From my perspective, the differentiation of student-centered coaching vs. teacher-centered coaching is important, especially as I anticipate trying to work with teachers who are going to be very resistant to coaching. Teacher-centered coaching focuses on what the teacher is doing, and some teachers can find this insulting or get defensive over the idea of having someone come in to tell them what to do. (Although in Aguilar's book she does a nice job of differentiating between the types of questions to ask teachers that are "facilitative" instead of "directive", meaning you're facilitating the teacher's own ideas and growth instead of directing them in what to do). Student-centered coaching centers around data and student work to help make decisions to drive instruction. In this way, teachers who are resistant may be convinced because it is about setting goals for the students and not for them.
For anyone who has taught special education, like myself, the idea of data and progress monitoring set out in this book will be very familiar. The cycle for student-centered coaching includes determining a goal, preassessing students to see where they are at for this goal (sometimes this can be done first when trying to figure out the goal), implementing instruction tied to improving that goal area, and then reassessing students to determine how they've moved towards that goal. (It sounds a little like a class IEP.)
- Define your role with the principal - I'm hoping to do this in the week before teachers report back, so when they come we are on the same page, especially as this is really a new role. However, I think first I need to make sure it's defined with the Assistant Superintendent, who created the role and is my main boss (and I'm not sure she 100% knows).
- Define coaching for the teachers and ask for their participation - I have a math coordinator partner I will be working with. I think our first PD over the teacher institute days we will hopefully cover this. I also want to create a feedback form / survey for the teachers to respond to, seeking their participation in coaching and asking their thoughts on upcoming PD topics.
- Start setting up focus areas for those that said they are ready to go - Once some people say they are interested in coaching, I can start setting up meetings.
- Start popping into classrooms - This wasn't on her list but I added it to mine, because I want teachers to start getting used to me being around and in their classroom, without feeling evaluative, so I want to start being around their rooms from Day 1.
Once I get a group of teachers to coach (4-6 per cycle she suggests), I should make my schedule. One thing she recommends is making your schedule public, so that teachers can see how you spend your time. I think this will be important with my group of teachers, as I will need to build some credibility and they will need to see that I am working, not just perusing Facebook all day (a common stereotype of those who don't have classrooms). Sweeney writes that as a coach, your schedule should include:
- Planning and facilitating professional development - Yes, I know I will be in charge of organizing this
- Managing data and assessments - From coaching, but I know I'll also probably be helping with MAP and PARCC
- Gathering resources - Something I figured I would be doing
- Mentoring - Yes
- Informal planning sessions - When you're in the building and a teacher just happens to stop you with a question, or you just pop into the room and see something you want to discuss with them. She says it's important to build this into the schedule, which is not something I would have necessarily thought of.
- Helping teachers with materials - This is an area I know I'm going to be working on, with supporting teaches with Connected Mathematics Project 3 curriculum.
To actually make the schedule she gets even more specific. Sweeney notes to include in your schedule:
- 1-3 class visits per teacher being coached
- A weekly plan session with teachers
- A weekly meeting with the principal
- Attend grade level meetings
- Flexible informal coaching time
- Planning time - just the same as teachers (I'm glad she put this, because I can easily see myself packing my schedule and forgetting that I need the time to plan in order to help them).
If you're thinking about purchasing the book, there were many other forms and resources that were helpful. I have tabbed:
- Her sample welcome letter and initial survey
- Information on assessment walls
- Coaching log
- Teacher participation log
- Flow of coaching graphic
- Results-based coaching tool
- Note-taking tool
These were the main takeaways that I had from the book, and that I look forward to implementing. If you've read the book, what did you find interesting / important?