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The Best Way to See the Big Picture | For Teachers and Coaches

The Best Way to See the Big Picture | For Teachers and Coaches

Here’s a question that I get at least once a week: Should coaching be mandatory for all teachers in the school?

My emphatic answer to that is always absolutely YES!

There are a lot of reasons for that, but it’s mainly because if we have teachers receiving coaching, they are becoming better, more skilled, efficient, and effective teachers. 

How? You might wonder.

Because with coaching, teachers are able to see their classroom from a balcony view. When a coach is in the classroom, they aren’t getting lost in the details and can take a step back and see the big picture – and teachers are able to implement changes that will create the biggest impact.

When a teacher is busy teaching, they need somebody else in their classroom looking and watching for things that need changing or reworking.

  • A coach stands with the teacher and can say things like: “Hey, this is what I’m seeing while you’re teaching.” There is no way to figure that out unless somebody else is watching you or you watch yourself on video.
  • Also, we should be practicing what we preach! We expect every student to be corrected and coached through learning, why wouldn’t we model and go through that same process as teachers?
  • Lastly, it gives teachers the opportunity for reflection! The BEST teachers, the ones who get results over and over, year after year, even in pandemics and with the “difficult class,” are the ones who are constantly reflecting on their practice. 

For more help and tips on how to work with teachers as a coach or how to be coached please look at these books:

Books can be found at amazon.com or at our store.

The Best Way to See the Big Picture | For Teachers and Coaches

What’s the Deal with this Blog, Anyway? | For Teachers, Coaches, Principals, and District Leaders

As I am sure you’ve noticed, we’re coming out with some blog posts about some of the most important topics in teaching, ones that you’re talking about right now.

These blog posts are 100% in response to questions that you are asking! This blog is a place for us to break down the most important questions you are facing today.

So, when you see these posts pop up in your email or on our website or social media, know that they are responses to questions coming from educators just like you! If you have a question, feel free to leave a comment on them and we will work towards a future post that will address that topic.

Hopefully through comments on the post it will also lead to a place where educators can engage with each other on the topic and BRING RELIEF TO EDUCATORS!  (That’s our tagline by the way!)

We also want to make sure that we are giving you timely content with this blog! Content that is not only relevant and applicable, but also delivered to you in a quick and easy way. A fast read that is understandable, so you can read it quickly, engage in comments, but most importantly take it RIGHT back to your classroom and with YOUR students.

That is our passion.

For more help and tips on how to better your teaching practice, please check out our books. Books can be found at amazon.com or at our store.

The Best Way to See the Big Picture | For Teachers and Coaches

5 Things to Start Today that Help with Classroom Management | For Teachers and Coaches

Classroom Management is one of the most effective ways to increase student learning. The less time you spend managing behaviors, the more time you have to TEACH!

Here are five things that you can start doing TODAY if you’re struggling with classroom management:

  1. Spend a week taking notes on which time of day the behavior that you really don’t like crops up.
  1. Perfect ONE THING. I like to start with perfecting lining up how kids walk into the classroom. When you get one thing perfected, you’ll have some oomph to get better at other things!
  1. Teach a replacement behavior! This is a big one. If you don’t like a behavior, you must teach an alternate behavior that you do like. If you don’t like how your class is lining up, TEACH them how you want them to line up and then reinforce the new behavior.
  1. STOP complaining about your kids. This is probably the easiest one and it is SO important. I know how easy it is to complain when we are frustrated, but that really does not help you. Make it a point of saying to yourself, ‘I’m in control, I’m the adult, and I’m not going to complain about my kids.’
  1. Start lowering your voice instead of raising your voice. It will automatically take the overall energy down to where you can get things in control.

For more help and tips on how to work toward more effective classroom management check out:

How to Coach Teachers on Almost Anything

Books can be found at amazon.com or at our store.

The Best Way to See the Big Picture | For Teachers and Coaches

Discipline vs Redirection in the Classroom | For Teachers, Coaches, and Principals

I often hear a lot of teachers talking about their kids like:

Oh, my kids were so bad today!

Or

We had the worst day, I was just disciplining all day long.

But often what they are REALLY talking about is redirecting kids, and that’s just a general part of classroom management!

It does not mean things are going wrong. It means you are working with kids.

Redirecting kids is saying things like:

  • You know what, instead of doing this, I’d like you to do this right now
  • Guys, I’m going to wait for everybody to have their eyes on me before I give the next direction

Those are examples of good, solid classroom management practices!

Disciplining kids is when kids have not followed the management stuff and you have to give them consequences.

So today, this week, as you are teaching, what I want you to think about is: 

What am I doing to redirect kids without having to lead to full-blown discipline?

For more help and tips on how to better your teaching practice, please check out our books. Books can be found at amazon.com or at our store.

I got REJECTED by Learning Forward! (Part 2)

I got REJECTED by Learning Forward! (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of a two part article about my rejection (ha!). If you want to read the first part, check this out!

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 2 of the article that got DENIED!  

So, I have tried to get really practical in working around the coaching slip and here are 3 coaching questions I ask before, during and after a coaching cycle. They have really helped me button down the next step and get it into regular teaching rotation:

Question 1: Is the coaching correction/feedback linked to something that matters to the teacher?

One of the toughest parts of coaching for me is finding the exact starting point for each teacher. We know we can’t just do a one-size-fits-all approach and start everything in the same spot. I constantly ask myself is how is the teacher’s attitude toward coaching? Is the teacher open to it? I she hesitant? Depending on how the teacher is feeling about coaching, I might start slowly by going together to observe a master teacher for 10-15 minutes or we might be ready to just jump in to observation or side-by-side coaching.

