Fun(ny) Ways to Support Your Coaching Work
Posted by Kelli Schiltz on February 11, 2020 at 1:33 PM
Kelli Schiltz, instructional coach in Wisconsin, gives her staff fun (and funny) treats throughout the school year to remind them of all the different ways she can support them in their work.
mbarking on the venture of becoming an instructional coach involves an exciting, but daunting, transition—especially in a district that's new to coaching. I knew there were many critical tasks to accomplish before the first day of school, just as there were in my previous role as an elementary teacher. I wanted to create a strong, intentional coaching foundation, so my initial goal was to define the role of instructional coach by establishing expectations with administrators and communicating the role and responsibilities to staff.
A healthy dose of coaching (plus treats!)
A big piece of providing clarity on my role as a coach involved sharing examples of different ways a coach can support and collaborate with teachers. Some of the ways I communicated this information to teachers were: presentations during back-to-school in-service, a coaching menu of services I offer, and a Google Form for teachers to sign up or initiate coaching. These helped lay the groundwork for both my career as a coach and our district’s new initiative to invest in our teachers.
Although I had tactics in place to support my work, I knew I needed to keep up the momentum and find ways to promote coaching throughout the year. I thought this was an ideal opportunity for me to incorporate some of my personality into the mix!
Where the idea began
I've always appreciated a good pun. As a classroom teacher, I would take advantage of any opportunity to work in a goofy play on words. Students would groan and act like I was ridiculously cheesy, but I knew deep down they secretly loved it! Over the years, I came across several examples of notes on Pinterest or Teachers Pay Teachers that featured some wordplay accompanying a treat. Using these as inspiration, on the first day of school I distributed a "You're o-fish-ally in 5th grade!" note to my students, along with a bag of Goldfish (extra cheesy, of course!) on every student's desk. I found it best to introduce students to my groan-worthy wordplay right off the bat, rather than ease into it!
Candy and puns: a winning combination
Naturally, when I began working with teachers, I saw the chance to use fun puns and treats as coaching reminders at key points throughout the year. To start, I listed out some of the top ways teachers and coaches can collaborate. I then came up with a pun for each one that involved some sort of candy or treat. I decided to go with a monthly frequency for these tasty reminders because I thought that was a good way to get a laugh from teachers—without being too much.
So, starting with August, I created a coaching pun with a treat and left one in every teacher's mailbox. Also, I sent out a brief email with the link to the Google Form that I created for teachers to sign up for coaching. Here are a few of the coaching treat puns I've come up with so far that you can use for inspiration:
- Procedures and routines: Looking to set up procedures and routines that will pay off NOW AND LATER?
- Co-planning: Do you have a WHOPPER of a unit coming up? Let's co-plan a lesson, a week or a unit together!
- Resource curating: Looking for resources to add to your tool KIT (KAT)? I can help find resources and materials!
Even though this started out as a lighthearted way to remind teachers of ways we can work together, it has ended up being a really effective coaching tool. I've been pleasantly surprised by the number of coaching forms I've received in response on the days I've handed out the monthly coaching treats. Several colleagues have expressed that the treats are a fun and tasty visual reminder and in some cases, they've inspired teachers to think of new ways we could collaborate.
Relationships are the backbone of any successful coaching partnership. It's important to remind teachers, even if you aren't working with them in a coaching cycle at that time, of ways you can collaborate together throughout the year. Finding fun, unique ways to promote coaching while showing your personality can spark interest and build positive momentum!
About our Guest Blogger
Kelli Schiltz is a first-year elementary instructional coach with ten years of experience in education. She coaches across the two primary (grades 4K-2) and intermediate (grades 3-5) elementary buildings in her small to mid-size suburban/rural school district in south-central Wisconsin.
Prior to coaching, Kelli worked in the roles of 4th-grade teacher, 5th-grade teacher, special education case manager, literacy interventionist, lead teacher, and educator effectiveness coach. Kelli recently earned a Masters in Educational Administration and is certified in the areas of Elementary Education, Special Education— Learning Disabilities, Principal, and Director of Instruction.
Be sure to follow Kelli on Twitter @KelliSchiltz!
Image credit: Vecteezy.
Topics: Tips and Tricks, Guest Blogger, Your Coaching Toolbox, First Year as a Coach, Instructional Coaching, Coaching Relationships, Building Relationships, First Year Coaching Tips, Making Coaching Fun