Saturday, February 4, 2023

Coaching Classroom Climate

Climate is the long-term pattern of weather in a particular area. Although weather changes hour-to-hour-, day-to-day and month-to-month, it’s the region’s weather patterns, tracked over time, that are considered its climate.

Similarly, classroom elements change hour-to-hour, day-to-day, and month-to-month, but there are patterns that make up a classroom’s climate or culture. Some of these patterns are clear routines; others are subtle ways of being. All influence learning, and all can be coached.
 
Establishing a safe learning environment is an important goal that can be embedded in coaching work. No matter what instructional practice is the coaching focus, the teacher you are working with can simultaneously consider teaching dispositions and the ways in which a safe environment is created.
 
Creating Safe Spaces
Classrooms that have a psychologically safe environment foster humanity, encourage resilience, and support learning, Let’s consider how these safe spaces are created and then turn attention to how to coach them.
 
Trust
Teacher-student relationships of trust create safe spaces for students. Trust is built through consistency; it increases when the teacher follows through with what she says. Teachers should “say what they mean and mean what they say.” Sometimes this means biting your tongue, holding back on threats you might not follow through with. By staying calm when things get hectic or stressful, the teacher de-escalates the situation and builds students’ sense of security.  Trust is also built with smiles and offers of reassurance.
 
Trust is a two-way street. Teachers create relationships of trust when they give students responsibilities, make sure they have the tools to complete them, and then offer time and patience while students figure out how to fulfill their responsibilities. Whether it is a class job or planning an upcoming field trip, students who have a sense of ownership feel safety and belonging. Trust is also engendered when teachers take the time to get to know their students and create a culture of belonging.
 
Belonging
Classrooms with a culture of belonging feel safe for all students. Safety is created when students’ unique needs are acknowledged. Equity does not mean treating everyone the same, but it does mean treating everyone fairly.
 
Ensuring Representation.  A culture of belonging is created when the diversity of students in the classroom is represented. Representation should be reflected in instructional materials. What types of authors, families, neighborhoods, religions, cultures, and classes are represented in the materials routinely used in the classroom? Beyond the materials, we can consider representation in classroom instruction. Is history interrogated? Is representation critically discussed? Could teachers’ own knowledge of students’ backgrounds be increased?
 
Establishing Social Expectations.  Children do not automatically know how to interact appropriately with one another and with the teachers. These expectations can be modeled and taught. Establishing communication protocols helps students learn norms and build healthy relationships, in and out of the classroom. Opportunities for partner and group work are a chance to practice these expectations; these experiences support social-emotional learning that is embedded throughout the day. Such authentic opportunities are more effective than 10 minutes set aside specifically for SEL.
 
Even when relationship expectations are taught and modeled by the teacher and opportunities for supported practice are provided, student interactions will need to be monitored. A classroom environment is a safe space when the teacher attends to how students treat one another.  Students need to see that disrespectful interactions are not acceptable in their classroom.
 
Accentuating Assets.  Another way to create belonging is through an asset-based teaching approach. Asset-oriented teachers view their students as capable learners. They recognize differences as attributes to be celebrated. Connecting learning to experiences students have had and what students already know is an asset-based approach that builds belonging. Teachers can also look for opportunities to connect new learning to students’ out-of-school experiences. How can they apply these new concepts in their homes and communities?
 
Asset-oriented teachers build on students’ strengths. Teachers who provide feedback through an asset-based lens leverage what students already know and can do in order to move the learning forward. They look for budding understandings and skills and help them to bloom.
 
Judgment
Teachers create psychologically-safe environments when they build on students’ strengths and celebrate big and small accomplishments rather than emphasizing what’s missing or needs work. Teachers create safe spaces when they affirm and praise more than they correct and pointing out errors. Their approach reflects an attitude of growth rather than working to “fill in the gaps” and address weaknesses.
 
