PIICing the brain

I was lucky enough to be asked to attend two of the statewide Professional Learning Opportunities that PIIC (Pennsylvania Institute for Instructional Coaching) held this year at Penn State.  I had been attending our local instructional coaching meetings and had learned a lot, so I was excited to attend the state conferences.  Here are my musings and thoughts on the things that I learned.

Coaching – Not just for athletes

In one my sessions (Unleashing your Coaching Superpowers to Infinity and Beyond…it was awesome), the following quote from Lauren Resnick was shared

No one expects an athlete or a musician to become great without a coach- an over-the-shoulder mentor who pushes and supports, watches and intervenes at critical moments, analyzes learners’ actions and challenges them to become self-critical analysts of their own performances.  Just with with teaching.  It is a demanding craft, requiring of its practitioners both careful planning and finely tuned adoption to the flow of classroom activity and conversation.  The craft can be learned, but not from a textbook.  It must be learned through guided practice.  

When I think about this quote, I am reminded that as a musician, I had a private voice teacher and instrumental teachers all through college and beyond.  When I needed help with an audition, I went to my voice teacher, who listened to my questions and my music, and guided me to be better.  As a new teacher, we are assigned a mentor to guide us through our first year of teaching.  Why do we stop with this?  Everyone can benefit from a coach, regardless of what subject you teach and how long you have been teaching.  The question is, how do we get our colleagues to understand that coaches are there to help and aren’t evaluative?

**also…that session led me to this, so I am rather grateful

Be intentional about what we do

Yet another quote from another session that got me thinking.  The original quote from Costa and Gramston is long, so here is the part that has me thinking

Finally, educators need to model risk-taking, open-mindedness, and continuous learning to create schools that are communities of learners.

So much to talk about in this quote, so I will focus on the last part.  The other two parts are worthy of their own posts.

I have been lucky in my time as an instructional coach that my district and building administration has allowed me to expand my knowledge and let me attend countless Professional Learning Opportunities.  From coaching to Google to coding to Schoology, I have only been told “no” when I asked to go to San Antonio for ISTE (which was a long shot).  I have so much to learn about being a coach and about the technology we are using in our schools, I will keep asking to attend things.  The worst that can happen is they say no.  Yet, when I was in the classroom, I didn’t attend many PLOs or conferences.  Why is that?  Was it access to meaningful PD?  Dislike of writing sub-plans?  The need to not miss a rehearsal?  I think it was all of these things, so how do we convince others that were like me that we always need to be learning?  That is where an instructional coach can make a difference.  Some of the best PLOs are in our own buildings and we can connect our colleagues with each other and see the amazing things that occur in our own hallways.

The community of instructional coaches is a wonderful one

Everyone there wants to learn and help others.  No question is left unanswered and you can learn so much from so many people.  It truly is a wonderful group of educators.

We Are…new here

I had never been to Penn State before the PIIC PLO.  I am from NJ and never had a need to go, so here are my random thoughts on PSU

  • The Penn Stater runs a great conference.  Always had hot coffee and snacks.
  • The stadium is huge
  • The construction heading into PSU on a Monday in June was awful about 20 miles out of State College.  I cannot imagine how that looks on Saturdays in the fall
  • The Nittany Lion Shrine is pretty cool
  • I don’t think I could have gone to college there.  It is huge.  Really happy with my choice of Millersville, but I can see why so many love it at PSU.


There is so much more to digest from my PLOs.  Hopefully, I can remember to share them here and keep learning from an amazing group of coaches.

Mr. Mazurek

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