Wow, 2020 has been quite a year and we're thankful for all of you who read and share our weekly coaching roundup! Before we leave this year behind us, let's take a look at the top coaching articles of 2020 from our amazing guest bloggers. 👏
The major craze in education this year—besides Bitmoji classrooms (more below!)—was coaching "choice boards." It's no surprise then that Pam Hubler's extremely helpful advice on how to get started with them was a hit. 🏆
"Once I understood what my job included, however, it didn't mean teachers in my building knew how to utilize and work with a coach. This is why I decided I needed to create something that would help guide their requests in the right direction! This process really made me think of the services I wanted to focus on as a coach and how to describe them to teachers. . . . Gathering teacher requests via a Google Form means that I'll be able to see all the data for this school year in one place, which I can't wait to see! It will help me to determine which services are needed the most so I can structure my coaching schedule better and better each year."
When the pandemic hit, ICs looked to Stephanie Affinito for ways they can support teachers during their transition to their new remote-first reality. 💻
"Classroom teachers are working tirelessly to ensure everyone stays connected and that their students continue to learn amid COVID-19 school closures. They're gathering resources, connecting with students and other educators online, and rethinking what learning looks like in times of crisis. . . . During these times, coaches need to reach out to teachers to ensure they're still heard and seen."
Working from home was a big transition for most of us and we often felt like we were on a roller-coaster of "too busy" or "not busy enough." Kristi Sacha shared the three major areas she believes ICs should focus their time on while working remotely.
"Now is also a perfect time to partner with other coaches in your district and connect with the wider coaching community. . . . Connection is how we form those relationships: while working remotely, be proactive and take the time to email or call teachers to check in and see how they're doing. Be sure to ask if they have questions you can help address, or if they have any personal or health concerns you can assist with."
Amber Van Den Berg relayed a handful of her go-to techniques to support both students and educators in remote learning environments. Let's not forget the video overview she recorded too! 📽️
"The feeling of isolation can set in very quickly when learning virtually. Instructional coaches need to encourage teachers to continue collaborating between grade level or content area teams. . . . Instructional coaches can help teachers capitalize on what is working well by asking reflective questions. Posing deeply reflective questions to individual teachers or teams not only helps build self-confidence, but also helps us reach our number one goal of providing quality instruction that promotes student learning."
Many of you read Vicki Collet's post where she explored a few key characteristics that can make or break a coach's work, even when all the right procedures and protocols are in place.
" Relational characteristics can make or break a coach's work, even if all the right procedures and protocols are in place. This is especially true when coaching remotely. . . . Personal characteristics like empathy, curiosity, humility, and approachability also support your coaching work. In uncertain times, however, traits like courage, consistency, and joyfulness become key to the relational work of coaching."
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Coaching and leading remotely required a shift in the way we think and carry out our daily routines. Luckily, Stephanie Affinito had our backs again with some of her must-have attributes of coaches working remotely.
" We are teaching and coaching under such unprecedented circumstances that we have to we get to (not have to!) coach and lead in ways we have never tried before. . . . The lessons we learn each day open up new possibilities for coaching when we return to school, a gift to appreciate as we search for gratitude in these challenging times."
Another hot topic in 2020 was Bitmoji classrooms. Fortunately, Stephanie Harris knew the power they have for engaging students in online learning environments and shared with us how to create our own.
" Off-the-shelf learning management systems lack the flavor, creativity, and quirkiness that make so many of our classrooms exciting and welcoming spaces for learning. By contrast, a Bitmoji classroom helps educators bring the warmth and creativity of a classroom space into the virtual world in a way that is functional and fun for students."
You all loved the examples Kelli Schiltz gave us for fun (and funny) treats she gives her staff to remind them of all the different ways she can support them in their work throughout the year.
"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. . . . 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."
In a year where we definitely needed some positivity, we learned from Jenna Moller why affirmation is important—both in our personal and professional lives—and how taking a moment to acknowledge others every day fosters strong coaching relationships.
"This profession is tremendously rewarding and challenging at the same time, making it crucial to affirm others in small ways to ensure teachers feel appreciated and connected—and remain in the classroom. . . . I leave these affirmations in mailboxes, on computers, or hand-deliver them depending on the teacher's schedule. Teachers continue to partner with me with the desire to learn and grow because of the positive relationships built on affirmation."
🏆 The most-viewed topic roundup of 2020 is...
"I'm a Coach... Now What? Our collection of posts back in February for new coaches was our most-viewed this year and explored a bunch of different thoughts and bits of advice for anyone embarking on their instructional coaching journey. Check it out!
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