A few weeks ago we held our final Year I Coach meeting and it was a celebration of transformation — from novice to experienced coach. I enjoy watching the shift as master teachers become comfortable in their role as coaches. The change from teacher to coach is often a humbling journey because it’s hard to go from being a master teacher to again being a novice. This transition is also not one that can be rushed, so we provide extra support for our Year I Coaches through deliberate just-in-time professional development.
Below are snapshots of the coaching partnerships that our first-year coaches developed over the course of their first year. It was exciting to hear about the variety of projects that coaches and teachers were undertaking — most of which were outside of the content area/grade level from which they were teachers! It is our hope that these brief descriptions share the variety of our work, and that the teacher voices share the ethos of support we strive to provide as a coaching team:
- Ashley partnered with a teacher who wanted to shift away from paper to digital integration of curriculum. Together they explored a variety of options, team-taught, and co-developed TEI questions to assess student learning. The teacher described this partnership as “…a great learning experience for me, has helped increase my level of comfort with the computer, and I’ve greatly enjoyed working with her!”
- Carrie Ann partnered with a teacher on a Project-Based Learning (PBL) assignment. The teacher said, “Collaborating with a coach has been instrumental in working through larger tasks by helping me to think aloud through the process with someone who asks me pertinent questions, helping me to pinpoint my main objectives and recognize any potential pitfalls before they could become an actuality. It has increased my confidence, and it has allowed me to feel more comfortable as I stretch myself as an educator.”
- Dabney partnered with a teacher to bring a new instructional strategy to her students: Philosophical Chairs. After co-planning and co-modeling the structure, the students debating on articles of interest from Newsela. The teacher said, “Dabney and I spent time after debates debriefing and reflecting about the students’ experience in the debate. We picked new articles for the next debates and Dabney posed questions about tweaks that we could make to improve students’ ability to listen actively.”
- Darren worked with a PLC, and saw first hand that when a PLC’s members value each others’ contributions and allow for safe risk taking within the group, great things happen. One PLC member commented, “As a team we’ve been able to get nationally recognized individuals to come and speak to our students, acquire a national grant, and pilot a successful three pronged program to help students become better writers and thinkers.” Another PLC member said, “This past year, Darren made one of my biggest goals come to fruition. No joke.” Last but not least, the 3rd PLC member shared, “In these meetings, it is easy for teachers to get mired in the day-to-day details of front-line classroom work; Darren helps us pull back to see the wide view that is necessary for implementing broad change…We are so energized around this new project and the meaningful life experience it will give our students. And we could not have gotten here without Darren.”
- Elaine partnered with a novice teacher on a wide array of topics over the course of the year. This teachers commented that, “Elaine is personally invested in my professional development. She listens well. She is willing to offer her input and professional opinion when consulted, careful not to take “discovery moments” away from me. She is loyal and committed, as well as flexible. Elaine is willing! She takes initiative and makes the most of her connections and resources as a coach. Elaine is mindful of guidelines and can be trusted as a source of accurate information.”
Fred worked with a teacher on behavior plans for individual students, small groups, and collaborative classrooms. The teacher shared, “What I enjoyed most about [coaching] was its collaborative nature. Fred and I would dive into new materials together, brainstorm strategies, and bounce ideas off of each other. Fred helped to take these sometimes “crazy ideas” and form them into individualized plans that I could try with students in any setting. Sometimes these strategies worked, and sometimes they failed; however, they helped to develop and better my toolbox as a teacher.”
- Justin worked with a teacher on her implementation of Reading Writing Workshop. The teacher stated, “Justin and I have discussed the length of discussion and what goal I really want out of the conferences. He is really patient and answers all of my questions. Justin offers ideas for me to try to continue my Best Practices. I appreciate all of his hard work and meeting with me for awesome sessions throughout the year.
- Similar to Elaine, Pattie shared about her work with a novice teacher on many aspects of curriculum from restructuring math block to using Aurasma. The teacher shared, “Overall, Pattie has continued to support and challenge me. She is knowledgeable, dependable, helpful, and a lot of fun to work with. She has been a great role model for me during my first year teaching.”
- Sara worked with a teacher who celebrated the enormous strides in independence in her class. She stated, “Sara has been extremely helpful in setting a Daily 5 foundation in my room, which was my goal for this year. Throughout the process she helped me reflect on my practice/student learning, came in to observe, and helped me consider ways to adapt lessons within the Daily 5 structure to meet the unique needs of my students.”
Learning to become a coach is an ongoing process. As we welcome our newest cadre of coaches to join us in August, the outgoing team of first-year coaches wanted to leave them with these words of wisdom:
- It’s okay to be new.
- You will have an amazing amount of personal growth over the year.
- Be patient with the process.
- The value in coaching comes over time.