January 2021 Instructional Coaching Must-Reads

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2021-01 January Must Reads header

2021 is off to a safe start here at TeachBoost, and we hope the same for you! Let's wrap up January with the top articles of the month from our weekly coaching roundups. Learn how one IC and his team created a look-fors framework built on his org's shared vision of high-quality instruction, why sharing feedback with your teachers may need to wait until you can sit down together, why the six levels of listening are fundamental to coaching, and more. Enjoy! 😀

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A Long Look at Look Fors

Caleb Allen reflects on what it took to create a look-fors framework built on a shared vision of what high-quality instruction looks like within his organization—plus how he uses it with teachers to provide timely feedback.

"The core idea is that using look-fors as an observational and feedback tool leads to richer, evidenced-based conversations which, in turn, impact student learning and success. Developing this shared language has given everyone in our building clarity around what successful teaching and learning looks and sounds like. . . . Shared confidence among staff not only encourages students to perform at a high-level, but also promotes instructional leaders to make this excitement visible to teachers."

Virtual Walk-Throughs

Steve Barkley believes ICs should hold back teacher feedback until they can take the time reflect together.

" I have a duty to my students, who are all seniors in high school, to make them feel safe, validate their feelings of anxiety/fear/confusion, and to help them to find credible sources on which to draw a deeper understanding of the world around them. As a speech teacher, I cannot allow voices to be silent. . . . Once students feel validated and safe, they are more likely to speak."

A Day in the Life of a Student Learning Coach

Julie Nelson walks through a day's work in her ever-changing role and the many hats she wears. 🎩

"As a student learning coach, I can be the extra set of eyes for a teacher by making observations and collecting data. I can be the resource provider that offers options of strategies to increase teacher and student feedback, or questioning strategies that might lead to improved student learning. I can model a strategy or co-teach with the teachers I work with. Together, the teacher and I can reflect on current practice and plan instructional activities to move the learning forward."

Shift from Reactive to Proactive Coaching with Coaching Launchpads

Stephanie Affinito shares how coaching "launchpads" can help shift your focus from reactive to proactive coaching.

"We all need a command center for our work, especially as we are all teaching and coaching in new ways. . . . A coaching launchpad is an online space that invites teachers into your digital learning community, links them to resources they need, and plants the seeds for future coaching cycles. Creating a central spot for all of your coaching materials makes it easy for teachers to access what they need when they need it most."

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Timeless Throwback 👉 Coaching Choice Boards

Pam Hubler uses Coaching Choice Boards to empower her teachers in the coaching process and choose their level of support. Find out how she's found success with them!

"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."

Developing the Coaching Mindset

Jonathan Mueller covers the six levels of listening and why they're fundamental skills that all ICs should have.👂

" Active and deep listening is also a huge support in gaining and developing trust, when coupled with empathy. When this trust and intimacy in the coaching process is present, there is a direct connection to learning, self-awareness, and ability for growth in their own capacity."

Encourage Teacher Learning with Badges

Teresa Engler promotes teacher badges as a fun way to encourage collaboration, build relationships, and support ongoing learning with teachers in her organization.

"Building relationships with teachers is one of the very first challenges any new coach can face, and it is often tricky. . . . The implementation of teacher badges at my school helped kick-start communication, allowed for vulnerability, established trust, and most importantly, led to the establishment of strong relationships with teachers in a fun and enticing way."

Strategies to Help Teachers Thrive

Elaine Margarita Mendez suggests school leaders keep an ear low to the ground, gather feedback, and find ways to differentiate growth opportunities for their teachers.

"When you plan a framework to support the new teachers whom you coach and supervise, start by gathering their feedback so that you know what they need and have a data set to work from. . . . Moreover, by asking what new teachers need and listening to their answers, you reinforce the mutual understanding not only that you are listening, but also that they have a responsibility to collaborate, identify, and ultimately generate ideas that may help solve problems."

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Photo by Wil Stewart from Unsplash.

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