Can I say something a little controversial? Just to be safe, lean in close because I am going to whisper ... I am not opposed to worksheets . Eek! I said it! I’ll wait by my door for the angry mob with pitchforks to arrive. Oh good, no one is here yet. So until then, let’s chat. In case you haven’t heard, worksheets have gotten a bad reputation and have been labeled by some as a poor resource for student learning. While I get where that argument comes from, I don’t think they are this shameful practice that no longer has a place in the classroom. Since we are being real, I’ll go one step further and admit that when I hear someone flat-out oppose all worksheets, I can’t help but wonder how far removed they are from the classroom. Do you know what I mean? Now, let me be clear before going on. When I say worksheets, I am NOT talking about those silly word searches or the other time-filling, busywork nonsense that I remember doing piles of as a kid. With the high expectations...
"So what exactly do you do?" I get this question a lot from people both in and outside of education. "Instructional Coach" just sounds broad and foreign and nearly always needs further explanation. I struggled for awhile with how to explain what I do. Some of my early responses included: "I support teachers" (again, too broad),  or  "I help teachers with things like integrating technology into their lessons" (too narrow) "I am a teacher of teachers" (not quite accurate), or  I would just absorb the blank stare and change the subject.  It's not that I wasn't doing important work or that I was unclear on my role. The problem was that I could not articulate my work simply and effectively, and that felt embarrassing. Then, just over a year into the position of instructional coach someone asked me that  dreaded question about what I do. In a magical moment, these words came spilling out of my mouth: "I provide ...
I met someone at a conference who recently reached out to me because she got hired as a Math Coach for her district. She asked for some advice on how to get started in her first year. I thought others might be interested as well ... 1. Develop a Shared Vision with your Administrator Get administrators on board with the understanding that research does not support deficit-model coaching and that working with you should be mostly voluntary for teachers. Principals should not expect that you will go in and "fix" teachers. That is not an effective plan and will keep teachers from wanting to work with you. Along this same vein, I would recommend that the coach and the principal develop a Contract of Understanding to address Communication (set meeting dates/times), Expectations , Time & Resources , Confidentiality , and Feedback (between principal, coach, and teachers). 2. Build Relationships with Teachers Every teacher has a story, and it's your jo...