“Show. Don’t tell,” said every writing teacher ever. And just as common was students’ response: “Why?” Whether describing a setting sun or explaining Feedback Loops, I’ve always found it easier to just tell. But I’ve never found it as effective as showing. That’s why I was especially excited to get to spend an hour talking with folks who support teachers’ growth about how to interact with teachers in ways that help show them the kinds of effective interactions we want them to have with kids. We call this kind of showing parallel process. Watch the recording of our webinar to hear more of our conversation.

Have you ever wondered how to . . .

  • Emotionally support teachers who seem resistant to change?
  • Remain productive while still emotionally supporting teachers who are going through tough times?
  • Clarify and extend teachers’ understandings of interactions?

We have. And we talk about these questions as we look at three real stories in which a coach:

  1. Builds an emotionally supportive relationship despite an uncomfortable introduction
  2. Re-organizes her conferences with a teacher to remain productive without sacrificing emotional support
  3. Facilitates a brainstorming activity to extend a teacher’s understanding of Concept Development while helping her plan

Back up. What’s parallel process?

Good question! Parallel process is when we interact with teachers in the same ways we expect them to interact with children. It’s a way to show teachers what we mean by things like “contingent response” or “feedback loops” by letting them experience them first hand.

Parallel process can also help us reflect on how we interact with teachers. Even though the CLASS framework focuses on teacher-child interactions, there are many parallels to adult learning; one example comes from research on behavior change that “suggests that people are more likely to make changes when feedback comes from a trusted and respected source.” Isn’t that what Emotional Support is all about? Shouldn’t we also strive to be productive and engaging as we work with teachers? Shouldn’t we be providing feedback that clarifies and extends teachers’ understanding?

The Bottom Line

If you’re interested in learning about ways to model effective interactions or want to take a fresh look at your own coaching practices, check out our recording of the MyTeachingPartner (MTP) quarterly webinar on parallel process. 


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