Preparing to Model and Coteach in Classrooms: the instructional coaching series
your campus. But they can be scary, too.
The first time I modeled in a classroom, it was in a room that stressed me out, big time.
There wasn’t a classroom management system or approach in place. When the kids misbehaved, they were yelled at.
The layout of the room was confusing to me and I couldn’t figure out how to get from one part of the room to another to work with students without moving furniture around.
I couldn’t find chart paper or markers, and the projector was facing the wrong way.
The teacher had chosen materials that were far above grade level and didn’t provide me with the copy that I requested until I walked in the door.
And worst of all: the teacher stressed me out, too. We didn’t speak the same language (figuratively) and we weren’t on the same page at all.
Overall, it wasn’t a great experience for anyone.
I remember thinking, “How am I supposed to model in classrooms when it feels like I’m on a different planet?”
It took some time, but I figured out how to change my approach so that it became more effective for me and purposeful for the teacher. Modeling and coteaching still stress me out a little bit, but it’s light years away from that first horrible day!
Tips for preparing to model and coteach:
1. Plan the lesson with the teacher.
I can’t say this enough times! I have shared a pretty thorough post about how to plan
collaboratively with teachers, as well as how to conduct a coaching cycle that begins with planning together and assigning roles. I really recommend that you check them out to be prepared for modeling and coteaching!
In short, planning beforehand would’ve improved my first modeling experience 800x. I would’ve been familiar with the materials, and I would’ve helped the teacher choose grade-appropriate texts. We would’ve worked through the standard and learning target to ensure that each of us knew what was going to happen that day.
This also ensures that you are focusing on the goal the teacher would like to see in action, and that the instructional strategies are in alignment with the teacher’s classroom.
2. Plan for a classroom management system.
This one is a biggie. In some coaching books, I’ve read that you focus on the learning and only integrate classroom management when the teacher wants you to. But I can’t figure out how to teach any sort of a lesson unless there is some sort of classroom management system in place. Without a system, I spend the entire time putting out fires and students aren’t learning (which is the goal).
When I plan with teachers before visiting their classrooms for modeling or coteaching, I make sure that our planning session involves a plan for classroom management. If the teacher has a system in place, we talk about whether it will be my responsibility to use it or his/her responsibility.
If there isn’t a management system in place and the class will not learn without some structure, I introduce three basic expectations to students and we use gestures to chant them.
We discuss what each one means and looks like. Then I use a chart to record “team points”. These are points the teams earn when I see them working towards or demonstrating one of the three basic expectations.
There are no prizes for points; they’re just fun and show that I acknowledge the work they’re doing.
Over time, we can take the points away and just have students set goals and discuss their progress, but points are a visible way to start working on behavior.
You can read more about this simple system here.
3. Assign responsibilities for each person.
Whether you are modeling or coteaching a lesson, you want it to be clear who is doing what at each point in the lesson.
If you’re modeling and the teacher is observing, provide them with an observation guide that will help them focus on specific elements of the lesson.
If you’re coteaching with the teacher, document who does each step of the lesson to ensure that you are both contributing.
You can get seven different observation guides (editable) and two different collaborative planning guides in my Coaching in Classrooms resource!
4. Bring your materials with you.
It’s just easier this way. I recommend having a little bin or bucket where you bring along everything you’ll need. In some cases, I’ve even used a cart to hold the materials I planned on using.
This includes markers, post-its, a pointer, highlighter tape, laptop, or anything else you will need. It’s better to be prepared than to spend ten minutes hunting around a classroom for the materials for the lesson. For small groups, I actually bring pencils, markers, and highlighters for the students, too. I’d rather bring what I need than waste time with them running back to their seats to find something.
If the teacher is very organized, you can also ask them for exactly what you’ll need. Larger items or student supplies can be provided by the teacher, such as a projector, power strip, chart tablet, easel, and student notebooks, scissors, glue, highlighters, colored pencils and/or crayons.
5. Schedule the debriefing conversation before you do the lesson.
It’s best to schedule the debriefing conversation before you actually teach the lesson. This will help you make sure that it’s timely, shortly following the lesson.
You may have students work independently while you debrief quietly with the teacher, or you may schedule a time later that day or week to have a focused conversation. Prepare for this in advance. You can get debriefing sentence starters in my Coaching in Classrooms Free Download right below this post!
Want to read more about conducting a coaching cycle that includes modeling and coteaching? Check out my post: Conducting a Coaching Cycle. Next week, I’ll share all about the elephant in the room: working with teachers…who don’t want you around!
Other posts in the Summer Coaching Series:
July 13: How to introduce yourself as an instructional coach
July 20: Conducting a coaching cycle
July 27: Planning collaboratively with teachers
August 3: Preparing to Model and Coteach
August 10: Working with teachers (who aren’t excited to have you around)
- Tips for getting started
- Coaching services menu
- Classroom sweep form
- Coaching invitations (black and white)
- Using the gradual release model to coach teachers
- Coaching plan
- Observation guide
- Debriefing sentence starters
- Thank you notes