Coach’s Corner: School’s (Always) In Session
Here we are at the end of July and summer is again flying by. Since my very first year teaching, the thing I hated to hear most from non-educators was, “Wow, summers off. Good for you.” Well, I never actually figured out how to have a summer “off”. I always had graduate classes, taught summer school, and not a day passed that I didn’t think of how to be a better teacher the next year. When I became a principal, summers became my least favorite time of year because they consisted of six insane weeks of non-stop work getting ready for next year and yes, pushing to do it all better than the year before.
That said, this is not a pity party for me. Most of the educators I know don’t take the summer off either. In fact, I’ve been on the road this summer working with teachers and school leaders to help improve classroom management and school wide culture for the coming school year. The needs of our kids never take a break, so why should we?
What fuels me is that I know what I am able to bring to these teachers and school leaders is a model that works to increase learning for all scholars. Leading a school with the majority of students living in poverty and the majority of students learning English as a second language, I saw the No-Nonsense Nurturer (NNN) approach transform how every minute was used to maximize learning. Our students learned how to end their own fake engagement. They learned to meet high expectations as a pathway to learning. Students even learned to respect themselves and their teachers through structures of accountability. Teachers focused on cultivating deep relationships and even our celebrations were more meaningful! What joy!
Joy because you see, for me this mission is very personal. I was an English language learner myself. When I came to this country from the Dominican Republic, I needed key people to invest in me, push me, hold me accountable, celebrate me, and communicate loud and clear that was no reason why I would be allowed to fail. Without these No-Nonsense Nurturers my life, I would have missed the opportunity to impact the thousands of students, parents, teachers, and leaders that I have been able to coach, mentor, lead and learn from in this work. The NNN Four-Step approach is intentional and there is no doubt that it works. Educators must do the following consistently:
· Build positive, life-altering relationships with students and their families
· Craft and deliver precise directions
· Deliver positive narration that notices what students do right
· Incorporate an incentive and consequence system
Finally, we have to make sure we never let up, never take a break (even in summer), and never stop innovating for the sake of our kids.
School’s in session. Always is.
by Wanda Perez, M.ED., Associate
Wanda is a results-driven educator with a laser focus on effective instruction. With experience across a number of schools and districts, she has served as a teacher, administrator, and school board member. She has a well-rounded view of what works in schools and keen insight into what makes an effective educator.