Sometimes, novice teachers (or those who are learning something new) feel personally attacked by recommendations, especially those that come after an observation. Shifting the language and the focus of the recommendation can make it easier for a teacher to gracefully receive suggestions.
To soften the language of a recommendations, avoid using the word you. Although you feels great in a celebratory statement, it can be rather finger-pointing as part of a recommendation. An easy way to avoid you when suggesting a change in practice is to put the focus on students.
Student-focused recommendations can begin with an observation about what students were saying or doing, followed up by a possible response. For example, a coach could say, “I noticed that most students were still getting out their notebooks while the directions were being given” (not while you were giving directions). Pause. The teacher may fill that pause with her own solution to the problem. But if not, continue with a student-focused recommendation. “Giving directions one step at a time can help kindergartners stay on task.” This is a soft recommendation; it doesn’t feel overly-directive, and I’ve found that the teacher will usually jump into the conversation at this point to acknowledge the need.
Here’s another example: “I noticed that there were a few students who were moving around the room a lot during guided reading.” Pause. “Checking in quickly with students between groups might help them stay on task.”
Although such careful language isn’t necessary with all teachers or at all times, it’s helpful to be aware of ways to soften the language of a recommendation. Noticing how feedback is received, and being prepared with ways to modify your approach, can improve the climate and outcome of a coaching conversation.
Want to know about new posts? Click “Follow” (bottom right)
Follow on Facebook at: facebook.com/mycoachescouchVickiCollet.com