Saturday, June 8, 2024

No More Teaching in the Shallow End

It’s easy to teach in the shallow end. Your feet touch the bottom. You can navigate with ease. But you aren’t fully immersed. You can’t dive in deep. And neither can your students.
 
Teaching in the shallow end might look like workbooks and photocopies. It might look like desks in rows. It might be pushing start on a video and letting it play all the way through. Let’s be honest: It might look like sustained silent reading. Book reading and film clips and the right handout could all lead to learning – but only if we get out of the shallow end.
 
When teachers get out of the shallow end, things get messy. Kids talk to each other, and that can be hard to monitor and control. Students move around the room, and that can cause chaos. Students have agency, and that makes teachers vulnerable. It can be very uncomfortable.
 
Instructional coaches can be a floaty in the deep end, offering support, making sure the teacher doesn’t drown in the details. Don’t push a teacher off the high-dive. Just encourage the jump and be there to tow her to the edge of the pool if needed. Or lull her gradually deeper, treading water alongside. Sometimes you have to get used to the temperature.
 
In my coaching right now, I’m challenging one teacher to go deeper by differentiating instruction. It’s complicated and requires a steadying hand. Another teacher wants to use small-groups more effectively; she’s going to try assigning roles. Someone else is adding conferring to silent reading time. Another I’m nudging to use different seating arrangements. I think she’s ready to dive in. I talked with another about handing out a blank sheet of paper instead of that worksheet. A scary thought. She’d rather have her feet on the bottom.
 
Which teachers at your school are swimming in the shallow end? What are some shallow-end practices you’ve wanted to change? (Please comment below – I want to know!) As instructional coaches, we encourage deep dives and are there when teachers come up for air.
 
This week, you might want to take a look at:

6 benefits of play:
 
https://thegeniusofplay.org/tgop/benefits/genius/benefits-of-play/benefits-of-play-home.aspx
 
 
Have teachers design the PD calendar:
 
https://choiceliteracy.com/article/when-teachers-design-the-professional-development-calendar/
 
 
Increasing engagement through choice, differentiation, and including students’ interests:
 
https://www.edutopia.org/article/giving-students-choice-classroom-increases-engagement
 
 
How to slow down the teaching treadmill (especially great to share with new teachers!):
 
http://roxannaelden.com/2017/10/how-to-turn-down-your-teaching-treadmill/#more-2869
 
 
Restore the JOY in teaching:
 
https://www.edutopia.org/article/restoring-joy-teaching/
 
 
That’s it for this week.  Happy Coaching!
 
Want more coaching tips? Check out my book, Differentiated Mentoring & Coaching in Education: From Preservice Teacher to Expert Practitioner, available from Teachers College Press!  I’m so excited to share it with you! TODAY you can still use the code: JUN2024 for 20% off. 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!
---------------------------------
Was this helpful?  Please share!
Want to know about new posts? Click “Follow” (bottom right)
Follow on Instagram @Vicki_Collet_Educator, on Facebook at: facebook.com/mycoachescouch and Twitter @vscollet for more coaching and teaching tips!  You can also find me at VickiCollet.com

Saturday, June 1, 2024

Big Reflection

At the end of the school year, teachers often pause to think back, reflecting on the year just past. To provide context, it can also be helpful to zoom out – to consider how this year fits with previous ones. Seeing the bigger picture offers perspective. How does this year track with others?
 
Looking at the long run bridges the past and the future, helping us to see patterns of change that might offer hope to help us weather the next storm. Understanding how this year fits within our career trajectory might help us stay the course.
 
