The Country’s Best Coaches: Jodi Ackerman in Syracuse, NY

At CT3, we are fortunate to be able to meet and work closely with educators all over the country. We often find that the Real Time Teacher Coaches we train often hold different roles besides just “coach”. They’re not just No-Nonsense Nurturers, or skilled Real Time Teacher Coaches, but they’re also experts in a variety of subjects in their buildings to help better serve their students. Many are masters of lesson planning or teacher evaluations. Some are even Union representatives! Many are teacher leaders or school leaders that juggle both positions. We’d like to bring recognition to many of the coaches we work with in schools across the country through our new blog series: “The Country’s Best Coaches”.

First, we’re featuring Jodi Ackerman, an English Teacher/Real Time Teacher Coach/Multi-Classroom Leader (MCL) at Danforth Middle School in the Syracuse City School District in Syracuse, NY. We asked Jodi about her experience teaching and leading at Danforth Middle.

Describe your multiple responsibilities.

On any given day, my responsibilities include

  • teaching three classes, being a multi-classroom leader for 8th grade team
  • preparing and presenting professional development for staff
  • administering, preparing and monitoring school assessments
  • assisting administration with behavioral issues
  • planning with ELA and grade level teachers to meet district guidelines
  • writing field trip initiatives for district approval
  • coordinating students for small group instruction
  • training teachers on e-school, educators handbook, and TrueNorth Logic
  • pushing into classrooms to co-teach, model for teachers, and covering classes for teachers to observe No-Nonsense Nurturer and good practices in colleagues classrooms
  • member of our Opportunity Culture team and personalized blended learning team through Education Elements
  • weekly meetings with administration
  • holding restorative circles in classes and with staff
  • and of course coaching teachers as a Real Time Teacher Coach!

Why is it beneficial to coach your peers?

Coaching my peers is beneficial for them and for me. Many teachers have not taught in an urban setting, are new to teaching, or need to understand the importance of relationships with students and other staff members. As I coach teachers and they see the success they can have in their classroom, it helps them change their mindsets about our students and what they are capable of. It also increases their confidence and they become more creative and start to plan more engaging and relevant transitions. As they are learning, I am always learning new things from them. I get to see different teaching styles, lesson plan ideas, and most importantly it helps me to see some of the same students in different rooms and what does and doesn’t work for those students. As the MCL, I can then take that back to my team and share ideas about how to approach different students and even make arrangements for teachers to observe each other. Sometimes, the best learning for teachers happens while in another teacher’s classroom.

What is the hardest part about being a teacher and a coach?

The most difficult part about being a teacher and a coach is time management and commitment to the practice of coaching. I am often pulled in so many directions that I rarely feel I am as effective as I could be if coaching was my only job. My goal next year is to teach one class and spend the rest of my time coaching, co-teaching, and working on planning and instruction in classrooms. These components are all tied together but without the No-Nonsense Nurturer model, learning will not take place. The planning and instruction would be pointless because the teacher will never be able to get to the lesson.

How has Real Time Teacher Coaching® (RTTC) challenged you to improve or change your methods?

RTTC has challenged me to be more consistent with the No-Nonsense Nurturer model and strive for nothing less than 100% engagement in every class. I am constantly inviting teachers into my classroom to see the model at work, therefore it is imperative that my practice is top notch!

What has the work of CT3 taught you about yourself?

CT3’s work has taught me that as educators we are all constantly learning and overcoming mindsets which may hinder our students’ ability to attain the best education possible. It has also taught me that the reason my classes are so successful is my ability to develop and maintain meaningful relationships with my students. They sense my sincerity, which is why they accept my discipline and act as they know they should while in my classes.

Give a story of student success you attribute to No-Nonsense Nurturer.

I have many students that come to mind when I think of student success. Most recently, we had an eighth-grade student who we struggled to build a relationship with. He had been sent to an alternative school for serious infractions and about a month ago, we received notification that this student would be returning to our school. He and his girlfriend’s family were facing many challenges at home with a lack of resources, so another teacher and I took it upon ourselves to help this family in need. Over the course of three weekends and many generous donations from Cazenovia Community, we delivered three trailers full of all household and baby needs. The student returned to school and I can only imagine had mixed feelings for me having advocated for an alternative placement for him as well as the help we had provided to his family. When he returned to my class, I relied on my ability to overcome mindsets and prepare to work on my relationship with this student. I used every piece of No-Nonsense Nurturer to help rebuild the relationship. Recently, I was told by his CT teacher that my class is his favorite and I am his favorite teacher. This student has successfully completed one month back in school, has not received any disciplinary actions nor has he been removed once from my class. As a matter of fact, it is hard for me to keep up with calling on him as he is so engaged and always participating in class. It’s reasons like this why I absolutely LOVE my job, the No-Nonsense Nurturer program and being a Real Time Teacher Coach to help others feel the reward of the hard work put in as educators to serve students.

Why do you feel it’s important to build relationships with students?

As a mother of four children and an urban educator since 2005 in the Syracuse City School District, I know without a doubt my success as a teacher is attributed to building relationships with my students. This is evident through the long-lasting relationships I maintain with former students. Over the years, I have attended many graduations, celebrations and most recently this past May, my first student who invited me to her graduation where she received her Master’s Degree in Higher Education. She told me she chose education because she wanted to change the lives of young people like I did for her. This is why I continue to strive to be my best and help my colleagues be the best they can be! It isn’t about us. It is all about our students and their future success.

Questions about bringing Real Time Teacher Coaching to your school or district? Email
Check out CT3 Education programs such as No-Nonsense Nurturer, Real Time Teacher Coaching, and Real Time Leadership Coaching to find out more about Professional Development for Teachers and Leaders, classroom management strategies, and building relationships with students and their families, and properly addressing important issues in the classroom and school.