Coaches and mentors need to introduce beginning teachers to coaching where the teacher is directing the process. This differs from supervisory conferences that they experienced in the past. Listen as Steve models a pre-conference with a beginning teacher.
Subscribe to the Steve Barkley Ponders Out Loud podcast on iTunes or visit BarkleyPD.com to find new episodes!
Announcer : 00:00 Steve Barkley Ponders Out Loud is brought to you by Academy for Educators. Online, professional development for teachers and leaders. Online courses, modules, and micro-credential programs for teachers to enhance their skillsets. Now featuring the instructional coaching micro-credential including five online modules framed around the work of Steve Barkley. Learn, grow, inspire. Academyforeducators.org.
Steve [Intro]: 00:25 Hello and welcome to the Steve Barkley Ponders Out Loud podcast. For over three decades, I’ve had the opportunity to learn with educators at all levels, both nationally and internationally. I invite you to listen as I explore my thoughts and learning on a variety of topics connected to teaching, learning, and leading with some of the best and brightest educators from around the globe. Thanks for listening in.
New Speaker: 00:53 A coaching preconference with a beginning teacher. During a workshop for mentors and mentees, I recently had the opportunity to model a pre-conference with a beginning teacher. When training conferencing skills, I focused on identifying the teacher’s agenda.
Steve: 01:16 What I mean by that is the thinking, the beliefs and the values that are behind a teacher’s decision-making. This understanding is built in depth across time and experiences with the teacher. The other element that I identify as being critical in a preconference is arriving at a focus for the coach’s observation and post-conference feedback. The teacher being coached or mentored should be focusing the process. Otherwise the process is more of a supervisory activity. Many new teachers have only experienced observations and feedback that were of a supervisory nature. So mentors frequently need to emphasize in their actions and words, how the teacher is in charge of the process. As you listen to the following pre-conference, note the new teacher’s tendency to want to respond with what was the right answer or what she thought I wanted. Near the end, she steps in and provides a focus that she puts in place. That opens the door to begin a coaching process and the coaching relationship that is teacher driven. Listen for agenda and focus as the conference proceeds.
Teacher : 03:03 So I went to school for four years and got my bachelor in science education. And it’s my first year teaching in third grade.
Steve: 03:17 And what what kind of of experiences did they give you in your teacher training program?
Teacher : 03:25 Yeah, so I had lots of observations and I had a student teaching experience for a whole semester, which was amazing. I learned so much as a teacher and it helped me grow my classroom that I have right now.
Steve: 03:45 And what what area did you student teach in?
Teacher : 03:49 I taught in first grade.
Steve: 03:58 What would you say is one of the biggest surprises you had during student teaching? I’m assuming you went into that role with expectations about what you were entering into and what you were finding. What surprised you?
Teacher : 04:16 What surprised me the most is how much you get to know the kiddos, whether it’s in school or outside of school. So just like building those relationships and building them to a certain line is what surprised me. All positive relationships.
Steve: 04:36 And so does that positive relationship say something about your your your goals in classroom environment and classroom management?
Teacher : 04:50 Yes. As a teacher, that’s my number one goal before I teach anything, I want to make sure I have those positive relationships with each one of my students.
Steve: 05:01 And can you tell me something that you’ve done this year that that you felt good about the way that it generated that for you?
Teacher : 05:15 Yeah, so we did a friend scavenger hunt. So you’ve got to go around and ask different friends what they did this summer, or if they saw a movie or what their favorite color was, what was their favorite part of their summer if they went to vacation. And it really opened up the doors to just learning what their interests were. So then I can take those interests as a teacher and apply those to my classroom to keep them engaged.
Steve: 05:44 And how would you describe your general instructional style?
Teacher : 05:54 Structured? I don’t know. Structured and just simple. It’s just direct and simple.
Steve: 06:06 Can you fill me in a little bit more on the simple part?
Teacher : 06:10 Just making sure that my students know my expectations and procedures and keeping them simple and kid friendly.
Steve: 06:22 So, thinking about where you’ve come so far this year with kids, what picture do you have in your mind of what you would like May to look like? So what would the movement, you know, if I observed in your classroom now and I came back and observed in May, what are you thinking I’d see different in May that’d be something you’d want to be making happen?
