When I first heard that I was going to have to be observed and coached for my job, I was not thrilled by any means. I immediately thought, Great, someone is going to watch me and tell me how terrible I am. I sincerely thought it was going to be nothing but a negative experience.
My first year, my coach and I barely scratched the surface. I gained a sense of what was expected of me in regard to implementing CLASS strategies and I became familiar with the coaching system. My second year, which I am currently in, has been much more in-depth and helped me better understand how I am succeeding—and where I need more growth.
With the introductory coaching and now a more in-depth coaching, I am confident in my understanding of the entire process and want to share what I have learned. You might already know some or all, or maybe you think this is common sense, but I’m hopeful that my experience will help others.
Here are the dos and don’ts of practice-based coaching.
DO: Really examine yourself to find what you can work on. There is always something you can be doing better, no matter how long you have worked with children or how confident you are in your teaching abilities.
DON’T: Lie to your coach if you’re feeling like you haven’t met your goals. Be honest with yourself and with your coach to get the best possible coaching experience. If you aren’t ready to move on, that’s perfectly fine.
DO: Study the CLASS dimensions and indicators that you are working on. Familiarize yourself with the behavioral markers from the dimensions before your coach comes to observe you. If you do this, you can contact your coach ahead of time with any questions you might have before your observation.
DON’T: Sell yourself short. You were given the job for a reason. You’re doing something right. Be honest about what you believe your strengths to be. Be confident in your abilities but be open to new ideas and ways to make yourself even better.
DO: Have a fellow teacher observe you prior to your coaching observation. They can give you some pointers and help encourage you before observation day!
DON’T: Feel discouraged when your coach gives constructive feedback. That’s the whole point of coaching—to make you a better teacher and caregiver.
Remember that what you do matters in your own classroom, indeed, but also in your center as a whole and even in the bigger picture of society as the children you teach grow up. We change the lives of the children we work with, and we should always strive to better ourselves for those children.
Kimberly Land is an assistant teacher at a Head Start center in Indiana. This is her second year with the program and she hopes to be a lead teacher next year after completing her associate’s degree in early childhood education in December.
She'd like to share a special thanks to Debra Iams, her coach, "for all of her encouragement and guidance on my journey to becoming a better teacher and a better me."
We’ve all had kids in the classroom who push limits, can’t manage their feelings, constantly demand attention. Believe it or not, they are sending you a message. When kids misbehave, they are operating based on mistaken learning. With time, patience, and planning you can help them relearn! If you reframe your thinking about children’s behavior and recognize that misbehavior is usually based on mistaken learning, you are well on your way to helping your kids.
Back in July, Mary-Margaret Gardiner and Sarah Hadden presented a webinar with Kaplan about how teachers can use classroom setups to create teachable moments. If you missed it the first time around, I'd recommend giving the webinar a watch. It provides classroom organization tips that are helpful all year round.