Written by Mariam Naraine, Senior Educational Consultant
Every school in every state, city, and district has their own unique strengths and weaknesses. These facts inform every school leadership team on how they determine the instructional focus they should concentrate on for the school year. Custom coaching helps support the leadership vision for their school by focusing on individual teacher’s professional growth, department development such as lesson plan and student work review protocols, or curriculum development.
The secret sauce that makes custom coaching effective and impactful is the instructional coach who interacts and partners with teachers on a regular basis. The role of a coach is critical in helping teachers successfully navigate through the school year. This ranges from providing curriculum support, real time in-class support, to individual’s wellbeing support.
The customized work that a coach delivers could look very differently from school to school. One day, a coach may be working with a teacher on developing an activity that will increase discourse in the classroom. On another day, a coach may be co-teaching or modeling for a teacher how to introduce a new approach. And then on a different day, a coach may be in the middle of facilitating a series of workshops on strategies to help develop students’ academic mindset. The ultimate goal is to solve the challenges faced by teachers and school leaders, increase teacher effectiveness, and make sure that students reach their full potential.
The pandemic and the return to in-person classes has added an additional layer of complexity to the professional development needs teachers have. In addition to receiving support on the instructional focus of a school, it has become critical that teachers are offered intentional guidance around understanding and addressing students’ social emotional learning (SEL) needs while closing the learning gap resulting from the pandemic. Now more than ever, schools benefit tremendously from a dedicated coach who can partner with their teachers to:
- Navigate through issues related to social emotional development and identify where the learning gaps are
- Plan accordingly and deliver rigorous, content-rich lessons that drive student engagement so as to close the learning gap and create a sense of belonging
- Understand how they can give feedback that will inspire and move students’ thinking without shutting down their thoughts
- Engage students in activities that promote positive interactions and discussions
- Help students see value in their work
- Implement innovative forms of assessments that meet the needs of students with different learning styles as opposed to traditional exams
As a result, students will leave the school building at the end of the day feeling that they belong in the learning community the school has created. And that’s the best reward any school leader, teacher or coach can ever ask for.