Off to a Good Start

I came back from Winter Break with a clean slate and a blank schedule.  I am ready to begin my third round of coaching cycles.  I had an initial coaching meeting with a self-contained special education teacher this morning. Our meeting had two objectives.  First, I wanted to get to know this teacher a bit, break the ice.  Second, we needed to talk through some logistics.

Part 1 – Getting to Know You

This is my first time using a ‘getting to know you’ portion in my initial coaching meetings.  I asked the teacher, “What would you like for me to know about you as a teacher and a learner?”  She told me she is laid back and easy-going.  Her kids do most of their work in class with little homework assigned.  She has been reading them short stories aloud in preparation for our unit.

Then I asked her, “What concerns, if any, do you have about coaching?”  She confided that she is always second-guessing herself and is concerned whether or not she is “doing it right.”  This was a perfect transition into the norms I recently developed for our coaching relationship.  We discussed:

  • honesty – We agreed to be honest with each other about our opinions and feelings.
  • confidentiality – We agreed not to discuss the particulars of our coaching cycle with other teachers or administrators.  Any concerns will be brought to each other first.
  • humility – Neither one of us is a perfect teacher, and we do not expect perfect lessons from one another.
  • responsibility – We will be on time and prepared for meetings and lessons.

Part 2 – Scheduling and Logistics

Finally, we discussed our schedule for next week.  We plan on immersing the kids in short stories and charting our noticings all week.  I will teach on Tuesday and Wednesday, and she will teach on Thursday and Friday.  She is going to collect a baseline writing sample this week, and we will use the checklist which accompanies our writing unit to pre-assess the students’ writing.  We are meeting Tuesday morning to discuss this baseline piece of writing.

Here is a link to the document I used to record our meeting notes:



Participation in Coaching Cycles

I recently received the following comment:

Thank you! I visited your blog and have started following you as I found your coaching entries interesting! We are trying to figure out what our coaching model will look like and after listening to Jim Knight last week, your post makes a lot of sense. How does your district, or department, decide who will be in your coaching cycle? We are attempting to solidify our own priority pool and would love to hear how others are making it work! Thank you!

The short answer is coaching cycles are voluntary and offered on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Here is a longer answer:

Early in the year at a staff meeting, I always re-introduce the concept of coaching.  I briefly discuss the purpose of a coach and how coaching typically looks in the classroom.  Our school has had a literacy coach in the building for at least eight years, so coaching is not a new concept to most of our staff.  After a brief review, I offer each literacy teacher a sign-up slip.  They must complete the slip right there at the staff meeting, either volunteering for a coaching cycle or respectfully declining at this time.  I ask them to make their choice and hand me the sheet on their way out the door.  This adds a small amount of pressure and insures 100% completion.  This year, the slip looked like this:

Coaching Cycle Sign-Up Slip

Coaching Cycle Sign-Up Slip

This usually provides me with at least enough participants to begin a first round of coaching cycles.  Since coaching is offered first come, first serve, I save the “yes” slips which don’t get chosen.  These will eventually become my second (or third) round participants.

In the past, I have left flyers in staff mailboxes when I know I’m coming up to another round of cycles:

Top Ten


I also keep an ongoing list on my Google Drive of every coaching opportunity that arises during the year.  At a staff meeting, during a study group, or even in the copy room…if a teacher approaches me with a question or a comment about anything literacy related, I add it to my list.  If I am ever looking for coaching opportunities, I will use this list as a conversation-starter and to get my foot in the door.

Although I am always encouraging participation, sign-up itself is completely voluntary.


Will Coach for Food



Is it just me… or does signing people up for new coaching cycles sometimes feel like begging?

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