By Ellen Eisenberg

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

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Larry Ferlazzo, a blogger for EdWeek Teacher wrote an interesting blog on May 13. “Districts can use the remaining weeks for intense work with at-risk students or for training teachers” is the title. He suggests that “we might be going about this whole ‘distance learning’ thing all wrong.”


Not many would admit to doing the wrong thing, yet teachers are doing “emergency teaching” and asking parents to do the same thing. Is what they are doing effective? Is it wrong? Most are inundated with creating YouTube videos, screencasting lessons, zoom morning and afternoon meetings, and a plethora of other things to ensure that students participate, are engaged, and motivated in their own learning.


But Larry reminds us that the end of the year is always a tricky time… after statewide testing, collecting books (if they are used), spring break, early finals, and the general feeling that the year is over, what’s important in keeping students involved? What do we offer students to keep their interest? Is it the grades, the activities, the social piece? Can we use this time more sensibly?


He also reminds us what the data say "… students learn at twice the rate in the first semester as in the second semester" (Kuhfeld, Megan, and James Soland. (). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University). How must our teaching change in the second half of the year?

So, knowing what we know and are experiencing, how effective are schools now in finishing the year instead of being proactive and planning for the next one? His final question captures it all: “…What could the next two years look like if educators spent several weeks now learning and planning instead of ending the year, as many will, drained and discouraged?” Can our time be better spent being proactive rather than reactive? I think we know the answer.

But in the meantime, kudos to all the teachers, parents, students, coaches, mentors, and administrators… you are rock stars!

As a coach, how are you planning and preparing for a school year that will start very differently this September than September 2019?

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

At an alarming rate, more and more of us are suffering with our biggest rival – time! We “fill our plates” with so many things that need to be done that we sometimes forget that “less is more” and the importance of being deliberate and intentional in our work. And, of course, instructional coaching and mentoring are dependent on the time we need to provide a blended approach to support our teaching colleagues. That is, making time for F2F and virtual communication not only to answer questions but to really help our colleagues reach their fullest potential and to become more reflective practitioners. We need to work smarter, not harder, and not fall into a rut.

A recent SmartBrief on Leadership publication included an article from a Forbes newsletter by CDC Foundation President and CEO, Judy Monroe. In the article, Dr. Monroe shared five ideas for a successful professional career. And although not specific to education, I think these five are applicable to any and all professions:

1)     Step out of the box and embrace new opportunities that may bring unexpected results. Sometimes, we rely on the old tried and true and continue in that same pattern because we’ve always “done it that way.” Don’t waste time on something that doesn’t yield the intended outcomes; try something new and enjoy the learning;

2)     Take a risk and give yourself permission to learn as you go. Here she mentions that she learns from her own mistakes as well as from others’ mistakes… that makes my heart sing!

3)     Pay attention to the big picture and not just the details… what do you want to accomplish at the end of the day… not just the checklist of minutiae;

4)     Recognize the reality of work-life-integration since balance may not be a consistent practicable goal;

5)     Practice making time to disconnect, not just finding time to detach from workplace madness!

I would add one more thing…be honest to yourself and your colleagues. You are ONE person… remind yourself that collaboration and team building are even more important when time or lack of time is an issue. Strive for a shared vision for schoolwide improvement… that makes a difference!

What can you add to the above list for a successful workplace environment?