Making the Most Out of Your PD Coaching Platform

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For principals, coaches, and school leaders, making the shift to classroom observation software can create a massive positive impact on their teachers’ performance. A PD coaching platform like Whetstone helps leaders provide teachers with the material and feedback they need to improve their instruction and organize their teaching processes. We interviewed Principal Josh Cella to understand how he makes the most out of Whetstone and how he uses it on a daily basis to improve school performance.


About Principal Josh Cella

In June 2018, Josh Cella stepped into the role of principal at Phillis Wheatley Community School. Before that, he had worked in various roles both as a teacher and a school leader. Cella started his career in the Teach For America program for two years as a Corps Member. He then went into the Jefferson Parish Public School System where he worked as an English Language Arts Teacher before joining FirstLine Schools as Assistant Principal. This led to his current position as Primary Principal at Wheatley. Principal Cella has worked in many different learning environments and he understands what it takes to train teachers. However, before coming to Wheatley, Cella had never worked directly with Whetstone and he had to get acquainted with this PD coaching platform.


Getting Accustomed to a New PD Coaching Tool

When Principal Cella started at Phillis Wheatley Community School, the school was already using Whetstone’s classroom observation platform to help teachers grow and learn through valuable feedback. With directed data-driven instruction, Wheatley was working to bridge the gap between the strongest teachers and those who may have been struggling. For Principal Cella, this was his first time using a teacher coaching platform and he found it was simple to integrate into his routine without any underlying challenges. “Whetstone was actually rather intuitive,” he said. “Once I adjusted my workflow to include inputting coaching and data meetings, it became a normal and effective use of my time.”


One of the biggest issues that comes with schools not using a teacher coaching platform is finding the time to coach and evaluate every teacher. Observing teachers weekly can be a significant time commitment that requires strategic scheduling. Coming into a school that already had a digital platform in place can make things run a lot more smoothly. For Principal Cella, it was all about how he would use the tool on a daily basis to get what he needed out of the software. “To make the most of the tool, I visit the frequency dashboard which allows me to see which teachers have not had touchpoints in the last few weeks,” Cella mentioned. This allowed him to schedule time to support these teachers when he otherwise might have never known which teachers were due for a check-in.


Moving into a school that had its own customizable platform cut the hassle of figuring out schedules and created a more dependable coaching approach. Cella stated, “As a coach, the data allowed me to become more consistent. The feedback I have received most often as a coach is that teachers want more frequent or more consistent support. Using Whetstone allows me to track that support and act on that data in order to respond to my feedback.”


Making the Shift to Classroom Observation Software

Going from schools that did not use a coaching software, to Wheatley, where the software was actively used, was a change of pace for Principal Cella. However, after the initial learning phase, Principal Cella found that the software kept him on track and improved his own performance as well as that of his teachers. Whetstone allows coaches and school leaders to access a digital home where they can take observation notes, plan meetings, and share feedback, all while making sure that no teacher is left out of the process.


For Principal Cella, joining a school that already had Whetstone in place gave him one of his new favorite tools to work with – the teacher coaching timeline. “This tool allows me to track how often a teacher is receiving coaching and how often they are mastering action steps,” Cella said. “It allows me to see gaps in my coaching and support of teachers in order to be more consistent and effective for them.” The power of data-driven instruction is that it doesn’t give just one teacher the tools to become successful. Using our software helps build a community that walks the most effective path to create success together. On the topic of coaching, Cella mentioned that “Wheatley engages in teacher coaching to ensure adults are continually improving and learning in order to meet student needs. Coaching is a critical lever in our ability to influence what happens in a classroom that, in turn, influences how our students achieve.”


With a strong digital coaching tool, school leaders are free to coach and don’t have to worry about miscellaneous feedback scattered across different platforms. The information gathered can provide teachers that need more assistance and improve overall school performance. The more teachers that benefit from guidance and coaching, the more success students will achieve in class.


Using Whetstone’s Classroom Coaching Platform

For Principal Cella, learning how to use a coaching platform software improved the way he communicated and scheduled feedback with teachers, and it was incredibly easy to transition into his daily routine. If your school already has a classroom coaching platform, here are some tips on how to master the tool to help drive your school’s success.


Contact us today to learn more about how Whetstone’s observation software can greatly improve your teachers’ performance.