Why a Mid-Year Check-In with Teachers is Essential
By Nicole S. Turner
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At the beginning of the year, instructional coaches do a lot of work with teachers in terms of reflection on the previous year, goals, or visions for the future, as well as creating an action plan to achieve those goals. Beyond goals, we talk to teachers about who they are and get to know them a bit. Now, during the school year, it can be easy to get caught up in our busy lives and teachers are obviously busy too. However, taking time to do a mid-year check-in with teachers can be a vital part of a successful school year.
What is a Mid-Year Check In?
A mid-year check-in with teachers is you taking time to meet with teachers in a similar capacity as you did at the beginning of the year. During this time, you can take time to talk about goals and habits they established at the beginning of the year or just a few weeks ago. You can also take the time to talk about concerns the teacher might have. These meetings can help you and the teacher see where they are and where they need to go. How do you do a mid-year check-in with a teacher? Here are a few options.
Keep It Simple
A mid-year check-in can look several different ways. It can be a simple note with a teacher reflection survey attached for the teacher to do. While this isn’t the best idea, it can be a nice reflection tool for teachers to use in the middle of the year. In addition, it is time conservative for you.
Have Cupcakes with Coach
Another way you can do a mid-year check-in with teachers is by hosting a “Cupcakes with Coach” event. For this, you will make some cupcakes (or like me order them from your favorite bakery) for your teachers and have a bit of an informal meeting (make sure you pick up a few gluten-free and fruit for those who don’t or can’t eat cupcakes). During this, you want to make sure you talk to all of your teachers. For me, “Cupcakes with Coach” can also be a mid-year check-in that is individual. I have hosted in a group setting. I asked that teachers put away their phones and bring nothing with them to have a casual conversation around their needs, the needs of the grade level, or the content department. During the shutdown, I continued to host these meetings with teachers but I called them “Coffee with Coach” and met individually with teachers online. If you have the option to meet with one teacher at a time you can definitely have a coffeehouse setting. Either way, this is a good way to talk to teachers and see how they are doing on their goals and in general.
Why a Mid-Year Check In With Teachers is Beneficial
A mid-year check with teachers is something that is not only beneficial for you as the coach or administrator but for the teacher as well. With this check-in, you have a chance to hear how things are going and get ideas as to what you need to do next and teachers have an opportunity to share and ask questions. However, it’s more than that.
Gather Your Information
Whenever you have time with teachers whether it’s a casual cupcake social or a formal meeting, you have an opportunity to learn about what is working and what’s not working. By hosting or planning a mid-year check-in with teachers, you have an opportunity for informal conversation. This conversation can be about the classroom or about how the teacher is managing whatever is being thrown at them this week, which is an opportunity to help a teacher grow.
Teacher Share Time
Often times at a mid-year check-in with teachers it’s more about what the teacher wants to talk about. Teachers need a person. If you have established a positive relationship with some teachers, you can be the support they need. Now, more than ever, teaching is a hard job. Teachers never know from one day to the next who is going to be in their classroom. They never know what is going to happen in terms of the style of teaching they will be asked to do. Therefore, having a causal “Cupcakes with Coach” can be a game-changer.
Another great reason to have a mid-year check-in with teachers is to give teachers time for collaboration. Between staff and substitute shortages, it can be hard to get teachers together this time of year. Instead of fighting it, make the time for it. By planning a time for “Cupcakes with Coach,” you can get teachers together and give them the chance to talk about their classroom plans.
Finally, a mid-year check-in with teachers can be fantastic for revamping goals as needed. Teachers get busy. Therefore, checking with them mid-way through the year about what they have done might be an eye-opener. Why? You are giving your teachers time to reflect on their teaching practices. If you or your teacher find that the goals have been met or a new goal is needed, you can take the time to do that during the mid-year check-in.
Mid-year check-ins with teachers might just seem like one more thing for you to do. However, by doing a mid-year check-in, you might be saving yourself time by catching problems before it’s “too late” or revamping goals that needed to be replaced a few months ago. Find the time to meet with your teachers for a mid-year check-in with teachers that will make your life easier.
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