Focus on Coaching Cycles

by Stephanie, November 04, 2019

At this point in the school year, many of us are deep into our classroom coaching and engaging in coaching cycles with teachers. Just as coaching can look unique from building to building, our coaching cycles are often unique to our coaching context, our purpose for partnering and the goals and needs of each individual teacher: 1:1 coaching cycles, small group coaching cycles, student-centered coaching cycles and more. Each cycle typically has a pre-coaching conversation, classroom coaching/co-teaching/observation and then follow-up conversations as well.  You can find theforms and templates I tend to use for classroom coaching here.

For me, my coaching cycles right now are in the context of my graduate education courses. Each week, I engage in a single coaching cycle with each of my students: lesson planning, observing lessons and coaching conversations. We repeat this for ten weeks of the course and the focus of our cycles shift and change over time. We also meet for small-group coaching cycles focused on common topics.

As I gear up to move my university-based coaching cycles completely online, I’ve been thinking more and more about coaching cycles: what they are, why they matter, how they run, what the challenges are and more. Along the way, I’ve developed a checklist for myself to take stock of where I am in my coaching cycles and how I can boost my own understanding of them to make them more effective. Here it is:
  • Am I organized for coaching cycles? Do I have files and folders for each teacher? Are all the tools and templates I might need in one shared folder for teachers to access too?
  • What are the teachers’ goals and wishes for coaching? Am I keeping them at the forefront of the coaching cycle?
  • Is there a shared vision/goal that our coaching cycles must also include, in addition to teachers’ own wants and needs? (This is the case in my coaching with graduate students learning specific course content.)
  • What kind of observations am I making and how can I keep them linked to students’ responses to instruction?
  • How transparent am I in my commenting? Do teachers have access to these comments to so they know what I am truly focused on?
  • How does my post-coaching conversation move our learning forward? What take-aways can I help the teacher uncover? Am I constantly searching for my own take-aways in relation to teacher learning and my own learning as a coach?

Right now, I find myself focused on the observation/note-taking process. I want to hone my observation skills and better share these observations easily with teachers. I’ll be experimenting with some digital note-taking on an iPad since propping up my laptop in the moment can be quite cumbersome.

I’d love to know what you are working on in your coaching cycles. Which aspect are you feeling good about? Which aspect might be more challenging and how will you boost your own learning to tackle it? Let’s work together to lift the level of our coaching cycles!


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