co-observation snip


I know that one thing that makes coaching super successful is OPTIONS.  We need to move from the dreaded coaching question, “So, what do you think we should work on?” and move to much more powerful and supportive language like, “Hey, I was thinking that we should focus on X next time – in fact, I have been working with Sally Jo on this same thing and I’d love for us to go in and watch her and see it in action!  Are you in?”

That conversation has shape, form and, most importantly, lets the teacher know what YOU think should happen next.  After all, if the coach doesn’t know what should happen next, then who will?

Part of what we train our coaches in is a very simple, but very powerful three-step coaching process (brokering the deal, the event and the debriefing).  But we don’t stop there…

We train them on the five STYLES of coaching and co-observation is one of those styles.

Co-observation is when I take one teacher to watch a very specific portion of another colleagues lesson with me. Yes I said with ME!  As the coach, I can’t take over for the teacher in their classroom as they go and observe because I want to coach them during the observation.  This is why it’s called “co”-observation – the coach is there with the observing teacher.

Here’s my co-observation checklist:

  • Set up with observing teacher who, what, when, where, why, how we’ll be doing the observation
  • Set up with the demonstrating teacher exactly what we want to see (trust me, don’t skip this part!)
  • Set up a debriefing with BOTH teachers and you (this is a HUGE collaboration and capacity-building opportunity!)
  • Work with the observing teacher to decide what notes you both will take during the observation
  • Sit next to the observing teacher
  • During the instruction, point out what you want the observing teacher to pick up on: “Did you see how he organized that small group and got them back on task?  I want us to ask him about that during our debriefing” or “Let’s ask her why she chose to partner the students that way…I’m kind of curious!”
  • Prompt the observing teacher to have a couple of questions to ask the demonstrating teacher
  • Watch the magic happen!

Guys, coaching can become monotonous really quickly – and when it does, it loses its coaching power.  My encouragement to you is that you mix it up – match a new style of coaching like co-observation into your coaching bag and use it!