When I first began to incorporate coaching into the classroom, I tried to use as many of the coaching strategies as possible. But because true coaching is about meeting the needs of our students, I realized that I would have to wear different hats at different times to help my students’ progress. Coaching wasn’t the only role. I had to admit that I was also a consultant, a collaborator, and an evaluator; and with each role, my behavior changed.
Coaching is the ability to move an individual, cooperative group, or a class, forward. As an instructional coach, I wanted to help my kids become more self-directed. I wanted them to monitor themselves and manage their tasks expediently and efficiently. Respecting the reflection process, I allowed time for self-assessment, whether a debate, discussion, or project. My role was to pose questions and have them analyze things at a higher level for deeper understanding.
But there are times I had to take on the role of being a consultant. I had to establish a baseline of information in the curriculum. I gave myself a maximum of 10-15 minutes at the beginning of a class period when necessary. I may have needed to establish policies and procedures to help my students locate where they could access information, or to offer them choices of things they may not have been aware of. So my behavior became a lecturer (which is so hard to admit, but of course minimally!).
Sometimes, I collaborated with my students. I loved it when a student asked a question that I knew nothing about. Collectively, we formed ideas, made inquiries and learned together. One time, I tested a new strategy and wanted my students’ opinion afterwards. Well, the strategy was a loser. When I expressed my disappointment, you can’t imagine the plethora of student suggested ideas. My behavior represented being at the same level of the students, a learner. It was a highlight of my career as we all had shared ownership of a modified lesson.
Lastly, whether I liked it or not, I often had to be an evaluator and use criteria established by outside agencies. We live in the real world and we have to conform to a set of standards set by our locality, our state, and our nation. Whether we use rubrics, quizzes, tests, or mandated exams, my behavior shifted as judge and to rate the performance of my students.
So, how can we best define our roles to our students? First comes the acknowledgement that our language and behavior changes with each role. Of course, you can literally wear a different hat for each role! (J). Or, you can tell the class up front your role so they know what is expected of you and of them. You may decide to display a card at your desk…. The options are limitless….. But most importantly, know that your job as a teacher is to move gracefully between the different roles.
Andi Stix is an educational consultant & coach who specializes in differentiation, interactive learning, writing across the curriculum, classroom coaching and gifted education. For further information on her specialties or social media, please email her on the Contact page.
Click here to receive a PDF version of this article.