I recently read about a career reflection process that could prompt useful discussions at an end-of-year or beginning-of-year faculty meeting.* Here’s how it goes: Each teacher will need their own piece of chart paper or a similarly-sized piece of bulletin board paper (turning it sideways works well). Draw a vertical line near the left edge for your y axis. Draw a horizontal line near the bottom edge for your x axis. Label the x axis with tick marks representing each year of teaching/education experience (novice teachers might look more closely, labeling semesters, quarters, or months). Label the y axis with tick marks for rating how well you think you did as a teacher/educator. Now, take some time to plot a point for each year. Next, annotate the graph with brief explanations (teachers with a long teaching history may choose to mark and annotate just those years that stand out). Annotations might include circumstances, mentors, new curricula, students, etc. (Creating your own graph in advance so that you can show it as a model might be helpful.)
 
Next it’s time for a gallery walk. The group walks the walls, visiting the charts and offering questions and noticings on added sticky notes. After the walk, give teachers some time to ponder their own poster again, with the ideas of others added. Then ask what they noticed about teaching’s low points. Were there commonalities? End by thinking together about patterns noted in the peaks. What made the high points high? How could we recreate those highs as we move forward?
 
This timeline is like an EKG that shows the heartbeat of your teaching life. The peaks and valleys tell a story with a plotline that will continue as the new year gets underway. Whether you are ending the year or thinking about how to start the next one, this look in the rearview mirror offers opportunities for big-picture reflection and panoramic insight.  
 
* https://triciaebarvia.org/2017/07/11/slice-of-life-embarrassment/

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

A word cloud generator to summarize teachers’ reflective responses:
 
https://www.freewordcloudgenerator.com/
 
 
Transitioning from teacher to coach:
 
https://blog.teachboost.com/establishing-trust-transitioning-from-teacher-to-coach
 
 
This video about high-quality discussions:
 
https://www.teachingchannel.com/free-videos/
 
 
Sidewalk Chalk math arouses curiosity:
 
https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/55961/how-sidewalk-math-cultivates-a-playful-curious-attitude-towards-math
 
 
A 10-minute podcast on engaging teenage learners:
 
http://www.coolcatteacher.com/beat-boredom-engaging-tired-teenagers-critical-thinking/
 
That’s it for this week.  Happy Coaching!
 
Want more coaching tips? Check out my book, Differentiated Mentoring & Coaching in Education: From Preservice Teacher to Expert Practitioner, available from Teachers College Press!  I’m so excited to share it with you! TODAY you can still use the code: JUN2024 for 20% off. 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!
---------------------------------
Was this helpful?  Please share!
Want to know about new posts? Click “Follow” (bottom right)
Follow on Instagram @Vicki_Collet_Educator, on Facebook at: facebook.com/mycoachescouch and Twitter @vscollet for more coaching and teaching tips!  You can also find me at VickiCollet.com
 

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Ruminate or Reflect?

May is the time for remembering. Whether the year has already ended or you still have a bit left, you have probably been thinking back – on your own and with the teachers you coach – about the experiences of this year.
 
Let’s start with you.
 
Is there something you’ve been brooding about? Something you didn’t like and can’t get out of your head? Is there a thought playing on repeat, like the last song you heard with a refrain that hangs on? That might be fine if you love the tune, but if you’re stewing about something and it reruns again and again, it’s probably not productive.
 
Maybe it’s that conversation you had that you wish had ended differently. A PD that lacked energy. An idea that fell flat. A lesson that didn’t go as planned. A time when you lost your temper. A time when you missed an opportunity. If you’re not feeling this way now, it has probably happened to you sometime in the past. You know the feeling – it’s called ruminating.
 
When you were stuck in a circular rut of cerebral repetition, dwelling on what was or what could have been, you were looking back. Your mind kept reverting to the past. That’s not productive.
 
Of course, we want to recognize things that didn’t go well – it’s part of the improvement process. But a more productive path, as we summon up even the negative experiences from the past, is to contemplate how we will move forward. When we weigh past experiences, analyzing what could now change, we disrupt the possibility of reproducing an undesirable result.
 
When we deliberate with wonder and curiosity, we can think back as a way to move forward. That is the difference between ruminating and reflecting. Reflecting involves forward motion. If we take a learning stance when we summon up the past, we are reminded of not just the what, but the why. The why is where discovery happens. To stop the cycle of rumination, we consider not just pasts, but possibilities.
 
