Over the past two years I have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to work alongside so many wonderful educators in District 302! Coaching enabled me to get into the classroom and assist teachers in taking risks, trying new things, attempting personalization, and allowing teachers to get the most out of their students. Coaching also enabled me to get to know individuals on both a personal and professional level and to build relationships that I never had experienced before.
I have already noticed an impact that coaching has in the classroom. Many are still reluctant, which is understandable, but I feel that everyone should just give it a try and then make your judgment. Earlier this year I wrote a blog entry about the idea that everyone needs a coach at some time in their career. I referenced how even Michael Jordan needed one, allowing him to reach the highest level of achievement. I still believe this statement is true and that yes, we have so many excellent teachers in Kaneland, but there is always a chance to become better.
As I head back into the classroom next year, I can look back at the experience I received as an Instructional Coach. I can also look at all the possibilities that have been opened up for me. I had the opportunity to witness excellence in over 70 classrooms throughout our district! Through my daily learning walks, the many conversations with teachers, and the cycles that I was involved in, I have learned so much about education as a whole. The things that I have learned will only better my own production in the classroom.
Just recently I was asked if I would ever make a request to use an Instructional Coach once I get back in the classroom? That is a most definite YES! Why wouldn’t I? It’s another set of eyes in the classroom, someone I can bounce ideas off of, someone that can help me research and get answers, a person that can guide me along the way, someone I can co-teach with, and someone that I can count on to get the most out of my students. And most importantly, someone that I can reflect with. There’s actually a running joke within the Instructional Coaches team that so- and-so is going to set the record for the number of cycles. I intend to be THAT someone!
So how is this coaching going to help me in the classroom? Well, now I can become a better coach to my students. By using the same techniques that were used with teachers, I can now use them with students. The key is listening- listen to what they need, what they want, and what they expect to become successful. Guiding them along in their decision making instead of making the decisions for them. Having conversations with them to allow them to become better students. There really isn’t much difference in coaching students and coaching teachers- the end result is generally the same. And, more importantly, the experience should make me a better teammate.
As I head back into the classroom I will be saying goodbye to a great team of coaches, not only at the elementary level, but throughout Kaneland. But now it is time to take the experience that I received and share the information with my new team. As I look forward to next year I realize that I will be joining yet another excellent team and moving into a new environment. My goal is to bring the knowledge that I have received over the last two years to the classroom and to my newest teammates. I can’t wait!