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Lessons from a Real Time Teacher Coach

I am a Real Time Teacher Coach for management and instruction and I am not employed by CT3. At first, the process of becoming normed with No-Nonsense Nurturer® (NNN) may feel foreign and automated, and even a little messy. However, it is through this process that mindsets begin to shift. That is, teachers begin to hone their practice from being teacher-centered to student-centered, which is why we are here. At first it totally feels as though it takes one’s “style” away, but I can promise that once you have the basics down, and the mindset shift, you can apply it and your style to all facets of your practice. I wonder, if we keep doing what we have always done, can we expect a different outcome? The obvious answer is no.

Turnover rates in schools is a systemic issue at large. It is of utmost importance to remember that we as educators are here to serve the students; the schools are not here to provide us jobs. Having the basics of NNN can actually help us serve our students and make the climate much more conducive to learning overall, even in the most underperforming schools. I can tell you from my own classroom (as a teacher), that being well-versed in NNN, and classroom management in general, I am able to push my students far beyond their perceived limits. If you are curious, here is an example of what it looks like… and it really does. Note Tyler’s own personality and teaching style coming through while still using the NNN model.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgk-719mTxM
(Note that this is day one of his class, so he is setting tone, but watch at least the first 10 minutes).

I have coached teachers on the verge of leaving. Their classrooms were absolute zoo’s, and as the Real Time Teacher Coaching® occurred, the classrooms became calm and a place of learning where the teacher could actually teach. It is a sight to behold, almost electric, and I still get chills every time it happens. The teacher also begins to stop blaming the students for misbehavior, and starts to reflect on their own part in the problem (i.e. not giving specific directions, enabling students to be off task, etc.). Classrooms do not have to be silent, but students do need to know what they are supposed to be doing at any given time (including their voice levels). A good way to do this is give precise directions, then positively reinforce the students who ARE doing as the teacher directed, through positive narration. This benefits positivity in general, but also benefits the students who may have zoned out. If you don’t think this is necessary, reflect back and think about giving a direction, and how many times you had to repeat yourself…we’ve all been there.

As far as consequences go, what happens when one student is not following directions or not doing as the teacher requested? What do the other students do? Think about it. If this is well-designed, with a planned routine, the number of consequences given diminishes rapidly over time. The key is to maintain relationships and consistency without exception. Consequences do not mean you dislike the student, but that you actually expect them to do exactly what you directed them to do; be No-Nonsense for the class at large, and Nurturing in small groups, one on one, in the hallways or in the lunchroom. I challenge anyone to come to my class and tell me that I was unable to form excellent relationships with my students, and in fact, probably some of the best in the school.

Regarding the walkie talkies, would you rather get feedback immediately, or would you rather have someone observe, leave, then talk to you about it later? It is effective and necessary to break through thinking as it occurs in that it may lead to lowering the bar, which is what we are trying to avoid. The point is that you are executing a task (teaching), just like driving, flying a plane, shooting a basket, or coaching another person, and as soon as you veer off a path, you need to be given immediate feedback on how to right yourself. Teaching is an art, but it is also extremely easy for it to get muddled with enabling mindsets, and for people to become complacent without realizing it. Picture this: you are shooting baskets over a brick wall, and you can’t see the basket, and the only way you know if you are close to the mark is by feedback from the coach. As you are shooting, do you want the coach to tell you in real time if you are close to the basket and what you need to do to make it, or would you rather he sit there in silence, watching you shoot, and talk to you about it the next day?

I end with this: When teachers do not strive for 100% on task, from 100% of the students, 100% of the time, they are doing a disservice to their students by lowering the bar. If they think it is acceptable for a student to sit around doing nothing, or act out of turn, where does it end? This is a structure that once set, allows you to raise engagement and rigor. Without CT3, our entire district would probably be closed. I can also tell you that I am an extremely free thinking (and stubborn) individual, that is constantly trying to “poke holes in” or “de bug” systems, and this is one that is solid, if it wasn’t, I would totally be whistling a different tune. We are here to serve students and ensure that they are achieving to the highest level, and when the data overwhelmingly shows that the students are not achieving, we must start with the classroom. When nothing else seems to be effectively raising the bar, PD after PD, after college courses, after workshops, after staff moral boosters, why would you keep doing it? I have been in education for a decade now, and I can tell you that the previous model does NOT work. NNN has helped me exponentially, and freed me of stress, anxiety, and fear that I will be at constant battle with my students, just to get them to learn the most menial task. We as a building have almost 60% fewer office referrals and 80% fewer out of school suspensions than we did when we weren’t working with CT3, and it has been four years since we started using NNN. Sometimes as educators, we must step outside of our comfort zones in order to grow, and according to national data, many of our schools desperately need to grow in their overall practice. CT3 is and has been a change agent for ours, and numerous other schools.

By Ryan Ford, Instructional Coach
Michigan
@MrRCF
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