TSR! Coaching Counts

Coaching Counts is a monthly newsletter for TSR coaches and coordinators that offers information on coaching best practices. Throughout the year, the newsletter will focus on important aspects of coaching to continue to help you support early childhood teachers enrolled in TSR.

April Crawford, Ph.D.
April Crawford, Ph.D.
Director, Texas School
Ready! Project

This Month's Playbook

What Teachers Told Us

Remote Control


Remote coaches are no strangers to videoing instruction, but how often do you have planned teacher reflection sessions? Instead of using the video editing software for an entire clip, leave a segment of the video unfinished (particularly if the teacher is using a practice related to a short-term goal). Use that segment on a coaching call to prompt a teacher reflection period using open-ended questions. 

At the end of last year we asked participating teachers to provide feedback on different components of the TSR program. We purposefully put heavy emphasis on quality of coaching when designing the survey questions. In analyzing the feedback from over 600 teachers, we saw two major trends we’d like the share with you (hint: we've got good news and not so good news).

Where We Rock

The first trend we saw for several survey items is that teachers are greatly satisfied with their personal interactions and relationships with their coaches. Survey questions that targeted perceptions of a coach’s expertise level, attitude, demeanor, and respect for teachers’ authority showed overwhelming positive response. Below are some of the teacher comments that illustrate the trust and gratitude TSR teachers feel toward their coaches.
Survey Question: Do you have any suggestions that could make our coaching program more effective?

“For me, the personal interaction with my coach made all the difference between being able to implement the program and being so overwhelmed that I just wanted to give up . . .

“I truly enjoyed my mentor! She has helped me a great deal with my students.”

“I just hope all coaches are as good as the one I had.”

“My coach and my course instructors were absolutely amazing! . . . I actually enjoy my job now”

“. . . My coach did a wonderful job. She gave me help [and] materials that I needed for the classroom. She was an awesome coach.”

“Our coach was wonderful. She made us feel heard and appreciated and she really helped us out and made herself readily available.”

“The past 3 years have been a wonderful learning opportunity for me and I absolutely loved my coach! She was extremely helpful and supportive. My only wish is that I could continue to learn more and more from this program.” 

Where We Need to Improve

Now that you’ve had the good news, time for the not so good news: the second trend we saw in the survey results was that a large percentage of coaches are not utilizing on a regular basis some of the instructional techniques key to the TSR program. Specifically, (1) the use of modeling and (2) the use of video reflection.

MODELING

Survey results: Between 35-40% of teachers indicated that their coaches did not model instructional techniques for them on a frequent basis.  

Goal: Modeling should be a core component of your face-to-face coaching strategies. Remember, it is very difficult for teachers learning new skills to fully grasp good instructional techniques without strong examples to emulate. Your goal should be to incorporate modeling during the first two times a new technique is introduced, and additional modeling should be performed if the teacher continues to have difficulty with the concept. Always followup a modeling session by having the teacher practice the new technique.

VIDEO REFLECTION

Survey results: Over 60% of teachers reported that their coaches did not use a video camera in the classroom. However, many who did receive video reflection found it incredibly useful in improving their teaching skills (see comments below).

Survey Question: What recommendations would you give us about using video cameras as a coaching tool?

 “I enjoyed having the video camera as a tool because it helped both my coach and myself see the strengths and weakness in my teaching ability and also let me see how the students actually reacted to some activities.”

“I highly recommend using video cameras. It helped me see myself in action and helped to improve the way I teach in the classroom.”

“For me it helped in knowing what I needed to improve on. So that way I may implement activities or tools in teaching children in the classroom the best that I can.”

“I think it’s an awesome coaching tool! It helps me reflect back to how I was teaching and pinpoint those parts where I messed up.”

“I would say at first it's very intimidating! Just thinking OF being recorded made me nervous, but my coach was very supportive and once recording began I forgot it was there. I think it's a helpful way for both me as the teacher and for the coach.”

“It is very useful because we can see how we can improve and grow! I like it because I see that sometimes I am in the right path and that makes me feel great!”

Goal: Video reflection may be a new strategy in your coaching repertoire, but there’s no denying it is a powerful one. Video provides a rich, indisputable avenue for evaluating one’s own skill levels and students’ reactions to teaching strategies. Visual perspectives inaccessible to the teacher the first time are suddenly made available. And videos can be reviewed again and again, with attention given each time to different factors affecting the success of the lesson. For the 2014-2015 academic year, TSR coaches should strive to use video reflection on at least 50% of site visits.

The regular use of video reflection will mitigate the two most frequent concerns we heard in the survey about use of video, namely that it is intimidating for the teacher and that it distracts the students from the activity. Once a teacher begins to see the value in reviewing his or her instruction, anxiety will fade. Highly supportive coaches and an unobtrusive location for the camera can increase teachers’ comfort levels. Finally, videotaping more often will get the children accustomed to the practice so it is less disruptive to classroom management.

We are so proud of our TSR coaches, and we can’t wait to see what you’ll accomplish this year!

Announcement

  • Remind your teachers that the window for BOY assessments closes November 15, 2014. 
  • The next Lunch & Learn call is Thursday, November 21, 2014.
  • The CLI Engage Pilot is underway! Three large school districts have begun assessing their students. We'll have more news from the pilot coming your way soon. 

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