Today I was working with a teacher, Elizabeth, who felt that lesson pacing was affecting the engagement of students in her class. I’d been in the room and agreed. I could see that waiting for all students to be focused was actually making it harder for all students to be focused – too much dead air space! I noticed that Elizabeth had printed the word PACING in large letters in her notebook. “Working on pacing sounds like a good goal,” I said. “What is it about pacing that you want to work on?” Elizabeth hummed and looked pensive. She had a few false starts. I almost rushed in with my own words. Then I had the thought, “If you can’t say it, you can’t do it.”
After a little more think time, Elizabeth replied, “Make sure wait time doesn’t cause disengagement.” She had it! I handed Elizabeth a 3X5 card to write her goal on, so that she could keep it in a place where she’d see it often. We made an appointment to talk about her progress, and I offered to come observe again; if she thought that would be helpful, she could let me know.
Reflecting on this conversation, I realize how close I came to undermining the opportunity. If we had left the goal broad, “PACING,” it would have been hard to plan for and measure progress. If I had supplied the words when she faltered, I would have minimized Elizabeth’s agency and her motivation for working toward the goal. Instead, because she had crafted the goal herself, she had ownership of it and purpose for her effort.
This Say-Do method, where the goal-setter thoughtfully and precisely defines the objective, makes coaching more effective by empowering teachers to take the lead.
This week, you might want to take a look at:
Sticks and spoons for student engagement:
Benefits of reading aloud:
The 10th Annual World Read Aloud Day is Feb. 1:
When coaches get too many “other duties as assigned”:
That’s it for this week. Happy coaching!
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