Reducing negative judgements helps students take risks and recognize that mistakes are part of learning. We grow by struggling and changing our course.  Making mistakes can lead to gentleness and self-compassion when students are encouraged to figure out what went wrong, be patient, and keep going.  Students learn it’s okay not to be perfect. When students have a need for perfection, they may not try, and avoidance doesn’t set students up for success in the long run. Expecting perfection actually sets us up for failure. Mistakes make us stronger and more resilient. Teachers should frame mistakes as learning opportunities. They need to say out loud that perfection is not realistic and that we should all learn through mistakes.
 
Coaching the Climate
So, how do coaches help teachers build a safe classroom climate that includes trust and belonging and reduces judgment? As always, that depends on the teacher’s needs. The five moves in the GIR model can be a guide to think it through.
 
Model
As coaches, are we modeling asset-based thinking? Our own language is a cue for how teachers think about their students. Are we emphasizing strengths or gaps?
 
In our work with teachers, are we modeling a growth approach in our expectations for the teachers themselves? Are we modeling reassurance in our interactions with them? Are we celebrating gains big and small?  Are we modeling calm self-regulation when things get stressful?
 
If we are invited to model a lesson, we can model the type of consistency in classroom expectations that builds trust. We can be clear, during the lesson, about expectations for partner talk or group work. We can model how to draw on students’ strengths to support belonging. We can model how to acknowledge mistakes in ways that build resilience.
 
Recommend
To help teachers build trust with students, we might recommend that teachers consider classroom responsibilities that students are ready for. We could offer some examples, like having a student whose job is to turn on and calibrate Smartboard each morning, or to check that all Chromebooks are plugged in at the end of the day. We could nudge teachers to give students a voice and a role in planning that upcoming class party.
 
If teachers recognize a need to expand their classroom libraries, we could recommend favorite titles that represent the diversity of their classrooms. We could offer resources to build teachers understanding of the culture of a student in their class that they may be unfamiliar with.
 
Ask Questions
During planning and reflective conversations, the questions we ask can support teachers’ efforts to create a safer classroom environment. To encourage an asset-based approach that builds on students’ culture, knowledge, and experiences, we can ask about individual students’ and what they bring to the class. This connection goes both ways – what students bring into the classroom and what they take back into their communities. So when planning with a teacher, we could ask questions like, “How could students apply these skills at home? How could we encourage that? What would be a meaningful connection?”
 
To encourage critical conversation, after a class discussion that we didn’t observe, we might ask, “What different perspectives did students share?” If there was a disrespectful exchange among students, we could help teachers unpack it by asking questions about triggers and expectations.
 
Affirm & Praise
If teachers’ classroom libraries include representations of diversity, we can point these out and offer praise. If we observe a lesson and notice a teacher conferring with a student and point out what that student has done well, we can applaud! We can praise them for praising. 😊
 
When teachers adroitly turn an incorrect answer into an opportunity for learning, that is a time to affirm. If a teacher acknowledges her own error and says, “That’s okay, we all make mistakes – teachers, too!” we can affirm her stance.
 
Embedded Work
Coaches help teachers create a safe environment where learning can thrive. Creating environments of trust, belonging and reduced judgment happens alongside the development of skills and content knowledge. Just like the SEL experiences for students, this work can be embedded in our support, no matter the coaching-cycle focus.
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SPECIAL ACCOUNCEMENT:
This Tuesday, Feb. 7, I’m launching an online book group for my book, Differentiated Mentoring & Coaching in Education. Each week, I’ll post a video and discussion prompts on Facebook here:


and you can post anytime. I’m hoping for a healthy discussion! The book study goes through March 24. You can participate in the discussion without officially joining, but if you’d like a reminder whenever a new video and discussion are available, please sign up here.
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This week, you might want to take a look at:
 
Using classroom video as a coaching tool:
 
https://www.insightadvance.com/blog/3-ways-for-teachers-to-improve-their-practice-using-video
 
 
Responding to childhood trauma with dignity and kindness:
 
https://choiceliteracy.com/article/trauma-and-literacy/
 
 
Organizational drawings boost understanding:
 
https://www.edutopia.org/video/sketchnotes-concept-map-comprehension
 
 
This short video about how to create timelines in Google Sheets:
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqdjTMit4tU
 
 
This podcast about getting small businesses involved in education:
 
https://www.teachingchannel.com/blog/podcast-65
 
That’s it for this week. Happy Coaching!

