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Coaching FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions from coaches... 

Should coaches spend more time conducting observations or co-planning and co-teaching lessons?

How do coaches get around teachers only wanting to work on foundational skills for reading? Most of the assessments are based on reading foundational standards.

How does one balance their time if they are a coach and a teacher? Is it possible to start a coaching cycle on classroom management? Can it be done without being teacher-centered?

How does moving towards the standards help coach teachers who are "married" to their content and feel the need to get through a certain chunk of curriculum per grading period?

How might coaching cycles look when the coach is assigned to 2-3 buildings (only in a building 1-2 days per week)?

When do coaches find the time to meet individually with teachers if it’s not built into the contract day?

What are some suggestions switching mid-year to Corwin’s approach with teachers who are used to more of the stereotypical coaching (coaches helping teachers grow)?

What percentage of growth for proficiency on the Results-based Coaching tool would be deemed as strong or good (from the beginning to end of the cycle)?

What “level” of standards does Corwin use for goal setting? In Colorado, we have the Grade Level Expectation (GLE) and the Evidence Outcomes (EO). The GLE’s seem too broad, but the EO’s seem to narrow.

Does Corwin talk about coaching for specific populations such as ELLs for SpEd students?

How can one differentiate the progress made as a result of coaching from the progress that would have been made from the teaching anyway?

Are there adjustments/ strategies that work best in a mastery/ competency-based classroom that has students working on potentially different skills at the same time?

Would this be relevant for coaching behavioral strategies or strictly instructional relating to academics?

 

Questions from teachers...

How do teachers participate in a coaching cycle?

How can teachers become motivated to set goals if they insist that they plan day-by-day?

Should teachers create a summative assessment based on the target so that a class-wide assessment can be given?

What do teachers do if they accomplish the goals before the cycle is over? Do they make more goals?

Are the teachers choosing the goals?

After having gone through a couple of cycles with this plan are able to do this independently or lead a grade-level for example?

 

Answers for coaches... 

Should coaches spend more time conducting observations or co-planning and co-teaching lessons?

Answer: Co-teaching is a core part of coaching. Similar to modeling, try to steer clear of doing too many observations of teachers. They can feel like an evaluation. If coaches focus on collecting evidence and problem-solving together with teachers, then they can build partnerships that feel less evaluative.  Doing fewer observations and more co-planning and co-teaching can support such partnerships

 

How do coaches get around teachers only wanting to work on foundational skills for reading? Most of the assessments are based on reading foundational standards.

Answer: Some districts (and states) stake a lot on assessments that target fluency and other foundational skills. When unpacking the goal for a coaching cycle, try to honor these skills and also nudge teachers to think about how to ensure that students are using them in the context of real reading. It’s important to find a balance between the surface (or skills) and deep learning (or transfer).

 

How does one balance their time if they are a coach and a teacher? Is it possible to start a coaching cycle on classroom management? Can it be done without being teacher-centered?

Answer: Balancing being a teacher and coach can be challenging for sure. It's better to choose to only take on one coaching cycle at any given time. Yes, coaching classroom management does often feel more teacher-centered but only do this if the teacher requests it. Otherwise, it may damage trust because this can be a sensitive subject. Doing a shorter, more teacher-centered, cycle in these cases would be a recommendation.

 

How does moving towards the standards help coach teachers who are "married" to their content and feel the need to get through a certain chunk of curriculum per grading period?

Answer: Moving towards the standards will definitely help those teachers. That said, this dynamic is persistent, especially in the secondary level. By emphasizing formative assessment, try to slow teachers down and teach to mastery, rather than just covering content. When putting student work at the table, it’s hard for a teacher to deny when students aren’t there yet. This is a natural way to help teachers think about their students in relation to the content they are teaching.

 

How might coaching cycles look when the coach is assigned to 2-3 buildings (only in a building 1-2 days per week)?

Answer: Start with one to two coaching cycles in each school. This should also provide the coach with time for informal support, to participate in professional learning, and possibly even PLCs.

 

When do coaches find the time to meet individually with teachers if it’s not built into the contract day?

Answer: Lack of contracted collaboration time can certainly make coaching more challenging. If we provide teachers with choice in how they engage in coaching cycles, then they can also choose when they’d like to co-plan with a coach. The key is to avoid mandating coaching, especially to teachers who are ‘struggling’. This just creates all kinds of bad feelings among teachers.

 

What are some suggestions switching mid-year to Corwin’s approach with teachers who are used to more of the stereotypical coaching (coaches helping teachers grow)?

Answer: Start by talking through what you want coaching to look like with the principal. There is a continuum on page 6 in Student-Centered Coaching: The Moves that would be a useful guide for this conversation. As soon as everyone is on the same page, then plan how to articulate this new vision and begin coaching cycles with a few teachers who are interested. Be sure to ask them to share how it is impacting teaching and learning in their classrooms. Build from there and take your time. 

 

What percentage of growth for proficiency on the Results-based Coaching tool would be deemed as strong or good (from the beginning to end of the cycle)?

Answer: We often see 75-80% student growth across coaching cycles. This growth is measured in relation to who reached mastery in the learning targets that were crafted at the beginning of the cycle.

 

What “level” of standards does Corwin use for goal setting? In Colorado, we have the Grade Level Expectation (GLE) and the Evidence Outcomes (EO). The GLE’s seem too broad, but the EO’s seem to narrow.

Answer: The GLEs are too broad for a six-week coaching cycle. It is better to think more in relation to a unit of study. The Evidence Outcomes (EOs) might be helpful when determining the learning targets since they are more targeted and specific.

 

Does Corwin talk about coaching for specific populations such as ELLs for SpEd students?

