I just did a scope about this.
I’ve been following Todd Herman’s work and look forward to taking his 90 Day Year program. He is a coach. He told a story about coaching an Olympic Athlete that struck me. Peak performance requires coaching. Think of any sport; there is a coach, sometimes multiple coaches, especially at the collegiate and professional level.
Think of business, if you’re not pleasing the bosses, CEOs, and stock holders you’re may seek out a coach.
Holding the role of Literacy Coach is a unique experience. As Tony Wagner mentions in his book “The Achievement Gap”, teaching is an isolated profession. Tony was craving feedback as a fresh teacher, and received none.
Teaching is a profession of, close your doors and do your thing. When I started out the expression, “sink or swim” was the definition of survival.
Number 1: Audio or Video Record Yourself
Reading Recovery was presented to me, one year after completion of my Masters program in Teaching Reading. Reading Recovery was everything about peak performance. A requirement of the program and definitely a success model, was that you were observed regularly and given feedback on your performance. I was introduced to the idea of audio recording myself and playing it back to listen to my instruction delivery and evaluate where to improve my work with students. It was career changing – and I grew addicted to the whole process. I loved the connection I had with my colleagues. I appreciated their insights, support, and constructive criticism.
Do you want to improve? If not, perhaps you want to exit this profession. Start audio recording or video recording your instruction. Play back the “tape” and evaluate yourself. You may be quite uncomfortable at first or excited at the challenge of true self-improvement. Either way, I guarantee you, there is a thrill in the playback. Keep doing it – notice where you could improved, notice what you did well, notice you voice: level, intonation, quality. Notice your content: related, understandable, on-point. Notice your timing: enough, too much, too little. Those are just some starting points. Give it a go and let me know!
Number 2: Bring in a Colleague or Create a Group
In my role as Reading Specialist and Literacy Coach, I always offer to teach a lesson for teachers to watch. This process includes the observing teacher to ask me lots of questions – and I love it, you know why? It forces me to think about what I’m doing, why I’m teaching the lesson, why did I call on that child and not the other, was I effective, did I deliver quality content, did I need to check myself (was I neglectful or rude to a student who needed my attention?)
Reading Recovery was also a forum for self-improvement in the quality and delivery of my instruction. There is no where to hide when you are being observed – it forces you to be your best. Think athletes – they are constantly watched and given feedback. Think of varying career fields and then think of the ones who bring in coaches. When you bring in a coach, hence observing eyes, critical feedback, with the goal of improving performance, you have a recipe for better success, if you’re willing to put in the work.
Ask a colleague or create a group with the sole purpose of observing one another and providing feedback. Create a template or at minimum discuss your lesson and what you are seeking from the observation – and create a see-saw of being observed and being the observer. Do it! And let me know!
Where is your fire?