This blog post is part of CT3’s “Dear Walkie” series, a place for advice for anti-racist educators. CT3 Associates Chris Cantu and Jackie Surratt, both veteran teachers and school leaders, answer difficult questions about racial equity and empowering all students to succeed.
And please, let us know in the comments if there are questions you would like answered!
I’m feeling so frustrated! I have been coaching my 6th grade ELA teacher since January, and I went to her classroom because there were several student referrals and a couple of parent complaints about bullying. I jumped in with my walkie-talkie and started coaching her on the Four-Step Model. She improved quickly at the beginning, began scripting precise directions, made directions visible, and consistently used positive narration, incentives, and consequences.
I felt really good at the beginning of February. I did two coaching cycles with her and thought we were on the right track. Now it’s mid-March and I did another baseline and we are back to square one. She is still using precise directions and positive narration, but she’s abandoned consequences, and kids are complaining when I’m in the class that she stopped using the incentive system. I don’t know what to do. I’ve given her the tools and she’s just not using them.
Coach Diminishing Returns
Dear Coach Diminishing Returns,
I understand where you are coming from. It’s easy to get frustrated when you thought a teacher had mastered the skills you coached. First, I want to point out that you aren’t back to square one. It sounds like your teacher has mastered precise directions and positive narration – both necessary for the teacher to be able to implement the accountability systems.
When you find yourself in this spot, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start another RTTC cycle. Your teacher needs a booster shot! You will want to focus your attention, of course, on accountability systems, with a special emphasis on making the purpose behind incentives and consequences really clear. Your teacher needs to know WHY they need to be consistent with these skills. Focus on relationships and how consistency with the accountability systems will help students recognize that the teacher cares enough about the student ….
Finally, don’t neglect the post-conference mindset probes. When a teacher stops using accountability systems, there is often a reason why that goes beyond skill. It’s your job to name it. You have evidence that the teacher is not using the accountability systems. Share the evidence and say, “Tell me about that…”.