Saturday, October 13, 2018

Coach as Confidence-Booster

As instructional coaches, one of our most important roles is to bring out the best in the teachers we work with.  This includes empowering them and helping teachers see the impact of their contributions. When teachers feel confident, they are willing to take risks and make changes. A teacher who is unconfident may retreat to carefully-controlled, worksheet-driven lessons that are easy to teach but not in the best interest of students. Expressing confidence helps a teacher move from what she is to what she can become. Here are a few confidence-boosting ideas to consider:

Encourage During Struggles
If a teacher lacks confidence, mistakes can confirm feelings of inadequacy.  Instead, let teachers know it’s okay to make mistakes, that missteps are part of the path to success. Fear of failure can be immobilizing, but knowing perfection isn’t expected makes it safe to try and then try again. Teaching requires experimenting – using an approach and examining the results.  When a lesson doesn’t go as planned, we can treat it as a puzzle to be solved, a mystery to be unraveled.  Viewing struggles as opportunities takes away worry and negative energy.

Scaffold Increasing Success
As we plan forward with teachers, we can offer enough support to increase instructional success.  That scaffolding might look like specific recommendations or just asking the right questions to help a teacher think through specifics of a lesson. Anticipating together how students might react helps a teacher prepare to be flexible and responsive to students’ needs as the lesson unfolds.

Express Praise
Providing positive feedback about things that are goes well increases confidence. Never suppress a compliment! Give specific examples of what is working, and celebrate incremental improvements.  Recognize the microbursts of excellence in both the teacher and her students.

Let Teachers Teach Teachers
As you recognize strengths in the teachers you work with, give them the opportunity to share those strengths with others. Five minutes at a faculty meeting to describe something that worked solidifies that practice in the teacher you are highlighting and helps it spread. Avoid favoritism – look for opportunities to help everyone be seen as an expert.

Raising sights and expressing confidence gives teachers a path toward improvement.  When we have positive assumptions and treat teachers as if they already are what they have the potential to become, they grow into those aspirations.  When coaches express confidence, they are supporting the can-do attitude so important to improvement.  Lyrics from the song, “I Have Confidence in Me,” from The Sound of Music, apply:

So, let them bring on all their problems.
I'll do better than my best.
I have confidence they'll put me to the test;
But I'll make them see I have confidence in me!

Teachers with confidence in themselves are ready to tackle the tough challenges inherent in instruction.  And then when students struggle, teachers can pass their confidence along!

This week, you might want to take a look at:

The planning process for PBL:

Using drama and role playing for English Learners:

Every teacher needs a mentor:

Teaching about reading confusion:

Twitter hashtags for coaches:

That’s it for this week.  Happy Coaching!

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