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Hooray!!! My book, Differentiated Mentoring & Coaching in Education: From Preservice Teacher to Expert Practitioner is available from Teachers College Press!  I’m so excited to share it with you! You can use the code: FEB2023 for 15% off plus FREE SHIPPING. Click  here  and I’ll email you the free Book Group Study Guide that includes questions, prompts, and activities you can use as you share the book with colleagues.  Or join our free online book group (described above). I hope you’ll love this book as much as I loved making it for you!
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Want to know about new posts? Click “Follow” (bottom right)
Follow on Facebook at: facebook.com/mycoachescouch and Twitter and Instagram @vscollet for more coaching and teaching tips!  You can also find me at VickiCollet.com

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Words for Coaching


In “My Fair Lady,” Eliza proclaims, “Words! Words! Words! I’m so sick of words! I get words all day through; first from him, now from you! Is that all you blighters can do?...Never do I ever want to hear another word. There isn’t one I haven’t heard!”
 
Teachers might feel the same if coaches fill the airspace during meetings with their own ideas. Words can be a sword or a tool, depending on how a coach wields them, so words are worthy of our attention.
 
Words of acknowledgement and empathy build trust. “I hear you,” creates connections. Words of curiosity invite inquiry. “Say more about that,” encourages deeper consideration.
 
Words effect how we perceive, construct, evaluate, and respond to experiences. Language is a tool for learning. As coaches’ primary tool, the words we use are worthy of care.
 
When coaches model, words guide teachers’ observations, focusing attention. We can encourage teachers to watch, keep track of, listen, be aware of, notice, record, list, or pay attention to what we and the students are doing when we model a lesson.
 
Words are the substance of our recommendations. The word notice is useful here, too, as we frame a suggestion within feedback. “I’ve noticed that when the teacher ____________, students ____________” is a useful generic sentence starter when you’re worried that feedback might flame defensiveness. In less volatile conversations, the noticing can be specific to a moment in a lesson that you have observed: “I noticed that when students moved to their small groups, some seemed confused about the task.”
 
Language shapes the questions we ask and how those questions are answered. Questions can use successes as springboards: “What do you want to celebrate about that lesson” or “What has worked well for you in the past?” puts an emphasis on what might work again. Questions that urge tentative responses feel less threatening: “What are some of the things you might try?” encourages exploration.
 
Through verbal moves, we affirm and praise. Saying, “When you conferred with Emma, your open-ended questions deepened her understanding,” encouraged more of the same. Saying, “You offered longer think time after asking questions, and it really paid off!” offers praise and acknowledges growth.
 
Language is a map that represents our lived experiences. Words allow for careful exploration of the past and improvement of the future. They shape the direction and outcome of coaching.
 
Although the words a coach chooses and uses are important, the teachers’ words are critical. Coaching should be a dialog, not a monolog. Even as the coach models, recommends, questions, affirms, and praises, the teacher’s voice should dominate a coaching interaction. The coaching moves are invitations for conversation. When spoken by the coach, the words are somebody else’s, A coach’s words only take root if the teacher has a chance to make them her own. Pauses and questions offer opportunities for revoicing, giving teachers space to grasp and adjust the ideas. Understanding grows through exploratory language. Through dialog, ideas are tested and may become personally persuasive for the teacher. Meaning is collaboratively negotiated but ultimately it is the teacher who must own it.
 
