How to Build and Advance Partnerships: Bingo!

Collaboration Montage

Lindsay Deacon, instructional coach in Portland, Oregon, shares how playing Bingo encourages intrinsic motivation for coaches and encourages them to step out of their comfort zone.


hen my team plans professional development for instructional coaches, we continually ask the question, "What will we do to make this experience fun while still providing meaningful opportunities to learn?" The solution: coaching bingo!

Why Bingo?

The idea was first brought to life when a cohort of coaches I work with in Portland were experiencing mid-year melancholy. While the game initially appears as a fun, surface-level activity, the goal was to re-engage our coaches with high-impact coaching and to encourage risk-taking that would lead to new opportunities for both coaches and their educators to learn. In my own coaching efforts, I strive to embody Jim Knight's Partnership Principles; the Bingo card keeps these principles top-of-mind.

Coaching Bingo

The Inspiration and How it Works

Knight's seven Partnership Principles—equality, dialogue, reflection, praxis, choice, voice, and reciprocity—"provide a conceptual language that coaches can use to describe how they strive to work with teachers" and can be applied daily through powerful, yet easy, strategies. While these principles are overarching concepts, different activities and structures can bring the principles to life in a coach's practice. Below I'll dive into how each of these principles shaped my coaching bingo inspiration.

1) Creates Equality

While it might not be obvious at first, our Bingo card can help create a more equal sentiment among teachers as they all engage in the same set of instructional practices and recommendations. With everyone playing the same game and doing similar thingsalbeit at different levels of expertise and with different impactsyou can help create a sense of togetherness and lower barriers building-wide.

2) Opens Dialogue

Dialogue is a necessary component in adult learning. Through the use of the Bingo card, we provide an opportunity for cooperative learning by asking a coach to co-plan a lesson with a teacher or engage in meaningful conversation by sitting in on a team's PLC.

3) Creates Reflection

We know that great coaches spend much time asking effective questions and reflecting upon their own practice. The Bingo card asks coaches to watch and reflect upon a video about coaching or of their own coaching with a teacher. This is a strategy I try to implement myself on a regular basis due to the many benefits that video includes.

4) Exercises Praxis

The principle of praxis (i.e., applying new knowledge and skills) appears when a coach tries a new strategy or conducts learning walks using a new tool. While many of us can read about a strategy, it's critical to practice it regularly in order to understand how it really works.

5 & 6) Enables Choice and Voice

Knight states that partnership occurs when one is positioned as a decision-maker in their own learning. The Bingo card embodies the principle of choice by asking the coach to choose how and when they might engage in professional reading, enroll new teachers, or collaborate with a peer. The use of a choice-based framework allows a coach to engage their own voice by sharing a relevant resource with their principal or by expressing their concerns when they collaborate with another coach.

7) Sparks Reciprocity

I often hear that coaches feel they constantly provide feedback, resources, and emotional support to others. Although this is indeed true, often times coaches lack objective feedback on their own practice. The principle of reciprocity is necessary for coaches to engage with others in a way that allows them to be receivers of feedback.

A coach may feel intimidated when they explicitly seek feedback from a principal or peer on their performance. However, it's also a way to spark a rich conversation about how the coach's role directly impacts a school globally and model to teachers that we are all working to be our best.

Final Note

Many of the coaches I work with have pinned their Bingo card next to their desk as a daily reminder to feed their own learning. Coaches have also reported that the visual encouraged them to try something new and feel energized to invest in their own learning, even when they were losing steam. The Bingo card is an example of an extrinsic motivator that serves to remind coaches of the important intrinsic motivators that us as coaches. I believe that deep learning is hard work, but it can also be fun and exciting if we create the right conditions!

Bonus: Teacher Bingo!

In addition, the creation of the Coach Bingo card led to a teacher request for a Teacher Bingo card, where the coach and teacher can work in partnership on their learning goals. Enjoy!

Teacher Bingo

About our Guest Blogger

Lindsay Deacon has a passion for coaching and currently serves as an instructional coach, leadership coach, and soccer coach in Portland, Oregon.

Be sure to follow Lindsay on Twitter @TheRealLindsay2!

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