As summer comes to an end, students, teachers, principals, parents, bus drivers, and more are gearing up for the new school year. My Pinterest feed is full of teacher tips, classroom management tips, and bulletin board ideas. But there aren’t as many “listicles” out there for instructional coaches. So, coaches, here is a top 10 list for you! Teachstone bloggers’ top tips for coaching teachers:
People respond much better to negative feedback than to positive feedback alone. - Ginny Vitiello, The Open-Faced Sandwich and the Power of Negative Feedback
Develop trusting, collaborative relationships with teachers that will sustain your work together. Listen; don’t judge. - Amy Cubbage, Coaching Tips: Maintaining Balance on the Job
Provide advice only when preceded by feedback. - Hilary Ritt, Giving Advice vs. Providing Feedback
Change, like most things in life, is a process. It's not a straight line of progress, however. At any given moment we can find ourselves at a different stage in our readiness to change. - Jessica Swope, Change Doesn’t Happen Overnight (And Here’s Why)
Before employing charts and graphs full of data, we really need to get to know our teachers. Determining professional development needs for teachers is much like the process of determining children’s individual learning needs: we cannot know a child by looking through a file any more than we can know a teacher by looking at a resume or data. We have to build a relationship and get to know one another. - Ruth Tierney, Teacher-Coach Relationships: A Balancing Act of Interactions and Data
We have a tendency to say things like, “You were all smiles when you talked with Jediah, but when you met with the whole group, your affect was flat.” Sharing these types of observations (a positive observation followed by a “but”) is not helpful to most teachers. Better to say, “When you were talking with Jediah about his tower, you smiled and laughed with him. How did he respond? What was different when you met with the whole group?” That helps the teacher deeply engage in the process of examining her practice, which in turn helps her own the improvement process. - Kathryn Surchek, Coaching Tip: Building on Teachers’ Strengths
Pick out just a couple areas to focus on at one time to keep the feedback you’re providing to the teacher focused and the goals you’re setting attainable. - Nikki Croasdale, Cracking the Code: How to Interpret a CLASS Score Report as a Coach
One coach I recently spoke with said she encourages teachers to converse with children “the same way you would while getting your nails done with a friend.” Different content, obviously, but the natural, dialogic flow of the conversation should feel just as comfortable. This means that teachers need to be encouraged to “just talk with” children, rather than talking “to” them or “at” them. - Sara Beach, Going Deeper into the CLASS Measure: Language Modeling
To prepare for teacher-turnover, try designating mentor teachers. Effective mentoring can increase teacher retention. Designating experienced teachers to mentor beginning teachers is one way to ease the strain on your time, while supporting newer teachers as they learn the ropes. - Emily Doyle, Teacher-Turnover: Making the Best of a Tough Situation
When you need to share negative feedback with teachers, use data (CLASS observations) to help guide the conversation. - Mary-Margaret Gardiner and Sarah Hadden, Video Blog: Sharing Negative Feedback with Teachers
We hope some of these tips will help you with your coaching this school year. But we’d love to hear what other advice you have as a coach. Teachers, what kinds of coaching sessions have you attended that really helped you in the classroom?
"I’ve just begun my journey into the world of coaching. I am eager and excited about this opportunity to help pave the way for more effective teaching. I’ve recently been given my list of classrooms that I will be working with and I’m anxious to get started. I get ready to meet my first teacher, Ms. Linda, and I just know that she will be excited to meet me and we will form an instant bond and work together for the benefit of the children in that classroom.
I lived in rural Japan for three years. While there, I became very accustomed to ordering the same types of entrees at restaurants due to my limited ability to read menus and my unwillingness to eat foods outside my comfort zone. So imagine how overwhelmed I felt when I returned to the States and had to decide on one entree amid pages and pages and pages of delicious options. It took a few weeks to learn how to navigate my way through these endless options without wanting to close my eyes and blindly point while ordering my meals.
Empowering and equipping coaches with the information and resources they need to mentor also empowers the teachers they're coaching. Check out these coaching resources that discuss how to provide feedback based on CLASS data, how to prepare teachers for a CLASS observation, and much more.