Conversations and coaching
Knowledge is constructed in conversations. Typically inschool conversations
- what we know (our knowledge and understanding)
- what we want to achieve next (our goals),
- arrangements we will make
- what we are going to do (our actions)
- and our overall approaches
for supporting particular students and those who
work with them (teachers, aides, family...).
The Planner is used to provide up-to-date information: history, alerts,
observations, support actions, goals, contacts, existing commitments and other
arrangements. Using the Planner in conversations is likely to improve the
quality of the information it contains. Errors can be discovered and corrected,
gaps filled in, new commitments recorded, and so on...and most important of all,
people make better sense of what the data means and the quality of the data
(accuracy, completeness, currency...) is improved.
'Working with' includes Coaching
Coaching is about how to do what needs to be done. And there are lots
of people who do things that support the students. Coaching is an aspect of most
conversations involving the Planner which focuses on what to do and how to do
Making sense of the situation with data
Coaching includes three steps that use data to make sense of the
SEE - ATTEND - ACT
That is, in sense-making we distinguish three steps.
- Do we SEE the data?
- Do we ATTEND (pay attention) to the data?
- Can we ACT, or get others to act on he data?
The Planner is useful at each of these steps:
- Enables users to gather, organise and present the data thus
making it easier to see what is happening in the situation
- Informs conversations in
which people pay attention to the data
- Enables actions to be
- managed, and
- monitored (thus making it easier to see the results - go to 1.
Young Town (Mario
Bergamin) have had great success coaching students. Each Monday senior
staff use the [Observations -
variable] report to identify students who were not traveling well in
the previous week.
This information is also available from the [Update Observations]
button (click the 7 Days tab).
Senior staff them meet with individual students and use the Planner to make
- what has been happening,
- how situations developed,
- what the student did in response,
- what else the student could have done
- what they will do next time
These conversations lead naturally into coaching.
Note from Prospect High: When shown what is in the Planner
many students are shocked at what they have been doing. Implication: it is wise
to be cautious about the assumptions we make. What is obvious to us is not
necessarily obvious to students.
Is it worth the effort? Young Town are absolutely convinced. One boy had
initially been involved in 10 to 15 incidents a week - eight weeks later he had
not been involved in an incident for a fortnight. Consider the likely value of
that over the rest of that student's life
Perth Primary (Sally
Milbourne) has developed some key questions to be incorporated in
coaching conversations. Coaching involves not just knowing what has been
happening. A good coach works with the coachee to making sense of what has
been happening and what might be possible in future. Check out these
West Launceston (Helene
Boyer) are trialing a strategy where senior staff meet regularly with
individual teachers to review goals, arrangements, approaches for supporting
students in the teacher's class by working through the
[Review Class] view together.
In the sessions the Planner is used to provide up to date information
(history, observations, support actions, existing commitments and other
arrangements); to revise the existing information; and to record new commitments
made. In particular the ISP actions are updated and any appropriate new
Support Actions are entered during the conversations.
Effectively this puts the senior staff in a supporting / coaching role with
respect to the teachers. It also brings the senior staff (school) up to date
with respect to particular students. And this provides a basis for ongoing
everyday conversations and understanding the results of the weekly ISP
checklists that are part of the process.
Initial responses from staff are very encouraging. And senior staff are
delighted to be much better informed. It is likely that the language of teachers
will change significantly and the consistency of support for students will
Ravenswood Heights (Craig
Woodfall) pioneered making the information in the Planner freely
available to families with several important results
- better use of language
- better working relationships with families
- more consistent support for students
- better quality data
Sharing information and collaborating with families naturally leads into
Hudson) also reports big returns from sharing information:
"The other day I printed a student's Timetable,
History, Incidents etc. for a parent who
says we do nothing for her child - she
responded with 'Oh' . . . . It was a nice to put the
facts on the table for
discussion - this helped us move away from blame to developing a
plan between home and school."
Young Town and West Launceston are among several schools that
have been using a recent inclusion in the Planner.
This 'report' enables the school to provide parents with up to date
information including at the click of a button
1. Our current goal for [student name]
2. What has been happening lately [observations]
3. Everyday things we are doing to help [IS Plan]
4. Other comments (personalised memo to the parent)
This report allows the school to communicate more easily and naturally with
the family. Parents can also contribute information and suggestions.
It is also possible to include everyday things the family will do to help,
eg, "Get Josh to school by 8.40 each day".
And the school presents itself as being well informed and very professional
which can help if the other parties have a need to save face and instinctively
would like to discredit the school.
"The dialogue that has been created between families is
positive and powerful."
In reviewing the above
Rob Carter Leader of the Tasman East Coast Cluster Support team
wrote about support and interventions as capacity building in schools, families
and communities (not just problem solving):
" Our interventions and support are aimed
at building capacity of school based teams to successfully provide
inclusive environments and programs. This extends to families and school
And about the the value peer coaching in
your team meetings (not just exchange of information):
First and foremost our regular Support Team
meetings provide opportunities for coaching. We have a fantastic mix of
experienced professionals and 'apprentices'. All new referrals are entered and
hyperlinked to the Planner. As a team we are able to discuss and provide each
other with useful 'coaching tips' about how best to proceed.