As many folks know, I am in the process of writing my fifth book! It’s about instructional coaching…tentatively titled “How to Coach Teachers to Teach (Almost) Anything” – – – I mean, it’s not like it’s going to be published by Yale or anything, right?
One of the things that I wanted to really drive home for coaches are the fundamental skills that teachers have to have in place. So, I broke those fundamental skills down into five categories:
- Classroom Management
- Behavior Management
- Lesson Planning (the most often un-coached skills that is the starting point of a successful lesson)
- Delivery of a Basic Lesson (like the very least the teacher has to do to deliver a successful lesson)
In this series of five blogs, one on each of the topics, I have broken down those skills for you, too!
If you’re a teacher, you can use these as a checklist for lesson planning
If you are a professional developer, you can use this is a checklist for a new teacher (or veteren teacher) training program
If you are a principal, you can use this to help you set your instructional goal and as a tool to determine where you staff might need strengthening.
If you are a coach, you will use these lists to prioritize the content that you will coach. If a teacher is struggling with any of these, then that struggling point is where your coaching should start. After all, if a fundamental is missing, then the teacher doesn’t have much of a chance of getting the fancier stuff well implemented.
Here are the Behavior Management Priority Skills for Coaching
- Teaches replacement behaviors for most common behavior problems
- Has the ability to quickly analyze the behavior and get to the root of whether it is a whole group, small group, time of day, type of content issue
- Has clear steps in place for students choosing to repeatedly break the classroom rules
- Has a procedure for removing students from the place of instruction without students removing themselves from learning the content
- Has a routine for de-escalating behaviors before they become intolerable
Allows students to recover once they have paid the “price” for misbehavior
I am on a quest to figure out how checklists can simplify and improve the quality of our work in schools. If you haven’t read my first two installments of this little series, I suggest you do (they’re super quick reads!). Here’s the 1st. Here’s the 2nd.
This time I tried my hand at behavior management. How do we define a series of steps so that we can ensure that behavior management doesn’t dominate instruction? Also, how do we streamline it across a school so we have similar expectations for kids? I tried my hand at it here…what do you think?
Checklist for In-Class Behavior Management
|When a student is misbehaving, kindly ask student to replace with an alternate behavior (“Instead of _____, John, I would like you to do _____.”)
|If behavior is not immediately corrected, then firmly ask the student to change behavior and add consequence (“John, I have asked you to _____ and you have chosen not to. I would like you to ____ right now. I do not want to have to ask you to leave the group!”)
|If the behavior is changed and no longer an issue, find an immediate way to compliment the student on the changed behavior (“John…thanks so much for doing _____ -really nice job paying close attention.”)
|If the behavior persists, quietly go over to the student, whisper directions to carry out consequence (Whispering: “John, please come and sit in this desk right now – I will let you know when you are free to join us again.”). Ignore the student if he acts out or tries to get other kids’ attention
|Tell the student that he is still responsible for doing the work, just doing the work in a different spot in the room
|If the student is not behaving in the new spot, give 1-2 calm reminders of what is expected (“Remember John, I’m looking for you to not blurt out and try to distract everyone. When you can do that, I’ll invite you back to the group, which is my #1 goal.”)
|If the student is still not responding, then calmly move the student to the next step on the behavior chart (losing recess?)
|If the student gets to the 4th step on the behavior chart, a note goes home with the student and the note comes to the principal’s office
|Every new day is a fresh start for every student – we allow students to recover
“We are waiting to get him tested” is not a teaching strategy.
I couldn’t resist sharing this image I created a long time ago…it is as true today as it was when I created it. I posted it back then because I had just been to a school visit where every other student who needed intervention wasn’t getting it because “they were waiting to be tested.”
The thing that cracks me up (well, it doesn’t crack me up really – it makes my blood boil actually!) is that the only thing that testing can provide is the same thing that intervention can: a pathway for knowing where to start teaching!
A Special Ed designation or learning disability designation just means that we need to take special care in providing instruction…but when it comes down to it, it’s all instruction anyway.
I also wish that we’d stop saying this because it totally degrades our profession. It makes us look weak.
And I don’t like to look weak in a profession that I’ve chosen to be a lifelong part of, do you?
A very common question that I get from coaches is this: What do I do when a teacher has been coached in a skill and yet when I get back into the classroom, they’ve dropped or stopped using the skill?
I think that sometimes coaches take this personally – after all, everyone has put a lot of time in effort in coaching and learning a new/updated skill! But, I find that when I ask myself these three questions, I can usually get to the root of why that’s happened…and, more importantly, I can fix it with the teacher:
- Did I break the steps of the skill down to the –nth degree or was the skills we were working on really like five skills rolled up into one?
