Episode 72 4 Benefits of a Coach or Mentor

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Show notes

Key Point #1: Guidance

  • We all need someone to help point us in the right direction.
  • Help us find PD, research, teaching resources. (EG DP encouraged me to do a 2 day workshop on Stage 6 PDHPE)
  • Share their own resources, such as programs, assessments, workbooks etc.
  • Give advice in behaviour management or other situations you find yourself in.

Key Point #2: Feedback

  • Observe you teach and provide feedback. (EG I have observed many lessons in my time and have also provided demo lessons and invited teachers into my classroom. We can learn a lot just by watching or being watched and getting feedback. I hate feedback that is all positive, I want them to identify things I can improve on or at least give me) some other ideas or perspectives to help improve what I am doing
  • Check over programs and assessment tasks.
  • Proofread reports.

Key Point #3: Example

  • Invite you to watch them:
    • Teach
    • Discipline (EG Uni prac I watched this happen and enjoyed the technique that was used)
    • Develop rapport
    • Plan and create programs etc (I have very fond memories in my 2nd year working with one of my good friends Matt, as we cut out the syllabus and rearranged it into units and then created programs… I then replicated this about 5 years later when I was running the PDHPE faculty through a reprogramming phase.

Key Point #4: Sounding board for discussion

  • Bounce your ideas off them
  • Talk with them about how students learn
  • Someone to vent to when things get tough
  • Personally, I use my connections from outside of school for this, and I used to use my Principal when I was Deputy. I love my conversations with other leaders. Shout out to Hayley, Clare, Luke and Lauren as well as my mentor from the last 5 years My former Principal Kate.

Lifelong learning

  • How does all this create lifelong learners?
    • It helps you be a lifelong learner.
    • It will help you be a better teacher enabling you to help your students become better learners.
  • BUT, be careful who you pick, make sure their philosophy matches with your own.


Dan: (00:00)
Well, hi, and welcome to episode 72 of the Effective Teaching podcast. I’m your host, Dan Jackson. And today we’re going to be talking about four benefits of a coach or a mentor for you and your teaching. So my four points really are that as a teacher, if you’ve got a coach or mentor that can provide you with quality guidance with your teaching, they can give you lots of feedback. They can give you examples, and they also are there to use as a sounding board. There your four key ones that I think make a really, um, beneficial process with your mentor. So if you’ve got a mentor or a coach, or if you don’t, I highly recommend you go and find one, uh, but I’m just gonna talk to you a little bit about these processes and how you can benefit from your coach or your mentor.

Dan: (00:47)
So, number one is that they are a guide. So a coach or a mentor can give you, you know, resources that you might need to teach your class. They’re going to be someone that helps you to point you in the right direction. They’re going to help you even find some quality PD that you might like to do to improve your practice. That’s specific for you, specific for your subject field, possibly if you’re a high school teacher, as well as specific to your, maybe your stage that you’re teaching in primary school. But it’s this coach, that’s going to really help you to know what kind of professional development you should go and do. And they’ll even often have heard of these PDs. Maybe they’ve done it before themselves, and they know that it’s actually going to be a quality professional development and not just one you go and do for the sake of doing that.

Dan: (01:30)
For me, I actually had a deputy principal do this for me. When I first started teaching stage six PDHPE, my deputy principals sent to me that I had to go and do a two day workshop that introduced me to stage six PDHPE, the resources, where to find stuff, how to create assessment tasks, all that kind of stuff. I really enjoyed that professional development. And I’ve since actually gone on to do quite a few of those kinds of professional developments. And now I’ve run them myself because I love teaching stage six, PDHPE, which is, you know, my main subject area.

Dan: (02:02)
So these teachers will also, if they’re a good guide or a good mentor, they’re going to share their resources, not just ask you to create everything. They should be able to give you their programs, their assessment tasks, even if they’re just used as examples for you, okay, they’re there to help you and to guide you in the right direction with how you’re creating yours. They also can give advice as around behavior management and any sticky situation that you might get yourself into, or, you know, a new context or a new issue that comes up in your class with your students. It may not neccessarily be discipline. It could be welfare. Uh, these coaches and mentors are there to help and to guide you in that direction.

