Saturday, August 10, 2019

Working with teachers (who don't want you around): The Instructional Coaching Series

Coaching teachers can be challenging when they aren't interested in having instructional support. This post provides ideas for instructional coaches when they're working with teachers, especially when the teachers aren't excited to have you around! Learn about how to build relationships, add value to the work teachers do, and how to get your foot in the door. We're here.
We've arrived. 

After sharing about coaching cycles, collaborative planning, and preparing for modeling & coteaching, it's finally the big day.
The day we talk about the elephant in the room.

How to work with teachers who don't want you around.

*GASP!* I know. I know. It's shocking.

"But I'm so nice!" Yeah, look how nice I am ------------------->
but there are still teachers who aren't that excited to see me.

"But who wouldn't want me around?" you ask.

Well, I'll tell you. There are almost definitely a couple people on your campus who aren't that excited to see you coming.

These could be the reasons why, but it also could be any other reason in the world:
  • They don't like you as a person (not likely; it's usually the other reasons).
  • They think you're going to tattle on them or gossip about them (don't do it).
  • They're overwhelmed with a million demands already. 
  • They've had really bad experiences with coaches in the past.
  • They don't know what you do or how you can make their teaching lives better or more purposeful.
  • They don't want to do the things you're proposing because it's hard or scary.
  • You stress them out because they think you're going to make them do stuff they don't want to do.
  • They don't want to change (It might not be nice to say it, but sometimes it happens).
  • They don't want to try anything different because it could mean more work (this also happens).
  • They think you're going to tell them what they're doing is "wrong". 
I know, you probably didn't even know half of that stuff was being pegged onto you. And every campus is different, to be sure, but on many campuses, this is the impression teachers have of coaches - sometimes because that's the kind of coach they worked with before.

In a previous post, I mentioned that, when you start coaching, you want to start with someone who would like to try new things. Don't start with the person who rolls her eyes every time you open your mouth.

BUT you can not stay in that happy place. If you are going to support kids on your campus, that's all kids, not just the ones in the classrooms where the teachers like you. Which means you have to take a deep breath and get in the game.

And you have to work with those teachers who don't want you around.

But how? HOW HOW HOW HOW?

Here are a few things to do before you even try to approach those teachers to support them in their classrooms.

#1 Introduce yourself and what you do.
Maybe you've been on campus for three years and it should be obvious. But guess what! It's not. The teachers who don't want you around might not know what support you can provide, so you may have to reintroduce yourself and your services. You can do this with a coaching menu like this one from my Coaching in Classrooms Kit, or with a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation like the one in my Coaching in Classrooms Kit.

Coaching teachers can be challenging when they aren't interested in having instructional support. This post provides ideas for instructional coaches when they're working with teachers, especially when the teachers aren't excited to have you around! Learn about how to build relationships, add value to the work teachers do, and how to get your foot in the door.
Get this Coaching Menu in the free download right below this post!

Another great way to show what you can do is to have teachers provide testimonials. Keep it simple. Ask them to share the kind of support you provided and what the outcome was.

#2 Maintain a positive attitude 
Nobody likes to work with a grouch. If you have a generally positive demeanor and a good personality, that will go a long way to getting people to open their doors to you.

#3 Demonstrate empathy
We show empathy by listening and feeling how the person feels. Think back to your time as a teacher. Say things like, "Oh, that's hard. I know what that's like. It made me feel like..." But don't make the conversation about you. Always offer support before the conversation ends. You might say something like, "Would you like to get together to work on that? I can meet with you on Friday and we can try to figure something out together."

#4 Demonstrate credibility
If you don't know anything, nobody is going to ask you to help them. That might sound harsh, but we've all worked with someone who isn't able to support us because they have limited knowledge or experience of teaching and learning. If your knowledge or experience is limited, don't give up. Instead, grow it. Read books. Watch videos. Attend trainings. And work in the classroom with teachers who are knowledgeable so you can benefit from their experience. We all have to keep learning.

#5 Use another classroom as a door to collaboration
If you're modeling a lesson or coteaching in a classroom, you can invite the teacher who isn't excited about support to come watch. This is a low-stakes way to get that teacher in the door that doesn't involve letting you into his or her classroom or being vulnerable in any way. Provide coverage for his or her class by scheduling a technology lesson or a library lesson. Provide the teacher with an observation guide so they can take notes about the lesson and you can have a debriefing conversation. Then segue into the support they would like.


#6 Focus on the goals that are important to them
Even complaints can be made into goals. "My kids can't add without using their fingers." is not a nice thing to say, but it might be true!

As a coach, you can take this statement and flip it into a coaching goal. Say, "So what I'm hearing is that you'd like your students to learn different strategies for addition." BAM! Now you've got a goal to work on together!

"I'm available on Tuesday at 3:00! I'd love to meet with you so we can figure out some next steps for working with your kids!

