All posts by Char Firlik

One to One Coaching to Impact Learning

Coaching is a great professional learning learning experience supporting growth for teachers and for students.  The positive impact of coaching over time is well-documented with  research (Jenny Edwards – Cognitive Coaching,  Cathy Tool, Diane Sweeney, Jim Knight).  At our upcoming LCN study session,  Coaching Conversations to Sustain Learning, Kathy Arlen of Kent City PS  and Marsha Turner of Ionia PS will share their stories of coaching.  Learn:   How  does a teacher connect with a coach for support?  What thinking guides the support a coach offers? How does a coach and coachee monitor success for the students and the teacher?  What are some tips, tools and processes the coach finds supports learning for the coachee?   See you on Thursday!  Laura and Char

Coaching Instruction with Intention – March 10

To Members of the  Study Session Coaching Conversations to Sustain Learning:

Teachers often use rubrics or criteria checklists when conferring with their students.   How might this technique work with coaching colleagues?   Coaching conversations with colleagues are often focused on ways to improve instructional techniques that support success for student learning.  This session we will explore using a criteria checklist or rubric during coaching conversations to clarify  a goal and enhance commitment for success.    You will have guided practice with an authentic coaching conversation that we filmed earlier this week  and have opportunity to practice using a coaching template.  Laura Robinson and Char Firlik

Planning Professional Learning?

Hi LCN Friends! Teacher-leaders are often tapped on to lead professional learning for staff.   I recently came across a great little blog posting from Learning Forward  on designing Professional Learning Days that will offer you some thinking for designing and preparing for your next professional learning day.   Keep in mind that  the LCN trainers are also available to help support you with staff learning endeavors.  Char Firlik

Yay! It’s Professional Learning Day!

Coaching for Identity


What identity do you hold for yourself when you are coaching?   This was the question posed to me from a coach  to reflect on my work.  The question caught me off guard.  As the coach continued I realized that I was concentrating on developing the tools of coaching but I had not defined my identity as a coach.  I often thought about the ‘doing’ of coaching but not about the ‘why’ of coaching.   Through further reflection I explored many of the values and beliefs I hold about being a coach and about coaching others.  My coaching behaviors changed the more I thought of myself as a coach, they became more focused to support the thinking of the person I was coaching.  As a coach I strive to support others to be self-directed in their work.

Last Thursday, January 7, 2016 we explored how identity impacts learning and growth.  Identity is like a nesting cup that holds one’s values, beliefs, capabilities, behaviors and the environment or context of work. Each level impacts the other. Quality of performance is enhanced when the levels are aligned.  ( Robert Dilts)  It is powerful when a student says…. I am a reader…I am a writer.   Teachers prompt identity when they invite a student to …be writer, reader,…to think like a scientist or mathematician…to be an explorer.  What is the identity you hold for yourself…as a teacher-leader…as a coach…as a teacher for students?  How might you invite students or colleagues to consider their identity?

TIPS – Coaching stems related to identity:

Paraphrasing –  It is important to you…. You believe…

Questioning – What is important to you about____?   As you continue to grow as a _____ what  might you need to learn?


A Learning Lab to Support Coaching

Welcome to our 1st session facilitated by Laura Robinson, instructional coach for KentISD student campus and Char Firlik, Cognitive Coaching trainer. Laura lead us in a Color Connection activity to form a learning lab community and explore our hopes and wonderings around coaching. A reflection activity helped us examine characteristics of an effective coach and create a distinctive ‘coaching lab’ coat. Kay Psencik, senior consultant/coach for Learning Forward, offered 6 Key Traits: self-awareness, honesty, sincerity, competence, reliability, and intentions. ( read pg. 52-57) Laura has created a Google Community blog to keep us connected as learners between our sessions. To be a member of the ‘Coaching Lab’ Community connect with Laura at .

Congratulations to Andrew Steinman! MACUL Educator of the Year

A well deserved recognition as Andrew  encourages and patiently tutors so many educators and actively networks with professionals statewide to support technology integration within teaching and learning.   “More technology is not alway better!” says Andrew Steinman.  Read more:

Hats off to Kent ISD’s Teacher-Leaders at MRA

The recent Michigan Reading Association 59th Conference, United We Read and United We Write, had a new energy with outstanding presenters and timely topics.   It was great to see  many local teacher-leaders at the Michigan Reading Conference learning and sharing.

Elizabeth Gates, Greenville Highschool ELA teacher and TLA graduate 2015 served on the 2015 Conference Program and serves as the MRA/IRA Coordinator.

Sarah Shoemaker, Greenville Elementary Interventional Specialist, LCN Member and TLA 2014, received the MRA 2015 Educator of the Year Award.

A few members and their colleagues spotted sharing  professional learning by leading workshops:

Grandville and an LCN Trainer: Teresa McDougall

Kentwood: Derek Braman, Nancy Broadwell, Eric Closson, Tim Hargis, Debi Moore, Kathy VanVliet, Molly Walsh, Amy Weatherford

Rockford: Shawna Huls, Kathy Munger, Jennifer Patten, Sara Rothenthaler, Melissa Sagorski-Hall, Kenn Vidro

Sparta: Kathy Hartuniewcz, Jenna Rykse

Hope we did not miss anyone.

Thanks to all of our TLA and LCN members who were able to attend!  We noticed so many of you came with colleagues.  Learning together unlock’s a group’s potential for student success!

Video is Changing the Landscape of Professional Learning


Using Video Effectively: Researched-Based Practices

Teaching Channel Teams was developed based upon research related to the effective use of video and online tools for professional learning. At a recent symposium funded by the National Science Foundation, Teaching Channel brought together leading experts in these fields to discuss this research and the implications it has for 21st century professional learning.


The Role of Video in Making the Shift to Standards-Aligned ELA Instruction

Discover key strategies and learn about successes.


Next Generation Professional Development

Teaching Channel Teams is a private, video-enabled, professional learning platform. At the center of Teams is Teaching Channel’s award-winning, best-in-class, video library. This library can be added to with district-created videos and teacher-created videos that can easily be shared for coaching and reflection. With Teams, teachers and instructional leaders can collaborate in a secure environment, advancing teacher effectiveness and lifting student achievement.

LCN B Agenda Tuesday, Feb. 3 8:00 – 3:00 KISD

Kent ISD’s K-12 LCN – B Professional Learning Network Meeting

Tuesday, February 3, 2015 8:00 – 3:00

How Can I Communicate Well?

A good deal of the work done by teacher-leaders and coaches is verbal. They are frequently in conversation one-on-one and with groups. Today’s learning is designed to explore the various roles of teacher-leaders/coaches and to develop communication skills that support positive relationships with colleagues to achieve desired outcomes for student learning. Feedback from our group indicated a desire for an opportunity to engage in thinking on literacy topics, so a Literacy Learning Conversation Café will be offered in the afternoon.   We look forward to connecting with you next week. Bring your copy of the Cathy Toll book: The Literacy Coach’s Survival Guide.

8:00 Welcome – Char

Exploring States of Mind and Cultural Lens Factors of Communication

9:30  Break

9:45   Tools for communicating: Pausing, Paraphrasing and Questions – Nelli

11:30 Lunch – On your own.

12:30  Teacher Leadership Roles – Char & Teresa

1:45   Break

2:00 ‘Literacy Learning’ Conversation Café – Teresa

  • Purposeful Talk – Nelli
  • Reading & Writing Workshop – Mark
  • Exploring Grit – Ann

2:45 Reflection

3:00 Dismiss