- Did the teacher understand what I wanted him to do? (And a nod of the head isn’t a confirmation…the teacher should be able to fully explain what you want him to do in his own words – make sure to weave this into your debriefing each time!)
- Did the teacher simply forget to keep doing it and do we need to add some sort of note on his desk or in his lesson plan book so that it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle any longer? (Teachers have lots to remember and can simply forget. It happens to all of us!)
The most important thing is to avoid going straight to the line of the thinking that the teacher is stopping the practice on purpose. By digging just a bit deeper through the questions, you’ll find an even more efficient way to work with a teacher…and it doesn’t have to affect your relationship one bit!
For quite a few years, I’ve done a January 1st post about my goals for the year and sometimes threw in a review of the year prior. I think I do it to hold myself accountable…or, if nothing else, feel like I’ve spoken what I’ve set out to do out into the world in hopes that someone will slap me upside the head if I don’t get cracking on things!
So here it is, January 1st again. I mean, HOW DID THAT HAPPEN? it feels like it should be June or maybe July at the most!
Here’s my review of 2016 in a sentence: She had big plans but ended up taking a nap.’
She (meaning me!), had plans (you can read them here) to get a tone of stuff done and take the world by storm, buuuuuuuuuuuttttttttt, what really ended up happening is that I needed to take some time and regroup.
Here’s why: For 10 years I ran a trained people and had a big training team I managed. I traveled. A lot. Like virtually every week some years. Along the way many people said, “You need to write books!” So I did. Four of them in about 3 years time. Side note: The 5th books is actually written, but it’s been in the hopper for about year with no progress…I’m not even sure it’ll ever be released now that I think of it a year later.
What I didn’t realize is that writing, editing, printing, publishing, fulfilling and shipping books was like starting a new business. I thought it was an extension of what I was already doing! Um…SUPER NAIVE thinking on my part!
We had unbelievable response to the books (I am so so thankful for everyone buying them and using them!), but I needed to figure out how to get the word out to people who didn’t know me. That proved to be much tougher. And I basically spun my wheels trying to figure that out for the first part of 2016. During that time I did one thing: took naps.
Not in a depressed, push-the-world-out-and-close-the-blinds way, but in a super tired for a lot of years way. I know you can relate.
So, I napped and I thought about books. And I did very little traveling for work (like one trip a month). And something happened.
I missed people. I missed seeing people work with kids. I missed all of the flood of ideas about how to help teachers I get when i am actually with teachers. I missed writing. I missed prepping demo lessons. I missed the whole thing!
So, here I am after using 2016 as a recovery and discovery year and now I’m ready to roll. As it turns out, I needed some naps, but napping as a serious hobby didn’t work for me long-term! (And yes, I know I was very lucky to be able to take naps…I realize this is a luxury…but it is not all it’s cracked up to be, I can assure you!).
With that said, here’s a smattering of the goals I will be CHARGING TOWARD in 2017! I am ready, I am rested and I am very very excited to be discovering and sharing new content with YOU to help make teaching and coaching simpler for you! (Note: I write the goals in super specific wording as if I have already accomplished them!)
- I have attended Sunday services at my church weekly whenever I am in town
- I have had my first meeting of my investment/dinner group
- I have successfully baked a layered cake, a pie, croissants, cinnamon rolls, French bread, tortillas, pretzels, fry bread, a soufflé and crepes sucre.
- I have lost 50 pounds by December 310, 2017
- I keep regular work hours each week
Nothing super fancy, but things that, when accomplished, would have a super big impact on the quality of my year!
Question for you: Do you set goals? I’d love to hear yours…or why you don’t set them!
You know how you learn something that is so important that you wish that you could go back and erase about 10,000 things from the past so that you can do them right?
Well, I feel that way about planning professional development. My approach has always been that ‘more is more’ and that in order for a teacher to learn to do whatever it is that I am trying to teach them, they have to know EVERYTHING and EVERY NUANCE of that thing.
What I’ve come to realize (and it’s taken me, ummm…oh, just 14 years to realize it!) is that I need to give teachers the least amount of information that I can get away with so that they can quickly carry things back to the classroom and get started.
Here are the six questions I now ask myself when I am teaching anything to any educator:
- What will trip people up?
- What are the five parts of the thing I’m teaching that they absolutely have to learn?
- What is the order that the things in #2 above should logical be taught and learned in?
- What is the best way to learn each of the steps? Should we read about it? Model it? Practice in the training room? Watch a video?
- What is the least amount of training that we can provide or get away with?
- What skills have teachers already developed that we can hook this new thing to so it doesn’t feel brand new?