Educators are familiar with the importance of a strong relationship between teachers and coaches. But what happens when relationships are also built between leaders and coaches?
While the benefits of a strong teacher–coach relationship are well established, there is also great value in strong relationships between coaches and leaders. Each of these educators plays an important role in the interdependent system of educating young children: when their perspectives are shared and aligned to facilitate growth, powerful things can happen. Coordinated perspectives are beneficial to teachers and leaders, and the coach can facilitate the coordination of the perspectives while also integrating the needs of both the teacher and the leader.
Collaborating in the coaching process can help educators seamlessly align school and classroom goals. A sustained relationship with leadership provides opportunities for the ongoing integration of support for professional learning for each and every teacher. For example, principals invested in the coaching process have the unique ability to provide ongoing support and co-identified scaffolds to the teacher between monthly coaching visits. Coaches can also support leadership in identifying resources needed to reach fidelity of use, such as time for planning, opportunity for collaboration, and additional classroom resources.
Commitment to Implementation:
Fidelity of implementation requires commitment to the curriculum from all stakeholders. It begins with leaders committing to a full implementation and trusting the curriculum to provide the social-emotional, physical, language, cognitive, and academic components fundamental to whole-child education. Dabbling in multiple curricula can be a huge temptation at the onset of new adoption—however, this well-intentioned approach is commonly reported by teachers and coaches as the largest barrier to fidelity.
Our partner in the field, Keeva Potts (New Jersey), shared a beautiful coaching success story with us, which began with advice from the leader, Marshel Perkins: “The only way is 100%. Maximize the opportunity for teachers to identify literacy, language, writing, and math; focus on the elements and connection to the standards to identify outcomes.” This expression of support established trust between Keeva and her building leader, giving Keeva the confidence to coach to fidelity.
With this “permission,” Keeva immediately began a strategic plan to implement Coaching to Fidelity. Keeva shared that the tool offered her “precise language necessary to observe with intention and provide feedback aligned directly to The Creative Curriculum®.”
In her reflection on coaching refining teachers, Keeva shared that refining teachers were “well skilled” and that she had to be “creative in her approach” as a coach to ensure respect was always evident in their conversations: “I learned so much from them. Their interpretations of the curriculum helped me learn how to better support all teachers.” Observations of refining teachers also helped Keeva learn the value of being patient and allowing the necessary time for teachers to integrate new ideas and approaches into their current understanding. “There were times I felt overwhelmed: I had to learn to be patient and to celebrate the little things.”
Investment in Ongoing Professional Development:
Marshel and Keeva’s commitment to follow-up conversations after each coaching visit allowed them to expand their relationship to a partnership. Keeva emphasized the importance of boundaries within these conversations, saying, “I was coaching to increase teacher capacity. Our conversations were about helping teachers grow, not about what they were doing wrong.” Strategic plans for support came out of the relationship.
Keeva utilized Coaching to Fidelity to not only lead her preparations, observations, and conferences with teachers, but also to plan for professional learning opportunities. Keeva’s partnership with Marshel facilitated opportunities to provide teachers with the support they needed: “Where learning objectives were fuzzy, I coached individual teachers. Where I observed a broad misunderstanding, I supported with Professional Learning Community workshops and small groups.” Keeva’s use of Coaching to Fidelity added to the richness and specificity of the follow-up conferences with Marshel. With these strategic debriefs, Keeva was able to advocate for additional supports for the teachers, including one-on-one sessions, small groups, and Professional Learning Communities!
Between coaching visits, Marshel supported teachers with the scaffolds she and Keeva identified based on the collaborative conversations Keeva had with each teacher. Marshel and Keeva partnered to align program goals with individual teacher goals. Coaching to Fidelity data and GOLD® assessment data guided the partners as they sought to identify data trends and outliers. Utilizing data sets specifically aligned to the curriculum focused their lens and allowed them to create strategic plans for achieving short- and long-term professional goals, helping to reach fidelity of use.
Keeva shared that “being present and available to the teachers” was one of the most important elements of the success of the coaching experience. Her partnership with Marshel, in particular, was crucial: “Because of our partnership, there was consistency, accountability, and support. Our teachers rose to the occasion and learned to utilize the curriculum, support development, and utilize skills which brought about progress.”
Keeva and Marshel have clearly demonstrated the value of partnerships between coaches and leaders. We are inspired by their partnership success story and know you will be, too!
Coaching to Fidelity
With our early childhood coaching solutions, you can be confident that every caregiver and teacher’s implementation of The Creative Curriculum® and GOLD® is fully supported with guidance to help them establish dynamic learning environments and build positive relationships with children, families, and colleagues.