Today on #coachbetter we’re chatting with Stuart McAlpine, Director of Teaching & Learning at UWCSEA. Stuart his perspective on the way that both Cognitive Coaching and Instructional Coaching support teacher professional growth at UWCSEA. We talk about the critical importance of leadership demonstrating an understanding and belief in the power of coaching to build a culture of coaching, and the ways that coaches can help school leaders understand why coaching is so important for teacher professional growth. 

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Show Notes

Director of Teaching & Learning at UWC SEA

Sky School Leadership Team

Grew up in a teaching family. Last 8-9 years been at UWC. Oversees K12. Director of Ed for Sky School. Moving to the Green School in NZ.

From your perspective as a school leader, what is the role of a coach? 

A coach is someone who supports and mediates others thinking. Coaches help build a teacher’s sense of their self-directedness. There’s nothing more important to build culture and community.

When an expert chooses to offer experience, research, think alouds, which is instructional coaching. To be able to go to someone who is an expert, who can share strategies.

Having both of those support functions in your community.

Always been passionate about what it achieves.

Are these two roles fulfilled by the same person?

Everyone is Cognitive Coaches at UWC. An expert instructional coach, can move between both roles. An instructional coach needs to be very good at moving between the two.

How did you develop critical mass?

More or less of critical mass. When you’re consistently seeing and hearing behaviors around the school. 

Building a culture of instructional coaching takes time. Coaches here have self-organized as K12 coaches: what are the core beliefs? How do we support teachers?

Success indicator: leadership changed, and coaching culture still exists.

How do you use your role to help amplify the work of coaches?

Modelling CC, talking about it, doing it: symbolic actions. Agency trainer for CC. If people recognize that those in leadership teams are clearly signaling that it’s something we believe in as a culture, 

Leadership is a set of shared behaviors we believe in. 

Having visibly the support for coaching is important.

Instructional coaching is a bridge between school goals and the classroom. They’re the ones that are going to change thinking to behaviors. They’re one of the few people that can change behaviors in the classroom. 

How do you help leaders understand the value of coaching?

Do a coaching cycle. Video a coaching session as a leader: being vulnerable. “If it’s good for other people, it must be good for me”

Teachers are learners, like students are learners. Learning is really good when you have a partner to do it with.

Do you consider yourself a coach? How do you use coaching / coaching strategies in your work as a school leader?

My first job is to understand, paraphrase, support thinking and then start coaching up from there. Every conversation I have, that’s my lens, how am I supporting the thinking here?

All of my interactions are mediated by thinking about my intentions and goals.

What are our shared beliefs and values…

How might you bring a coaching culture into your new school context

Seek to understand first, can’t make hasty judgments about what a new community needs. Maori culture already has a strong collaborative culture of thinking.

I believe in the outcomes of coaching:

  • respecting people, self-direction, authenticity, trust, tolerance, coming together around common issues
  • Sharing craft, developing expertise

It doesn’t have to be implemented in the same way as where I am now

What are you excited about learning next?

NZ. Various cultures of learning. Maori culture. Looking forward to stretching my mental structures.

Level Up Your Coaching with The Coach!

If you are ready to dive deep into your coaching practice, to help you #coachbetter and build a thriving coaching culture in your school, please join us for our next cohort of The Coach!

Wherever you are in building a coaching culture in your school, The Coach will give you the strategies, skills and tools you need to make coaching a success and will empower you to confidently apply instructional coaching strategies in any situation – from building a coaching program, to having coaching conversations, to being a leader in your school community. We facilitate only one cohort each academic year so we can offer individualized support for each participant.

Coaches of all levels are welcome: you’ll start the program with a self-assessment to determine exactly what the next steps are for you!

Registration for our next global cohort opens once a year – check the website for details!