Restart Recharge Podcast

015 - Coaching Cycles Part 1: Getting it Off the Ground

September 07, 2021 Forward Edge Season 1 Episode 15
Restart Recharge Podcast
015 - Coaching Cycles Part 1: Getting it Off the Ground
Show Notes Transcript

Listeners will walk away from this episode prepared to initiate some buzz for their coaching program. Our guests, Tyler & Emily, will share their tried and true strategies for designing a coaching cycle program, from the pitch and marketing, to setting up systemic structures for success.

Links mentioned in the show:


Google's Certified Coach Curriculum

Follow Tyler on Twitter

Follow Emily on Twitter


Podcast Team

Hosts- Katie  Ritter & Justin Thomas

Editing Team- Megan Whitacre, Mallory Kessen, Michael Roush

Social Media/ Promo Team- Annamarie Rinehart, Lisa Kuhn, Molly Lutts

Creative/Content Team- Brooke Conklin, Emily Cowan, Tracee Keough

Research & Logistics Team- Mark Gumm, Tyler Erwin

Producers- Tyler Erwin & Katie Ritter

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Katie Ritter:

hit the restart button to recharge those batteries Aloha everyone, I am Katie Ritter

Justin Thomas:

and I am Justin Thomas and this is the restart recharge podcast, a podcast for coaches by coaches we bring you the tips and tricks to help you and your everyday work as an instructional technology coach, or you know, whatever they call you in your school district.

Katie Ritter:

So hopefully you're gonna leave this episode with us today feeling just a little bit less on your own coaching Island.

Justin Thomas:

We have an awesome episode today it's going to kick off a four part series all about coaching cycle so for today, listeners are going to walk away from this episode prepared to initiate some buzz for their coaching program. Our guests Tyler Irwin and Emily Cowen are going to share their tried and true strategies for designing a coaching cycle program that you can use in your district from the pitch and marketing to setting up these systematic structures for success. So I'm excited to kick this one off. Yeah. All right, let's introduce our guests we mentioned Tyler own and Emily Cowen. I'll introduce Tyler here Tyler Irwin is a Assistant Director for Curriculum and technology integration at forward edge. He is six years of classroom teaching experience, including for years as a seventh grade language arts teacher and a local middle school currently serves as a Google Certified Trainer and mentor coach. He has four years of experience as an instructional coach for multiple school districts in the Cincinnati area. Andy works for the entire Ford Edge team to ensure high quality technology integration across our partner districts. So welcome in Tyler.

Tyler Erwin:

Yeah, glad to be here, guys.

Katie Ritter:

Glad to have you back.

Tyler Erwin:

It's been a while. Yeah, I was hoping you would have me back. But I'm definitely glad to be here today.

Katie Ritter:

Yeah. And I will introduce Emily Cowan. If you've been listening over the past few episodes, Emily has been with us. She was with us on part one most recently of our PD series, and then also with our interview with Amanda del Bosco from Google about the Google certified coaching program. So we're happy to have Emily back. But just to remind you, Emily, prior to her coaching role, she taught for six years as a middle school language arts and science teacher in Charleston, South Carolina, and Columbus, Ohio. Currently, she is working across multiple districts to support K 12 teachers in the Cincinnati area. She also provided 100% virtual coaching to school districts in Kentucky. And she is a Google certified educator, trainer and coach and also newly minted title of instructional design coach, which we switch to our team. So maybe we'll talk about that in upcoming episode. But for now, that's the newly minted title for Emily. Hey, thanks.

Emily Cowan:

Good to be back soon.

Katie Ritter:

Yeah. Okay, so guys, we're gonna kick off this four part series, talking about coaching cycles, hoping it's the perfect time of year for our listeners. It's September, I think everybody's probably back in school now who's listening? So welcome back, hopefully, you're kicking the year off, right? And hopefully starting to think about how you can implement these really structured coaching cycles to create deep sustainable change for teachers. So when we say that, could you guys just kind of as simplistically as you can, what's the elevator pitch for? You know, what is a coaching cycle?

Tyler Erwin:

Yeah, I think for me, the biggest thing is, as a coach, you want to deepen your impact. And that's what I try and pitch this as to teachers, is, you know, it's personalized one on one time, where we work together towards some sort of sustained goal. And that can change depending on the teacher, the grade level, the students, whatever, all the different variables that teacher has going on in their teacher life. So that's the big thing for me is to really help them see progress and growth in their own technology integration. And it's tailored to their needs, which I think is key.

