Email I just got regarding an article I submitted…

Hi Jill, 

Thank you for submitting your article to The Learning Professional – we appreciate your interest in publishing with Learning Forward.

I am sorry to say we won’t be able to publish your article in an upcoming issue of our magazine. Reviewers read your article, “The most expensive instructional coaching mistake,” and appreciated reading your article. However, we’re afraid we don’t have a place for your article at this time.     

Thanks for sharing your story and best wishes in your work on behalf of kids.

Christy

Here’s Part 1 of the article that got DENIED!   (I chopped it into two parts since it’s a bit long!)

Title: The Most Expensive Instructional Coaching Mistake
Author: Jill Jackson
Theme: Demystifying coaching
Month: December 2019
Word Count: 2030
Contact Information:
Jill Jackson
Jackson Consulting, Inc.
(626) 827-4469
556 S. Fair Oaks Ave 364
Pasadena, CA 91105
Fax: (888) 586-4862

Speaker and Author:
·        Get a Backbone, Principal!
·        Get Some Guts, Coach!
·        How to Teach Students to Critically Think About Text
·        How to Coach Teachers to Teach Almost Anything
·        How to Teach Students to Write Informational Text
·        The Simplified Lesson Planning Formula

Learning Forward Standards:
·        Learning Communities: Engage in Continuous Improvement; Develop Collective Responsibility; Create Alignment and Accountability
·        Leadership: Develop Capacity For Learning And Leading; Advocate For Professional Learning; Create Support Systems And Structures
·        Learning Designs: Promote Active Engagement
·        Implementation: Sustain Implementation; Provide Constructive Feedback

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The Most Expensive Instructional Coaching Mistake

Do you remember that Ron Popeil infomercial from long ago?  He demonstrated how you could put a chicken in this contraption that sat on your countertop and just “Set it and forget it?”  He instructed you to put the bird in his contraption, turn it on and walk away…and voila!  Dinner is served.

Well…ol’ Ron Popeil had it right about chicken, but the “Set it and forget it” motto doesn’t extend to every part of life…that’s for sure!  Take, for example, the world of instructional coaching and the practice of leading teachers to make small tweaks and adjustment to their teaching to improve its effect on students.

As coaches, we pre-conference, find our focus and determine where we’ll head with the coaching cycle.  We take notes and debrief the teacher about what we’ve seen, we reflect and ultimately our work results in the teacher taking action. In fact, the real action begins after the coaching cycle because the teacher carries the next step from the coaching cycle to the real-life classroom.

And it’s often at this point that we make the costliest coaching mistake: We leave the teacher on his/her own to implement the thing from the debriefing…essentially “setting it and forgetting it” at the most crucial follow-up point.

This leads to one of my top 3 most-asked coaching questions:  What do I do when a teacher has been coached in a skill and yet when I get back into the classroom, they’ve stopped using the skill or strategy?

As a coach, I can take this really personally…and even chalk it up to “resistance” when it actually isn’t.  One of the biggest lessons I learned in coaching came when I asked a teacher just why she didn’t keep on doing the things that she agreed to do in response to the data from our coaching cycle.

“I forgot.”

I mean it was really that simple?  It felt to me that it was almost passive aggressive or personal…like she dumped the literacy strategy we had worked on together or had made a conscious decision to stop using it.  I even questioned whether she had used it beyond our debriefing!  Was she just playing the coaching game to get me out of her hair?

As it turns out, she simply forgot to use the technique.  It truly was that simple.

Now, as a coach, I couldn’t imagine how she could forget to use it because it is really all I am focusing on with her.  But when I stepped into her shoes, I realized that I had a lot of competition in keeping her attention during coaching!  After all, she also had a math coach, was team lead for her grade level and was also balancing both a new science curriculum and math intervention program.  She was beyond busy and totally inundated with things she had to do…and had so little time to thoughtfully take it all in.

When I asked her if she forgot to use the technique from our coaching cycle because it didn’t work she told me that, in fact, it actually DID work!  She really liked it and found the strategy helpful.  But when she went to plan for the next week’s lessons, she was overcome by the sheer amount of content she had to incorporate and the technique we worked on just flew out of her mind.

The problem with this phenomena (and I see in nearly every school) is that is costs so much time and so must loss of momentum.  We spend the time on excellent coaching content and then when it doesn’t stick, we have to go back and re-do everything.  And no one has time for that.

And here’s the deal: it fatigues the teacher as well.  The teachers feels like she spent all this time in a coaching cycle just to end up doing the same thing over and over again, even though she has full control of what is implemented in her classroom…or not!

….PART 2 IN THE NEXT BLOG.  What do you think?

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If you like what you read so far, then I’m pretty sure you’ll like this and this, too!