Rhiannon McGee, Pastoral Care, Loreto
In my role as Director of Pastoral Care, my focus is on our students’ wellbeing. I mainly work with year coordinators providing structure and discipline where appropriate. I also develop wellbeing programs for students at risk or with mental health issues.
Our school wants to improve teacher practice by having our staff develop their skills continuously. In addition, we want to “open up” our classrooms.
Our leadership team is fully aware that this sort of cultural change needs to be implemented slowly and with professional support.
Our leadership team comprehensively evaluated the Group 8 Education PD&C program and decided it would help us achieve our outcome of improved teacher practice.
And personally having known John Corrigan and the Group 8 PD&C while working in another school, I was very happy to support Loreto’s choice to buy into his program. We certainly believe that John’s program provides a good conduit to achieve this significant change.
The PD&C program consists of two major interwoven components. Cognitive Coaching and Feedback.
Coaching helps every member of staff both teaching and non-teaching improve their practice. As such we ensure that coaching is applied across every staff member, regardless of position.
Coaching is a new process for me and I needed to change some of my behaviour and learn skills including “emergent listening” and “silence”. These skills facilitate insights with the people I’m coaching rather than my directing the conversation.
The PD&C program teaches the coach these skills and more. I really like the instructions as well as the background information that is shared with us.
We’ve had some really intensive afternoon training sessions with John. His training was explicit, clear and soundly based on neuroscience. I feel that John helps us to understand the context and gives us practical steps we can follow.
I feel very positive about the coaching process and found it to be a very uplifting experience.
Having been coached by John, I’m now coaching 7 of our staff members. One of the most rewarding aspects is to see them being able to set valuable goals for themselves. My team members share my positive feelings around the process.
In my view John’s strengths are:
- He has done a lot of research and a great deal of thinking on the best approach to improving teacher practice
- He’s always able to answer questions
- He’s very well prepared
- He follows a well-structured process
- He refines his presentation constantly
- He’s trustworthy and delivers what he promises
- He walks his talk
We’ve also introduced the PD&C student to teacher feedback component.
While there was a pocket of initial reluctance around receiving feedback from students, I am very happy to say that most of our staff members were pleasantly surprised by the feedback they’ve been receiving.
Since we’ve only started the program in early 2013, results are not yet quantifiable. However, I feel my team’s energy is more positive, individuals feel better listened to and openly speak about the goals they want to achieve.
I believe the PD&C program’s strengths include:
- Being a very good model on how to relate to people with emergent listening as one of the key’s to better communication
- An excellent coaching model within which the individual can receive feedback in a safe way
- Facilitating student feedback in a very safe and confidential way
- Facilitating opening up of classrooms while supporting staff in a new way of teaching and interacting
- Creating a space where an individual can consider and set goals. This is particularly important if goal setting is not their strong suit.
- Provides the school with a good structure to improve in areas it deems necessary.
Last but not least, I really like the book “The success zone”. In my view it is really accessible. Our school bought a number of copies.
The book also really re-enforces what John’s been doing on the ground. The red/blue zone model has resonated with me ever since I first heard about it. Recognising when we’re in a red zone gives us choices as to how to respond positively rather than just react.
I am very positive about the whole experience and am happy to rate the PD&C program at an 8 out of 10, and I’m pretty sure that I’d rate it higher once we’ve got more tangible outcomes down the track.