Coaching Involves Challenges

I organized my post-observation meeting around a short list of open-ended questions taken from the Cognitive Coaching method (I found the first couple of questions in the Coaching Initiative Packet shared by the Minnesota Low Incidence Projects) which I supplemented with long-range questions stemming from this forum:
  1. What were some of the things that you felt went well?
  2. What did you find most difficult about teaching this lesson?
  3. What are some skills you would like reinforce in your students?
  4. What is next for you? What would you like to try?
These allowed me to establish a progression similar to the GROW model which Jocelyn described. We were able to start our meeting by recognizing Lulu’s strengths before looking at improvements to be made and future initiatives to be taken.


Lulu felt that the sharing portion of the sandboxing activity went very well. Except for a couple of students, they all learned from each other and demonstrated helpfulness and respect which are important values in her class. Hana is an ELL student with little proficiency on the computer (she is new to KAS). Sharing proved to be a real challenge for her.

We eventually did a redo on how to change passwords (this was a disaster previously if you can recall my post from Week 3) and a clear set of instructions projected on the screen combined with a timed goal of 3 minutes made this activity more engaging for the students. I have noticed during my observations that Lulu is extremely punctual and uses a timer for many aspects of her instruction. This is definitely a simple yet strong part of her toolkit which I want to publicize at our school.

Opportunities in the Classroom

As a coach, I realize the unique opportunity I have to observe teachers’ best practices and share them back with the rest of the faculty. We were extremely lucky to have Diana visit KAS on her way to Learning 2 (thank you again for making the time!) and during a very rich conversation, she too emphasized the power of sharing exemplars within the community. This is an initiative Tom and I will continue to pursue beyond the tip of the hat section of our weekly newsletter, Tekiota.

Amongst the obstacles to overcome, Lulu noticed that the students were surprisingly hesitant at first to navigate Google Slides without any guidance. We wondered if perhaps we used the wrong terminology in our instructions such as asking the students to “play” with Google Slides instead of “exploring” and “discovering”. I am also curious if developing grit in her classroom could also enhance the results of this activity. However, giving a goal of 3 discoveries for each student provided a clear boost in engagement.

Sandboxing worked really well and Lulu is looking forward to do this activity in her classroom again. We also did a mini-slam at the end where each student team had 2 minutes to present one of the favorite things they learned. What was more difficult to assess is how much the kids learned from one another or from the slam. Two improvements we agreed upon were allocating time after these activities for students to process the skills they were exposed to, and a collaborative document (perhaps a Padlet) to gather all these skills.


In The Changing Role of Instructors article, Ruth Raynard writes that

“The foundational concepts of instructors guiding students or coaching their progress are based on the idea that the instructor is no longer at the center of the interaction and application of knowledge”.

I personally found that the sandboxing model fully supports this methodology by empowering students to find solutions on their own. This can be described as multi-layered coaching adding more dimensions to Raynard’s observation: from coach to teacher, from teacher to students, and between students themselves.

Under the list of skills to reinforce in her students, Lulu would like to develop a better communication strategy between her ELL and non-ELL students so the latter can assist the former. I found it very interesting that a technology based lesson plan allowed her to identify issues beyond technology skills. Using technology shone a light on other aspects of Lulu’s instructions.

What’s next for Lulu? She has already started her students on another project involving Google Slides. Her students are working on a biography and its flow fits very well with the sequential nature of a presentation. Last year this is something she did with Prezi but the result was a little too chaotic. She is also curious to try Thinglink.

Lulu shared her frustration with me at the beginning of the year. She felt that the way she had integrated technology in her assignments left something to be desired. Our meeting gave me the chance to review the SAMR model with her and determine how to generate meaningful assignments compatible with the revised Bloom’s taxonomy. She is now on a path to integrate technology into other subjects like Math. Lulu is ready to revisit and deepen tech integration so we agreed to the following steps:
  1. Continue to meet weekly for short, standing only meetings.
  2. Share instructions for her technology enriched activities so I can provide feedback.
  3. Share the products of her students with me, one exemplar and one failing piece of work.
  4. Plan a co-teaching lesson plan with Tom in order to tap into the potential of Minecraft.
This post belongs to a series of posts I originally published for my course on Eduro, Coaching: from Theory to Practice taught by Kim Cofino.
ASSIGNMENT - In collaboration with a teaching partner, have a post-observation coaching conversation. Focus your thoughtful reflection of your experience. 


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