Jeff Parker, Acting Principal, Holy Eucharist St Albans South, St Albans South, VIC
It is a well-known fact that education in the 21st century is changing and that schools need to adapt to the changes as a matter of course.
Schools as well as the Catholic Education Office in Victoria are aware of this and are making sure that schools get support on how to adapt to the new reality.
To help us with this change, the Catholic Education office suggested we take Group 8’s “Performance Development and Coaching” (PDC) program on board.
I attended one of the PDC program presentations delivered by John Corrigan where he spoke about how coaching and mentoring of staff can bring about positive cultural change for the school, and at the same time improve student learning outcomes.
The PD&C program is all about cultural change, helping teachers to move out of the “chalk and talk” teaching model into facilitating better learning outcomes for students.
Here are some aspects of the program that resonated with us.
- We knew we needed to instigate change from a traditional teaching method to developing a new method of personalised learning and 21st century teaching.
- We wanted to make a transition from “traditional teaching” to a new pedagogy.
- We want a classroom where the teacher is the facilitator and the children are engaged and responsible for their own learning, rather than the teacher standing up the front giving instructions, along the lines of “you just listen and I pass on the information”.
- We also want the children to have some choices in their activities.
- We want teaching to be more children centred rather than teacher centred.
All of these reasons mean that schools and teachers have to learn and be coached on how they need to approach the changes and adapt their behaviours.
Change is never easy to implement, and in particular if there are staff that are set in their ways.
However, we have a school imperative to improve so we decided to start off with the coaching aspect of the program and allocated coaches to teachers.
Most of our teachers welcomed the coaching with open arms; however some of the staff struggled with the fact that they’ve been teaching for many decades and that someone younger with less teaching experience is coaching them.
I’ve personally been coaching 3 teachers. This provides an opportunity to sit down with each teacher and have a professional conversation with them.
Importantly, these sessions are about listening to teachers, talking about their concerns and helping them develop their goals to improve their teaching strategies in the classroom.
The coaching is not onerous and I don’t perceive the time spent with my coachees as an extra burden. The feedback from the majority of the coachees has been very positive.
Both our leaders and teachers have praised the PDC program and said the coaching sessions were fantastic.
The coaching sessions are also a great way to affirm our teachers regarding what a good job they are doing. This is really important. Teachers in general don’t get praised often enough, and need affirmation just like anyone else.
Because of staffing issues and the fact that John Steele went on sick leave late 2012, the coaching process lost a bit of momentum, but I am committed to picking up the pieces and getting moving again. (In fact, just putting this case study together has made me realise the importance of the program and brought it up in the priority list.)
At this stage, I can’t really quantify tangible results, partly because of the loss of momentum but also because the program hasn’t run for long enough.
Having said that, I can see more openness and collaboration between the coach and the coachee.
I can also envisage, that when the staff really embraces the program, real change can be achieved.
In my view the program is great. I give it a 9 out of 10.
As for John Corrigan, he gets 9 out of 10 as well. His presentation was really, really good, he was clear, precise and gives us really good examples to work with.
John also coached our leadership team; I was impressed by how he extracted information and identified positives.
John Corrigan is very good at what he does.
I have no hesitation recommending John Corrigan and his “Performance Development and Coaching” program to other primary schools.