Two Coaching Strategies to Support Teachers and Maximize Student Outcomes

Forming a strong relationship with a teacher is the basis of any successful coaching experience. It's easy to assume that a teacher who resists is irrational or difficult, but research shows that teachers, especially new teachers, who work with instructional coaches are more likely to stay in their schools. Many schools and districts continue to struggle to hire and retain qualified teachers, so it is important to employ strategies to retain and develop teachers. One successful technique that can be employed is the “miracle question”.

For example, “What would your classroom look and sound like if you performed optimally and designed the perfect learning experience for your students?” This question encourages teachers to think about what they want their classroom to look like and how they can achieve it. Another effective technique is the “scale”, which raises the question of where the teacher believes he or she is currently performing on a scale of 1 to 10. As a follow-up question, the coach might ask: “What steps can be taken to move the needle even one number higher?” These strategies are especially productive, since “they make growth opportunities seem really tangible to our training partners,” says Susan Gerenstein, vice president of professional development at Catapult Learning. While observing, modeling, teaching together, and planning together are great, they're useless if you don't give your teachers effective feedback. Giving effective feedback means that you're going to go back and talk to your teachers about what you observed.

It's a great opportunity to analyze the data and discuss if there is growth or not. As an instructional coach, you have the opportunity to support teachers and help them increase student performance. However, as with teaching, the best way to help teachers varies depending on individual needs. Whether you're a new teacher or have been teaching for 20 years, you can benefit from your school's instructional coach. Here are five things to consider when working with an instructional coach: Your instructional coach may be trained to provide you with a training cycle. Think of coaching cycles as personalized professional development.

A training cycle begins with a pre-conference to determine what you want or need to work on. During the pre-conference, you will sit down with your instructional coach and create an area of focus. Next, your coach will observe your class. During the observation, your coach will take notes on what you discussed.

After the observation, you will have a post-conference meeting to discuss the data you collected and the next steps you should take. Your instructional coach can provide you with the resources and support you need to help you achieve your goals. Instructional coaches can provide models in their classroom. That means they can demonstrate teaching strategies that you might want to see in action with your class. If you don't perform the MAP Growth evaluations, you can still have conversations about data with your coach about your data sources. Instructors can help you triangulate your data to better meet the needs of your students.

We will delve into the areas of the training cycle: we will evaluate, plan, teach, reflect and consider how you can maximize the impact of each step. If you're a new teacher, you may want and need an instructional coach but feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to start or what to ask. Real-time training is crucial when working with a teacher who is actually struggling to understand a concept or with a teacher who is quite challenging. From there, coaches apply their deep knowledge of self-directed learning models for adults before moving on to a gradual release of responsibility. This list of strategies are just a few that I have successfully implemented throughout my coaching career. I encourage you to find your instructional coach and start a conversation about how they can help you this year.

Your instructional coach might also meet with grade-level teams to help determine trends in data and identify areas of focus. Only once a coach has built a foundation of trust and honesty can a relationship between coach and teacher begin to form and thrive. In addition to helping teachers transfer new skills to their own classrooms, peer coaching also facilitates the development of a culture of learning, experimentation and collegiality. Instructors partner with teachers to help them improve teaching and learning and increase student outcomes. Depending on your teacher's situation, time and resources, you can choose from many different training methods. With this strategy, the coach closely observes the teacher in their learning environment and observes the specific instructional strategies and learning behaviors of the students.

The second way to use this video training style is to have the teacher record himself or herself and send it to you. Watch this video to see how Braunstone Frith Elementary School developed a unique training program for its NQTs.