I will sit on a committee with my principal and a.p and help evaluate online courses. The admin will present what needs improvement to the the teachers, and then provide support to help with that improvement. I will be a major part of that support system, more than likely working one-on-one to teach teachers tools to help them based on admin suggestions. What admin does with it after is anyone's guess. I imagine that they will be documenting teacher's willingness to change and using that as a method of removing teachers who aren't progressing.

I teach at an blended learning charter school, there is no tenure or performance based wage system



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