The way we model, recommend, question, affirm, and praise should acknowledge the agency and efficacy of the teacher we are working with. To avoid a tirade like Eliza’s in “My Fair Lady,” coaches must choose with care the words used to construct each coaching move.

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

Small shifts to limit teacher talk:
 
https://www.edutopia.org/article/limit-teacher-talk-increase-student-engagement-achievement/
 
Coaching with gratitude:
 
https://choiceliteracy.com/article/an-attitude-of-gratitude/
 
 
A short video on getting students to focus on learning, not grades:
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJoKocHOdnI
 
 
Classroom Screen is a digital tool for your whiteboard. Add timer, noise meter, calendar, name picker, and more:
 
https://classroomscreen.com/
 
 
5 tips for retaining teachers:
 
https://www.insightadvance.com/blog/five-tips-for-retaining-teachers
 
 
That’s it for this week. Happy Coaching!
 
Was this helpful?  Please share!
Want to know about new posts? Click “Follow” (bottom right)
Follow on Facebook at: facebook.com/mycoachescouch and Twitter and Instagram @vscollet for more coaching and teaching tips!  You can also find me at VickiCollet.com
 

Friday, January 6, 2023

When Inquiry Doesn’t Work


Coaches appropriately prompt planning and reflection by asking questions. But what happens when inquiry doesn’t work?
 
Inquiry approaches to learning make sense from a constructivist perspective. When learners construct their own knowledge, they connect the new to the known in ways that make concepts more “sticky” – they are more likely to be remembered. You’ve probably seen how engaging such an approach can be with young learners. That’s one of the reasons that inquiry applications like project-based learning have increased in popularity.
 
However, inquiry only works when learners have sufficient prerequisite knowledge. This is a possible explanation for why some meta-analyses have found that Project-Based learning doesn’t work.  Similarly, asking questions may be an ineffective mentoring and coaching practice when teachers don’t have sufficient pedagogical content knowledge to draw on.  If you don’t have the knowledge before you go into inquiry mode, it doesn’t work.  When teachers have the knowledge and experience, asking questions is a dramatically powerful coaching approach. When they don’t, it’s not.
 
Another challenge with inquiry approaches is that they are very situation-specific. Deep understanding is needed to flexibly use prerequisite knowledge. Even if a practice has been read about, or even used before, if the context is different, prior experiences may not spring to mind. Before rushing to ask, “How are you going to work this out?” effective coaches consider teachers’ background knowledge and previous experience.
 
When coaches anticipate that inquiry won’t be effective, making a recommendation might be the most appropriate first move. We can also pivot to recommending when we ask questions and come up empty.  It feels cruel and unusual to continue asking questions when a teacher is looking for more-specific help.
 
Asking questions is an effective coaching move, but not a generic one. The GIR Model for Mentoring and Coaching (below) shows that recommending is a more supportive move than asking questions, and it may be just what is needed. As coaches, we have to consider the context to make sure we get the balance right of pedagogical content knowledge, situational-specific knowledge, and inquiry.


This week, you might want to take a look at:
 
Increasing engagement during project-based learning:

https://www.edutopia.org/article/pbl-maintaining-student-engagement
 
 
Nourishing your soul for the work:
 
https://choiceliteracy.com/article/nourishment-making-time-and-space-for-little-joys/
 
 
Ideas for incorporating daily reflective practices:
 
https://www.insightadvance.com/blog/4-ways-that-teachers-can-incorporate-daily-reflective-practices
 
 
A short video on setting up a student-centered classroom:
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OsQS7Sanxg
 
 
Image Candy is a free site to modify images (remove background, add text, etc.:
 
https://imgcandy.com/
 
That’s it for this week. Happy Coaching!
 
