Why Effectiveness Coaching Matters in Education
A conversation with education coach, administrator, and author Dwight Carter
Dwight Carter is assistant director of the Eastland Career Center in Columbus, Ohio, recipient of numerous school leadership awards, and co-author of a number of books on education change, including Leading Schools in Disruptive Times: How to Survive Hyper-Change. Carter will be speaking at the upcoming 2020 Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC 2020) in Miami, focusing on effective strategies for administrators.
“One of the things about FETC is it gives administrators opportunities to walk away with practical strategies,” explains Carter. “I think the philosophy is understood, but administrators are often busy, and there’s a lot of information coming at an unprecedented rate. We want to walk away with, ‘What are one or two things that I’ll pull from this session or the entire conference that I can implement tomorrow?’ By attending my sessions, they’ll get practical strategies, things they can do right away.”
Little of the content in Carter’s FETC sessions will concentrate on software or devices, and that’s a purposeful choice: “It’s all about the pedagogy, mindset, or strategy to do things differently from an administrator point of view and understanding how kids learn today.” In terms of classroom design, Carter recognizes that it needs to be centered around the students and not what’s necessarily most comfortable to the adults. As pointed out in his book What’s in Your Space? 5 Steps for Better School and Classroom Design, the world that students are living in is mobile, social, interactive, and flexible. Combining these elements allows for creativity to exist.
As an instructional and effectiveness coach, Carter has witnessed hesitation among teachers who fear using technology because they feel limited in understanding. But according to Carter, it’s important to relinquish control. “Give students a choice and say, ‘Here are the objectives for the lesson. Now, you tell me how you want to demonstrate your learning of these objectives.'”
Carter recognizes that there is a control-and-command condition that concerns adults. There is a real fear of shifting the power differential inside the classroom away from the teacher to the student, and Carter believes in facing this issue head-on. “Classroom management is a fear of control. It’s a fear of letting go and releasing. And that’s a true fear that we have to understand and address. We have to be empathetic toward [the teacher]. If we go in and say, ‘Just give them control,’ without any strategy or tips, they’re going to resort to what is most comfortable and what’s always been done.”
He sees a framework comprised of model, practice, and feedback eventually demonstrated in front of peers and colleagues. As Carter explains, it’s dialogue that essentially says, “Here’s what happened in my school and here’s what happened in my classroom. The kids did an awesome job. They had a lot of fun doing it.” The effect is an overall decrease in classroom management concerns because students have remained engaged. And by keeping engagement at the forefront, teachers have effectively eliminated the number one cause of classroom management issues.
Leadership comes down to personal skill development and Carter is a firm believer in the acronym and phrase, “Be G.R.E.A.T” – Grateful, Relational, Enthusiastic, Authentic and Teachable. As he states, “It’s all about aptitude and actions. Those are the only two things we can control. I am not a master at that whatsoever. But it is something I prescribe and try to implement on a daily basis.”
About Dwight Carter
Dwight Carter is the Assistant Director, Eastland Career Center, Eastland-Fairfield Career and Technical Schools (Columbus, Ohio). He is a former principal in Central Ohio: New Albany High School, Gahanna Lincoln High School, and Gahanna Middle School East respectively.
After spending twenty-four years as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, and principal, he became a Leadership and Effectiveness Coach for Dynamix LLC, located in Central Ohio. Dynamix partners with school districts to help them do things more efficiently and effectively by using processes that work.
He is the co-author of three books: What’s In Your Space? Five Steps to Better School and Classroom Design (2016), Leading Schools in Disruptive Times: How to Survive Hyper-Change (2017), and 10 Perspectives on Innovation in Education (2018). Follow him on Twitter
The 40th anniversary Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) will take place January 14-17, 2020 in Miami, Fla. Registration is now open at https://www.fetc.org/register
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