Yes, I know. It’s November… And this is a post I started in July… But life…
Here are some thoughts that I had while attending a session on Coaching 4 Coaches with Michelle Kindt at iFLT 2019 in St. Petersburg Flordia.
Looking back I picked this session because I am starting to help train teachers and soon-to-be teachers. I thought it might be what I need. IT WAS EXACTLY WHAT I NEEDED!!!
THANK YOU, MICHELLE KINDT!!!!
*** I hope this post will encourage you to participate in coaching at your next conference and/or receive training to become a coach.
Coaching Sessions – What is it? It is NOT a regular observation. That is something different.
If you have been to iFLT or another conference where they offer coaching, you may already know the set-up. If not, here is how it works…
TEACHER – One person, who is usually wanting to try out a new technique or skill, volunteers to teach for 2-5 minutes.
COACH – This is a trained coach who will help the teacher and lead the discussion after the teaching demo. This is the teacher’s best friend. They will make sure you have everything you need. They will encourage you and set everything up for a positive experience, before, during and after.
“STUDENTS” – These are other teachers or observers who serve as pretend “students” for the teacher teaching. They are to be star students. The objective is not classroom management so no pretending to not pay attention or answering wrong on purpose.
OBSERVERS – This is anyone else wanting to observe. They are silent during teaching time. Within this group will be 1 person to watch the time for the teacher and let them know when their designated/pre-determined time is over. And another person records the comments during the debrief for the teacher to review after the session is done.
Now that everyone knows their job, what happens next?
Set-Up – The coach will ask the teacher what they want to teach and what type of “students” are they teaching. (age, proficiency level, which language they will be teaching) The coach will address the students and observers. The coach will explain what to do and what to look for. The teacher volunteer decides where the coach stands during the demo.
Teaching Demo – The teacher volunteer will teach for 2-5 minutes. Students respond as needed. Observers are silent. Coach only steps in if needed. The timer lets the teacher know when their time is done.
Debrief – The teacher sits down. The coach leads the discussion starting with the teacher. Then “students” get a chance to speak. After the students are done then the observers can talk. Finally, the coach may add more. The Teacher, the “Students,” Observers and the Coach are answering TWO questions and TWO questions ONLY.
What did the teacher do to make it comprehensible?
What did the teacher connect with the students?
Then you start all over with a new teacher volunteer.
TIPS for Coaches
- COACHING SESSIONS focus on the CI strategies NOT the teacher having perfect Spanish (or French, Chinese etc…)!! As a non-native speaker, this puts me at ease. In a high-stress situation, I might not have PERFECT Spanish. I am going to be intimidated if I am being observed by native-speakers. BUT… that is NOT the focus of coaching. Keep it about the strategies NOT the language.
- FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE – You may have noticed that the questions that everyone is responding to are COMPLETELY, 100% POSITIVE. They highlight what the teacher is doing well. They highlight the skills present. So why only positive…?
The teacher who volunteered can tell you 18 things off the top of their head they would do differently or better. They honestly don’t need that kind of feedback. I promise you. IT WORKS!!! (I have seen it!) You may be sitting there as a coach, “student” or observer thinking that the teacher is doing it ALL WRONG, but here is the catch…
The OBSERVERS are learning MORE than the teacher who is teaching!!! The OBSERVERS are the ones LEARNING!! 🤯
What do I mean?
Well, when you are teaching, (in front of a bunch of teachers) with a coach, you barely remember your name. You can’t learn tons because you are in survival mode. Or like I said before you already know lots of things you did wrong.
(I am not saying that volunteering to teach in those situations is not beneficial. It totally is!! But the teacher teaching is not the only one learning.)
Let’s be honest. When you are observing someone teaching, you have one of two thoughts.
I like that. Could I do that in my classroom?
Oh, that is not working. They should really…
Both are helpful for you, the observer. Both are a learning experience for you, the observer.
Only ONE of those thoughts is worth sharing in a group setting where a teacher is put on the spot and is feeling extremely vulnerable. (** Hint – It is the first one, the POSITIVE one.)
- Support any interest the teacher volunteer is showing. Maybe they are new to CI or aren’t completely sold on CI. This is NOT the time for a mini-Krashen workshop. Use whatever enthusiasm they have as a gateway to the experience. Then when they observe others they will start to pick up on other techniques/strategies.
- Honor who they are and what they teach (make the teacher feel comfortable)
- Let them be who they are. Do it their own way. Keep trying to find their way. (The analogy of the BANANA – North America opens from the stem down while the rest fo the world holds the stem and opens from the other end. How do you peel a banana? Does it matter how the banana was peeled if everyone gets to eat?)
- Trust the process to speak for itself. For example, Michelle mentioned how she started out doing TPRS once a week. Then her CI journey continued to grow. And we can expect that of beginners. Don’t require “All or Nothing” thinking.
I hope this has encouraged you to participate in a coaching session at your next conference, and/or seek out training. You may not feel like a CI strategy expert but even if you are 5 years into CI, you have something to share. It is our responsibility to learn from those who are ahead of us on the journey but don’t forget those behind you who are looking at you to help them on their journey.
Want to hear more of my experiences at iFLT 2019?