Expert or novice, beginning or experienced, every teacher benefits from a mentor, coach, and collaborator. Teachers, who are usually the only adult in their immediate workspace all day long, need someone to laugh with and problem-solve with. They may need a sounding board or a shoulder to cry on. As we work with a teacher, it might help to think about which quadrant he or she fits best within in the figure below.
Although labels like these are just generalizations, it can be helpful to think about past successes with teachers with similar experience and expertise.
Struggling, Inexperienced teachers are often open to coaching and benefit from modeling and recommendations. Frequent, informal conversations about teaching are helpful, too. These teachers also need to hear that they are not the only ones struggling; share your own embarrassing defeats so that she’ll feel comfortable reciprocating. Struggling, inexperienced teachers also need someone who celebrates their incremental successes.
Expert, novice teachers may have too many good ideas! They have a large repertoire of current best-practices and may jump into everything with both feet. Expert novices may need support in prioritizing their many ideas so that no one (teacher or students) becomes overwhelmed, and so that they don’t burn out and leave the profession.
Struggling, experienced teachers come in two main varieties: those who know they are struggling and those who, perhaps, do not. The stuck-in-a-rut experienced teacher often benefits from seeing a coach model new practices with her students. Seeing how her own students respond differently to new practices can increase the appeal of trying new things.
Expert, experienced teachers may just need a sounding board for their own ideas as they talk through a situation. But they often love an exchange of ideas with a collaborative peer who helps them see a different perspective. These teachers may even enjoy a little push-back or disagreement that helps them clarify their own thinking.
Having a coach helps teachers embrace reflection and take risks at every career stage and every level of proficiency. Considering where a teacher is on the expertise and experience spectrums helps us successfully challenge, advise, and celebrate the teachers we support.
This week, you might want to take a look at:
Handling negative coaching responses:
Picture books add another layer of meaning for experienced readers:
Moves for struggling writers:
Student-Centered Coaching and PLCs:
Kindergarten social and emotional skills that predict college success:
That’s it for this week. Happy Coaching!
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