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. That was wonderful, but then… I saw this.
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.
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.