Saturday, June 15, 2019

Four things instructional coaches need to do this summer

Are you a new instructional coach? Trying to figure out how to get sarted and be as prepared as possible for your new job? This post includes 4 easy things to do over the summer to be prepared for next school year. These ideas will give you knowledge and the confidence you need to be successful and start coaching with confidence! Check out these four tips and get ready for your first year of coaching, or to grow as an experienced coach! I get a lot of questions from peole who have just been hired as instructional coaches. The number one question is: What can I do to be ready?

If your brain is racing, trying to figure to what you need to do to be ready for next year, you are not alone.

Coaches everywhere (especially new coaches, or coaches who know big changes are coming) are trying to figure out how to be prepared for next year.

Here are four easy things you can do to be ready!
1. Make some decisions.
It's impossible to "focus" on everything. I know teachers who continuously stress themselves out by saying things like, "We're targeting all of these skills", and the list is 10 skills long. You can't "target" ten skills. You can really only "target" a couple of things at a time (ok, technically one thing, but I'm being flexible with this metaphor). 

If you're going to be effective, you really need to take a step back and reflect on how things went this year. Then you need to make some decisions about where you are going to invest your energy next year. It helps to do this over the summer so you have a month or two to let it sort of "percolate" in the back of your mind. What could this look like?

  • Maybe this year you're going to make sure you spend more time in teachers' classrooms because you got pulled from this a lot last year.
  • Maybe you're going to make a point to learn about data so you can support your teachers in understanding student strengths and areas to grow.
  • Maybe you're going to dig in to your state standards to support your teachers in planning.
Once you've decided what you want to do differently next year, you'll know what your focus for learning will be on this summer. This brings me to tip #2...

2. Read a book.
While I completely recommend reading books for personal enjoyment (teachers and coaches have to be readers, too!), I'm referring to reading a book about coaching. Bonus points if it supports your plans for next year!

Here are a few I recommend. These are affiliate links, but they're all books I have read and learned from.


Coaching Conversations by Linda Gross Cheliotes and Marceta Fleming Reilly
This book focuses on being a committed listener, speaking powerfully, and providing reflective feedback. Perfect for the coaching cycle!

 

The Art of Coaching by Elena Aguilar
When you're working with a teacher, there are so many social and emotional issues that we take for granted in addition to the academic issues we tend to focus on. This book brings them to light and gives you some insight in addressing them.


The Art of Coaching Teams by Elena Aguilar
Coaching PLCs or grade levels can be very challenging. This book gives you a lot to think about when it comes to working with teams effectively.

 
Student-Led Coaching: the Moves by Diane Sweeney
This book is full of actionable items that you can actually implement quickly. I really recommend it, especially for new coaches!

 
 And now for a shameless plug: The Start-Up Guide to Instructional Coaching by me.
 
Are you a new instructional coach? Trying to figure out how to get sarted and be as prepared as possible for your new job? This post includes 4 easy things to do over the summer to be prepared for next school year. These ideas will give you knowledge and the confidence you need to be successful and start coaching with confidence! Check out these four tips and get ready for your first year of coaching, or to grow as an experienced coach!



Are you a new instructional coach? Trying to figure out how to get sarted and be as prepared as possible for your new job? This post includes 4 easy things to do over the summer to be prepared for next school year. These ideas will give you knowledge and the confidence you need to be successful and start coaching with confidence! Check out these four tips and get ready for your first year of coaching, or to grow as an experienced coach! 3. Do some PD.
Sometimes coaches get lots of PD in their content areas, but not in the actual work of coaching.
Getting professional development specifically designed for coaches is so important, and it can be motivating, too!
Sometimes, coaching PD can be hard to find.

Fortunately, here's a free one you can sign up for! It's four days of virtual PD especially for coaches! There are sessions about topics coaches need: data, culture, questioning, communicating effectively, and more. 

Just check it out to read through all of the session titles and see the big names in coaching, too! Diane Sweeney & Angela Watson were a couple who really stuck out to me.

Here's my link for the free registration: Free registration to Simply Coaching Summit
And here's my affiliate link for a six-month pass: Six Month Pass to Simply Coaching Summit

4. Rest.
As a coach, your whole purpose is to help everyone else. That's literally why you have a job. You go to work to help teachers and kids. It's a mentally and emotionally exhausting job. (Sometimes it's physically exhausting, too!)