Katie Ritter:

Excellent. Emily, what's your elevator?

Emily Cowan:

No, I think I would echo everything Tyler said. For me, I tried to, you know, maybe not use the term coaching cycles, particularly with teachers. And so I kind of use my elevator pitch to say, hey, it's an extra set of hands, an extra set of eyes and extra brain that that comes with you for planning and I can co teach and I can help you reflect on your lessons. So I kind of look at it from that lens to translate it to the teachers. But other than that, exactly what Tyler said it's ongoing meetings with a specific group of teachers to really help them grow in a specific area.

Katie Ritter:

Excellent. I liked the spin of maybe not using the term with them to maybe set them up to be a little scared of it, but still telling them what it is all the benefits.

Justin Thomas:

Yeah, really great pitch. She's there. But let's, let's go with this game show idea of so you want to start a coaching cycle, obviously, if you want to do so there's a very specific group of people that you have to get on board and that is your administration. So how do you present this to your admin to kind of get them on board with having you then implement coaching cycles with your teachers?

Tyler Erwin:

Yeah, I think most admin, when you take this idea to them, most of them have a couple of like criteria that they want it to meet. They don't want it to overburden their teachers. They definitely want it to be something that is useful and practical for them. And I think ultimately, they they do want to see some sort of progress, like, what are you going to be tracking? Like, what are you going to be working on? What's the theme or the focus for your meetings with the different staff members that I have? And once you clarify those things that look, this is really to make their job easier, we're going to be focusing on things that directly impact the classroom, the students. And yes, we are going to be tracking our meetings throughout this entire cycle, we are going to possibly have them fill out some sort of self evaluation at the beginning, and then at the end, so they can even see their growth as well. I think when you clarify those things for them, and then let them know that it is specifically tailored to each teacher and their needs, they're completely on board because it also makes their job easier as well. So I think those are the big things that you want to clear up right away. And let's be honest, too, you have to make it clear that it's not going to add any more work to the admins play. Once that checkbox has been clarified, then you're pretty much good to go.

Emily Cowan:

Yeah, I totally agree with Tyler. I also think that in my experience, admin don't always understand what the coaching cycle is. So for me, it's kind of showing them the difference between these one off meetings based on appointment schedules, or appointment opportunities, versus this ongoing coaching cycle. So really highlighting how the teacher like Tyler said, gets to pick their goal, it's tailored to them, and really changing a problem of practice. And, you know, having experience and doing coaching cycles in the past anytime I'm trying to pitch it because I am kicking it off in a district to the shear that hasn't done it in the past. So some of those conversations were wrapped around the successes I've seen in teachers. So giving them that real tangible example of what can happen in a coaching cycle has also helped to get them on board. And that I know that there's also kind of this fear of how are we going to get people involved. You know, like, like we said earlier, like Tyler said, We don't want to burden the teachers, we don't want it to be one more thing. So giving them ideas for incentives to get people to actually sign up because it does, it does sound a little scary, to be honest, you know, committing that much time. So offering them ideas, like, I know, some of us the schools offer CEUs, or contact hours for teachers that work with the coach or waver days during PD days, because they are spending so much time professionally developing with the coach on their own time. So those are some of the things that I do to kind of get them more on board or just encourage if they already are on board.

Tyler Erwin:

Yeah, I think you mentioned making it tangible for them, you know, not only what the outcomes will be, but even like, what's the schedule going to look like? Like? How long will this span? What are you going to do in some of the meetings when you're meeting with these teachers? Like what's the purpose of the first few meetings in the middle few meetings? And how do you wrap things up. And then like you said to, you know, administrators, they like to reward their teachers in a variety of ways. So whenever you can bring in those incentives. I know one of the districts I worked at did give them a waiver day, and like it extended their spring break by a whole day. And you know, what a benefit to get when you get an extra day of spring break. And everyone else has to go to like some PD sessions. So that kind of shows that yes, as an administrator you value the time and effort that teachers are putting into these formal coaching cycles. And you see its value and it's worth for them in their own growth and development. So the more tangible you can make it the more you can just kind of lay it out to them and say Hey, as long as you give me the green light I'll take it from here. Usually admin are on board.

