The goal for day one of the conference was to lay the philosophical and theoretical groundwork of instructional coaching, therefore day two of a three-day conference should be the big push on the new learning. I was hoping to be piled with new information that I would have to spend this blog post sorting through as I processed my thoughts from the day. Alas, that was not the case. Quite the opposite in fact.
Today was a disappointment and I was significantly less engaged in the content. (See the graph) In a full eight-hour day I left with only five pages of notes in a small moleskin, and one of these pages is a mind map of the previous day (below). This significant change in my engagement was primarily due to an inappropriately long time spent on review, information that did not meet my needs, and a generally low level of intellectual demand throughout the day.
We spent over ninety minutes superficially reviewing every single component of the previous day. I am not opposed to reviewing material, and it is an essential component of learning, however balancing to the appropriate amount is essential. I will own the fact that by writing yesterday’s one thousand word post I did a substantial amount of review independently that a large number of participants likely did not do. However, my colleagues agreed that the amount of review was highly unnecessary.
After that ninety minutes on review Knight opened the floor to questions without setting any criteria for the questions. This went on for nearly an additional hour. As the questions dragged on, I just kept adding to my mind map to create what you see below, complete with Jim the Knight, Immanuel Kant, and Paulo Freire:
After the lengthy morning of review and individual questions ended with a break, I was hopeful that we would come back together for a continued focus on how proper coaching technique. We did that, but to a very limited degree. As much as yesterday was highly stimulating and steeped in philosophy, today was intensely tactical. This was the day to drink the “Jim Knight’s Coaching Method” flavor of Kool-Aid. Step by tedious step, Knight outlined a granular methodology. Where on day one he presented the grounding research and philosophy before discussing specifics, he only focused on the specifics today, and these specifics took very little intellectual work on my part. Additionally the specifics were not well aligned with the particulars of my work with novice teachers, leading to further disengagement.
The biggest disconnect seemed to come from Knight’s assumption that coaches work at the building level and are tasked with working with all teachers, whereas I work at the district level, almost entirely with teachers new to the profession. From a theoretical, strategic, standpoint there are huge similarities and I can then translate well from his assumptions into my work, however, at the tactical level I was left with a pile of methods that do not relate well to the reality of my position. Also Knight was frankly working at a very foundational level of tactics that I simply do not need.
Overall Day 2 was a significant letdown. I started the day highly optimistic and looking to find deep meaning in the work. Knight lost me initially with the excessive amount of superficial review and unfocused question time, and then he failed to regain my attention by presenting new content that was significantly too straightforward or misaligned to my needs. While the day was disappointing from the standpoint of learning about instructional coaching, I was able to shift my focus in the afternoon to watch how he presented so that I could clearly identify my issues with his choices and delivery in order to inform my own practice. Most notably I will look to take more formative assessment during workshop sessions, and then have the presence of mind to adjust my workshop based on the information from that assessment to best meet the needs of my audience. I don’t want anyone in my talks to feel how I felt today. I’m remaining hopeful for day three.
Lawrence, KS Indie Rock Scavenger Hunt Part 2:
Today’s highlights from heading back to Love Garden and finding Taryn again is definitely Hearscape Landbreak’s Practitioners of Light and Attraction by the Noise FM. They fulfill my needs for intellectually elitist art rock and straight-ahead, yet well executed, garage rock respectively. Enjoy.
The Noise FM