small batch coaching #sol17

Smallbatch-300x300 Small Batch Coaching

April 18, 2017

I have been thinking a great deal about instructional coaching of late; having a coaching cycle in place in my role as a literacy specialist:  teachers I meet with weekly,  co-teaching in place with a few teachers to varying degrees of formality, PLCs I meet with regularly and semi-regularly.  Those are all great and working well, but this past week I was thinking about ‘small batch’ coaching.

So small batch can come in a few different forms, most successful  it has a connection to your underlying goals in your building, with your team, or in some cases, with your hidden agenda.  I admit it. Sometimes I have a not-so-hidden agenda.  I will say it outright when asked.  Here’s one example of a small batch/not hidden agenda.

I dropped by one day as a intervention teacher was lead teaching in a classroom.  My purpose was to ask her about intervention with a student for a conference later that day.  When I arrived in the classroom the class had just completed a read-aloud of The Mouse, The Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear, a perennial classic for kindergarten.  IMG_8594That was wonderful, but then…  I saw this.

IMG_8592 I think it’s safe to say and will not surprise anyone who has worked with me that I immediately started thinking how I could suggest a change-up in this activity or even shift the students’ thinking myself.

The probable goal of this sheet was sequencing and the students all sat at tables coloring the paper waiting for permission to cut and then glue .  I said to the teacher,  I love this book!   … Another thing  you might have done is let the students interact with the book, create props and do a retell on their own.  Perhaps that would have gotten to your objective too,  sequencing strength.  Well, maybe next time…or words to that effect. 

I went on about my day and then as the students were going to lunch, they stopped by the literacy center.FullSizeRender

There before me were dozens of little mice complete with mouse ears and a very large construction paper strawberry.   The teacher had thought about it and given it a go right away.  The students were thrilled and eager to share what they had done.

Now, do I wish that the students had made the ears and the strawberry, and had props and such from the beginning?  Yes.   However, changing our practice, changing our stance, shifting our outlooks takes time.  Much like we scaffold and linger and try out with our students, we should be willing to move at that same pace with their teachers.

So here’s to small batches of coaching, gentle nudges.  May they be casual chat over coffee, a notice of something wonderful tried, an interesting website/article/video sent with a quick note, a drop in, and encouraging smile.  After all,  we are just giving it a go too.


Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for coordinating the Slice of Life Community.  Join or read more here.


About readingteachsu

Passionate about literacy education. Currently a literacy specialist in a K-4 building near Boston MA.
This entry was posted in challenges, coaching, elementary, reading instruction, Slice of Life #SOL17, team spirit, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to small batch coaching #sol17

  1. jcareyreads says:

    You offered this suggestion in such a safe, nonjudgmental way. You opened this teacher’s eyes to another possibility and let her discover the benefits on her own.

  2. What a lucky teacher to have you guiding by the side. Love the idea of “small batch coaching.”

  3. As a fairly new coach, I struggle with being able to tell, or as in your case, suggest a new way of trying something. I love how you ease into the suggestion in such a safe way. And I also love how the teacher took your suggestion immediately and ran with it! How awesome! Kudos to both of you! Thanks for sharing!

    • I agree, I think this is one of the hardest parts of coaching! Especially if we are in a “non-expert” role, but are just trying to offer another suggestion about how a goal could be met. Language and trust are everything!

  4. I go through this on a daily basis. As a new coach this year, I am still in the stage of building relationships with a lot of my teachers so that offering a suggestion, as you did, will be taken as a suggestion, something to consider, and not a judgment, as it is taken where we currently stand. I think centering the suggestion around a goal (even better if it’s a school goal), being aware of non-judgmental language, and balancing that with positive reinforcement are all important cogs in the wheel!

  5. ebgriffin says:

    I love this term, “small batch coaching.” I think sometimes it is the small bits of direct feedback that make the biggest difference.

  6. aggiekesler says:

    Such a great example of nudging! Your teachers are lucky to have you as a coach! I, too, love the term small batch coaching!

  7. Maria says:

    I love how you suggested a different option for her and she went with it! 🙂 Wishing our district would give us coaches.

  8. svalter says:

    I love this concept and the very non-threatening approach. So often we as teachers just need a nudge or a different perspective!

  9. Good things can indeed come in small packages. Here’s to you and this micro-coaching moment! Thanks for sharing.

  10. Love this post — so true –we are all just giving it a go! Clear trust and mutual respect in your coaching relationships. Thank you for sharing.

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