If you or a teacher you are working with is stuck in rumination, here are some practices that push toward reflection:
 
Talk
Talking gets us out of our head so that we can move on. This week, I was dwelling on a frustration. It was after the fact, and I couldn’t do anything about it until next time. But that didn’t stop it from replaying in my mind. I finally called two people and told them about it. Just saying it out loud got me unstuck. Saying it blocked the repeat. You can be there to listen to a ruminator, or you can find someone to listen if you’re the one that’s stuck.
 
Write
For some, writing is an antidote to unproductive cogitation. Like talking, writing gets the words out and can move thinking forward. Even writing the never-ending refrain out a few times, if you don’t yet have anything else to say, can offer a start. Writing can invoke critical thinking, opening up new angles. It helps you stand outside the experience. Writing encourages you to question assumptions and consider alternative perspectives. It gets you out of a grove by taking the thinking deeper. Writing might be just the thing to help a teacher you know move forward.
 
Written reflection affords the opportunity to make beliefs and orientations more explicit, supporting change. Including description might help teachers link their experiences to professional knowledge, making inferences and generalizations about what took place. Moving from the particular event to generalizable inferences about practice supports future instructional decision-making.
 
Ask Questions
Talking and writing can include asking questions. Asking questions promotes reflection. You can interrupt the rumination rhythm by leading with the “5 W’s and an H.” Like an investigative reporter, consider who, what, when, where, why, and how. You can do this for someone else in a coaching conversation. You can ask yourself these questions or encourage a stuck teacher to self-question. Self questioning promotes reflection.
 
Shift to Problem-Solving
Instead of dwelling on a past experience, shift the focus to finding solutions. Break down the situation into small pieces and determine one action that could be taken. For example, if you’re ruminating about that PD that fell flat, you could order a copy of Sit and Get Won’t Grow Dendrites (I love that one – just had to throw it in!). By actively taking steps to address the issue, you can redirect your energy (or the energy of a teacher you are working with) from rumination to constructive problem-solving, empowering you to make positive changes and move forward.
 
As the school year draws to a close, coaches and the teachers they work with pause to recall their experience. Help yourself and the teachers you serve break free from ruminating thoughts and move toward productive reflection through talking, writing, questioning, and problem-solving.
 
This week, you might want to take a look at:

Read alouds for saying goodbye:
 
https://choiceliteracy.com/article/end-of-year-read-alouds/
 
 
The art and science of teaching reading:
 
https://ccira.blog/2024/05/20/the-art-and-science-of-teaching-reading/
 
 
Summarizing strategies:
 
http://digitalliteracy.us/summarizing-strategies/
 
 
Teaching place value with paper cups:
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnUPHO5oiWQ
 
 
End-of-year reflection to next year’s writing teachers:
 
https://choiceliteracy.com/article/end-of-the-year-reflection/
 
That’s it for this week. Happy Coaching!
 
Want more coaching tips? Check out my book, Differentiated Mentoring & Coaching in Education: From Preservice Teacher to Expert Practitioner, available from Teachers College Press!  I’m so excited to share it with you! TODAY you can still use the code: MAY2024 for 20% off. 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!
---------------------------------
Was this helpful?  Please share!
Want to know about new posts? Click “Follow” (bottom right)
Follow on Instagram @Vicki_Collet_Educator, on Facebook at: facebook.com/mycoachescouch and Twitter @vscollet for more coaching and teaching tips!  You can also find me at VickiCollet.com
 
 

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Penny for Your Thoughts?

This week, I stood with a group of teachers around a 2-foot inflatable pool. We took turns throwing pennies into our “reflection pool” as we shared memories and take-aways from our time together. Chandra said that she was surprised how well her students did with one of the writing units we’d worked on together. She said she realized her expectations had been too low. Jeff said he was reflecting on our collaboration, how helpful that had been. Amanda added, saying it was a safe to share our ideas and frustrations. Everyone took turns until our  3-pennies-each were used up, with Gary saying he wanted to add his final “2 cents” to wrap it up. As we stood around that small pool, I recognized the power of creating time for group reflection. I felt that the ideas that were expressed had not really even been in our heads until we took the time to say them.
 