Was this helpful?  Please share!
Want to know about new posts? Click “Follow” (bottom right)
Follow on Facebook at: facebook.com/mycoachescouch and Twitter and Instagram @vscollet for more coaching and teaching tips!  You can also find me at VickiCollet.com
 
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My book, Differentiated Mentoring & Coaching in Education: From Preservice Teacher to Expert Practitioner is available from Teachers College Press!  I’m so excited to share it with you! You can use the code: JAN2023 for 15% off plus FREE SHIPPING. Click  here  and I’ll email you the free Book Group Study Guide that includes questions, prompts, and activities you can use as you share the book with colleagues.  I hope you’ll love this book as much as I loved making it for you!
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Friday, December 30, 2022

Practicing Praise


Negative events or feelings typically have a more significant impact on our psychological state than positive ones. This “negativity bias” may explain why, after observing a lesson, the things that stand out to coaches are often the things they would change. Similarly, feedback that is negative may loom after a coaching conversation. Perhaps this is a reason to cultivate the moves in the GIR Model (below) of affirmation and praise.
 
When I asked effective coaches about their use of affirmation and praise, they said things like:
 
“Definitely, when something is done well, it should be noticed.”
 
“That is only going to provide encouragement for her to continue to do those things in the future.”
 
“They want to know, do you like that? do you not like that?”
 
“There were times when she was stressed out about things. Letting her know that she was on the right track.”
 
“A little bit of encouragement and affirmation can go a long way.”
 
“It helped make her confident.”
 
“I strive to be an encouraging person in my life. I know how big of a deal that is when people encourage me. I try  to make people feel good about the things that they are doing well.”
 
Clearly, these coaches value expressions of the positive when working with teachers. But what if affirming and praising are unnatural for you? How do you cultivate these practices?
 
Metta McGarvey, from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, suggests the following to build positive habits of mind:

·       Several times a day, take a break to reset and focus on a feeling of calm.

·       Practice looking for small moments of beauty, kindness, or joy.

·       Comment on the positive qualities and actions of others.

The first two practices, of pausing for calm and looking for joy, help cultivate the third, making positive comments. If you think something nice, you should say it! Why wouldn’t you? Today’s teaching climate is challenging and often fraught with criticism. Coaches can lighten teachers’ loads by offering specific, authentic praise.

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

Ten significant education studies of 2022:
 
https://www.edutopia.org/article/the-10-most-significant-education-studies-of-2022
 
 
Fixing up versus teaching:
 
https://choiceliteracy.com/article/conference-records-that-stay-with-kids/
 
 
A short video about the value of plants in the classroom:
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBIQDu5b5uM
 
 
Measuring student engagement with an “engagometer”:
 
https://studysites.corwin.com/highimpactinstruction/videos/v12.2.htm
 
 
Content-area literacy or disciplinary literacy – what’s the shift and how does it look across disciplines:
 
https://www.literacyworldwide.org/blog/literacy-now/2016/10/13/disciplinary-literacy-and-the-value-of-making-connections
 
That’s it for this week. Happy Coaching!
 
Was this helpful?  Please share!
Want to know about new posts? Click “Follow” (bottom right)
Follow on Facebook at: facebook.com/mycoachescouch and Twitter and Instagram @vscollet for more coaching and teaching tips!  You can also find me at VickiCollet.com
 
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Hooray!!! My new book, Differentiated Mentoring & Coaching in Education: From Preservice Teacher to Expert Practitioner is a fall release from Teachers College Press!  I’m so excited to share it with you! You can still use the code: DEC2022 for 15% off plus FREE SHIPPING. Click  here  and I’ll email you the free Book Group Study Guide that includes questions, prompts, and activities you can use as you share the book with colleagues.  I hope you’ll love this book as much as I loved making it for you!
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Saturday, December 10, 2022

Matching Metaphors when Coaching

 


Student engagement is key to learning. The degree of attention, curiosity, and enthusiasm students hold is directly related to what they will take away from a lesson. This week, when observing Gina’s first-grade class, I noticed low engagement and I needed to figure out why. There are so many factors that influence engagement. Drilling down, I determined that the lesson’s pacing was a major factor.
 