Teacher : 07:00 I would want you to see that my students really know the expectations and procedures as we’re still practicing them today, being like the second week of school. So by May, they should be like experts and they should be able to teach anybody that walks in my classroom what it looks like.
Steve: 07:19 And when they hit that spot, what does it look like or sound like differently because the kids are at that spot?
Teacher : 07:30 Can you say that one more time?
Steve: 07:32 Yeah, in other words, how does your classroom function then, at that point where the kids have internalized that, how does the functioning of your classroom differ from now?
Teacher : 07:46 My transitions would be a lot smoother and quicker than they were at the beginning of the year.
Steve: 07:56 Anything else?
Teacher : 07:57 The flow would be a lot smoother.
Steve: 08:02 I’m wondering about – what’s the word I wanna use? Student agency or student independence. Do either of those things change with the kids internalizing your structures?
Teacher : 08:29 Does their student independence change by those structures?
Steve: 08:35 Yeah.
Teacher : 08:35 Yeah, they would become more independent and know exactly what to be doing at certain points of the day. And I wouldn’t probably have to give them so many reminders of what they need when it comes to math, you know. Instead of saying they need their math notebook out and a pencil, they already know when it comes to math that they need that math notebook.
Steve: 08:56 So I’ve got a chance to do some observing in your classroom and I described that when I’m observing, I can be like a like a video camera, so I can capture everything. But what I want to do is give you control of the zoom lens on the video camera. So you got a thought as to when you’d be interested in having an observation in your classroom and and where you might like that camera to focus on?
Teacher : 09:38 So like, when would you like to come observe me? Is that your question?
Steve: 09:43 No, the question is when would you like me to observe in your classroom that I can do some observation and give you feedback that would be helpful and meaningful to you?
Teacher : 10:01 Probably during the morning at some point. Like in a month would be good.
Steve: 10:11 And when I came, what would you be wanting me to be paying attention to?
Teacher : 10:18 I would want you to be paying attention to maybe the students I don’t catch right away. Like if we’re doing a lesson and maybe I’m more focused on one student for just a moment, what are my other students doing as I’m focusing on that one student.
Steve: 10:36 Okay. So do you see that as a whole group activity, or do you see it as that there’s different things going on in your classroom at that time?
Teacher : 10:52 As like a whole group activity.
Steve: 10:54 Okay. So –
Teacher : 10:59 So maybe if I had to intervene with someone and do like a 32nd intervention, what are my students doing when I’m giving my
student that 32nd intervention?
Steve: 11:15 Okay. So, I’m paying attention to the whole class. Do you think there’s, there’s you think there’s individuals you might want me to be paying a special attention to or do you think best if I just pay my attention across the whole class?
Teacher : 11:34 I would give you a certain individuals to pay attention to.
Steve: 11:37 Okay. So here’s what I’m thinking we could do then is we’d create a a little map of your of your classroom as to where students are located at that time. And I’d observe for a for a chunk of time and I would note, as much as I could pick up on the whole class, but I particularly note the students that you had asked me to pay attention to. And a 20 minute activity you think might be good? For 20 minutes?
Teacher : 12:21 Yeah.
Steve: 12:21 Okay. And what I’ll do then is, I’ll use two different color markers. So the first 10 minutes I’ll do in one color and I’ll do the
next 10 minutes in another color. So then when you look at the at the data that I collected for you, you’d be able to identify whether it was earlier or later in the timeframe that that occurred.
Teacher : 12:49 That would be helpful.
Steve: 12:49 I’m looking forward to doing it. Thank you.
Steve: 12:53 Listening is key to being able to use the teachers’ responses to build the next questions. That’s why I take notes during my pre-conference in my post-conference. And in future conversations, I will connect back to the picture that the teacher is continually painting for me of the teaching and learning she wants to generate. Mentors and coaches build teachers’ reflections that generate teacher growth. Asking and listening are key to generating reflection. I encourage you to record a coaching or mentoring conference with the teacher and assess your questioning and your listening. Thanks for listening.
Steve [Outro]: 13:50 Thanks again for listening, you can subscribe to Steve Barkley Ponders Out Loud on iTunes and Podbean. And please remember to rate and review us on iTunes. I also want to hear what you’re pondering. You can find me on Twitter @stevebarkley or send me your questions and find my videos and blogs at barkleypd.com.