Coaching Probes: Applying Teacher Learning Teams for Reflection

 In Professional Development

Coaching Probes:

A collegial coach of a teacher learning team can be someone in the school or someone at another school. Alternatively, the role can rotate from team member to team member in the teacher learning teams. Regardless, the teams work together to create individual or team 30-Day Plans.

As they implement the plans, the collegial coach completes what we call “coaching probes” with the team members. This is done by selecting time during the 30 days to observe a block of instruction for each teacher on the team. Prior to the visit, the coach meets with the teacher to discuss the lesson being taught. The collegial coach uses the Coaching Probe Tool to collect information during the visit. This tool specifically addresses how the teacher communicated the learning targets to students, how the instruction was aligned to the targets, how students received feedback on the targets, how students were engaged, and how well students understood classroom procedures.

The purpose of coaching probes is for teachers to coach each other on how they can help their students improve their learning.

Based on our experience with teacher learning teams, we recommend that the teacher serving as coach spends at least 45 minutes in a learning situation and try to schedule a time when she will get to see a unit of instruction begin and end for a given day. When the coach is in the classroom surveying the landscape, she records evidence using the Coaching Probe Tool (below).

coaching probe tool


At the end of the 30 days, the collegial coach meets with the team to reflect on the previous 30 days. They discuss student learning and parent satisfaction results, which were rolled out from the 30-Day Plans. They then present the information they collected using the Coaching Probe Tool. At the team meeting, the teachers and the coach discuss their reflections based on the following four questions:

What worked well?

What challenges did I face?

What modifications would I make to the lesson?

Is there anything I need to learn, re-learn, or receive more practice on?

The results and reflections guide the teachers on what they need to do to improve during the next 30 days. They also help the school leader know what he needs to do to support teachers to achieve their goals.

At your next team meeting, consider asking and reflecting on the questions above with fellow teachers. 

Asti Kelley, TeacherReady®

Excerpt from: How to Lead Teachers to Become Great | Feature image: Friendship Circle
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