In a well-paced lesson, students don’t feel rushed, but time doesn’t drag, either. Further complicating this instructional feature, an appropriate lesson pace doesn’t mean a steady one. During an effectively-paced lesson, the teacher is sensitive to students’ needs and responses. She might quickly move through a review of content but be intentionally slower when introducing a new concept or procedure. Changing the pace coaxes the brain into paying attention, increasing engagement.
 
As I thought about how best to discuss the complexities of pacing with Gina, the word tempo popped into my head, and I instantly knew this word would have power for Gina. As a serious musician, Gina understands the role that varied tempos play in a composition. She has watched a conductor slow the group during heavy largo and adagio sections of a piece and she has felt how the mood changed during fast-paced allegro movements. When I asked Gina to describe the tempo of the lesson she’s just taught, her background knowledge sprang into action, creating a fruitful coaching conversation.The word tempo acted as a metaphor for the lesson’s pacing, and it worked because it matched Gina’s experience.
 
Metaphors can get the mental gears in sync, building bridges to understanding. Metaphors make complex concepts clear, shaping our thinking and our actions. However, metaphors’ power may go untapped when listeners don’t have the background knowledge to make connections. Metaphors are powerful when they open a flood of personal associations.
 
When I talked with third-grade teacher, Jana, about the pace of her STEM lesson, she described students’ enthusiasm for the project, and I drew attention to how she had created momentum through the scenario she described. We also discussed some points of friction during the lesson – when she hurried through directions and, later, when students were gathering materials. The analogies of momentum and friction range true because of Jana’s orientation toward engineering.
 
I remember working on this same topic with a teacher whose passion was running. For her, the word pacing didn’t need translation. It came fully-loaded with metaphors she related to. She connected to the need to adjust pacing throughout the lesson. She knew the value of pacing for a strong finish. She described how her pacing varied depending on the length of the race, and that was a useful analogy, too.
 
Metaphors have also been powerful when talking with teachers about transitions. A dancer and a former marching-band member related to the idea of choreography. This term was productive as they thought about students’ movement through the room to form groups, pick up materials, and move back and forth between the whole-group carpet discussion and independent work at desks.
 
Talking with teachers about whole-group discussions, we’ve broken the IRE pattern by using sports analogies. Instead of ping-pong like discussions where the teacher serves a question, one student responds, and the teacher evaluates the response (initiate-respond-evaluate), we’ve worked to make discussions more like a skillful volleyball set, where several students touch the ball before it goes back to the server. Or like a soccer play, including throw ins, passes, assists, and an occasional corner kick.
 
Real objects can enhance the metaphor (and just add fun!). During planning conversations, I’ve handed out pom poms and then shared Carol Tomlinson’s quote: “A fuzzy sense of the essentials results in fuzzy activities, which in turn results in fuzzy student understanding.”* The pom poms were a visible representation of fuzziness – what we wanted to avoid as we set objectives for the things students should know, understand, and be able to do as the result of a lesson.
 
During a PLC meeting, I brought in cotton candy. Teachers took a taste and felt it melt away on their tongue. I asked them what they noticed. Then I shared a quote from Wiggins and McTighe about activities that are “like cotton candy---pleasant enough in the moment, but lacking long-term substance.”** Such activities are prevalent around holidays, so we brainstormed activities that maintained the fun we are craving but had substance, too. These activities will be engaging not just because they include candles or candy canes, but because they are minds-on activities.
 
Metaphors activate the senses; we see them in our mind’s eye and feel them as lived experiences. When we create constructive comparisons, we are expressing abstract ideas in familiar terms. Choosing and using metaphors makes coaching conversations stick!
 
[Challenge: Reread this blog post counting all the analogies (subtle and explicit) that are included. As you pay attention this week, I think you’ll be amazed at how prevalent analogies are in our everyday language!]
*Tomlinson, C. (2014). The differentiated classroom: Responding to the needs of all learners (2nd Ed.). ASCD. p. 62.
 
**Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (2011). The Understanding by Design guide to creating high quality units. ASCD. p. 9
 
This week, you might want to take a look at:

Fixing up versus teaching:
 
https://choiceliteracy.com/article/conference-records-that-stay-with-kids/
 
Setting goals with students (think about this for January):
 
https://www.edutopia.org/blog/back-to-school-goal-setting-students-teacher-maurice-elias
 
Looking for a gift list to share with parents? Teachers’ tastes and needs differ, but this is a pretty good starting place. I like #1. 😊:
 
https://www.weareteachers.com/best-gifts-for-teachers/
 
 
This app guides students through creating a digital picture book – and they can even purchase a hardcopy:
 
http://www.storyjumper.com/
 
 
The idea of embodied cognition may sound complex, but the concept is powerful, and this explanation is practical:
 
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-acting-out-in-school-boosts-learning/
 
That’s it for this week.  Happy Coaching!
 
Was this helpful?  Please share!
Want to know about new posts? Click “Follow” (bottom right)
Follow on Facebook at: facebook.com/mycoachescouch and Twitter and Instagram @vscollet for more coaching and teaching tips!  You can also find me at VickiCollet.com
 
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For more about coaching, check out my new book, Differentiated Mentoring & Coaching in Education: From Preservice Teacher to Expert Practitioner. I’m so excited to share it with you! During December, you can use the code: DEC2022 for 15% off plus FREE SHIPPING. Click  here  and I’ll email you the free Book Group Study Guide that includes questions, prompts, and activities you can use as you share the book with colleagues.  I hope you’ll love this book as much as I loved making it for you!
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Friday, December 2, 2022

Coaching the Dream

Cinderella sang, “A dream is a wish your heart makes.” In today’s post, I’m thinking through the role of dreams and wishes in instructional coaching. Cinderella goes on to specify dreams that occur while sleeping. But wide-awake, wishful dreams can help identify a coaching focus.
 
When coaches ask, “What do you wish your students could do?” teachers’ responses identify areas of need and open the door to possibilities. The word wish carries positive connotations, shifting teachers away from a deficit mindset and toward action.
 
When a teacher is concerned about classroom management, I’ve found that a slight variation of the wish question shifts the conversation in a fruitful direction: “What do you wish your students would do?” This question moves the teacher to identify needs that can become a coaching focus.
 
A dream is a version of life without weaknesses and limitations. When teachers lay out a dream for hoped-for classroom outcomes, they are looking beyond current concerns. After the vision for the future is clear, coaches can help teachers tackle the real-life vulnerabilities that might get in the way. Being willing to look at current limitations can lead to transformation – in fact, it’s probably the only way to create that path.  Wishes and dreams create a positive mindset that builds willingness to look limitations in the face and do something about them.
 
Cinderella was clearly onto something when she said, “A dream is a wish your heart makes.” With the support of a coach, teachers gain confidence that “the dream that you wish will come true.”
 
This week, you might want to take a look at:

Balancing small-group and one-on-one time:


A digital compare/contrast map:
 
https://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/student-interactives/compare-contrast
 
 
Make way for play (in 5th grade):
 
https://catchingreaders.com/2012/05/08/playing-in-5th-grade/
 
That’s it for this week.  Happy Coaching!
 
Was this helpful?  Please share!
Want to know about new posts? Click “Follow” (bottom right)
Follow on Facebook at: facebook.com/mycoachescouch and Twitter and Instagram @vscollet for more coaching and teaching tips!  You can also find me at VickiCollet.com
---------------------------------
Hooray!!! My new book, Differentiated Mentoring & Coaching in Education: From Preservice Teacher to Expert Practitioner is a fall release from Teachers College Press!  I’m so excited to share it with you! During November, you can use the code: DEC2022 for 15% off plus FREE SHIPPING. Click  here  and I’ll email you the free Book Group Study Guide that includes questions, prompts, and activities you can use as you share the book with colleagues.  I hope you’ll love this book as much as I loved making it for you!
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Saturday, November 26, 2022

