Listen to Episode 60


In this episode of #coachbetter spotlight, we chat with Silvia Tolisano, author of A Guide to Documenting Learning: Making Thinking Visible, Meaningful, Shareable, and Amplified.

Bonus: Watch the spotlight version of this episode on YouTube!

How to Cultivate Teacher and Leadership Buy-In for Instructional Coaching

Featured Guest

Silvia Tolisano

Silvia Tolisano on twitter

Highlights from our Show

Our conversation focuses on two main themes: the elements that make professional learning successful, as well as the keys to successfully documenting learning – for teacher professional growth, and for students.Here’s some helpful snippets of the broader conversation.

What is your education background?

I went to school in both Germany, Argentina and then on to the United States. I’ve got as a learner myself all these different types of experiences. I became a teacher and taught at a public middle school, and then went on to private elementary school, and then I also taught at an International school in Latin America. Now I am a fulltime coach and consultant.

Having such a different and diverse experience, I am curious: how did it feel for you going to so many different schools, what was that like for you?

I think already living in Germany, we moved a lot. I moved quite a bit–every year and a half. In Germany even if you move a village away it is a massive move. I guess I was used to moving, I was used to being ‘the kid who left.’ That was something that I looked forward to. I thrive on being the one who got to leave. In retrospect, thinking about it as a TCK, they gave me one year: after one year of extra help, I was on my own. Now in retrospect, that sounds really hard.

What are you excited about in your current work?

A year ago, my book was published. Obviously I didn’t only work around that-around documentation. In my coaching work, that is what I have been focusing on for quite a while. It happens that one of my old high schools is a school I am working with. I am super excited that there is a tipping point: we are finally seeing the puzzle pieces coming together. People are bringing together other learners and teachers are making new connections and they are making those connections visible.

How has your work evolved, when you look back, how did you get to this place?

The framework that I am using is a blended coaching approach. I contract with the school for an entire school year, where I physically come to the campus, and I call it a ‘bootcamp,’ for five consecutive days, I get to know the cohort members: this is usually just five-seven members. They also get to know me. We are trying to gain a common vocabulary. We try to avoid talking ‘across purposes,’ where we make sure we aren’t saying the same words but understanding very different things. Every teacher knows what the word ‘literate’ means, but when different people use them, they might mean different things. We need to understand each other and that is one of the primary goals for those five days. 

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