December 2019 Instructional Coaching Must-Reads

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Happy Holidays from your friends at TeachBoost! 🎄🎁 We're wrapping up 2019 with the top articles from December's weekly coaching roundups. Learn how coaches can support teacher retention by helping them find a sense of purpose, how one coach used gamification to create an environment of risk-taking, key factors that are crucial to great instructional coaching, and more!

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Helping Teachers Find Their Purpose through Self-Awareness

Naomi Ward explains how important it is to teacher well-being and retention that they hold a sense of purpose and self-worth, and how coaches can help foster that.

"All teachers have essential qualities that make their presence and impact unique, and when they are inhabiting such qualities, there is flow, fulfillment, and meaning. If we lose this sense, we lose direction, our sense of worth, and connection to what brings us joy. . . . Therefore understanding and articulating our identity and purpose is an urgent task."

Would You Be Willing?

Vicki Collet has some great advice for coaches on being more conscious of the language they use when working with teachers, so that they can better create a culture of change and innovation.

"Offering choice increases ownership and honors a teacher’s professional knowledge and her knowledge of her own students. A coach’s language about instructional decisions can enhance the willingness for change. Choosing your words carefully might help a teacher to see a situation (and even to see you) in a new light."

Gamification to Support Professional Learning

Lindsay Zilly created an environment that promotes risk-taking through gamification as a fun alternative to standard professional development.

"Teachers respond well to personalized PD sessions that are authentic and relevant, so it made sense to create bite-sized opportunities for educators to learn at their own pace. Learning about something of interest to them made the experience more engaging and memorable. Gamification games made learning more fun and added an element of competition that encouraged all teachers to find a way to participate at a level they felt comfortable with."

The Role of Struggle

Steve Barkley shares a great analogy between a lifeguard and teacher, exploring whether it's more important to "save" struggling teachers or to provide tools to teach them instead.

"Often in my workshops with teachers, I ask for groups to generate a list of student production behaviors that increase student learning outcomes. . . . For me it illustrates the complexity of teaching. Now I’m wondering if instructional coaches might at times be in a similar complex role. When to be a saving lifeguard and when to be a swim coach promoting a struggle?"

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Joyful Noise

Mary Ann Ranells strongly recommends celebrating successes with your peers in professional learning communities.

"We know that collaboration makes the difference between success and valiant attempts. . . . While visiting schools, I rediscovered the essence of professional learning communities from the joyful noise I heard, felt, and witnessed. The more time I spent in the schools, the more I became amazed and enthralled with the heart and soul of celebration. There seemed to be a tiered system of school-wide events, with teachers creating classroom memories, random acts of kindness, student voices, and more."

Coaching Resistant Teachers

Elena Aguilar offers three techniques to help reduce teacher resistance and provides example conversations for each one.

" Clearly naming and acknowledging the quality of the experience for the educator helps heighten their awareness – and this initiates their own power. Educators have a lot more influence than they may realize in moments where they feel overwhelmed. It is important not to lose sight of their power of influence. We need to help them elevate and focus on positive ways to improve the learning experience for kids."

Seven Success Factors for Great Instructional Coaching

Jim Knight and Matthew Kelly identify some key components that are crucial for effective instructional coaching.

"While every coaching situation presents unique challenges, an established process for guiding the coaching experience ensures that instructional coaches have all the tools they need to help teachers set and achieve their goals. . . . At the most fundamental level, coaches will struggle if their principles don't believe in coaching or professional development."

Planning Questions for Coaching Conferencing and PLC Facilitation

Steve Barkley promotes the "Questioning for Learning" framework as a way for coaches to prepare for meetings, PD sessions, and more.

"Questions from perception, induction, analysis, and same/different work together to help gather information. When approaching or experiencing something new, these questions set the stage for exploring deeper. . . . I consciously turn to the Questions for Learning framework to preplan some of the questions I will use in an upcoming coaching session, facilitation, or PD workshop. Having a few anchor questions prepared allows me to be a better listener and thus increase the personalization of the process."

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