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Determining the Best Fit

Determining the Best Fit

Author: Ashley Sweatt

In this lesson, you will learn about the steps involved in helping determine the best fit between a coaching model and the context or setting in which it will be employed.

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Hi. My name is Ashley, and this lesson is titled Determining the Best Fit. In this lesson, we will describe the process of determining the best fit concerning instructional coaching. Lastly, we'll look at the ideal situations for each of the coaching models and what it looks like when it is used correctly.

What is the process of determining the best fit? Instructional coaching models differ from school to school, so it's vital that schools find the best coaching model that meets the needs of their individual teachers, as well as meets the goals and visions of the school. Let's look at the steps below to determine the best fit for the school environment.

Step 1, conduct a needs assessment. This assessment will allow you to discover areas where improvement is needed based on student achievement. Step 2, plan goals to improve student achievement. The goals chosen may reflect school district goals, or you can choose grade level or classroom-specific goals. Make sure your goals can accurately be measured to assess progress.

Step 3, brainstorm how the goal will be met. After deciding the type of knowledge and skills that teachers need to improve, decide what actions need to be taken in order to improve in those areas. What do teachers need to do in order to find success and meet their goals? Step 4, consider a variety of coaching models. Analyze the similarities and differences of using each model. Then compare the advantages to disadvantages of using the model and applying it to your specific situation.

And lastly, step 5 is where you choose a model or a combination of models or techniques that will best meet the needs of your teachers, that will assist them in achieving their goals for student achievement. If you can't decide on one model, it's OK to use a combination of the models. An effective coach is one who can adapt and move between facilitative and instructional roles.

Let's review the steps as we look at an example on how this would occur in an actual school setting. I am a math coach, and at the beginning of the year, I give my teachers a needs assessment discover the areas they would like to focus on. Questions on this assessment are, how would you rate your math instruction? What strategies do you currently use for math instruction?

How do you use math rotations during your lesson? Where would you like to see growth in relation to your math instruction this year? What topics do your students struggle with the most? How do you remediate when students do not understand? How do you differentiate learning for your students?

After reviewing the needs assessment, I find that many of the fourth grade teachers understand where their students struggle, but have difficulty providing further assistance and remediation activities. This is where I will focus my goal for them. Other teachers or other grade levels may have other concerns. Remember, we said in step 2, in planning goals, the goal may be in line to the district goals, but it can also be grade specific or classroom specific.

Step 3 is where I would decide how the goal will be met. How will the teachers learn how to better remediate for their students? First, teachers will need to learn how to truly analyze data. They will need to be able to look at a student's work and determine the missing parts. After getting a good understanding of what is lacking, teachers will need to research lessons and activities to fill in the gaps.

Step 4 is where I would consider a variety of coaching models. In previous lessons, we have mentioned coaching methods such as mentoring new teachers, peer coaching, cognitive coaching, and subject-specific coaching. I think for this case, the subject-specific coaching may be the best for the fourth grade teachers. They want to focus on math and remediation, and this also involves curriculum mapping, which ensures that alignment is being made to the curriculum. And the use of assessments allow data to be collected and analyzed.

Peer coaching may also be beneficial to the fourth grade teachers. Perhaps by pairing teachers up with another teacher who is comfortable with remediating activities would be a good fit. However, I would want the relationship to occur naturally to avoid the two bumping heads.

In step 5, I would choose a model that is suitable for the teacher. And in this case, I will go with the subject-specific coaching. This model best meets the needs of the fourth grade teachers and will ensure student growth.

Let's look at the four coaching models and determine the ideal situations for each. Ideally, the coaching model for mentoring new teachers is for new teachers with very little teaching experience. This coaching model is to acclimate new teachers to the profession as well as to the ins and outs of the school and district. This model may also be used for experienced teachers, who have found themselves in a new setting. Teachers who have absolutely no experience may not get all the support they need.

In the best-case scenario, peer coaching will work best with teachers who have some experience and have similar teaching styles, but have different areas of expertise so that they're able to help one another. Cognitive coaching is suited for experienced teachers, who are very reflective in their thinking. They normally work alone by reflecting on their lessons and discovering new instructional strategies to use in the classroom.

Subject-specific coaching is ideal for teachers who want to focus on the structure of a specific content area teachers changing grade level or subject area may benefit from this type of coaching. Ideally, this is how these models will work best. When choosing a coaching model, evaluate the school culture to determine the best fit.

If the school culture consists of teachers who normally do their own planning and rarely collaborate, then maybe cognitive coaching may be the best fit. If teachers are very collaborative and eager to share their ideas and concerns, then a peer coaching relationship maybe suitable. If teachers normally collaborate with other teachers who teach the same subject as they do, subject-specific coaching maybe fitting. School culture and climate must be considered when deciding on the model. After implementing the coaching model, it may be necessary to revisit and evaluate the model to ensure that it is still suitable for teachers and the school environment.

Let's recap what we have discussed in today's lesson. We looked at the five steps of determining the best fit for the teachers you serve. Step 1 involves conducting a needs assessment, and then goals are planned. Next, activities for meeting the goals are discussed. Then coaching models are considered. Lastly, a model is chosen that is suitable for the teachers.

Then we reviewed the four coaching models and determined the ideal situations for each. We discussed that mentoring new teachers is best for teachers with very little experience or experienced teachers in a different area. We found that peer coaching is best for teachers who have some experience and teachers who have similar teaching styles but have different strengths, so that they are capable of helping one another. Cognitive coaching is for teachers who are very reflective and are able to go out and find their own strategies and implement them. And lastly, subject-specific coaching is best for teachers who want to focus on a specific content area.

As you reflect on this material, consider which of the coaching models is the best fit for your teachers. I encourage you to go through the steps for determining the best fit to ensure the coaching model is suitable for your teachers. To dive a little deeper and learn how to apply this information, be sure to check out the Additional Resources section associated with this video. This is where you'll find links targeted toward helping you discover more ways to apply this course material.

Additional Resources

Principal as Instructional Leader: Designing a Coaching Program That Fits

This article walks the principal through designing an instructional coaching model to meet the unique needs of the school.

Four Conditions Essential for Instructional Coaching to Work

This Edutopia article provides practical advice to ensure that instructional coaching will be met with success in the school.