Running head: LESSONS LEARNED FROM A BEGINNING MATH COACH 1. Lessons Learned from a Beginning Math Coach. Susan Muir.

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1 Running head: LESSONS LEARNED FROM A BEGINNING MATH COACH 1 Lessons Learned from a Beginning Math Coach Susan Muir K-4 Math Coach Good Spirit School Division

2 LESSONS LEARNED FROM A BEGINNING MATH COACH 2 Abstract As a beginning Math Coach I have learned many lessons during my journey. In this article, I have highlighted a few of the main points how I created my coaching model. I highlight areas that worked well, areas I struggled with and how I overcame them.

3 LESSONS LEARNED FROM A BEGINNING MATH COACH 3 Lessons Learned from a Beginning Math Coach It will be two years fall 2011 that I have been the K-4 Math Coach for Good Spirit School Division in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, Canada. I would like to begin with a bit of my background, lead into how I became a math coach and finish with lessons learned and how I see my future role as a math coach. I began my teaching career in 1994 as a classroom teacher of grades K-6 inclusive. I have always been involved in leading curriculum workshops with the latter part of my career focusing on the revised Mathematics curriculum. Prior to taking the position as math coach, I opened my classroom to teachers. Many spent the day with me observing and at times we would spend a Saturday chatting about classroom instruction. It came to a point when I remember thinking, It would be easier and more relevant, if I spent time working with teachers in their own classroom. Soon after, my school division posted a full time position for a K-4 Math Coach. I read many articles and books that summer to educate myself what a coach s role entailed. A quote from Marilyn Burns, embedded coaching is a professional development opportunity. It refines math instruction that promotes student learning! learned: It was then that I created my own coaching model. These are my lessons 1. Establish a trusting relationship is key to successful coaching. I spent the first month travelling to my 21 schools and logged over 1500 Km. It was important for teachers to get to know me in their setting, as well to see me as a support and not an evaluator.

4 LESSONS LEARNED FROM A BEGINNING MATH COACH 4 2. I had teachers fill out a request form and I set up a schedule. This request form was actually sent out in May when I learned of my new position. The entire year was booked within a week! I touched base as to which month I would be working with them. I took 4-5 teachers max at each school. I planned a block of time over 3 weeks working with each of the teachers for 5-8 days. The problem is I will never be able to visit the over 100 teachers in 21 different schools. 3. Have a one page information sheet to let teachers know how you can support them. A few weeks before scheduled working with the teachers, I began communication through to find out what math outcome(s) they wanted to focus on and a specific goal that they felt would improve student learning. This one page information sheet lets teachers know how you can support them. Before I created this information sheet, I had teachers saying, I want your support but I just don t know what to ask for. 4. I approached the coaching model as I will... We will... You will... Where the first 2-3 lessons I would plan, prepare and model lessons based on the outcome and goal they provided. This turns into a few lessons co-teaching and co-planning followed by the last day, I observe and give specific supportive feedback on something that they have wanted to gain knowledge of. I have read that the coach should not do the thinking for the teacher and never to model lessons more than 10 min. I have found that teachers want to see entire lessons modeled. Not only do they see how detailed planning using the Backwards Approach embeds assessment for learning, it also establishes trust and a

5 LESSONS LEARNED FROM A BEGINNING MATH COACH 5 relationship begins to build. It is nonthreatening for a teacher to observe rather than be observed. Once 2-3 lessons have been modeled they want to co-teach. We can both feel the relationship as support rather than an evaluator. 5. It bothered me that I was only working with a small group of teachers at a time. How can I help everyone every day? I needed to provide 24-7 professional development to not only teachers in my division but to all teachers teaching mathematics. This is when my most valuable coaching tool was created. I started a Word Press blog which houses documents and reflections on what I am doing and how I am working with teachers. I blog daily and post lessons, assessment, videos and many more displays of student learning. Teachers can access this I also post any wikis that I create when planning and developing division wide Professional Development. Not only was this a way for me to share but to also solve a problem that I had encountered. Before the blog, I could not send large files such as lesson plans through the . I had to save everything on a memory stick and then download onto teachers laptops at the school. There were many days that the teacher was on supervision with their laptops turned off, therefore I could not transfer files. Before creating the blog I tried Google Docs but found teachers had difficulties accessing it. The blog has solved all of these problems. It has also allowed me to have a virtual file cabinet that can be shared with the world! My future in coaching will incorporate more reflection on behalf of the teachers I am working with. Now that I have established a trusting relationship with my teachers, I will step back from modeling entire lessons and focus on modeling portions of lessons. I

6 LESSONS LEARNED FROM A BEGINNING MATH COACH 6 want to involve the school administrator and work with them in their PLC s. I want to spend more time with pre and post conference as it always seems teachers are too busy. This needs to take priority and therefore necessary to involve the administrator to see that coverage for this valuable time is incorporated into our schedule. For copies of forms and coaching documents visit my blog (Coaching Documents tab)

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