You have to get down and dirty with them! When coaching, I find it helps to model the lesson along side the teachers so I can experience the celebrations and struggles as a co-teacher, and not an evaluator. When I can draw on my own experiences with a teacher's students, I find that we are on the same page. I always want to be able to practice what I preach so I always keep my edge in the classroom.
Hope this helps!
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The very first thing I do is explain the difference between an observation and an evaluation. An observation is just that: I record what I see, as much as possible and as objectively as possible. I was trained to record, not reflect - that is for the teacher to do. Once the observation is over, I sit down with the teacher and ask how they felt the lesson went. I ask questions, and let the teachers respond. Most often, they know what they did that worked and what didn't. They just don't always have the time to reflect and that is what I offer. If they ask for help, I ask them again what they feel they need. Only then do I make suggestions. Because I am not evaluating them for an assessment of their teaching prowess, but observing what they do in the classroom, a level of trust is built that makes the relationship cooperative and collaborative in nature.
As a master teacher in our teacher assistance program I have a daunting, but rewarding task. But first we have to establish honesty, and get over "anger" and emotion usually directed at the administration. It takes careful observations, reflective conversations, keen insights, praise, and repeated reinforcement to get results. Each Mentee is different, and each one has excellence within. This same approach has always worked for me in the classroom, too.
I establish myself as an ally by requesting an invitation into their classroom, even when my time in their class is pre-scheduled. I listen carefully to their struggles and follow up every conversation with resources and opportunities for professional development. When presenting to the staff as a whole, I work to mention things I have seen and heard in our own classrooms that support the techniques or strategies I am speaking about.
I have worked at building relationships first. When I first started the job of Coaching I spent a lot of time hanging out in the staff lounge and participating in the conversations (both academic and social). I also sent out an email telling them about myself and what some of my goals were for the year. I ended the email asking teachers to respond with an interesting fact about themselves and also letting me know if they felt comfortable with me coming in informally right away. Most responded that I was welcome to come in anytime and I started doing so immediately, I only took two things with me on these informal walk throughs for the first two weeks: a thank you note and a piece of candy that I would leave on their desk when I left. For the teachers that didn't respond to my initial email I would try to make conections with them informally in the staff lounge and after the first two weeks I began coming into their classrooms too but without any observation tools, I let them know it was just to say "HI" and see their classroom, they began to let their guard down and I now have comfortable, open relationships with every teacher on campus. Now that I am observing more formally and working with teachers individually during their prep times, I try to be as specific as possible with my feedback and also with any resources or materials that i am suggesting for them to use. The number one key is reflective conversations where the teacher is reflecting on strengths and areas for improvement and WE work together to build off of that. Good luck to you!
As a Cognitive Coach I introduce myself as their "batting coach", or similar analogy. I ask them to identify 2-3 very specific areas THEY want to work on. When I script their lesson, I focus on those traits. If they are unsure, we might pull from their most recent formal observation feedback.
Start by talking about what went well and where that could become better. "I was very impressed by how you were able to make the idea concrete and graspable in this instance. How could you do the same thing in this part of the lesson?" This kind of message makes it clear that your goal is to be supportive. Follow up with suggestions.
Start by asking the teacher what s/he thought about the lesson. Let her/his evaluation be your starting point.
From day 1, I have communicated to teachers my purpose and vision as an academic math coach. During my debriefing or meetings with teachers, I always invite them to lead the conversation through a series of questions. I encourage collaboration, and I allow the teacher to put their ideas and suggestions on the table, and we work around their ideas and suggestions to reach their end goal as a team. This created buy in from the teachers because they have control of what takes place in their classroom. As a result, I have gained the teachers trust, I follow through with promises, and I make it my business to meet any request. I believe with a vision, purpose, and consistency to serve your teachers you can expect service and capacity in return.
This is my first year coaching after fifteen years in a middle school classroom. I created a "Literacy Lounge" where my desk is located and two large tables to meet with teachers and administrators. I, of course, incorporated a frig and coffee maker to welcome everyone to the space. This has become an effective planning space. There are the "regulars" for lunch each day rather than the teacher's room as well. Most importantly, the space has become a haven to share successes and failures of our days together. Most importantly, I wanted the teachers to feel this comfortable space has been created for them out of appreciation for their hard work.
You have to provide resources and personal experiences with other teachers. Be open to their ideas and suggestions. Point out successes and build on the success. Collaboration and celebration builds.
As an instructional technology coach I find that most teachers want to know that you understand their frustration, especially as it relates to using new technology. I start by letting them know, I was once in "their shoes". I share my personal journey in learning how to use technology and the simple fact is that I am still learning. I then let them know that teaching is an evolving process and that how they evolve is totally up to them and that my job is just to help them with their evolution.
As a district instructional coach, the first thing that we do is have teachers self-reflect using our teaching evaluation system as a guide. We then develop a plan for improvement based on that conference. In addition to those things, we have two contracts signed. The first contract is between the teacher and coachee. It states the responsibilities that each will bring to the table. The other contract is between the coach and the administration which basically states that we are not their to evaluate and that their is an expectation of confidentiality between the coach and coachee (unless danger to a child is involved). The it boils down to building relationships.
Relationship....Relationship ..Relationship for me as a New coach this year, has become the building block from which I coach. In order for teachers to become open about their challenges as well as their successes, we as coaches must first establish that this is a professional-learning relationship where we care about their growth as a teacher. Thus creating an atmosphere of safety for a teacher to experiment with new instructional strategies. Additionally, when reflecting about a lesson, allow the teacher to express what she saw as " working" before discussing the "needs of improvement" area.
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