Answer: We use the same process for coaching in ELL and Special Education environments. The learning targets may look and feel a little bit more specific, could include language objectives, or may focus on strategies that are more behaviorally focused. We also like to create partnerships with general education teachers and their ELL or Special Education counterparts. They usually love joining each other in coaching cycles since it takes their work together deeper.

 

How can one differentiate the progress made as a result of coaching from the progress that would have been made from the teaching anyway?

Answer: It’s important for a coach to avoid taking credit for the growth of a class of students. And, it’s impossible to really know what led to growth (be it the teaching or the coaching). Focus on celebrating the growth of the students and teacher. Set the goal of mastery and work hard to get the students there. If the students get there, then that’s amazing!

 

Are there adjustments/ strategies that work best in a mastery/ competency-based classroom that has students working on potentially different skills at the same time?

Answer: The main approach is all about mastery and competency-based instruction. When a teacher and coach sit down to plan a future lesson, they can look at the student evidence to determine how to differentiate in the next lesson. This may include providing students with different learning targets to work on, and even more importantly, how the students will take ownership of that learning.

 

Would this be relevant for coaching behavioral strategies or strictly instructional relating to academics?

Answer: A teacher may choose to set a goal for student behavior for a coaching cycle. For example, ‘Students will stay engaged through the whole class period.’ Then the learning targets capture what that would look like among students. The challenge is these cycles don’t go very deep. Look at it like the behaviors are certainly important, so why wouldn’t we set a goal that is more academic in nature. Then work with the teacher to develop strategies for classroom management in each of the weekly co-planning sessions.

 

Answers for teachers... 

How do teachers participate in a coaching cycle?

Answer:  Start with a predictable (yet flexible) system for scheduling 4-6 week long coaching cycles. Here are some simple steps to get you started.

Step 1: Divide the school year into rounds for coaching cycles

Each round is a window of time when coaching cycles are offered to teachers. Typically, coaches refer to their curriculum and assessment calendar to determine when their rounds will begin and end. In this way, coaching cycles are aligned to the units that we teach. Many coaches wait to begin their first round until teachers have settled into the school year. Others are sure to include some space between rounds so that they can reflect, recruit a new group of teachers, and manage other necessary duties.

Step 2: Determine how many coaching cycles you can handle in each round

The number of cycles will vary based on the coach’s duties. The upper limit for many coaches is four cycles during a round. Going past this target can become too much, and lead to a coach feeling overwhelmed. It’s also important to remember that coaching cycles are suggested to occur with between one and three teachers. If a coach is in two schools, then two coaching cycles in each school would be a good goal. Again, this means that the coach would be working with between two and six teachers in each school.

Step 3: Invite teachers to participate

A few weeks before a new round begins, an invitation goes out to teachers to encourage them to participate. If a coach notices that certain teachers aren’t joining in, then a gentle nudge of encouragement may be delivered by the principal. As coaching cycles get up and running, the coach may collect testimonials to encourage others to engage in the future. This may be just what a hesitant teacher needs to trust the process and become involved.

Teachers who get used to this system come to understand that there will be many opportunities to engage in coaching cycles, and that it’s up to them to decide when it makes the most sense. It might be that a teacher wants to work with a coach later in the year when she teaches a unit that has been challenging in the past. Or perhaps, a teacher may decide to do a coaching cycle right at the beginning of the year because he knows it’s a great way to start strong.

Step 4: Create a schedule for coaching cycles

With a list of participating teachers in hand, the coach creates a schedule for the upcoming round of coaching cycles. While there are some things that remain consistent throughout the year (such as the principal and coach meeting, PLCs, etc.), the schedule for coaching cycles changes with each round. This provides the opportunity for the coach to make adjustments as the school year progresses. Perhaps the coach did a few too many cycles and wants to scale back. Or, maybe the coach can ramp things up a bit and add more. Recreating the schedule for each round allows the coach to continually refine their schedule to best meet the needs of teachers.

 

How can teachers become motivated to set goals if they insist that they plan day-by-day?

Answer: The first conversation in a coaching cycle is a great opportunity to frame coaching around a goal that is standards-based. This will help a teacher think bigger than day-to-day planning. Once the cycle begins, the conversations naturally turn to planning individual lessons. Rule of thumb is to only co-plan the lessons that you will co-teach. In this way, teachers and coaches can ensure that they have a clear vision and can think together as the instruction plays out.  

 

Should teachers create a summative assessment based on the target so that a class-wide assessment can be given?

Answer: When assessing the impact of a coaching cycle, others tend to use more holistic measures. That said, it would be smart to add in a summative assessment at the end of the coaching cycle. Try to avoid giving the summative at the beginning of the cycle when it is dense with content or in a test-like format because it doesn’t really tell teachers a whole lot about what the students truly understand. Use more open-ended, formative assessments to measure growth across a coaching cycle.

 

What do teachers do if they accomplish the goals before the cycle is over? Do they make more goals?

Answer: It might mean the goal wasn’t rigorous enough, and they may need to try to go deeper next time. Or it might mean that the students grew faster than they expected. Definitely create a new goal and keep going in these situations.

 

Are the teachers choosing the goals?

Answer: Teacher should choose what they want to work on, rather telling them what they should be doing. That said, the instructional practices that are focused on may also be aligned with the focus of the school. For example, if a school is using Kagan strategies, then they’d see a lot of these practices showing up in the work the coach and teacher are doing together.

 

Are teachers, after having gone through a couple of cycles with this plan, able to do this independently or lead a grade-level for example?

Answer: The main goal is building teachers’ capacity not only in the instructional practices they are learning to use, but also that they become more comfortable using formative assessments, doing intentional planning, and understanding how to use learning targets in a student-friendly manner. After engaging in coaching, teachers are able to advocate for these practices and share them with others.

 

 

 

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