Dan: (02:40)
The second thing, and I see that this is probably the most important thing for a coach or mentor to be doing is to be giving you feedback. So this feedback can come in so many different ways, right? They’re going to come and observe you. They can observe you teach and provide feedback. And I actually, you know, I’ve observed heaps of teachers in my time and I’ve had them come and observe me as well. I’ve invited them into my classrooms. And I’ve got to say that I love being observed. And I love watching people because I learn as much as they do. And I love getting feedback and the feedback that I like, I do not like someone who’s going to come and watch me and go, Oh, that was a great lesson. I do not want that. I want someone who’s going to say that was a great lesson, but this and that could be improved or maybe they just have a different idea or a different perspective on how I could teach it differently, which just gives me new ideas and helps me to have, then have a conversation with them about what’s happening in the classroom for us both to grow, having someone observe your teaching is really important as a teacher for you to continually be improving.

Dan: (03:41)
Now, another thing is that they can check over your programs. They can check over your assessments and provide feedback on those. They can even proofread your reports for you and give you feedback on that as well as you grow as a teacher, anything that you’re producing your teacher, your, your mentor can come and observe and give you feedback on or read and give you feedback on. And I would highly recommend that you use them as much as you can. I remember I had, one of my mentors Clare, provide a lot of feedback to me about some booklets that I was trading, that I was sharing with a lot of teachers. In fact, they’re still available for free on my website. And I share these booklets for HSC, PDHPE widely. I did it with a flipped learning thing and cleverly helped by providing feedback on those booklets. As I was creating them to help me to improve them and make them a higher quality resource for people who are using them still today.

Dan (04:31)
Point 3 is your mentor or your coach can be a really fantastic example. So that means that they should be inviting you to come and watch them. Okay. So you’re going to watch them teach maybe your going to watch them even do some discipline. I see. Remember when I was a brand new or kind of a brand new teacher, I’ve been teaching for a little while, but I had to go into my prac placement for uni. I was fortunate enough to be able to teach part-time while I finished uni. And so I went and did this practicum, this placement at a Rooty Hill and the teacher that I had was fantastic. He actually purposely walked through a discipline process with a student in front of me so that I could learn the discipline process that they used at that school.

Dan: (05:16)
And it was quite a good process that helped make sure that the students were identifying what they were doing wrong, where they were sitting in terms of their behaviour. They had like this little continuum that they used to have the students identify themselves on and what the students then talked about, how they could improve and make sure that they were really making sure that they were in the right area on the continuum. So having people going and watching your teacher is fantastic. You can even watch them as they develop rapport with students or how they go about developing a quality of relationship with their student without going over the line. I guess, in terms of that, becoming too much of a friend, you are always the teacher and you want to kind of be more of the mentorship type role to the students or a coaching type role to the students.

Dan: (06:00)
You do not want to be a friend to your students. Uh, even though the students might talk about you as a friend, but you still want to be their teacher and make sure you keep that line and watching a experienced teacher do that can be very helpful. You can also use them as an example, as you go about the process of planning and creating a program that you can go and sit down with them, you can plan stuff with them. You can work together with them. You can watch them as they create stuff and ask to be able to give them feedback on what they create, because that will also allow you to see what they’re doing and the processes that they’re using. And, you know, I have a couple of examples here. I remember in my second year of teaching, I, me and another teacher were redoing programs for a particular stage thinking maybe in stage four PDHPE.

Dan: (06:44)
And he and I sat down, we cut out the entire syllabus. We pasted it all back together into different units and then helped each other program. And I really benefited from that. And I remember, yeah, more than five years later, I still use that process with a team of PDHPE teachers, as we were going about reprogramming units at our school again at a different school. And it was a fantastic process. It comes up with really great units. I also have a process and my latest role when I was deputy principal and I was creating units, I would actually send my unit designs to get feedback on. And then as I created the units themselves, I would send them out to all my teachers who might be using that and get feedback from them to make sure that I was actually creating things that they could use, that I was improving it and making sure that I was getting feedback from them so that the unit at the end was really good, but also it was something that they could easily use and understood.

