Coaching through the Chaos

Here we are, another week in and we have not given up yet! We are rocking this NEW NORM of learning. With starting in a new district this year, I had to find a common ground of juggling being the “new kid” while supporting teachers, pursuing a county required coaching endorsement and still staying sane through it all.

Through this Pandemic experience, my school district had the joy of experiencing every form of teaching during Covid: virtual, in-person/virtual simultaneously and now transitioning to specific teams fully virtual and other teams fully in-person. WOW! Our teachers are TIRED, so how do we support them as instructional coaches without adding more of a burden.

Here are a few suggestions on “How to Coach through the Chaos”:

  1. Be Present:

The teachers want to see you in the trenches with them and not only through emails.

  1. Pick up a morning duty once a week to greet the teachers and students with a smile

  2. Virtually pop into a ZOOM lesson and leave a Positive Sticky in the chat box

  3. Advocate for them to the administration when times are hard

  4. Do daily or weekly check-ins

2. Plan A, Plan B:

When planning with teachers, either individually or as a learning community:

  1. Help to guide their planning experience with an agenda to stay on track. Venting could be at an all-time high. (Make sure to start with a mental check-in – Roses & Thorns, Index Card Struggles)

  2. Guide their discussion through the curriculum challenges that may arise. Always have the curriculum pacing guide and calendar present. Be sure to use a pencil!

  3. Plan for the what-ifs! What if the internet goes out? What if a student doesn’t bring their laptop? What if a student does not return to the class after the break? And remember, some things are uncontrollable.

3. Throw Out the Intense Coaching Cycle:

Gauge the stress level of your teachers and understand that this may not be a great time to start enrolling in the coaching cycle. A stressed teacher will not get anything done effectively. If you do enroll teachers in the Coaching Cycle, it may be better to set goals that revolve around teacher support instead of students’ success. Supporting the teacher can increase students’ success because it’ll allow them to have more confidence in trying new strategies, or incorporating technology.

4. Frequent Feedback:

Believe it or not, teachers want FEEDBACK right now. Everyone is a first-year this school year! Teachers want to know how they are doing teaching virtually and in-person, incorporating new technology resources, ensuring that the students are safe. Change the “Glows & Grows” to “Glows & it Shows”, by doing a positive only feedback walk-through every once in a while. List at least two positive take-aways from the observation.

5. Don’t Stress:

Everything may not go the way we anticipate it go but it will be okay. Our small successes this school year start with teachers showing up for another day, getting through a unit close to the pacing guides’ deadline, incorporating a new strategy, and students smiling during engaging lesson. We may not get to dig into data as much this school year or model instruction as frequently, but as Instructional Coaches we are still valuable as we are providing support and encouragement to our Teachers!

Maurissa Blackshear has been in education for 10+ years and currently serves as a 4th year Mathematics Instructional Coach in Georgia.

Her goal is to ensure the success of all mathematics teachers through the implementation of using data to drive their instruction.

She enjoys her time with her husband and three kids on the weekend when they are not engaged in some type of sporting activity. With her husband being a football coach and her owning a cheer-leading gym, it can get quite hectic.

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