Coaching Cycles Needn’t Be Long Term

As graduates of the Apple Learning Coach program (if you haven’t taken this course, do yourself a favor and carve out time to do so), my cohort, Jason Kathman, and I love the idea of coaching cycles with our teachers.  Our role as tech integration specialists allows us the ability to walk teachers through the process in order to improve the education of our students here in Jamestown, NY.  However, we were under the impression that coaching cycles (inquire, plan, act and reflect) needed to be a much more involved process than what we recently have discovered.

In working with APL’s Jim Harmon, Josh Mika, and Christine Klynen, we discovered that an effective coaching cycle can be as quick as just a few days.  In fact, Christine demonstrated to us that some of the best coaching cycles happen when you are under planned and open to really watching and responding to what is happening in a classroom.

The process we used was to establish a schedule for teachers to sit down with us.  Josh and Jim wanted a general idea of what the teachers planned on covering so that they could have a rough idea of what ideas, concepts, and tools to bring to the table.  Christine did the same but stated that she actually enjoys coming in cold and allowing the process to occur naturally through a thoughtful planning session.  

During the planning phase, we sat down with each teacher for about 30 minutes to schedule a class time for the following day, and arrive at a plan.   This plan took the content that the teacher was going to cover and inserted an engaging tactic or tool.  Apple tools that found a home in these lessons were  Clips, Keynote, Numbers, and GarageBand, among others.

The teaching session witnessed teachers, APL leaders, and Jason and I all contributing ideas to student creations, but it was the students who really drove the lessons.  Most often, kids actively worked on engaging ways to prove mastery of the content with the adults serving as shoulder-to-shoulder support.

The final day brought meaningful reflections from all of the teachers that we worked with.  Thoughts ranged from the idea that teachers were surprised at how easily students learned the tools to how engaged students were when given the keys to drive the lesson.  Perhaps the most powerful self-reflection I heard more than once was that teachers do not trust students enough to take the lead in the classroom and let the learning occur with them in a supporting, rather than starring, role.

If you were like us and thought that coaching cycles have to be long, drawn-out processes, please don’t.  Jason and I learned from our interactions with Jim, Josh, and Christine that as long as you establish trust with teachers and support them during the teaching sessions, the experiences (and reflections) will be overwhelmingly positive, opening the door for more cycles in the future.

Coaching Reflection Video - Jamestown Public Schools Coaching Cycle (Volume 1)

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All Comments

Posted on January 04, 2023

Really helpful video with teachers explaining their experience. Thanks!

Loved this from your story:

“…but it was the students who really drove the lessons. Most often, kids actively worked on engaging ways to prove mastery of the content with the adults serving as shoulder-to-shoulder support.”

Such an important point.

Posted on January 07, 2023

Agree with Cheryl! Thanks for sharing this powerful story about implementing coaching cycles in your district and how it empowered students to take the lead.

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