Next, we did a silent Chalk Talk. It was a small group, so two chart papers were enough. In the center of one was written, “What from this past year will you be taking into next year?” The other said, “Describe any struggles you experienced implementing the lessons we created. How did you respond to these struggles? What did you learn from these struggles that could inform our work?” Writing on sticky notes or directly on the chart paper, we silently shared ideas, responded with exclamation points, hearts, and comments as we moved back and forth between the two charts. After the silent time ended, we talked about what stood out. We also talked about how to adapt these group reflection activities for students.
 
Group reflection allows for adjustment. It helps us think about the work we’ve done and make future plans. We consider our process and our outcomes. We highlight what worked and clarify what didn’t. Group reflection is a future guide for facilitation and participation. We might recognize needed resources, reconsider the purpose of our convenings, or anchor the actions that helped us succeed. We align our intentions. Group reflection can build individuals’ self-awareness and emotional intelligence. Reflection spurs further thought and potential refinement. Group reflection leads to personal reflection.
 
Whether you use a baby pool, Chalk talk, a Plus/Delta discussion, Stop/Start/Keep matrix, What/So what/Now what, or some other protocol, group reflection should help us identify, describe, and analyze our experience. It helps insights percolate throughout the group as we create shared understanding. A pause for reflection creates welcome calm amidst end-of-year chaos.
 
This week, you might want to take a look at:

Another reflective conversation protocol:
 
https://www.schoolreforminitiative.org/download/reflective-conversation-protocol/
 
 
Ideas for celebrating teacher successes:
 
https://mycoachescouch.blogspot.com/2018/05/celebrating-success.html
 
 
Share your own reading to teach vocabulary using context clues:
 
https://choiceliteracy.com/article/mentor-reader-words/
 
 
What makes coaching effective? Report of a meta-analysis:
 
http://hechingerreport.org/every-teacher-need-coach/
 
 
How much is too much homework?
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MafcPHRJrR0
 
That’s it for this week. Happy Coaching!
 
Want more coaching tips? Check out my book, Differentiated Mentoring & Coaching in Education: From Preservice Teacher to Expert Practitioner, available from Teachers College Press!  I’m so excited to share it with you! TODAY you can still use the code: MAY2024 for 20% off. 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!
---------------------------------
Was this helpful?  Please share!
Want to know about new posts? Click “Follow” (bottom right)
Follow on Instagram @Vicki_Collet_Educator, on Facebook at: facebook.com/mycoachescouch and Twitter @vscollet for more coaching and teaching tips!  You can also find me at VickiCollet.com
 


Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Improving Achievement at No Cost

Did you know there’s a way to pretty much guarantee improved student achievement at no additional cost to the school or district? And I’m guessing this change will also improve morale of teachers, students, and families. The world’s highest-achieving schools, in Finland and Estonia, are already using this approach. It’s this simple: Students have the same teacher for more than one year.
 
I’m sharing this with you now, while I hope there’s still time to consider scheduling and teacher assignments for next year. Research shows that this approach doesn’t just work in countries afar off: It’s been confirmed by research with millions of students in North Carolina and Indiana.
 
Although in Finland and Estonia students often have the same teachers for multiple years, in US elementary schools, “looping” – having a teacher move up to the next grade with their students – is more common. In secondary schools, when students are fortunate enough to have the same subject-area teacher more than once, achievement improves.
 
As an experienced educator, you can see why this would be true. Teaching and learning are relational processes. If the relationship is already built, learning moves forward. Additionally, teachers repeating with students already know their students’ idiosyncrasies, interests, and needs. They hit the ground running in the new year. Hopefully, they’ve also already established a positive relationship with families.
 