Katie Ritter:

Yeah, I love that I want to touch on just a couple of things that you guys said Tyler, I'll start with you since since its most recently in my head but you mentioned it kind of like just getting them to sign off on things you guys know how big of a proponent I am like make the admins life easier. You know, I know that I've suggested it on the podcast too and with you guys and one on ones but actually you know you said it Tyler haven't like laid out like actually put it in a document where it It outlines like what are the eight to nine weeks or however long you're going to you know, however many meetings you're going to have like what does that look like what's discussed and Emily that kind of pulls into your point that I wanted to touch on and you said I love that tip that you just gave is actually high highlighting some of those bright spots from like, what have been the outcomes for the teachers? And for that classroom impact? What, what are those problems of practice that the teachers are focusing on? So that the admin can see this is more than just like getting your email cleaned up, right? This is like making really deep meaningful impact for teachers. And if you haven't ever done coaching cycles, you know, like, so Emily, in your instance, you're lucky because you're on a team with other coaches, you've already done this in other schools. But if you were a coach, just starting out in a district, and you're by yourself, and no one's done these before, how do you highlight those bright spots? So I would just suggest to other people that you know, reach out to your coaching networks, ask what types of problems of practice they've worked on, and use those examples when you bring it to your admin and teachers, the types of things that can be worked on. And I also recommend including some of those examples, like in the hard copy, whatever you're going to use to discuss these with the admin, I think, I think that that's really key. So great tips that you guys just gave, because to Justin's point in his question, if you don't have the admin on board, step one, it's really hard to get these off the ground and running.

Emily Cowan:

Oh, yeah, yeah. And I just want to touch on something that kind of goes off of what Katie said about what Tyler said, and just kind of getting that stamp of approval. One of the districts that I work with, we did coaching cycles last year, and that was predominantly how I spent the second part of the semester, or the school year, and this year, it was we're kind of shifting our focus into providing a lot more PD for the good of the group. But to me, the coaching cycle was so important, and I wanted to kind of remind them that it was important. So if you do have a district that's kind of not as open to coaching cycles, or that's not their first priority, I encourage you to find the time in your schedule, even if it's not as frequent. Just to highlight how important it truly is, so that you can build those bright spots. So you can advocate it, advocate for it in the future.

Katie Ritter:

Absolutely. Great. So next question. So once you've got the admin on board, how do you then get some of the teachers on board, especially if your teachers are feeling a little bit like they're on the fence? I think a lot of times we see teachers feeling like, oh, my gosh, this is gonna be one more thing on my plate. So how do you kind of overcome some of those hesitations?

Tyler Erwin:

Yeah, I think a lot of the things you do for the admin, in many ways you have to do for the teachers as well. So you want to really make your expectations clear. You know, this is how many times we're expected to meet. This is when we'll meet, this is how long it will take. These are some eventual outcomes that other teachers have had when they've done coaching cycles. If you can, whenever you can. You want to get those allies on your side who have done coaching cycles in the past, so that they can kind of speak positively about it. The more people that you have, who have done coaching cycles in the past who can recommend people to do it, the next cohort, that's another way to kind of keep that momentum moving and going. But if you're starting from scratch, you know, definitely clear expectations, you also want to let them know that like I am here to help you to make your job easier, this is not going to be an added burden. In many ways, it's going to help you do a lot of the things that you're already trying to accomplish, that you're already planning for and thinking about in upcoming units or lessons that you're doing. And I think the other thing too, is, you just want to give everyone a fair shake. And so what I mean by that is you don't want this to be Oh, only the teachers who don't use technology, like those are the teachers I'm targeting Yes, or

Katie Ritter:

the applause button right there. We should have

Tyler Erwin:

that ready to go. Or even like, you know, this is only for new teachers to the district who just got hired on or who are fresh out of college because, you know, they need the most help in sharpening their teaching skills. So you want to make the program available to everyone. You want to show positive examples of veteran experience great teachers doing coaching cycles, and of course, newbies or those with low tech confidence doing coaching cycles. So there's a lot of ways just to make it appealing, something that's going to help them that is going to be you know, not use they're not waste their time, you just have to give them that reassurance that like when I come in during your plan belt, we're not going to waste time, this is going to be something that really does benefit you and your students. And if you can keep that as the focus teachers typically buy in

