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."
At Teachstone, we talk to a lot of educators. From coast to coast and around the globe, there’s a common thread that unites them: wanting to be better for their students.
Even when things are tough in education, even in years made even more challenging by the pandemic and its effects on teaching and learning, educators are striving to be their best. That dedication to equitable, ongoing development is what inspires Teachstone’s work. To reach the day when all children are afforded excellent education and care, it’s going to take a systematic, data-driven approach, and we are enthusiastic partners in getting there.
How do you make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? I posed that question to a random selection of contacts via text message. What did I discover? Everyone in my sample group spreads on the PB first, then the J. There are a variety of ways though to apply the jelly, but in my random group, the jelly always comes second.
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches make me think about Behavior Guidance, a dimension in the CLASS® toddler observation tool. Especially the first two indicators of behavior guidance: proactive and supporting positive behavior. Proactive is the peanut butter! It goes first. That layer of peanut butter is the base for the jelly, which promotes positive behavior.
I was a kindergarten teacher for eight years at a public school. I loved my job, but somewhere along the road I started to become crotchety. I was often annoyed with my colleagues and frustrated with the demands of the district, and I was sure I knew better than any training or professional development session I would ever be forced to attend.
Shared physical presence is a large part of how we’re used to connecting with each other. Strong connections and relationships are important for children who may have recently experienced loss, high stress, or trauma. As teachers connect with children in a virtual setting, it can be more challenging to think about how to create a safe space for learning, sharing experiences, and taking risks.