Dan: (07:34)
Now the final point for a coach or mentor is that they are really good sounding board. You need someone who you can come into the staff room and just bounce your ideas off that person, who you go to every time that you talk with about how students learn as someone who is really quiet, knowledgeable, and skilled, that you really trust is going to be a great person to you for you to use as a mentor or a coach. Uh, this is someone who you might even go to, to vent about when things go wrong, when you might get something wrong or when something’s just going, upsetting you at the school, and maybe it’s something in your classroom, maybe something about the teacher tiff, but someone who you can go to and trust and talk to about it, and they can help you to actually work out what you can do.

Dan: (08:14)
In that context. Personally, I use a lot of my connections from outside of school as my people that I go to as a sounding board. Uh, so you know, everything from my principal who probably has been my greatest mentor for the last five years and that’s Kate at SEDA College, she’s the most influential person I think on my education and my teaching, uh, probably ever. Uh, but then I’ve used lots of other people, as well, a shout out to Haley, to Clare, to Luke and Lauren, I often use you guys as my sounding boards as, uh, some people who I go to with my ideas to get your feedback too, so that I make sure that I’m doing something that’s correct. And that I think through it a bit further as I go about things. So how does this then help with creating lifelong learners?

Dan: (08:58)
Because generally my podcast is all about helping you to create lifelong learners in your classroom. And I’m going to say that one of the key things for you is being able to create lifelong learners in your classroom. Is for you yourself to be a lifelong learner and having a coach or a mentor is one of the key things I think for helping to make sure that as a teacher, we are lifelong learners, people who we learn together and who we constantly improve together with, uh, so it helps you become a lifelong learner. And then that in return helps you to become a better teacher. And therefore in your classroom, you are helping your students to become more effective self-sufficient learners as well. But I do want to make sure that you are careful with who you choose as your mentor, make sure that they are someone who has a similar philosophy to yours in terms of teaching and the values that you have, and then focused on their skills. It’s more important that their values are in the right spot, in align with yours than it is that they’re just a fantastic teacher. Okay. So make sure that you’ve got a balance of both.

Dan: (10:02)
So let’s summarize just a few key points. Coaches and mentors can provide guidance. They can provide feedback. They can be an example for you and also a great person to talk with about just education in general, or just as a sounding board, as you get frustrated, which we all do at some point in our teaching careers.

Dan: (10:21)
As you may know this year, I’m actually really keen to help as many teachers as I can to have my impact as large as possible. That’s why I resigned from my position last year. I want to be freed up to be able to come and help as many teachers as I can. And so I actually want to mention that I’m currently doing and planning out my coaching and mentoring program for first time, stage six PDHPE teachers.

Dan: (10:49)
I want to be able to help as many of you as possible. And I’m going to release and talk about that when Tuesday night at 8:00 PM, uh, if you go over to teacherspd.net/72, and you’ll get a link on there to go and sign up. If you’re interested in getting some coaching or mentoring from me in stage six PDHPE, but please regardless, make sure you find someone who you know, and who you trust, who you think is a quality teacher whose values align with you and make sure you get stuck into working together because it doesn’t matter how experienced you are or how good you are as a teacher, you can always get better. And the easiest way to do that is to have someone who you’re getting better together with. So please make sure you go and do that.

Dan: (11:35)
Well, if you want the show notes, if you want any of the information, I’ve actually created an infographic for this episode. So if you head over to teacherspd.net/72, you can grab that infographic. You can also read through the transcript or have a look at the show notes, watch the video, et cetera. It’s all there for you. Make sure that you subscribe to the podcast and come and join me next week. When I talk about my three favorite ways to learn about my students at the beginning of the year, and don’t forget, I’ve also started doing book club episodes. And my next episode of the book club is on Dylan Wiliams book, Embedded Formative Assessment that’s going to be coming out to you soon. But for now I hope you have a fantastic week.

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