Monday, July 18, 2016

Differentiated Coaching

In Differentiated Coaching: A Framework for Helping Teachers Change, Jane A. G. Kise uses the Myers Briggs personality type framework as the lens through which coaching can be viewed. She views the personality types as a view point for assessing communication styles. According to her thesis, only by understanding the communication styles and preferences of others can you design coaching to meet the needs of each teacher. When there is a mismatch between presentation of information style and individual, poor outcomes result from the professional development. People can coach others with whom they do not share personality styles, but the coach then needs to adjust to meet the needs of the individual.

First a quick down and dirty summary of Myers-Briggs style. This format has been used by the business world for decades. The book goes into some detail about personality style, but an interested party should pursue more detailed information from the website above and other sources.  Myers and Briggs identify people as belonging to one of each of the following groups:
  • Judging (planning) v. Perceiving (open and flexible) --> J or P
  • Extraversion (energy through the outside world and people) v. Introversion ( reflection and solitude) --> E or I
  • Sensing (information, facts, details) v. Intuition (open-ended, creative, big picture) --> S or N
  • Thinking (decision making through logic) v. Feeling (decision making through emotions and personal impact) --> T or F
People then are identified as one of 16 four letter styles that highlight how they like to interact with the world. Although the author correlates framework with other learning style and personality style systems, such as Gardner's multiple intelligences and Gregorc's Mind Styles Model, the links are tenuous at times. The common thread could be that our inborn traits determine who we are and what we excel at as well as areas where we struggle. While research has shown that attention to multiple intelligences does not improve academic results, it may be true that communication style differences do.

One useful feature that I found was her chart on different coaching styles. Pages 146-8 detail four types of coaching preferences and how individual needs can be met. Below is a summary of the chart.

Want a coach as a …
To meet their needs
useful resource
·         Hands on relevant lessons
·         Provide evidence of effectiveness
·         Provide easily customizable examples
·         Listen to concerns
Encouraging sage
·         Provide encouragement, clear goals, and concrete tasks
·         Join in the classroom and highlight the good, suggestions for trouble spots
·         Limit the number of choices
·         Model one strategy at a time, document success
Collegial mentor
·         Conversation to engage creativity
·         Demonstrate concrete examples of abstract concepts
·         Step by step assignment procedures and graphic organizers to keep everyone focused
·         Classroom management support
·         Talk through the scenarios before choosing a strategy
·         Provide credentials and references- be able to answer their questions
·         Balance theory with hands-on experimentation
·         Allow them to question and improve upon ideas
·         Provide evidence and data

I am a T person with a mix of S and N. When I was at a workshop and the three questions I asked were not only unable to be answered by the presenter, but she did not go find the answers for me. I was very unsatisfied with the program because she did not meet my need to have an expert in the subject material present information to me.

Some of the type information that I found intriguing included:
  • SP students who struggle in school tend to test and enjoy the discomfort of teachers that results Gifted students tend to be N, perhaps as a result of testing bias
  • Teachers tend to be INFJ, INFP, ENFP, ENFJ or ENTJ. Those with different types may struggle to fit in well with their peers.
  • American culture tends to prize J, but that is not true of all cultures. Cultural preferences tend to be overrepresented in the population.

This book presents an interesting viewpoint on learning. While it does present ideas for large scale initiatives and incorporating them in light of personality types, it does not in any way discuss implications of the Common Core Standards on classrooms. The author's view on how instruction has shifted in light of CCSS adoption and how personality styles are addressed would be interesting. One shift in the mathematics realm, for example is an increased emphasis on understanding and articulating the why of a solution or algorithm. This will appeal to the J, S and Ts but could be a challenge for the P, N and Fs.

The book includes a fantastic appendix which describes each personality type, their general strengths, stressors, what they are best at in the classroom, their needs during change, typical areas for growth and suggestions for a coach to meet those needs. Understanding myself is, perhaps at least as effective as understanding the needs of professionals with which I work. Knowing that professional development (PD) that does not meet my needs for clear connections between current and new practices, information to answer all my questions, careful attention to details, time for reflection, and opportunities to provide influence is likely to not be well received means I need to adjust and seek out the opportunities that I do need. I am unlikely to respond favorably to PD that does not meet my needs, but I am not everyone. It does explain my thirst for details and knowledge as I approach new experiences.

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