A Journey of a Thousand Miles- Part II (Darren Ralston, Sara Hankins)


As for our process, this project began with a discussion during our coaching PLC.  One of the Albemarle County tenets for instructional coaches is to “foster a culture of collaborative, reflective, public practice.”  It was almost a reverse momentum, as Sara’s goal was precipitated by a conversation with a teacher who asked about some of the other goals she worked towards with teachers. This led Sara to realize that teachers may only have a limited view of the possibilities of the collaborative work between teachers and coaches. We have discussed in our coaching clusters and PLC meetings across the team that we want the work we do to be visible.  Sara and I felt that a big step toward transparency would be for the teachers to know that we have a public face through the website–and to provide current and supplemental information as well.  This would help lend itself toward moving our PLC into a place that is more visible.

I began my work with podcasting last year, and my impetus was mainly that as coaches we each keep separate schedules independent of each other.  It made trying to schedule book studies within our PLC impossible.  My thought was to embrace asynchronous communication via a podcast, where there could be conversations available around the PD we are working on.  This would allow coaches to catch as catch can the information and conversations they needed to progress in their reading and self-education.  The goal allowed for five podcasts around various goals throughout the coaching PLC to be shared and the coaches, in conversations, often spoke to where they began seeing overlapping concepts and practices.  It was an encouraging outcome.  As for this year’s goal, I have taken the ball and decided to run with it, by seeing if I can now have this type of work branch out and become more visible.  Last year was about production and beta-testing the utility of the design.  This year is about making it more available to all.

Sara and I sat down at the beginning of the year, and as she articulated her desire to open up our coaching work to the ACPS public as well as the general public, I realized that what I was doing would tie into that.  I hadn’t done much blogging, or general troubleshooting/planning around visual and content messaging at that point, so her view was well taken.  We began planning out how to go about this, and make the Instructional Coaching section of the ACPS website relevant and current.  Sara created a protocol that would streamline a process for coaches to develop and submit pieces. She mapped out a yearlong vision for overarching themes of blog posts that would give a balanced view of the varied work that coaches do within PLC and with teachers. The next step was to reach out to coaching teams, individual coaches, and teachers to write pieces that speak openly about the work that we do together. Our hope is to do this in an organic and inspiring way because it truly takes a willingness to be vulnerable when publishing through such a public platform.

On our journey of a thousand miles, we began with one small step. We are eager to continue to gain momentum and make forward progress towards our goal of fostering a collaborative, reflective, and public practice as coaches.