I believe that an effective Peer Coach should be approachable and trustworthy. They should guide you and give you opportunities to develop your confidence by completing hands on tasks, offering support. They should join in celebrating teacher and student accomplishments and be a shoulder to cry on if it all falls apart - assisting to pick up the pieces and encourage risk taking.
I believe a great peer coach is someone who has a great understanding with the field they are qualified in and are willing to share their views and ideas. They need to have excellent listening and organisational skills and be able assist others to the best of their ability and hopefully achieve the goals required by their coachee.
I think a great peer coach needs to be a good listener. Someone who is willing to work collaboratively with a colleague to improve their teaching and learning skills, which will ultimately be beneficial for students.
Peer coaching offers the opportunity to learn from peer to peer. That is a key cornerstone of the concept because it is about the ability of the coach to recognise the equality of the relationship and coach as a peer. Communication skills are one area which is highlighted in qualities necessary to be a great peer coach. Peer coaches develop confidence from the coachees!
You hit the mark with your comment that the cornerstone is realizing the relationship is one based on equality; there is learning enough for both parties. The term "Peer Coach" is almost a bit of an oxymoron; generally a coach is in charge of a team and holds the expertise. As peers we are on equal footing.
Coaching has been most successful for me when I work with a small group of teachers as opposed to 1:1. The teachers I am “coaching” have so much to offer me in the areas of math and science. While I support them with their acquisition of technology skills and strategies, I learn strategies and core concepts necessary for my students to succeed in math and science. It is a win/win situation for everyone involved. I think sometimes coaches see themselves as having something to teach vs. seeing themselves as entering a learning situation.
Another piece that coaches need to bring to the relationship is the actual hardware. If the hardware is in the lab and out of the teacher’s control, use will be limited. To really empower teachers and make them excited about using new technologies, they must be given control of the technology. I am relentless in my pursuit of grants as a means to equip my fellow teachers with the hardware they need, I have found no other way to move control of equipment into the teacher’s, and then ultimately, the student’s hands.
So, wrapping up a long winded reply; a Peer Coach needs to be 90% peer 10% coach, and 100% passionate, flexible, and enthusiastic learner!
Thanks to everyone for their input. There are many qualities of a great peer coach and I guess we need to keep in mind that adults learn in many ways, just like our kids. As coaches, our style may need to change with the teachers we work with.
The following is a list of characteristics that came from research carried out by Puget Soud Centre, Teaching, Learning and Technology.
Prepared by Carolyn Cohen, Project Evaluator, May 2003
What teachers say are the success characteristics
• Ability to build trust with peers
• Can coax others to be coached
• Builds on what a teacher needs
• Open to learning new software programs
• Team player
• Communicates well, listens to teachers
• Knows what teachers are doing in their classrooms
• Can show teachers how to replace what they are doing with something better, not present technology as an add-on
• Able to give teachers menu of options and let them decide what might be useful for them
• Always has a back-up plan in case of technology glitches
• Highly organized, needs to plan well in advance with teachers
• Strong work ethic
• Understands that there will be a lot of extra work, including writing up own lessons for a substitute teacher while they are coaching
• Provides a safe risk-taking environment, is non-threatening, non-judgmental, and accepting
• Someone who doesn’t look down their nose at you and say, “Why can’t you do that?”
• Has enough depth and breadth of knowledge to help teachers who are at various stages of technology integration, including knowledge of appropriate instructional strategies
• Knowledge of how to organize/structure a technology-rich
I am a TRT in Virginia (U.S.) and have been given an office on a main hallway of one of my buildings. Instead of having the glaring flourescent lights glaring overhead, I've instead turned them off and have placed desk lamps around the office as well as given the place an eccentric look with pictures from travels, hobbies, a Nerf basketball hoop over my desk, etc. What has been fascinating that I get many more people wanting to come in to talk to me and get ideas since my office is a "retreat," "a relaxing place," "a bunker," and a "cave." Who would have thought that atmosphere would encourage peer coaching?
Thsi is really interesting. We all like to feel safe and comfortable, especially when we are seeking help. I think having your room set up in this way is a great way to develop that safe learning environment. I guess a bit similar to how we set up our classrooms as teachers. My classroom has a couch, a recliner, big, colourful floor cushions, stuffed toys, Dr Suess characters and so on. And this is even for Grade 6 kids!
I think there is a lot to be said about how we create a space for learning. As a learning and teaching coach next year, across my region, I will need to think of ways to do this.
I think the most, very most, important thing a peer coach can be is 100% honest! Trusting yes, approachable absolutely, willing to share yep, but they must be able to be critical and have integrity in coaching their colleague.