I didn’t have the chance to repeat with my secondary students or loop with my elementary students, but when I became an interventionist, I often saw the same students for multiple years. I loved that ongoing relationship – I wasn’t saying a sad goodbye to my students at the end of the year, I was watching them grow, little by little. I knew them; they knew me. We worked well together.
 
One of my own children blossomed as a reader when his long-term sub in 3rd grade became his 4th grade teacher. I will be forever grateful for Mr. Johnston’s impact. He knew my son’s interests and matched him with books that made him an avid reader.
 
My teacher friends who have looped love the beginning of the new year. Even when students have been a challenge the previous year, they know where to start. Every class will have students with challenging behaviors. Understanding them, knowing their needs from day one makes a difference. Better the known than the new.
 
If you’re an elementary school leader, I hope you’ll advocate for looping. If you lead in a secondary school, I hope you’ll encourage creative scheduling. Yes, a teacher who knows 7th grade ELA like the back of their hand may need to learn expectations for 8th grade ELA. There are many benefits to understanding where your students are going, so they’ll be growing their teacher knowledge even as they welcome familiar students.
 
Rather than purchasing a new, expensive program or requiring a scripted approach, it’s my hope that schools will invest in a well-researched approach that costs nothing. When faces are familiar and students have a teacher who knows them, learning accelerates.
 
This week, you might want to take a look at:

Vocabulary activities fun enough for the end of the year:
 
https://choiceliteracy.com/article/quick-vocabulary-practice-and-assessment/
 
 
7 AI tools to support teachers’ productivity:
 
https://www.edutopia.org/article/7-ai-tools-that-help-teachers-work-more-efficiently/
 
 
TedEd Videos for mathematical problem-solving:
 
https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2017/03/07/three-fun-riddles-filled-with-math-problem-solving/
 
Sharpen your coaching skills with this microcredential from NEA – designed for cooperating teachers, but helpful for supporting all adult teacher-learners (must  create a free account):
 
https://nea.certificationbank.com/NEA/CandidatePortal/CategoryDetail.aspx?Stack=CT
 
This oldie-but-goodie about being optimistic:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qEhj-rQSAU
 
That’s it for this week.  Happy Coaching!
 
Want more coaching tips? Check out my book, Differentiated Mentoring & Coaching in Education: From Preservice Teacher to Expert Practitioner, available from Teachers College Press!  I’m so excited to share it with you! TODAY you can still use the code: MAY2024 for 20% off. 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!
---------------------------------
Was this helpful?  Please share!
Want to know about new posts? Click “Follow” (bottom right)
Follow on Instagram @Vicki_Collet_Educator, on Facebook at: facebook.com/mycoachescouch and Twitter @vscollet for more coaching and teaching tips!  You can also find me at VickiCollet.com

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Responsive Coaching: Provide a Pause

Listening is critical for responsive coaching. Responsive coaching is a two-way street, however. It also requires a responsive teacher. To sponsor a thoughtful response, we may need to allow for silence – wait time that provides a pause, leaving room for the teacher to consider. The pace of a coaching conversation affects both the emotional and the intellectual climate, and a thoughtful pause is important when asking questions. Silence grants the teacher the opportunity to process both your question and her answer. This means not rushing in to fill the quiet with words of your own. A pause for uninterrupted thinking is a courtesy in teachers’ overfull days.
 
Because our fast-paced world seems to equate speed with intelligence, both coaches and teachers may be uncomfortable with silence. But the wait is worth it! Teachers become more comfortable with wait time as they realize that your wait is a gesture of respect. Wait time leads to genuine thinking and understanding; it increases the length and complexity of a teacher’s response. It shows that you value the teacher’s thinking. As wait time becomes a natural part of coach-teacher conversations, talk that leads to meaningful change is more likely. 
 
