Getting to 60% (3 of 3)

Getting to 60% (PART III OF III)
In this blog series, we have addressed the importance of coaching cycles as a method to increase our impact on student and teacher learning. We also surfaced common barriers to getting traction with coaching cycles. In this post, we will focus on scheduling coaching cycles.

Coaching cycles are effective when they are engaging and meaningful for teachers. We avoid assigning teachers to participate based on their level of performance, tenure, or ability. Assigning coaching cycles is harmful because the coach may be viewed as a tool for remediation, rather than as a partner.

We’d rather build from a more positive and asset-based perspective. To do so, we provide teachers with choice and ownership in how they engage in coaching. As Daniel Pink suggests in his book Drive, “Control leads to compliance; autonomy leads to engagement.” We need to put teachers in the driver’s seat if our goal is to create coaching cycles that move learning forward.

Step 1: Divide the School Year into Four Rounds
Each round is a window of time in which coaching cycles are offered to teachers. Typically, coaches refer to their curriculum and assessment calendar to determine when their rounds will begin and end. Many coaches wait to begin their first round until teachers have settled in to the school year. Others are sure to include some space between rounds so that they can reflect, recruit a new group of teachers, and manage other necessary duties.

> Round 1: Oct to early Nov
> Round 2: Mid Nov to early Dec
> Round 3: Jan to mid Feb
> Round 4: Mar to mid Apr

Step 2: Determine How Many Coaching Cycles You Can Handle in Each Round
The amount of cycles will vary based upon the duties that have been assigned to the coach. The upper limit for many coaches is four cycles during a round. If the coach is in two schools, than this would be two coaching cycles in each school. It is also possible that the coach will include more than one teacher in a cycle. In this case, the number of cycles a coach can handle may decrease. The following sample schedule includes four coaching cycles, a few that are individual, one that is a group, and one that is a pair of teachers.

Sample Schedule for Coaching Cycles (Sample Schedule Download)

MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday
8:00-
8:30
Coach Planning Time
9:00-
10:00
Cycle #3
Co-Teaching
Cycle #3
Co-Teaching
Grade 1 PLCCycle #1
Planning
(individual)
Cycle #4
Planning
(pair)
10:00-
11:00
Cycle #4
Co-Teaching
Cycle #1
Co-Teaching
Cycle #1
Co-Teaching
Cycle #2
Planning
(individual)
Cycle #1
Co-Teaching
11:00-
12:00
Meeting with
Principal
Cycle #3
Co-Teaching
Cycle #3
Co-Teaching
Cycle #3
Co-Teaching
Cycle #4
Co-Teaching
12:00-
1:00
Lunch / Office HoursPD at District
1:00-
2:00
Cycle #2
Co-Teaching
Cycle #4
Co-Teaching
Cycle #2
Co-Teaching
Grade K PLC
2:00-
3:00
Informal
Support
Grade 2 PLCCycle #3
Planning
(group)
Informal
Support
180/360
50%
240/360
66%
240/360
66%
180/360
50%
Total = 66% of coaching time is in cycles
(does not include planning, lunch, or district PD for coaches)

 

Step 3: Invite Teachers to Participate
A few weeks before a new round begins, an invitation goes out to teachers to encourage them to join in. Here’s an invitation that was created using S’more, an online newsletter. If a coach notices that certain teachers aren’t participating, a gentle nudge of encouragement may be delivered by the principal. It is also a good idea to ask teachers to provide testimonials about their own experiences. This may be just what a hesitant teacher needs to become involved.

Step 4: Dive into the Coaching Cycles
We recommend for coaches to create a brand-new schedule at the beginning of each round. This allows adjustments to be made as the school year progresses. Making the schedule public creates more definition around the role of the coach. If the coach’s schedule is vague, changes all the time, or consists of drive-by-coaching, than teachers will not know how (or why) they should engage.

In Closing
You have probably heard the management principle introduced by Steven Covey where he compares our priorities to ‘big rocks’ and suggests that we rocksorganize our time with the big rocks in mind. He writes, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” For a coach, this means we have to determine which actions will have the most potential to make the desired impact and fill our calendar with those big rocks before we allow ourselves to be made busy with trivial matters.

I hope this blog series has inspired you to design your coaching work in a way that points squarely at increased student and teacher learning. Please share your comments so we can continue the conversation.

Read Part 1      Read Part 2

© Diane Sweeney, All Rights Reserved.

9 thoughts on “Getting to 60% (3 of 3)”

  1. Your blog is very informative to me as a new instructional coach. What I took most out of the articles is that my purpose as a coach is defined by HOW I spend my time with my teachers. You have recommended that coaches spend at least 50% of our time in coaching cycles. Most of my time lately has been spent training new teachers in Direct Instruction at my school. My goal is to start the coaching cycle now and work towards the 50% goal.

  2. HI Francesca, I’m glad you enjoyed this series. I think that you could build interest by providing choice on the goal, time of year, and maybe even if they’d like to include someone else In the cycle. The principal might then set the expectation that everyone engages in some way during the year. I’ve seen this work very well…it seems to really depend on the leadership and the school culture. It also helps to do a whole lot of communication about your role and how you are there to partner and not fix teachers. Also helpful is to work with a variety of teachers (new, veteran, etc). This sends the message that you are there for everyone,

  3. Hello! I’ve also greatly enjoyed this series of entries on cycles. One question I have is about the amount of teacher choice to initiate the cycles. I am wondering if they would still be constructive and viewed positively if the teacher could choose: time of year, focus, partnership (including me). But whether or not to participate would not be a choice. This way of working together is very new for my school, teachers are very busy (like in every school) and overall, the level of literacy instruction (i’m a literacy coach) is med-high so if the cycle was up to teachers I can’t imagine them signing up. Do you have any advice? Thank you!

  4. Thank you Diane. This blog series has given me the push I needed to get my coaching cycles started. Thank you!

  5. Thank you, Diane! This is a great post and an important series. I’m constantly focused on making sure my calendar reflects my priorities. If I’m not mostly in the classroom then the rest of my work around teaching and learning is less connected to the reality of what’s really going on.

  6. I am really loving your blog. Its timely and vital to what I aspire. Im hearing echoes of things Ive done and thought about and guidance for what I did not quite have a handle on.
    Thank you for being there!

    Sandra

  7. As a new coach, this blog has given me a way to start planning on how to best serve the teachers at my school. I am looking forward to creating a long range plan, proposing it to my admin and then getting started!

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