The following question surfaced during one-on-one conversations with several coaches, some of whom coach and teach during the day and some of whom are full time coaches. Either way, they wanted to know how to engage teachers in a full BDA (before, during, and after) cycle of consultation so that they benefit from the ongoing collaboration. Here are some of my thoughts:
As a coach, you must build awareness and help others understand your role and the BDA process. They need to see the connections among the 3-pronged approach to school wide improvement which starts at the level that makes the most impact: the classroom. Usually, teachers want to co-plan with their coach (B) and set the tone for the class lesson. It’s the “D” and the “A” that may be challenging.
Coaches need to understand why teachers may be reluctant to invite them into their classrooms. Most teachers think that visitors in classrooms are there to observe. That’s where instructional coaching visits differ from administrative observations. Instructional coaches visit classrooms and work with teachers on a set of predetermined “look fors.”
In the planning or before session, “B,” the coach and teacher co-construct what the goals are and on which elements the teacher would like the coach to focus. They also schedule a time for debriefing which should occur after they both have a chance to reflect on the visit. The during, “D,” is where the coach and teacher see the elements discussed in the “B.” It is the “content” for the debriefing session. In the after session, “A,” the coach and teacher reflect on the goals and debrief about what was effective and what needs to be supported differently.
If the coach cannot see how the “B” goals are met, the “A” is not helpful. The reflections that must occur in the “A” cannot happen if no “D” takes place.
In my experience, teachers who are uncomfortable in the “D” do not understand that a coach’s role is non-evaluative and it is the very place to “rehearse” and “practice” a variety of instructional techniques with an opportunity for reflection and feedback in a no-risk environment. In my next two blogs, I’ll talk more about the BDA cycle and suggest some steps to encourage participation in the full BDA cycle of consultation by building awareness and comfort in the process.
How do you invite your colleagues to participate in the full BDA cycle?