Teacher Coaching: Modeling & Observation

Instructor: Kim-Kathie Knudsen

Kim-Kathie has taught high school and college Spanish and has worked as a professional development specialist and instructional technology administrator. She has a master's degree in Teaching and Curriculum and is currently working on her doctorate in Educational Leadership.

Instructional coaches are a valuable resource to help teachers apply specific strategies into their teaching. In the modeling and observing phase, teachers observe coaches, then under the coach's guidance, try it on their own.

Why Instructional Coaching?

Brian is in his fifth year of teaching, but recent test data as well as feedback from colleagues and administrators has left him puzzled. He is working hard to get his students to read and teach them literacy skills, but although he is putting forth his best effort, he isn't getting the results he needs. His principal has recommended he work with an instructional coach, Kara, to help him move forward with strategies that can benefit his students.

The role of an instructional coach is to serve as a resource for teachers to help implement ideas and strategies, analyze data, and provide individualized professional development. One of the most important and beneficial strategies a coach can use with a teacher is to model best practices to show teachers how to implement a strategy, then observe a teacher applying that strategy. Using one of the coaching models as well as the before, during, and after conference systems, a coach can work with a teacher to provide specific support.

Modeling: ''You Watch Me''


Kara and Brian have an initial meeting and spend some time talking about Brian's class, students, and classroom expectations. They review data, behavior, and curriculum, and Brian tells Kara he needs help in implementing effective literacy strategies. During this session, Kara gets an idea of what Brian is looking for, and they work together to set goals. Kara pulls resources from her own professional learning, and they work together to design a lesson that meets the needs of Brian's students. After deciding on a time and date to implement the lesson, Kara and Brian meet again to finalize the plan and agree on an observation form, which Brian will use to look for specific evidences of learning as well as classroom behavior. The next day, Kara teaches the lesson in Brian's classroom as Brian uses the observation form to record evidence as well as jot down ideas and questions.

Modeling is a technique used in instructional coaching with the purpose of showing a teacher how to implement a specific strategy. Strategies can be curriculum related, such as ways to teach fractions or literacy, classroom management ideas, or inclusion of new standards. In order to make this an effective strategy, it is important that the instructional coach and the teacher meet first to determine what the goal of modeling a lesson is; it can be to implement a strategy, teach a concept in a different way, or work on classroom routine and behaviors. The problem areas and strategies that a teacher needs to develop should be the focal point and goal of the model lesson: the teacher should walk away with a new understanding of how to change practices and deliver a lesson in order to improve their performance as well as the performance of their students. During the model lesson, the teacher uses an observation form to record evidence of the strategy and the impact on student behavior and performance.

Observation and Feedback

Kara and Brian meet the next day to review the lesson and discuss the observation form. Brian reviews the evidence on the form and reflects on the lesson. They talk about what went well, what didn't, and how the lesson might be modified for next time. Kara asks Brian how he can implement the literacy strategy, and Brian begins to work on a lesson plan of his own.

Meeting during the coaching process is important because it allows the coach and teacher a time to reflect and talk about the lesson. This gives both parties the time to break down the strategies and see how students responded, while giving the teacher the opportunity to ask questions and reflect on their own skills. Coaches and teachers can use a district-approved observation form or create their own. The form should have space to record evidence, behavior, performance, and any other ''look fors'' that the coach and teacher decide on ahead of time. The form can be filled out either with pencil and paper or online in a Google Doc, so both parties can have access to it.

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