Choosing Your Instructional Coaching Model
By Nicole S. Turner
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Instructional coaching is an art; just like every type of art, there are several different models you can use to be effective. While there are several different models of arts, it is important you find the right type for the occasion. This holds true for instructional coaching. It’s important that you find a model that works best in your school and in your position.
To help determine which coaching model works for you, you first have to find out what the overall goal the either your principal or district has for instructional coaches. I have worked with coaches from all over and each district and each principal is different. Some places have develop goals around the instructional coach being the primarily person to provide resources. For others, they have developed goals for the instructional coach to model best teaching practices due to a younger (New Teacher) staff. Most schools will want you to reach several goals that coincide together although they may place more importance in one goal than another.
Once you determine what the goal is, you can decide which hat you need to wear most often. These hats include:
- Curriculum or content specialist
- Data coach
- Facilitator for change
- Professional learning facilitator
- School leader
While this list may seem very overwhelming, you’ll be glad to know there is a model that will help you reach ANY goal while wearing all of your hats simultaneously.
To begin any instructional coaching model, you need to start with setting a goal. When you set a goal you need to make sure it is individualized for each teacher; instructional coaching is not a one size fit all profession. Therefore, in order to set that goal, you need to set up an initial evaluation and meeting.
At the initial evaluation, your main goal is to observe what is happening in the classroom. During the observation, make sure you take careful notes and don’t make any assumptions. If you are unsure about something, ask before you assume it’s negative.
After you have done your observation, set up a meeting with the teacher. Now remember, first impressions last you are there to be a classroom supporter not to tear down the teacher or make him/her feel uncomfortable. Make the first meeting very casual. Bring the data from the previous year with you so you have something else to reference and make sure you ask and LISTEN to the teacher’s concerns.
Once you have met with your teachers and set some goals, you can start looking for resources to help the teacher with goals you have set up together. Then you should have a second meeting with the teacher. During this meeting you should model the instructional strategies you want the teacher to try in the classroom. Allow them time to practice with you during the meeting and in the classroom. Remember, you’re not there to access them, you are there to help them.
After you have modeled the instructional strategies, it’s time for your next observation. During this observation you are looking for the instructional strategy you worked on with the teacher and seeing what differences are happening in the classroom. While you observe, you are taking careful notes and documenting.
If the observation did not go well, there are a few things you can do to remedy the situation. First you can offer to model the strategy in the classroom for the teacher so he/she can see that it can be done. Sometimes, when we start doing something one way, it’s hard for us to see an alternative being successful. Secondly, you can discuss the “hiccups” in the lesson and give your teacher another shot to change. If you choose this option, you will need to complete an extra evaluation.
Regardless of how the second observation went, you will need to set up a meeting with your teacher. Before you meet, ask the teacher to reflect on the lesson and discuss what went well and what could have gone better. When you begin your after observation meeting, start with a positive statement then ask them what he/she thought of the lesson. After they talk, you should expand on what they have said and add anything or respectfully disagree. If you disagree, make sure you have some sort of evidence to back up your ideas.
This process will be repeated until the goal is met. Once the goal is met, you can start over with setting a goal.
While this may seem like a simple instructional coaching model, it is the most common model used in schools. For a concise look at the coaching model, check out the table below.
Beyond having a good instructional model for a successful year, you’re going to need to ensure that you are keeping good data. If you’re looking for some resources, check out Educator’s Caravan. In addition to keeping good data, you’ll want to find professional development opportunities to help ensure you have maximum impact.