This summer, take some time to just be yourself. Do things you like to do. Don't think about work for a while. Here are a few ideas, if you're stumped.
  • Go to the bathroom whenever you want, for as long as you want
  • Read a book you want to read
  • Have drinks with friend
  • Bake a treat 
  • Stare into the abyss
  • Eat a dinner you cooked
  • Go to Target and buy something fun
  • Get a pedicure
  • Sit on the porch and drink wine or tea or something tasty
  • Watch something pointless on TV
  • Take a walk
  • Ride a bike 
  • Spend time in your garden or yard
  • Go for a swim
  • Really, do anything that is not work. And do a lot of it. You'll need your mental energy when school starts again.

Are you a new instructional coach? Trying to figure out how to get sarted and be as prepared as possible for your new job? This post includes 4 easy things to do over the summer to be prepared for next school year. These ideas will give you knowledge and the confidence you need to be successful and start coaching with confidence! Check out these four tips and get ready for your first year of coaching, or to grow as an experienced coach!

 
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Saturday, June 1, 2019

Helping teachers reflect on their practice

We know teacher reflection should be going on all year, but the end of the year is the perfect time for instructional coaches to help teachers stop and think about their teaching. This post includes questions and strategies for helping teachers reflect. Instead of just asking teachers to set goals, have them go through a reflective process to really bring their ideas to the forefront and think about where they'd like to grow and what they'd like to change! Helping teachers reflect on their practice can be challenging. As a coach, you're walking a fine line.

Your relationship with the teacher is delicate. Teachers who feel attacked will not want your support, whether attacking was your intention or not. Teachers who don't feel challenged will not benefit from your support, however helpful you might be.

The end of the school year is a good time to reflect on teaching practices, but we should really do this throughout the year, as an ongoing practice. After a lesson, day, or unit are good times to stop and think: is this working?

But we've got to start somewhere! In order to encourage reflection, one thing you can do is to meet with teachers at the end of the school year to help them think back to their year and make some plans for the next year.

As you're helping teachers think about the effectiveness of their teaching, here are a few questions you can ask and things you can do to facilitate the conversation and take it into action!
Questions to Ask:

About a specific lesson or unit
  • How do you feel about this lesson/unit?
  • What do you think went well?
  • How did you expect things to go differently?
  • Where did students struggle?
  • What seemed to work well to help them be successful?
  • How can you use those elements in other lessons?
About student progress
  • Did students make progress?
  • Did students make the progress you hoped they would make?
  • How do you know? What information are you using to decide this? (Data/observations/etc)
  • Why do you think that was the outcome? 
About student learning
  • What learning gaps do you see across your class?
  • What did you do to address these gaps?
  • Was it effective? How do you know?
  • What could you try next time to address this issue?
  • How could you address the same issue in a different way?
About strategies and methods
  • What did you try this year that worked well for you?
  • What did you try this year that didn't work out well?
  • What have you learned that you'd like to try? What support/resources would you need to do that?
About what matters most
  • What were the best moments you spent with your students? What made them the best? How can you integrate those ideas into your teaching more often? 
  • If your child had been a student in a classroom exactly like yours, how would you have perceived the teacher and classroom? The climate? The dynamics? The opportunities to learn?  
  • What do you believe about teaching? How does that show up in your teaching? What could you do differently to better reflect those practices?
  • What do you want to learn more about? Where do you want to grow? How can I help you do that?
  • If you could change any one thing about the way you taught this year, what would it be?
  • If you had total control and choice in what you taught next year, what would your classroom look like? What elements of that can you integrate into your teaching next year? 
http://buzzingwithmsb.blogspot.com/2018/12/resolutions-dont-work-do-this-instead.html

Things to Do:
  • Use a focused observation guide to help you record specific kinds of notes about a lesson the teacher is teaching. You can focus on student engagement, questioning, time management, or any other facet of teaching and learning to help teachers gather information. Need guides? Get them in the Instructional Coaching MegaPack
  • Offer to record the teacher teaching a lesson. They can watch it with you or on their own.
  • Help the teacher create and provide students with a survey. Ask them about their experience. Don't shy away from asking the tough questions: What didn't you like about class? What was challenging for you? What should I change?
  • Help teachers make a plan using the Better than Goal Setting free resource I shared on this post!
  • Offer a menu of support to show teachers how you can help them grow. Ideas might be book recommendations, sharing videos, book studies, modeled lessons, or coaching cycles. 
Looking for tools to help you organize yourself and support your coaching work? I've put together a free resource from the Instructional Coaching MegaPack to help you out! Just enter your email address below to get the free resource!


 
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