Organizing Coaching Spaces

in , , by Stephanie, September 02, 2019
I have a confession to make: I secretly pine over the beautiful literacy coaches spaces that I see on social media and wish that I could recreate them for the teachers I work with….but I cannot. You see, in my role as a literacy coach, I have the honor of working with multiple districts and schools to support literacy instruction within their buildings. I have the opportunity to work with a vast number of teachers and students as I cross school and district and lines and cultivate connections with teachers. But, I do not have my own coaching space. This used to cause me a great deal of frustration, and even depression, as I wished for things in my coaching that were just not possible. But over time, I have come to love this traveling coaching role. I meet diverse educators, collaborate across multiple grade levels and content areas, reap the benefits of observing in fantastic classrooms and see the impact coaching can have in multiple contexts. As I continued my work, I realized that coaching spaces come in many shapes and forms, not just physical locations: phone conversations, emails and virtual zoom sessions, interactions on social media, conversations at lunchtime and in the halls, interactions at workshops and conferences and more. Every interaction has the potential to impact teaching and learning. So, rather than obsess over the fact that I cannot have a central coaching space, I can focus on the coaching spaces I DO have and bring greater intention and joy to those spaces, no matter what they are. So, this week, I am focusing on my coaching spaces and I would like to invite you to so the same. If you are lucky enough to have a physical coaching space (no matter how small or even if on a rolling cart!), consider the following:
  • Are your spaces inviting and welcoming to all?
  • Do they act as models for student learning?
  • Do they provide easy access to books and teaching resources?
  • Are they stocked with tools for connection and collaboration? (Yes, I mean sticky notes! =)
  • Is there a comfortable meeting area that promotes interaction?
Are the walls filled with artifacts of teacher and student learning over commercial materials? Now, let’s consider your digital coaching spaces for a minute because these matter just as much: your emails, your website, your online resources and collections (Padlet, Symbaloo, etc.) and other digital spaces. Consider the same questions:
  • Are your digital coaching spaces inviting and welcoming to all?
  • Do they act as models for student learning and promote digital citizenship skills?
  • Do they provide easy access to books and teaching resources over worksheets and commercially created materials?
  • Do they promote connection and collaboration or only link to materials?
  • Do your digital spaces promote interaction among you and your teachers?
  • Are your digital spaces promoting learning, such as email signatures with what you are reading or writing?
I was amazed at what such a simple shift in thinking could do for my mindset for coaching from afar and made some small changes that made a big difference: added the books I was reading to my email signature, used social media to coach with more intention and am currently thinking about redesigning my website so it is less of a portfolio and collection of projects and more of a space to interact with teachers. What might you think about this week to lift your own coaching spaces? Share your thinking and ideas with us!

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