Once I determine the approach for coaching a teacher, I have to get down to business and start figuring out what the content for that coaching cycle should be. I think about whether the teacher is struggling with foundational teaching skills like classroom management or engagement or simple lesson planning. If so, then starting off with a focus on high-level questioning techniques during teaching isn’t going to hit the spot.

When we coach with a carefully crafted mix of approach and content focus, we create a right-fit coaching cycle that allows for whatever support the teacher truly needs at that moment to be the thing they’re left with in the debriefing. This increases the odds that they’ll follow through on our coaching notes because it solved a real problem and hit the spot completely.

I often tell the coaches that I have the opportunity to coach that they need to “go for the immediate win” with a teacher. What does this mean and why does it matter? Well, the immediate win is something small but powerful.

For example, I recently helped a coach support one of her teachers in just working on how to start a lesson with authority (all eyes on the teacher, the teacher waits until everyone has quieted down, etc.). They worked on this for a few weeks together until the teacher felt like she really had a much stronger sense of authority in the classroom…and it was obvious in the students, too. This was something so tiny in theory, but a powerful improvement in her teaching that affected every single moment of her teaching day. This was such a simple coaching win, but grew the teacher’s confidence by miles in just a few weeks. After the teacher sees that the coach is offering next steps that really transform teaching, she is much more excited about coaching again.

The immediate, small win on something that matters to the teacher initially builds a great foundation for future coaching. And the teacher has already seen how impactful carrying through on the coach’s suggestions is, so the follow-through is a priority.

Question 2: Did I break the steps of the skill down to the –nth degree?

If I am seeing that a teacher isn’t implementing the coaching work long-term I need to determine if I was too broad in my feedback. When I was first coaching I remember saying to a teacher, “Let’s work really hard on increasing your student engagement.” Um…not helpful at all. And I bet the teacher was thinking, “If I knew how to do that, I wouldn’t need a genius like you!” To say that I had given the broadest coaching advice was an understatement! (And broad support isn’t helpful…and it certainly doesn’t stick.)

So, I have learned to walk through this little checklist in my head when I am debriefing a teacher:
• Does this thing I am asking the teacher to do give almost immediate results? (This will ensure that they want to keep doing it over and over again.)
• Is this thing that I am asking the teacher to do easily understandable given the teacher’s current professional development on the topic? (This will ensure that they can get started right away.)
• Did I have the teacher put this action in his or her own words? (This will ensure that you do any clean-up or refocusing on the spot and avoid wasting the teacher’s time.)

So, instead of giving broad advice like “let’s work on improving student engagement,” I provide very specific coaching next steps like this: I know that you’re really frustrated by the fact that half of your class is paying attention and half of your class seems to be checked out, so let’s get really practical about how we can train your entire class to engage in your lessons in a really upbeat way. I’d like to start by looking at making sure that understand what an engaged student looks like. How about I model a little 10 minute introduction I give at the beginning of every school year that outlines what I expect of a fully engaged student. I’ll teach them how I want them to act when I give directions, when I am having them take notes, when I am having them turn and talk during a lesson and, finally, how they should engage when they are working independently. While I demonstrate that, let’s have you take notes and then we’ll review the notes and determine which of the expectations you want to start with and we’ll get that one in place right away so that you see how it works wonders!

I try to remind myself that simple compliance or a nod of the head isn’t a confirmation that the teachers understand what I am talking about. I need to be talking openly with the teacher around the next steps in order for it to stick long term.

Question 3: Do I need to create a simple remind with the teacher so that the most important coaching next steps don’t get lost in the shuffle?

Throughout all of my years of coaching, I realize that sometimes the simplest solutions to big problems (like a lack of coaching that sticks) are super simple and practical. In the case of a lack of follow-through in the coaching work, sometimes I need to build-in a very tangible reminder system. (And I use the term “system” very loosely, as these are hardly sophisticated…but they work!)

So…what does a simple reminder system for your coaching next steps look like?
• It could look like a series of sticky notes that are placed in the upcoming weeks in the lesson plan book
• It could look like an Outlook calendar reminder that pops up on the day the teacher typically lesson plans
• It could even be something programmed into the teacher’s phone as a reminder to include the technique you shared as a next step during your coaching
• It could be an email reminder that you program into your email system to auto-send to the teacher each Monday for 4 weeks
• It could be a simple lesson planning checklist that you add the most important coaching information to so that the teacher can check his lesson plans to see that nothing has been dropped inadvertently

When I began to take responsibility for making my coaching stick longer than the debriefing, I saw that I was able to double down on my coaching impact. Instead of waiting for the already-overloaded teacher to follow-through flawlessly, I realized that I could increase the odds for implementation after a coaching cycle by purposely focusing on things that mattered and then giving them very specific ways to remember those things that mattered.

When we help our teachers prioritize the simple things that transform their teaching through our coaching relationships, we help secure and reinforce all of the professional development and coaching work we have done. Coaching feels like an absolute necessity to teachers when we are using their time well and they are seeing our coaching work as an essential part of their professional development. Once teachers see and feel the effects of our coaching on their long-term teaching, they are so open and ready for more. That is the sweet spot for any instructional coach.

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!

I got REJECTED by Learning Forward! (Part 1)

I got REJECTED by Learning Forward! (Part 1)

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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

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!