Welcome back to school! Kick-start the new year with the top articles from August's weekly coaching roundups: reflective questions that help a coach identify their role, relationship-building strategies for working with teachers, how one coach transitioned back to a teaching position, questions that help create powerful conversations, student-focused tips to prepare for a new year, and more. Enjoy!
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"While instructional coaching itself can differ between districts and their schools, each of us does have the ability to carve out an identity that matches our philosophies, talents, and skills. . . . We're all passionate about learning and students or none of us would be here! So dig deep. What specific skills or passions do you have that lend themselves to coaching others?"
"Coaching isn't exclusively about teaching and learning. It's about relationships. Even if we stand on opposite sides of an educational debate, or we find ourselves disagreeing at faculty meetings with a specific colleague that we need to coach, teaching likely isn't the only thing we're passionate about. So look for opportunities for personal connections to build a personal relationship. It doesn't need to have anything to do with school. Maybe you both like running, or traveling or peanut butter! Whatever it is, find a personal connection that can help you open the door to conversation."
"Start with a good, solid teacher who'd like to learn a new thing or two. It helps if they have a positive influence over their grade level, too! . . . If you need to make changes, do it! Don't stick to modeling for the duration of the cycle, and don't stick to 50/50 coteaching, either. Change the type and level of support to respond to the needs of the teacher and students."
5 Student-Focused Tips to Prepare for the School Year
"At the beginning of my career, I can state that I built lessons and units first and then, hopefully, adapted the learning to the students during the lessons. As I reflect back on this approach, I should've thought about my students first, identified their barriers to learning, and used their interests to plan more effectively. After all, it's my job to understand my learners and plan accordingly. . . . We must assess, make observations, and have conversations. We cannot be too rigid in our long-range vision as our students may not achieve at the speed with which we have planned."
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"Every year on the first day of school I would greet all the kids with a big smile however, behind that smile was an overwhelmed and highly anxious teacher who was already exhausted from all the last minute leadership decisions. . . . Don't be afraid to reach out to your most experienced or veteran grade level teammates as well as the instructional coach and/or principal in regards to new initiatives."
"If you are heading into a new school, it is always important to gain an understanding of the current culture and school-wide goals. Always remember slow is fast! You have to build relationship and gain understanding before you can truly make a difference! You will be working side by side with the principal, so it is EXTREMELY important to build that relationship."
"Instructional coaches guide reflection in many situations. We help teachers analyze their instruction, student data, student learning progressions and behaviors, as well as school-wide progress to name a few. It can be time consuming to generate questions for each situation. . . . The more you see how the questions impact your analysis, the better situated you will be to use the questions during the next school year."
"The most important component is, hands-down, building a strong relationship. . . . Emotional intelligence is often included in the catch-all term “soft skills.” Soft skills reflect how you work, communicate, and problem solve as a part of a team. Interpersonal skills play a key role in this. Once you see the ubiquity of relationships, everything fades in significance."
"Many communities, districts, or states have their local tribes that meet together and communicate in person, formally or informally. These provide a great way to connect in person and network, in addition to a host of other benefits in talking to colleagues nearby and/or with similar backgrounds. . . . If you don't have a physical tribe, now's your chance to create or join a digital one! Twitter is a great place to get started because it offers plenty of hashtags and Twitter chats that are already teeming with your coaching peers."