Posted by: Michel Baker | July 19, 2015

Gentle Coaching

The 2015 NTPRS Conference gets underway tomorrow morning in Washington, D.C.  Today, I also attended the Coaching for Coaches Workshop, led by Teri Wiechert.  My small group facilitator was Laurie Clarcq of http://www.heartsforteaching.com/ .   Lizette Liebold and a plethora of other coaches were also available.  Turnout was great, and with a very small Coach/Attendee ratio.

They taught us that there is a new way of coaching teachers that has proven much more effective for the affective needs of Teachers who want to get coached in front of others in using their TPRS skills.  The Coach sits near the Teacher and interviews him/her beforehand, lowering the Teacher’s affective filter by asking him/her several preference questions, peppered with nods, smiles, encouraging tones and gestures, establishing to the Observers, Students and “Coaches on Deck” (Coaches who will later praise the practicing Coach for things done well) what level, language and TPRS skill will be targeted.

Ground rules are also established before beginning, including the fact that there will only be one Coach.  If anyone else has anything they wish to see the Teacher do differently, s/he must refrain from saying so, but rather simply demonstrate it the next time there comes an opportunity for them to play Teacher.  Everyone takes turns playing Coach, Coaches on Deck, Teacher, Students and Observers.

Many practitioners learn most while playing Observer because it is our luxury to view what we liked and didn’t like.  When a Teacher “gets stuck” because s/he doesn’t know what to do next, Observers can imagine what they would do; if the Teacher needs help, the Coach always offers more than one option, maintaining the Teacher in charge of what s/he is doing.

By keeping negative redirections off limits for everyone else, the Teacher, who likely was nervous while up teaching, is the only one allowed to bring up the flaws afterwards, if self-noted;  if the Teacher did not recognize the imperfections, that is okay because there will be more “Comprehensible Input” of more effective teaching delivered by other, more experienced Teachers, as we go along.  If none of the Teachers appears to be proficient in skills, it may surely be time to return to presenting to them.  If only one Teacher, or so, seems to be lurking “off skill” or is not very interested in receiving feedback, you might limit their time and move on to the next Teacher.

This type of coaching keeps us Type A Coaches and Observers from becoming overbearing and helps us to be validating, while also allowing the Teacher to learn through messing up.  Most of us who want coaching already know the skills information, anyway…it’s getting up there and doing it that is an entirely different matter.

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