After asking a question, give teachers the gift of time and receptivity. Sit down. Make eye contact. Don’t appear rushed or make the teacher feel rushed. When they pause, don’t be quick to give a response. Instead, ask them to “Say more about that.” Or say, “Yes, go on.” Or just pause and offer silence. There’s a wise Quaker saying that applies to coaching: “Never miss a chance to keep your mouth shut.”
 
This lack of action sounds like it should be easy, but listening and waiting can be hard work! As we give our full attention to teachers’ thinking, we give them space to reflect. We give them space to wonder. We give them space to generate new ideas. It can be difficult to keep your mouth shut, to offer a silent, thought-filled pause – but the coaching rewards are worth it!
 
This week, you might want to take a look at:

Maximizing coaching in the month of May:

https://dianesweeney.com/maximizing-coaching-month-may/


Books can be a bridge to connect and restore us (read past the first few sentences):

https://ccira.blog/2024/04/16/conversation-with-john-schu/ 
 

Pool noodle fractions (great dollar-store manipulatives!):
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASCXwetA9Ik
 
 
Doing a “write aloud” to model expectations:
 
https://www.middleweb.com/50505/how-teacher-notebooks-can-help-students-learn/
 
 
Do you hold meetings or gatherings?  I love the implications of this article:
 
https://www.mindful.org/the-art-of-gathering/
 
That’s it for this week.  Happy Coaching!
 
Want more coaching tips? Check out my book, Differentiated Mentoring & Coaching in Education: From Preservice Teacher to Expert Practitioner, available from Teachers College Press!  I’m so excited to share it with you! TODAY you can still use the code: APR2024 for 20% off. 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!
---------------------------------
Was this helpful?  Please share!
Want to know about new posts? Click “Follow” (bottom right)
Follow on Instagram @Vicki_Collet_Educator, on Facebook at: facebook.com/mycoachescouch and Twitter @vscollet for more coaching and teaching tips!  You can also find me at VickiCollet.com
 

Monday, April 22, 2024

How to Coach Novice Teachers

In last week’s post, I talked about how to coach veteran teachers, which is usually a more vexing topic for coaches than the one we’re tackling here: How to coach novice teachers. Supporting novice teachers is important, both for them and for their students. As coaches, we can help to fill in the gap between what early-career teachers may be able to do and what students need. There is a steep learning curve for novice teachers – even those who have been well-prepared in traditional teacher-education programs. The reality of having full-responsibility for a classroom doesn’t hit home until you’re really in it.
 
Surprisingly, studies show that novices learn more from their successes than from their mistakes – making it even more important for their teaching experiences to be positive ones.
 
This triplet of verbs offers a template for supporting early-career teachers: Coaches help novice teachers know, grow, and show.*
 
Modeling to Support Knowing
 
Coaches help novice teachers know in many ways. When we model, teachers see things they’ve read and heard about in action. A key to modelling for early-career teachers is the before-observation conference. Because there is so much going on during any lesson, narrowing the focus is important.
 
A narrow focus also keeps the novice teacher engaged. Because they may be feeling overwhelmed with the teaching load, a novice teacher may take the opportunity when someone else is teaching their class to catch up on email or grading. While this reduces their burden, it doesn’t give them more pedagogical knowledge.
 
Selecting a specific focus beforehand with the teacher, so that he has something to watch for during modeling, provides a target for his attention. Tell the teacher what you are wondering about. Will students grasp the concepts as intended?  Will they have success with the mini-steps leading up to that concept? Will they find the work interesting? Share your wonderings and encourage the teacher to share his. If the teacher doesn’t initially identify his own focus or objective, I sometimes provide several broad possibilities related to what we’ve been thinking about together. Observing with a specific focus can help novice teachers increase what they know.
 
Recommending to Support Knowing
 
Early-career teachers are often requesting or at least open to recommendations. The key here is not to over-recommend. I learned this the hard way when coaching Kyra, a novice kindergarten teacher. She wanted richer and more authentic experiences to develop her students’ phonemic awareness skills. Well, she had asked just the right person! I love teaching phonemic awareness and shared lots of good ideas for authentic activities – lots and lots and lots (and lots). Even though it’s been a long time since this conversation, I still remember the deer-in-the-headlights look in Kyra’s eyes after my recommendations.
 