Coaching teachers can be challenging when they aren't interested in having instructional support. This post provides ideas for instructional coaches when they're working with teachers, especially when the teachers aren't excited to have you around! Learn about how to build relationships, add value to the work teachers do, and how to get your foot in the door.
Surveys are a great way to figure out what teachers would like to learn or try. 
You can get editable surveys in my Coach's PD Kit on TpT!

#7 Watch what you say and do
Everything you say and do is being used to judge you: your personality, your teaching ability, and how trustworthy you are. Teachers who don't want to work with you are sometimes looking for an excuse. And if they've had a bad experience before, they're looking for confirmation that you are the same. Don't give it to them. Do not say anything snotty, overtly pushy, or bossy. Be yourself, with a personality, but manage your emotions. It's a hard thing to do as a coach, but it's essential for building a relationship with teachers - especially the ones who don't want you around.

In addition to this, be on time and don't take a long lunch. Nobody likes it if you take advantage of your position.

#8 The most important thing to do: add value
Add value to things teachers do. Make relevant suggestions. Help them think through tough situations. Provide quality PD. Show that you care. Give them the tools they need. Help them figure out how to use the tools they have.

But, remember this: you are kind, you are supportive, but you are relentless. EVERY child deserves to learn. If there's a classroom that needs your support, don't stop until you've made it happen in a positive way.

This is the last post in the series! Click on these topics to read about conducting a coaching cycleplanning collaboratively with teachers, and preparing to model and coteach!

Other posts in the Summer Coaching Series: 
One lucky duck will win the Instructional Coaching Kit, an over $170 value!


Included in this kit (some of these are affiliate links: 


And four people will win the Digital Coaching Giveaway: the Instructional Coaching Resource Bundle and my all-new Coaching in Classrooms resource! Over $75.00 worth of products!

To enter this contest, follow the rafflecopter directions below to enter. Plus, you can add one new entry with each blog post that comes out in the Summer Coaching Series!

If you're really serious about winning, you can share a takeaway (bonus points) every single day between now and August 17, when the giveaway closes.




 
 
Coaching teachers doesn't have to feel like deep sea diving with no oxygen tank. Get my free download, Coaching in Classrooms:  A Free Download to help you get started.

  • Tips for getting started
  • Coaching services menu
  • Classroom sweep form
  • Coaching invitations (black and white)
  • Using the gradual release model to coach teachers
  • Coaching plan
  • Observation guide
  • Debriefing sentence starters
  • Thank you notes
You can get them all by entering your email address below!

 
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Saturday, August 3, 2019

Preparing to Model and Coteach in Classrooms: the instructional coaching series

Modeling and coteaching in classrooms are some of the most effective ways to facilitate change on
your campus. But they can be scary, too.
The first time I modeled in a classroom, it was in a room that stressed me out, big time.

There wasn't a classroom management system or approach in place. When the kids misbehaved, they were yelled at.

The layout of the room was confusing to me and I couldn't figure out how to get from one part of the room to another to work with students without moving furniture around.

I couldn't find chart paper or markers, and the projector was facing the wrong way.

The teacher had chosen materials that were far above grade level and didn't provide me with the copy that I requested until I walked in the door.

And worst of all: the teacher stressed me out, too. We didn't speak the same language (figuratively) and we weren't on the same page at all.

Overall, it wasn't a great experience for anyone.

I remember thinking, "How am I supposed to model in classrooms when it feels like I'm on a different planet?"

It took some time, but I figured out how to change my approach so that it became more effective for me and purposeful for the teacher.  Modeling and coteaching still stress me out a little bit, but it's light years away from that first horrible day!

Tips for preparing to model and coteach:

1. Plan the lesson with the teacher.
Modeling and coteaching are important parts of instructional coaching and the coaching cycle. But they can be scary, too! This post includes four BIG ideas for being prepared for modeling and coteaching, especially in elementary classrooms. Scheduling, planning and preparation for the lesson, materials, and classroom management go a long way to reducing stress and maximizing the effectiveness of this classroom support. I can't say this enough times! I have shared a pretty thorough post about how to plan
collaboratively with teachers, as well as how to conduct a coaching cycle that begins with planning together and assigning roles. I really recommend that you check them out to be prepared for modeling and coteaching!

In short, planning beforehand would've improved my first modeling experience 800x. I would've been familiar with the materials, and I would've helped the teacher choose grade-appropriate texts. We would've worked through the standard and learning target to ensure that each of us knew what was going to happen that day.

This also ensures that you are focusing on the goal the teacher would like to see in action, and that the instructional strategies are in alignment with the teacher's classroom.

2. Plan for a classroom management system.
This one is a biggie. In some coaching books, I've read that you focus on the learning and only integrate classroom management when the teacher wants you to. But I can't figure out how to teach any sort of a lesson unless there is some sort of classroom management system in place. Without a system, I spend the entire time putting out fires and students aren't learning (which is the goal).

When I plan with teachers before visiting their classrooms for modeling or coteaching, I make sure that our planning session involves a plan for classroom management. If the teacher has a system in place, we talk about whether it will be my responsibility to use it or his/her responsibility.

Modeling and coteaching are important parts of instructional coaching and the coaching cycle. But they can be scary, too! This post includes four BIG ideas for being prepared for modeling and coteaching, especially in elementary classrooms. Scheduling, planning and preparation for the lesson, materials, and classroom management go a long way to reducing stress and maximizing the effectiveness of this classroom support.

Modeling and coteaching are important parts of instructional coaching and the coaching cycle. But they can be scary, too! This post includes four BIG ideas for being prepared for modeling and coteaching, especially in elementary classrooms. Scheduling, planning and preparation for the lesson, materials, and classroom management go a long way to reducing stress and maximizing the effectiveness of this classroom support. If there isn't a management system in place and the class will not learn without some structure, I introduce three basic expectations to students and we use gestures to chant them.

We discuss what each one means and looks like. Then I use a chart to record "team points". These are points the teams earn when I see them working towards or demonstrating one of the three basic expectations.

There are no prizes for points; they're just fun and show that I acknowledge the work they're doing.

Over time, we can take the points away and just have students set goals and discuss their progress, but points are a visible way to start working on behavior.

You can read more about this simple system here.


Modeling and coteaching are important parts of instructional coaching and the coaching cycle. But they can be scary, too! This post includes four BIG ideas for being prepared for modeling and coteaching, especially in elementary classrooms. Scheduling, planning and preparation for the lesson, materials, and classroom management go a long way to reducing stress and maximizing the effectiveness of this classroom support. 3. Assign responsibilities for each person. 

Whether you are modeling or coteaching a lesson, you want it to be clear who is doing what at each point in the lesson.

If you're modeling and the teacher is observing, provide them with an observation guide that will help them focus on specific elements of the lesson.

If you're coteaching with the teacher, document who does each step of the lesson to ensure that you are both contributing.
 
You can get seven different observation guides (editable) and two different collaborative planning guides in my Coaching in Classrooms resource!


4. Bring your materials with you.

It's just easier this way. I recommend having a little bin or bucket where you bring along everything you'll need. In some cases, I've even used a cart to hold the materials I planned on using.

This includes markers, post-its, a pointer, highlighter tape, laptop, or anything else you will need. It's better to be prepared than to spend ten minutes hunting around a classroom for the materials for the lesson. For small groups, I actually bring pencils, markers, and highlighters for the students, too. I'd rather bring what I need than waste time with them running back to their seats to find something.

Modeling and coteaching are important parts of instructional coaching and the coaching cycle. But they can be scary, too! This post includes four BIG ideas for being prepared for modeling and coteaching, especially in elementary classrooms. Scheduling, planning and preparation for the lesson, materials, and classroom management go a long way to reducing stress and maximizing the effectiveness of this classroom support.

If the teacher is very organized, you can also ask them for exactly what you'll need. Larger items or student supplies can be provided by the teacher, such as a projector, power strip, chart tablet, easel, and student notebooks, scissors, glue, highlighters, colored pencils and/or crayons.

5. Schedule the debriefing conversation before you do the lesson.
It's best to schedule the debriefing conversation before you actually teach the lesson. This will help you make sure that it's timely, shortly following the lesson. You may have students work independently while you debrief quietly with the teacher, or you may schedule a time later that day or week to have a focused conversation. Prepare for this in advance. You can get debriefing sentence starters in my Coaching in Classrooms Free Download right below this post!

Want to read more about conducting a coaching cycle that includes modeling and coteaching? Check out my post: Conducting a Coaching Cycle. Next week, I'll share all about the elephant in the room: working with teachers...who don't want you around!

Other posts in the Summer Coaching Series: 
One lucky duck will win the Instructional Coaching Kit, an over $170 value!


Included in this kit (some of these are affiliate links: 


And four people will win the Digital Coaching Giveaway: the Instructional Coaching Resource Bundle and my all-new Coaching in Classrooms resource! Over $75.00 worth of products!

To enter this contest, follow the rafflecopter directions below to enter. Plus, you can add one new entry with each blog post that comes out in the Summer Coaching Series!

If you're really serious about winning, you can share a takeaway (bonus points) every single day between now and August 17, when the giveaway closes.




 
 
Coaching teachers doesn't have to feel like deep sea diving with no oxygen tank. Get my free download, Coaching in Classrooms:  A Free Download to help you get started.

  • Tips for getting started
  • Coaching services menu
  • Classroom sweep form
  • Coaching invitations (black and white)
  • Using the gradual release model to coach teachers
  • Coaching plan
  • Observation guide
  • Debriefing sentence starters
  • Thank you notes
You can get them all by entering your email address below!

 
Pin It
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