Match MOOCin' Part Deux

Guest blog by Ross T. 

Sinatra once said his greatest ambition in life was to pass on to others what he knew.  And maybe if MOOCs -- massive online open courses -- had existed back in his day, he would have passed on how to carry a tune and which children he fathered.  

Happily, however, Orin Gutlerner, who runs the Match Teacher Residency, has a MOOC.  It's called "Coaching Teachers: Promoting Changes That Stick."  It's available now on Coursera.org and you can take it for the low cost of $0.  The only requirement is a high tolerance for our particular corny humor.  And with the Knicks having had a rough season, Orin had a lot of nights with no NBA worth watching, and therefore put a lot of thought into this.  

The premise of the MOOC is that among teacher PD initiatives, instructional coaching (which focuses on one person at a time) can beat "typical PD" (where teachers often have to sit and listen as a group) -- EVEN considering the cost difference (i.e., 30 minutes of 1:1 time = same cost as 300 minutes of 1:10 time).  

But does teacher coaching "work"?  There's only 2 empirical studies we know of that show positive effect, one from UVa by the estimable Bob Pianta, and another very tiny one from Match in New Orleans.  Also, Mike G has described on this blog before a fair amount of "quiet data" -- districts and CMOs with multi-million dollar investments in teacher coaching, where they have carefully measured and found ZERO effect.  So they don't publish it but tell other insiders.  

So what gives?  

In this course, we discuss 3 types of coaching:

1. Sort of "obviously bad."  The teacher feels the coach is simply wrong.  The coach feels the teacher doesn't change.  

2. Seemingly "happy" coaching.  The teachers LIKE it.  The coach feels validated.  But students see no improvement.  We think this is pretty common, actually.  

3. "Permission-based" coaching (teacher has legit, meaningful consent of whether he or she wants it in the first place), combined with much more focused, directive coaching of that willing teacher.  

If you have that in place -- teachers who know what they're getting, and genuinely want it -- it sets up the big elements of a teacher coaching relationship:

-Building teachers' growth mindset about their practice.
-Developing a shared instructional vision and vocabulary between coaches and teachers.
-Structuring and delivering change-oriented feedback sessions. 

Check out the video on the course page to learn more and enroll for free: https://www.coursera.org/course/coachingteachers