Meet Jennifer Lee, Director of Academics, Social Studies Teacher, & Real Time Teacher Coach
CT3 Associate Heidi Towne recently sat down with Jennifer Lee from Detroit Collegiate Academy in Detroit, Michigan. In addition to being a Real Time Teacher Coach, she is also as the director of academics and a social studies teacher. Though challenging, Jennifer prioritizes coaching her fellow teachers. Read on to hear about how she balances it all!
Why do you prioritize coaching given all the other responsibilities/things that come up at school?
There are many different hats I wear every day – classroom teacher, substitute teacher, testing coordinator, student advisor, etc. However, I prioritize coaching because I know that consistent coaching will have the biggest impact on overall student learning and school culture than my other roles. As an instructional coach, I have the opportunity to affect the learning for all students in all of our classrooms. Even if my classroom is a positive learning environment for students, that’s just one-sixth of a student’s day. But, if I’m coaching other teachers in a variety of different subject areas, and they improve their classroom management, implement effective instructional strategies, and build positive, life-altering relationships with kids, there is the potential to improve 100% of a student’s school day. This opens up more opportunities for choice and access in their futures.
What are some tips you can share with other coaches for how to prioritize coaching?
To stay organized, I am addicted to my Outlook calendar and a paper planner. Here is how I keep myself on track to prioritize coaching:
- I have put all my teachers on a Real Time Teacher Coaching schedule and make calendar invites for all four components of the coaching cycle (baseline, pre-conference, coaching, post-conference). This way, the teacher, my principal, and I are all on the same page for the coaching schedule, and I have the time blocked off to dedicate to coaching.
- Given my current responsibilities, I also plan to only see a maximum of four teachers/day and rotate who to see on my coaching load based on which teachers need the most support (lowest Look Fors % and/or On Task %).
- I have my calendar synched to my phone, so it buzzes 10 minutes before each meeting as a gentle reminder that I need to coach.
- Every day, I write a paper to-do list in my planner to identify the other tasks, professional and personal, that I need to address between coaching so that I can prioritize my “Must Do” and “May Do” tasks.
Why is consistency when coaching important? What impact have you noticed?
Consistency is the key to building up teacher capacity so that students receive the high-quality instruction they deserve. I have noticed that the more consistent I am with teachers, the more they improve. Consistency in coaching has helped some of my more veteran teachers implement instructional strategies more quickly, improving student outcomes. For my newer teachers or those that need more support, consistent coaching ensures that the foundations of the No-Nonsense Nurturer Four-Step Model are practiced with fidelity and they get the mindset and instructional support needed so that students don’t lose learning time in their classrooms.
Coaching consistently has also helped me improve as a coach. This is my first year coaching and with doing this regularly, I have better learned how to gather data, link data to AIC (Affirm, Impact, Challenge) feedback/deliverables, and better unpack disempowered mindsets. Just like our teachers and our students can only get better with consistent practice, we can only improve as coaches with consistent practice as well.
Why is coaching important even around testing season?
Coaching is especially important around testing season because our students need us to be our best “No-Nonsense Nurturers.” We want our students to feel welcomed and comfortable, but also ready to get “down to business” when testing. If teachers have not mastered the Four-Step Model, proctors can slip into poor habits that do not lead to the best testing environments for students. Coaching around this time helps maintain best practices for classroom management and push instructional strategies so that students are receiving instruction that prepares them to do their best on state assessments as well.
Are there any other teachers out there that are also coaching their peers? What resonated with you? How do you prioritize coaching when you are teaching? Let us know if you tried any of Jennifer’s tips, or share your ideas and thoughts with us by leaving a comment below.
By Heidi Towne, CT3 Associate
Click here to read Heidi’s tips for prioritizing coaching mid-year.