“I wonder what the teachers will be like? Will they realize I am here to help them, not critique them? Will they like me? How can I earn their trust and build a relationship during these five visits?” All of these thoughts are running through my head before I go into any classroom to provide classroom management coaching. It can be challenging to be a classroom management coach, but not as challenging as it can be to be a teacher without any help. I try to keep that in mind as I make my way to the classroom. I put those thoughts into the back of my head and get to work.
During my first visit, I generally meet with the principal and get a perspective of the issues involved with the teachers or grade level needing help. Before this, I try my hardest to meet with the teachers first. Teachers are under so much pressure that it’s only natural they’ll feel some discomfort about someone from the outside coming in to observe their classroom and “make a judgement.” I like to meet with them before observing in the classroom so I can reassure them I’m not here to evaluate, but just to help them and make their job a bit easier. After all, like I tell the teachers I work with, I’ve been in this exact same position before.
After these initial greetings, I’ll spend time observing the classroom. I take data, lots of data. I use the “STOIC Observation” guidelines from Safe & Civil Schools) which look like this:
I pay attention to how the class is organized, both physically and academically. I look at the things the teacher’s already doing to set their students up for success.
I observe whether or not behavioral expectations are defined or not. Often it can be tricky to define explicitly our expectations for our students, but many teachers have already found ways to plan or schedule this in.
I observe the students themselves. I look at their behavior, how they’re working together, what their reactions are to the lessons. There’s a wealth of data that’s easier to see as an outside observer than a teacher who has to worry about teaching the material.
How is the teacher interacting with their students? I make sure to note all the ways the teacher is positively interacting with students. Positive interactions are the key to building positive and well-managed relationships.
Teachers have a wide range of ways of correcting and enforcing the expectations of their students. I note the ways the teacher is already enforcing their expectations positively.
After the observations, I take time to debrief with the teacher. Together, we look at the data, discuss the strengths, and look at the next steps to improve classroom behavior. During this time I emphasize what good strategies the teacher is using and give them the encouragement that improvement can happen. This is a fantastic time for teachers to share their frustrations and feelings with me. Often teachers are keenly aware of their classroom struggles, and their capable of giving important background information about the students.
Usually, what I found out is, there are just a few students who need more or different behavioral support than the rest of the class. After meeting with the teacher, I share my findings with the principal and schedule my next visit to come back and follow up on the cycle of assess, evaluate, plan, and implement.
On the drive home, I think “Boy, those teachers have a big job. They really want the best for their students, they enjoy teaching, but they just need a few ‘tools’ for the class or student to create a better learning environment.” I think about the next steps, what I can offer the teacher on the next visit, and how I’ll help and guide them through the classroom management process. Then I think about how much I enjoy working with these teachers.
The Coaching Classroom Management support at Region 13 offers 5 visits, working with up to 8 teachers for $2000. For more information, contact Linda Kutach at email@example.com or 512-919-5487.