September 2021 Instructional Coaching Must-Reads

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2021-09 September Must Reads header

Fall is officially here, and we've raked through September's Weekly Coaching Roundups to compile the top articles of the month. Read on to learn five attributes empowering ICs possess, how to create coaching partnership agreements, tips for reducing educator stress and burnout, and more. Enjoy!

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Increase Peer Observation with Pineapple Charts

Jennifer Conley encourages the use of "pineapple charts" to help teachers show hospitality in their classrooms and inspire a school-wide culture of collaborative PD. ๐Ÿ

"In some traditions, the pineapple has come to symbolize hospitality, which is what inspired the pineapple chartโ€” a way for teachers to show hospitality in their classrooms. The pineapple chart itself is really simple. It's just a calendar, made of a dry-erase board or something similar, located in a high-traffic area, like the staff room. . . Pineapple charts are an open invitation to share and be inspired by the amazing work in all our classrooms."

Helping First-Year Teachers

Laurel Schwartz provides four ways veteran educators can guide and support new teachers to flourish both in and out of the classroom.

" First-year teachers who have mentors are significantly more likely to be successfuland return for a second year. And it's not just the mentees who benefit: Mentoring often empowers veteran teachers to grow in their practice by pushing them to be more reflective about their own teaching."

Setting the Tone for Coaching

Chrissy Beltran passes along a few of her practiced tips for building long-lasting relationships with teachers.

"All relationships require trust. . . . To gain trust and build a relationship you must be empathetic and credible. One of the ways I showed empathy as a coach was listening without judgment. I built credibility with the staff by being real and realistic."

How to Help Teachers Manage Their Stress and Anxiety

Being an educator can be incredibly stressful at times and the shift to remote work has only amplified this. Luckily, Shelby Denman and Kaila Albright generously provided a few ways to identify teacher stressors as well as some different techniques for coping with them.

"As a coach, addressing teacher stress and anxiety is two-tiered. To care for teachers, you must first care for yourself. A burned-out match is useless for igniting a fire: In the same way, a coach who has nothing left to give is no help to those around them. Secondly, you must directly address your teachers' stress and anxiety to have a stronger instructional influence. A teacher's stress level affects their ability to receive and respond to new information."

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Hey Instructional Coach, What Do You Do?

Jim Knight shares what he believes to be the five principles that empowering ICs endorse.

" The learning catalyzed by instructional coaching doesn't happen in workshops, but in classrooms. It's driven by teachers' energy. While this may seem radical, we can validate why instructional coaching works by thinking of our own experiences. We know that the most important changes we make in life are ones we choose for ourselves, and that we respond best to people who treat us like equals."

Sweetening Coaching Conversations

Vicki Collet showcases how a mentor she observed used "affirmation sandwiches" to give feedback and recommendations to their mentee.

" Affirmations sweeten a coaching conversation! . . . They are specific, including examples of the exact words that were used. Note the parentheticals that make explicit the verbal move the intern was making. Noticing and naming these specifics makes it more likely they'll be repeated in the future."

Increasing Student Learning

Diane Sweeney breaks down the six stages of a collaborative student-centered coaching cycle.

"The complex task of teaching takes time to learn. . . . If the outcome of coaching is improved student learning, then coaching has to be in-depth and sustained over time. This requires a coach and teacher (or team of teachers) to determine where the students are in their learning, design and implement instruction that is differentiated, and modify the instruction to ensure that the students meet the standards."

Supporting New Teachers

The National Institute for Excellence in Teaching shares four ways districts can build and support a high-quality mentor program that helps retain teachers.

"Instructional coaching may be a new skill for some mentor teachers and providing them with training and tools to keep their coaching student-centered is key. . . . Although the work of mentoring is individualized, it should not be done in isolation. Working collaboratively with other mentors creates opportunities to share ideas, strategies, and resources."

Bonus: Coaching Partnership Agreements โœ๏ธ

Partnership agreements are beneficial for coaches and their peers to outline core responsibilities and create transparency around their coaching role. Lindsay Deacon, a school improvement coach in Portland, Oregon, graciously walked us through the steps for creating two types of partnership agreements.

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