I love simplicity. And I love patterns. My mind seems to work in chart form, mentally creating lists, boxes and bullets and categories of thinking. Some might call it a Type A personality, but I called it streamlined and organized. So when I find a coaching tool that is both simple AND patterned, I am all in. 

Today, I’m offering an idea sparked by fellow literacy coach Liz Bartley to invite reflection and goal setting with teachers based on a simple template that we all can relate to: the traffic light. The universal symbol of movement based on three primary colors that we all intrinsically understand the meaning of:

  • Green: Go
  • Yellow: Slow Down
  • Red: Stop

The traffic light offers the perfect analogy for reflection and goal setting in professional learning with teachers (and students!). You can go old school or digital, but either way, this simple idea is sure to spark conversation and engagement with teachers. Here’s how. 

First, choose your format. If you are coaching in person, draw a simplistic traffic light on a large piece of chart paper (a vertical rectangle and three circles will suffice!) and stock the tables with colorful sticky notes in red, yellow and green. If working virtually, insert an image of a traffic light onto a Google Jamboard and invite teachers to create colorful digital sticky notes instead. 

Invite teachers to reflect on the topic at hand and categorize their reflections based on the colors of the traffic light:

  • Green: What’s going well?
  • Yellow: What’s moving slowly?
  • Red: What’s stopped or stuck?

Invite teachers to label their colorful sticky notes and adhere them to the chart paper or Jamboard. In just a few short minutes, we can easily learn what we can celebrate and what we can continue to focus on in our coaching. And the variations are endless. Here are just a few:

Use the traffic light to kick off a new topic of professional learning:

  • Green: Things I Already Feel Confident In
  • Yellow: Things I’m Ready to Move Slowly With
  • Red: Things I’m Not Ready to Tackle Yet

Use the traffic light to wrap up a unit of study with teachers:

  • Green: Ways I’ve Grown
  • Yellow: Things I’m Slowly Working On
  • Red: Practices I’ve Let Go Of

Use the traffic light template in book clubs:

  • Green: Ideas I’m Ready to Try Tomorrow
  • Yellow: Ideas I Need Time or Support With
  • Red: Things I Need to Stop Doing

Follow Liz’s lead and use the traffic light for individual, grade level or whole-faculty goal setting:

  • Green: Things to Start, Keep or Accelerate
  • Yellow: Things to Slow Down or Rethink
  • Red: Things to Stop Doing

Those are just a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing so you can see just how versatile this template can be. It’s very relatable and with just a few sticky notes or a digital Jamboard, you can easily reflect on learning and set goals to move forward in coaching sessions and partnerships. You can download my traffic light Jamboard template to get started!

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