Coaching is Crucial for the Classroom

by | Apr 27, 2018 | School Improvement, Students At Risk, Teacher Professional Development

The goal of every academic institution is the same:
Provide a successful, high quality educational experience for all students.

As the frontline instructional advocates for students, teachers play a key role in the achievement of this objective. It requires unrelenting efforts to keep up with the ever-changing educational system. Teachers are responsible for staying up to date on every aspect of their job, from testing schedules to the latest research on best practices. Although the task sounds daunting, providing coaches can help ease the burden and offer guidance and solutions.

Effective coaching begins and ends with a collaborative relationship. Opening the door to a mutually respectful rapport encourages open communication. This type of coaching fosters sustainable growth and collaboration. Direct impact on teacher behavior should indirectly impact student performance.

What is coaching? Better yet, what is coaching not?

  • Coaching is not criticism. Coaching is an evidence-based approach to improving performance. Rather than playing the blame game, efficient coaching identifies individual needs and applies a personalized plan of action. This promotes a systematic method for providing valuable constructive feedback.
  • Coaching is not training. Instead, coaching should follow the training. It is important that leaders stop assuming struggles in the classroom are the result of educators not knowing any better. That is only one solution. Exhausting training strategies wastes valuable time. Instead, evaluate current teaching performance and utilize efforts in shaping effective instruction.
  • Coaching is not telling. Coaching is listening. From the first observation to the last debriefing session, taking the time to listen to the teacher is an essential aspect of effective coaching. Quality listening is vital to identifying classroom needs, instructional growth, reinforcers, and other impactful necessities for improvement.
  • Coaching is not strenuous. Coaching is designed to be led by the teacher. Focusing on 1-2 measurable goals at a time allows for frequent, but brief sessions. Consistent and deliberate check-ins maintain a steady feedback loop and promote continuous bite-size growth.
  • Coaching is not a punishment. Coaching is reinforcement. As a systematic approach to helping teachers help themselves, effective coaching should improve the overall quality of the classroom experience. The act of coaching itself should be reinforced with high rates of praise and appreciation, and the results of improved performance should have reinforcing consequences as academic performance and behavior management improve.

Acknowledging that coaching is a process rather than a destination allows leaders to systematically approach school improvement. Additionally, a methodical approach to coaching ensures educational leaders maintain focus on one objective at a time while conducting maintenance checks on previously mastered goals.

Key considerations when coaching in the classroom include:

  • Approach coaching as an opportunity for growth at the student, teacher, and school levels.
  • Take the time to build a collaborative relationship that promotes open communication.
  • Determine if the teacher has been previously trained on the concept or strategy.
  • Avoid making assumptions and placing blame.
  • Identify a replacement behavior that would improve instruction and/or behavior management.
  • Consult with the teacher to develop a schedule for observations, coaching sessions, and frequent but brief follow-ups.
  • Develop an individualized plan of action.
  • Model.
  • Show up prepared for debriefing sessions with several identified strengths and 1-2 measurable goals.
  • Identify natural reinforces to maintain replacement behaviors.
  • Provide data-driven feedback on performance with a visual representation of growth.
  • Listen. Listen.

Maintaining a collaborative relationship between the instructional coach and the teacher can provide benefits at each level of school performance. To learn more about how CENTER FOR STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT SOLUTIONS can assist with coaching in your classrooms, visit us here: https://www.csas.co/contact/

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