For many instructional coaches, the month of May can feel stressful. But for once the stress may not be from having too much to do, it could be from having too little to do. While teachers are busy organizing projects, field trips, and end-of-the-year celebrations, coaches may wonder how to purposefully fill these last few weeks of the school year.
Four Ways to End the Year Strong
#1: Survey Teachers
Survey teachers to learn how coaching impacted them throughout the year. This is also a good time to collect data regarding who participated in coaching cycles or other forms of professional development. Keep in mind that when surveying teachers, it’s important to make a clear connection to student learning. Asking a question such as; ‘How did coaching impact your students,’ is a great way to remind teachers that student learning is why we’re here.
#2: Reflect with Teachers
In addition to a survey, reflective conversations are another way to get feedback from teachers. We’d hate to catch a teacher off guard so it’s best to provide a protocol to the teacher before the conversation takes place. This way they will have had the time to gather their thoughts beforehand and will be more reflective. See the sidebar for an example of a protocol for these types of conversations.
#3: Reflect with the Principal
It’s likely that your principal is running in a thousand directions at this time of year. There’s so much going on. Even so, now is the time to schedule time to discuss the vision for next year. The best time for this conversation is after you’ve had time to survey and reflect with teachers. This ensures that teachers’ voices will be a part of the plan for coaching. Topics of conversation for this meeting include; 1) levels of participation in coaching cycles, 2) expectations for participation next year, 3) how these expectations will be shared with teachers, 4) how coaching will align with next year’s SIP and PD Plan, and 5) how coaching will be promoted throughout the school. Working through these topics will guide the principal and coach towards a great plan.
#4: Continue to Build Relationships throughout the School
We often encourage coaches to avoid busywork that doesn’t align with student learning. But let’s be honest, as we get further into May, this becomes more challenging. If a coach can pull off a few coaching cycles in May that’s fantastic. In reality, many teachers have no interest in coaching cycles at this time of year. Coaches can use this time to help out teachers through these crazy few weeks. Maybe that means passing out popsicles during field day, proctoring finals, or taking care of all of the materials that need to be checked back in at the end of the year. Stepping up in this way not only builds relationships, it reminds teachers that you are there to make the school a better place.
Let’s face it, most educators are worn pretty thin by the end of the school year. While we don’t want to put undue burdens upon them, we do want to learn from them so that we can continue to improve the coaching program. Soon enough we’ll all be at the pool, but for now, let’s maximize the month of May.
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