Character Traits for Teaching and Coaching


Character traits are a helpful way to understand novels, and they’re also a helpful way to think about the mindsets or ways of being that make an effective teacher. There are habits of mind that seem natural for good teachers. These ways of being effect interactions with students, colleagues, parents, and school leaders. As novice teachers grow into the teachers they want to be, these are attributes to cultivate. Experienced teachers may get worn-down and be ready for an attitude adjustment, too.
 
The dispositions that teachers should demonstrate include:
      ·       a positive attitude
·       a belief that all students can learn
·       effective and appropriate communication
·       courtesy, respect, and civility
·       inclusive behaviors
·       sensitivity
·       passion for learning
·       solution-seeking
·       self-regulation
·       perseverance
·       flexibility
·       reflectiveness
·       commitment
·       engagement
·       ethical thinking
·       sound judgment
·       positive attitude
·       belief that all students can learn
·       openness to receiving feedback

As in other parts of teaching, coaches can be there to strengthen these character traits. Modeling is an effective way to draw attention to teaching dispositions. When I talked with Samantha, an experienced coach, about character traits that support effective instruction, she added to the above list: silliness, fun, and energy on the teacher’s part that enhances students’ participation. An engaging teacher can increase the odds of students’ participation and cognitive engagement. Samantha believes this element enhances the culture of the classroom, too, so she planned to make this element clear in her modeling and then “pull out things where I discuss that energy piece” during the debrief conversation.

Another coach said, “It’s about how I speak to kids. That’s another part of modeling – the rapport she sees, the relationships with kids, the way I respond, the way I react to student behavior. It’s a big part of the modeling.” Another said, “She sees what my expectations are, what is acceptable, what is not.” Coaches said these intangibles get noticed during modeling, and often the teacher brings them up unsolicited during a debrief conversation. One coach noted, “I model respect for the kids, and she has commented on that. I don’t raise my voice. It’s just my demeanor. I think maybe that set her at ease, too.” The dispositions you exhibit can be an important sidebar to the instructional strategies in a modeled lesson.
 
The same dispositions that made you an effective teacher constitute your effectiveness as a coach. The supportive relationships you established in your classroom are critical in your coaching. The high-expectations you had for your students are also needed for the teachers you are working with. By displaying these attributes in your work with teachers and drawing attention to them when you model in the classroom, coaches cultivate characteristics that enhance all aspects of teachers’ professional interactions. 

This week, you might want to take a look at:
 
The power of one-on-one conversations for understanding students:
 
https://choiceliteracy.com/article/self-esteem-and-literacy-understanding-jeff/
 
 
Students must not only learn to read, they should love to read:
 
https://www.edutopia.org/article/developing-love-reading-students/
 
 
Using Post-its to support discussion:
 
https://www.learnersedge.com/nudge-learning/post-its-little-notes-for-big-discussion
 
 
Benefits of incorporating movement:
 
http://www.medicaldaily.com/fun-exercise-boost-kids-attention-school-performance-all-it-takes-4-minutes-308922
 
 
Improving executive function:
 
http://www.amle.org/BrowsebyTopic/Teaching/TeaDet/TabId/203/ArtMID/833/ArticleID/298/Looking-at-Executive-Function.aspx
 
That’s it for this week. Happy Coaching!
 
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Hooray!!! My new book, Differentiated Mentoring & Coaching in Education: From Preservice Teacher to Expert Practitioner is a fall release from Teachers College Press!  I’m so excited to share it with you! During November, you can use the code: NOV2022 for 15% off plus FREE SHIPPING. Click  here  and I’ll email you the free Book Group Study Guide that includes questions, prompts, and activities you can use as you share the book with colleagues.  I hope you’ll love this book as much as I loved making it for you!
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