By Ellen Eisenberg

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

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The never-ending struggle to meet with teachers seems to be foremost on many coaches’ hearts and minds… how do they meet and follow the BDA cycle of coaching if they are inundated with all kinds of other “non-coaching” duties? How do they encourage teachers to meet with them if teachers are carrying a full schedule of classes and may have a period or two of extra non-teaching duties? Not everyone has time to meet so how do we communicate if time is limited?

All important questions and none with such easy answers.

Here are my thoughts:

  1. If a coach is actively coaching more than 8-10 teachers (and most are), the coach needs to design a cohort coaching approach so that each group of teachers can receive coaching support in a “buddy” system. For example, group “A” is the first cohort for 6-8 weeks and then becomes the buddy support for the next group “B” cohort of teachers, etc. 
  2. Coaches need to assess the needs of the teachers they coach. Some teachers may need intermittent support on a “as needed basis;” some may need regular weekly support; and some may need more intensive support. Once this is determined, the coach can plan the kind and frequency of the support provided; 
  3. If the communication is the issue: blend the approach so that there is virtual and F2F support. For instance, an email from the coach to the teacher asking what kinds of topics/issues/instructional techniques the teacher would be interested in exploring is a viable “before the before.” That would be followed by a F2F “before” where specifics are discussed, i.e., what are the goals for this lesson; what role do we each play; what kind of data should we collect; and when will we meet for the debriefing. From there, the “during” classroom visit (not observation) is scheduled and followed with the pre-determined debriefing or “after” session. Email communication is most often a set of questions that can be answered and then referenced at the time of the “before” and/or “after.” I would caution a coach to facilitate a virtual “after” as many ideas and thoughts flow from the F2F conversation. (The emails could get very lengthy if every question is asked virtually!)
Coaches typically try a variety of ways to interact with their teaching colleagues. Blending an approach is a solid way to incorporate both the learning and the communication styles.

How do you blend your approach to foster communication with your teaching colleagues?

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

I recently received an email with a question about a situation that I think we have all encountered. The question was, “How do I keep things in perspective and stay positive?”

Many of us struggle with negative thinking. It happens in our personal lives and in our professional lives and manifests itself in different ways. Some of us experience anxiety and stress while others experience depression and lack of confidence. Regardless of how it reveals itself, we all need to be aware that an intervention is sometimes necessary to help us break out of a negative pattern and recognize the positivity in our experiences.

I am a great believer in lists… I have lists everywhere and sometimes even my lists have lists! The point is that when I feel overwhelmed, I make a list of what needs to be done with columns: one column lists the task; the second column identifies if I actually can influence the outcome; a third column asks for specifics about the task, e.g., time constraints, people involved, etc.; and a fourth column asks for strategies that I think will help me achieve my goal. It sounds unwieldy but it’s not. It helps me put into perspective what I need to do, what I can do, and ideas about how to accomplish the task.

It would be an unrealistic if I didn’t admit that sometimes, I just add to the list and not address what’s there. But, even in those cases, I feel like I can be positive about my tasks because I’ve recognized them and haven’t ignored what I need to do in hopes that they will go away! They don’t become bigger than they already are.

Especially at the beginning of a year, take time to re-assess your goals, needs, and habits. Make those lists and practice reflection. Be clear about perception and reality. Rome wasn’t built in a day and sometimes, “No” is the right answer.

How do you stay positive and spread that positivity to the teachers you coach?