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Dear New Teacher: Listen to Your Coach

The advice is all about making your life in the classroom better, and most likely easier. Trust us, we know a few things.

At the beginning of the year, my focus is always on making sure my teachers are off to a good start. I spend a lot of time in classrooms, observing, and giving feedback. I realize as educators new to the classroom, you often don’t know what you don’t know. And that’s ok. That’s why I’m here. And in terms of coaching, at this point, it’s often best just to give direct suggestions that will save time and sanity. But those suggestions are not always welcomed.

I can still remember watching as a new teacher spent 10-15 minutes moving students around the room because they just couldn’t stop talking to each other. It ate up a huge chunk of the class time, and instead of working with individual students or giving feedback, the teacher was putting out fires – preventable fires. After the observation, we met and I strongly recommended creating a seating chart to prevent that situation from happening again. He declined. I explained to him the positive outcomes that could occur from investing the time to create a seating chart (better behavior, less wasted time, etc), but he was adamant he didn’t want to do that. Not surprisingly, the off-task talking, etc. in his class did not improve. He wanted to be the cool teacher. What I should have told him is that you can be cool and still control your class.

Be open to the advice your coach gives you. It’s about speeding up excellence and making your experience that much better and rewarding.

Now that I am more seasoned at what I do I would have explained how he was being unintentionally inviting – unaware and inconsistent in his approach to classroom management. Of course, I would have added that he could have been just as inviting while also being intentional, purposeful, and consistent. The fact is, though, the teacher continued to not be open to coaching, which is a shame because he is full of potential! A few small changes would make a huge difference!

But change does happen – sometimes very quickly. I had recommended to one teacher to make sure the directions are written where the students can clearly see them. He had been repeatedly having to explain directions to each student because they weren’t posted. He made the change, and just like that, he’s no longer having to take the valuable class time to repeat himself 30 different times.

I’ve also gotten to witness another teacher rapidly mature into a well-organized, structured teacher who is finally conveying her great ideas to her class. She’s been working with a campus coach, and I recently observed her. I was blown away. She’s slowed down her speech, improved her wait time, and implemented structure into what was once an unstructured, fast-talking bounce around class. I am so proud of her and her coach because it illustrates the power of coaching.

So new teacher, be open to the advice your coach gives you. It’s about speeding up excellence and making your experience that much better and rewarding. Embrace the feedback and try out the recommendations. You might just find it makes your life a lot easier.

Happy learning!

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