There’s a limit to how much anyone can take in and try at any one time, so be sure to limit recommendations to just one or two. Our care in making recommendations determines whether those suggestions feel like weight or wings.   
 
Asking Questions to Support Growing
 
As early-career teachers gain additional working knowledge, they need fewer recommendations and are ready to grow through thinking deeply about questions of pedagogy.
 
If we have observed a lesson in a novice teacher’s classroom, it may be easy to jump to judgment. But feeling judged siphons a teachers’ energy into defensiveness and self-protection. So, as we plan for debrief conversations, it’s helpful to step away from any judgments we may have made and instead ask questions that help us to understand the teacher’s thinking.  Looking back at our concerns and turning each into a question can help the teacher figure out where she wants to turn her attention. Restraining judgment and, instead, asking questions encourages the teachers we are working with to take a more active role during debrief conversations.

Here are a few general questions to guide reflection after teaching:
·       What did you notice…?
·       When were students most engaged?
·       What stands out in students’ work?
·       What are your hunches about what may have caused…?
·       What insights can you take from this?
·       What do you want to stay mindful of as you’re planning?

Of course, follow-up questions more specific to the lesson content and context will be helpful.
 
Affirming and Praising to Support Showing
 
When we affirm and praise, we choose what to nurture. For example, Sydni was a first-grade teacher who listened carefully to student responses and used those responses to build students’ understanding. When I mentioned this to Sydni, she smiled shyly and was humbly pleased, but surprised! My comments affirmed something she was doing but unaware of. By shining a spotlight on things novice teachers do well, we build their confidence and encourage more of the same.
 
Teachers may not be aware of their own strengths. This can happen because of an inclination to focus on what isn’t working. Coaches, too, have this tendency because our work is focused on improvement. But focusing on weaknesses is relatively ineffective. Instead, we can look with kind eyes for positive features to affirm. As you find practices to celebrate and discuss them with novice teachers, your affirmations can help them reframe their own experiences in a more positive light. They can press into their strengths. The energy novice teachers gain from affirmations and praise helps them move forward productively.
 
Coaches support novice teachers to increase what they know, stretch their understanding, and show instructional improvement.
 
*I am borrowing these verbs from Susan H. Porter, who used them in a spiritual context.

This week, you might want to take a look at:
 
Strategies to reduce student procrastination:
 
https://www.edutopia.org/article/supporting-students-not-track-pass
 
 
Enhancing critical reading skills:
 
https://www.middleweb.com/50526/5-questions-to-help-kids-become-critical-readers/
 
 
Lesson idea for poems about objects (National Poetry Month continues!):
 
http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/color-silence-sensory-imagery-1104.html?tab=4#tabs
 
 
DIY place-value cups (I love these manipulatives!):
 
http://suedowning.blogspot.com/2012/08/place-value-cups.html
 
 
I’ve always thought we should have mentors, not just mentor texts, for our writing, and this post gives some great suggestions for making that happen:
 
https://choiceliteracy.com/article/mentors-for-process-and-habits/
 
That’s it for this week.  Happy Coaching!
 
Want more coaching tips? Check out my book, Differentiated Mentoring & Coaching in Education: From Preservice Teacher to Expert Practitioner, available from Teachers College Press!  I’m so excited to share it with you! TODAY you can still use the code: APR2024 for 20% off. 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!
---------------------------------
Was this helpful?  Please share!
Want to know about new posts? Click “Follow” (bottom right)
Follow on Instagram @Vicki_Collet_Educator, on Facebook at: facebook.com/mycoachescouch and Twitter @vscollet for more coaching and teaching tips!  You can also find me at VickiCollet.com
 


Here are a few general questions to guide reflection after teaching: