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February 15, 2023

Personalized Coaching to Address the Teacher Shortage

A SAGE Personalized Coaching Framework

“Personalize” is defined in Oxford Languages as “design or produce something to meet an individual’s requirement.” When we personalize coaching, we provide support aligned with the educator’s learning styles, experiences, and needs. Too often we adopt a one-size-fits-all approach that is hard to deviate from. There is a strong correlation between a one-size-fits-all approach and a teacher shortage, learning gaps, and inequity; the more we adopt this mentality, the greater the problem becomes. If we want to close learning gaps, retain teachers and disrupt inequity, we need to immediately work on implementing personalized coaching with fidelity and consistency. I define personalized coaching as, “authentic ongoing actions and processes that support and allow for personalized strategies aligned to the educator’s needs, talents, and styles to powerfully impact teaching and learning and eliminate the inequities that result from a one-size-fits-all approach”. This SAGE personalized coaching framework blog explores areas and structures we need to focus on to address the teacher shortage.

Shape the Systems

To engage in personalized coaching in education, we must first focus on shaping the systems that govern teaching and learning. Unlike strengths-based coaching, personalized coaching is a mindset that starts at the top and is shaped at the district or organization level. If this culture is not shaped at the top level, coaches are faced with much resistance. So, how do we shape and structure the systems to focus on personalized coaching? To do this, we need to revamp foundational systems, such as curriculum design and implementation, technology integration, lesson planning, professional development, and professional learning communities, to name a few. We also need to provide leaders with meaningful training opportunities that will help them understand the extensive and powerful benefits of personalized coaching for teachers, other educators, and students. As a coach, I understand the need at times for standardization, but this does not mean we stifle personalization and implement a one-size-fits-all approach.

Personalizing district curriculum and strategies can be viewed as going against or not following the district’s initiatives. This is not the case, it is quite the contrary. When we allow for personalized lesson designs, we are encouraging teachers to interact with the school or district’s curriculum and other products at a deeper level. Along with other important areas, the professional development structure must be shaped. Teachers and other educators must be given choice in attending training sessions that meet their styles and needs. In addition, professional development should be asynchronous eLearning sessions to provide teachers with the opportunity to learn on their own time and at their own pace. The Teaching Channel Platform focuses on video coaching to personalize learning for teachers, this is such a great form of eLearning and personalized coaching!

Actively Support All Styles and Educator Learning Principles

To engage in personalized coaching authentically and meaningfully, organizations must implement systems and structures that focus on getting to know and actively supporting educators’ unique learning, designing, working, and implementation styles, as well as their talents and needs. Some personalized coaching steps and structures that organizations can adopt for meaningful and ongoing use are as follows:

  • Engage in observations and conversations.
  • Use a Google Form to gather information.
  •  Create a document to store all the information about your educators’ unique styles and strengths.
  • Create and share a personalized collaborative document with each educator who is being coached.

Actively supporting all styles must be a part of the organization’s culture, mission, expectations, and norms. Adults are intrinsically motivated when their experience is taken into consideration, their goals are considered, and learning tasks and strategies are relevant. Personalized coaching focuses on and incorporates all adult learning principles.

Guide the Personalization of Strategies

As the old adage goes, “the more you give, the more you get”. When we want frameworks, strategies, and protocols to be implemented with fidelity and consistency, we must give in to what educators want and guide the personalization of strategies. “Give” is defined as “freely transferring the possession of something to someone.” This is exactly what we need to do, we must freely transfer the possession of curriculum, technology, data analysis, and all other pedagogical strategies. We must give in to how the educator wants to design and implement ideas gained and guide the personalization of their products. So, how do we guide the personalization of strategy and genuinely engage in personalized coaching? How do we allow educators to customize districts’ and organizations’ strategies to meet their styles, talents, and experiences?

The steps to customization and personalization are very simple and are outlined as follows:

  • Step 1: The coach creates a synthesized personalized strategy aligned to ideas stated in the district’s curriculum, ideas shared during a workshop or training, or from any other learning experiences.
  • Step 2: The coach meets with their educators to understand and determine if support is needed to create personalized activities, products, and strategies to meet their style and needs.
    •  If support is needed to create an educator’s personalized strategy, then the coach collaborates with the educator to support personalization and implementation. 
    •  If support is not needed to create a personalized strategy; the educator would like to create their personalized strategies, then the coach supports the implementation of the educators’ strategies
  • Step 3: The coach supports and highlights all personalized strategies in newsletters, during conversations, and at workshops and training sessions to encourage and support meaningful implementation.

Examine, Encourage, and Endorse Products and Strategies

Ongoing follow-up, communication, discussions, authentic collaboration, reflection, revision, and highlighting strategies are key elements in ensuring that we are examining, encouraging, and endorsing personalized products and strategies. Personalized coaching is only successful and impactful when we collaborate with our educators to continue to examine the effectiveness of their personalized products and strategies. We must give in to the creation of personalized products. A personalized product is a tool that is created by or for educators based on their styles, experiences, and needs. They are examined through a respectful and genuine student-focused coach and educator partnership, guided by quantitative and qualitative data to discuss, revise, and enhance educators’ personalized products and strategies to meet students’ needs. It is important to note that a greater emphasis should be placed on analyzing qualitative data, such as students’ artifacts and creations to determine the impact of the personalized strategy.

Examine, encourage, and endorse those personalized ideas that teachers gained from research, their educational journey, colleagues, district frameworks, and professional development sessions they attended. Give educators the autonomy to implement ideas gained and allow coaches to support teachers’ personalized ideas. More importantly, find ways to highlight teachers’ personalized products and strategies as well as students’ unique and creative activities to reinforce the profound impact of personalized coaching. 

If we want to profoundly impact teaching and learning, close the student achievement gaps, and address the teacher shortage in our country, we need to implement personalized coaching. Starting now, we need to engage in personalized coaching models that include, “authentic ongoing actions and processes that support and allow for personalized products aligned to the educator’s needs, talents and styles to powerfully impact teaching and learning and eliminate the inequities that result from a one-size-fits-all approach.

References 

AB Tasty. (2014). Everything You Need to Know about Personalization. https://www.abtasty.com/personalization-guide

Digital Promise. (2012). How can coaches provide personalized support to teachers? https://digitalpromise.org/initiative/instructional-coaching/effective-coach-teacher-collaboration/personalization

Flick, T. (2023). The Benefits of Personalized Coaching. https://tomflick.com/2021/06/23/the-benefits-of-personalized-coaching

Gong, H. (2020). What Best Practices that Should be Included in Personalized Professional Development? Helen’s. https://helengong.com/iste-coaching/what-is-the-best-practices-should-be-included-in-personalized-professional-development

Hanover Research. (2013). Professional Development for Personalized Learning Practices. https://www.hanoverresearch.com/media/Professional-Development-for-Personalized-Learning-Practices.pdf

Lee, D. (2020, September 02). How Personalized Coaching Can Kick-Start Your School’s PD. EdSurge.https://www.edsurge.com/news/2020-09-02-how-personalized-coaching-can-kick-start-your-school-s-pd

Martinez, L. (2021). 4 Reasons Why Personalized Teacher Coaching Matters. Engage2learn. https://engage2learn.org/blog/2021/03/08/4-reasons-why-personalized-coaching-matters

So Coach. (2020). Personalized Coaching. https://www.so-coach.me/en/individual/personalized-coaching.html

Teacher Shortage is a Threat To Our Schools. (2019, June 5). The Virginia Journal of Education.https://www.veanea.org/teacher-shortage-is-a-threat-to-our-schools

OxfordLanguages.Personalize.https://languages.oup.com/google-dictionary-en/

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