By Ellen Eisenberg

By Ellen Eisenberg, Executive Director of The Professional Institute for Instructional Coaching (TPIIC)

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Coaches often ask me about modeling in class and its effectiveness. I think a lot about this question because I’ve been there! For several years in my beginning coach career, I modeled classes several times a day in a block schedule. I loved it because it kept me in touch with the students, but did it help the teachers? Not a bit. For a long time when I visited, I couldn’t understand why the teachers were not modeling and replicating what I did.

I clearly didn’t understand the idea of “gradual release of responsibility” and didn’t get that I was “modeling” without co-constructing goals for the lesson. The teachers also didn’t understand the expectations because we never discussed them prior to me agreeing to model in their classes. We had limited conversations that started with, “What do you want me to do?” and ended with me saying, “Great, I love to teach that content!” Voilà… I was modeling!

 What didn’t I understand? I didn’t understand that modeling was purpose driven.

I didn’t have a purpose… at least not a valid one. I wanted to stay in touch; helping teachers grow their practice was not my focus. I thought it was; after all, we talked about me “showing” how to teach a unit lesson. I expected the teachers to just “model” what I did in their classes. Wasn’t that the purpose of modeling?

Coaches have a responsibility NOT to take over but that’s not to say they do not engage in a co-teaching situation. That’s a very different role and purpose and needs to be clearly discussed, deliberated, and delivered. It demonstrates the collaborative nature of coaching; shows the students that learning together is important; and it removes the temptation for a student to say, “You’re not my teacher” or “I wish you were my teacher” both being equally as embarrassing for the teacher and the coach.

So, don’t be shy to model; be prudent, though, in co-constructing the purpose and goals in the before; share the responsibilities in the during; and be equally as involved in the after because that process is truly collaborative.

When do you co-teach and when do you model?

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