Emily Cowan:

to kind of take what Tyler said, but flip it from the coach perspective. If the coach were hesitant to start coaching cycles, I absolutely encourage you to try them. For me, it was really about the relationships that I built. I built more meaningful relationships with the teachers that I worked with in coaching cycles, I got to know them on a more personal level and I felt like that really translated to the work that we did together. And also I really enjoyed seeing the growth of the teacher because I know where we started. And I could see them as they progressed. And you really do see that transformation in the classroom and from the teacher, as opposed to some of those like one off break fix, or how do I filter my Gmail. So it really, it really is rewarding in that aspect. And a lot of times, you get to see the impact on student learning. And like Tyler said, this can help grow your coaching program in general, because when teachers see what other teachers are doing with you, the word spreads and your calendar starts to fill up. So you know, even if it's not a ton of teachers that you're working with, right off the bat, and you just have, you know, two or three that will work with you, it will grow your program.

Tyler Erwin:

And I would just add to that real quick, you know, looking at the question again, and seeing where Emily's coming from. I think that, for me, when I started coaching cycles, those were my favorite days on site, you know, when I knew that I was going to be doing coaching meetings, and going in and doing classroom observations or co teaching, or we were going to be goal setting together, or whatever it was, those were typically not only the days that went the quickest and felt the most fulfilled. But at the end really clarified like what my role was, I feel like in a lot of the other work we do, we wear a lot of hats, we get thrown into a lot of different categories of like, you know, Emily said, break fix, or the small little issues that really aren't truly impacting the classroom. But when you start coaching cycles, that's when you see the Deep Impact of your role as a coach. And I feel like for me, it didn't really like galvanized like what I do, until I did coaching cycles. So if you're on the fence, and you feel like oh, my districts very PD centric, or I have so many other responsibilities, like how would I fit it in, I'm telling you, it's worth it. Because when you finally do it, you'll never want to go back to the old way that you used to do it. Just because you really will start to feel the fulfillment of the role in what you do in that school or district.

Katie Ritter:

I love that. And just, I guess just to kind of take a minute and share with the listeners, you know, we're not really necessarily like digging deep into every part of the coaching cycle in this series, you know, like to direct you to Google certified coach curriculum, it does a really excellent job of very much parceling out that five step coaching cycle process. So if you're feeling if you're feeling just a little bit lost on what all is involved in the coaching cycle at this point, and we're kind of selling you on it on doing it, check out that curriculum. But one thing that I do just want to ask you guys really quickly, is if you could share an example or two of just what was that problem that you actually worked with the teacher on in the coaching cycle, like what's maybe the top two teachers problem of practice, or sort of the focus that drove your coaching cycle that stand out to you guys over the years, I feel

Tyler Erwin:

like for me, I worked with a teacher, he was a middle school science teacher, and actually, he was a teacher back when I attended that middle school. So he was obviously a veteran teacher like years of experience. And when he signed up for coaching cycles, I'm not gonna lie I was I was kind of surprised, like pleasantly surprised what surprised. Because sometimes as coaches, we can kind of pigeonhole people and think like, oh, like, they've got their way, you know, they've got their lessons, they don't really need to reach out for much help or maybe feel that need. But when he did, he brought to me this problem. And he felt like when he would do review, before some of his quizzes or tests, or maybe some exams at the end of the quarter, he felt like the review just wasn't having the impact. It wasn't giving him the data that he needed to really see where his students were currently with their knowledge level and their skill level. But that also when they would actually take the test or the exam, like they were completely floundering, failing, the scores were so much lower than he expected. And so in his mind, he felt like, obviously, the instruction was probably lacking throughout the entire unit. But especially his review, was not doing a good job of raising those red flags. And so he wanted to make it more engaging. And he wanted to make it more informative, so that when he actually did the review with students, he could look at it and say, Okay, here's the areas we need to go back over before we wrap this unit up. And so that was really his problem with practice making his review more engaging, and more informative, so that he could then inform him later instruction. And what we ended up doing is working on creating a bunch of different digital breakouts on Google Sites and Google Forms, with all of the review activities that he would do anyways, but he made it more self paced, more student choice, and he made it more like a scavenger hunt, something that you had to solve and you know, different riddles and things like that. And that really took the students to like this next level of excitement and energy when they did the review. They were so much more invested in And they learned the content so much better. And he could see a real jump from the units that he had those breakouts prepared for, to the ones that he didn't. And so now he literally has a different digital breakout for every single unit that he teaches, because of the success that he saw with those few that we made together. So that's just one of many. But that's one that sticks out for me. Because, you know, you can say an old dog doesn't learn new tricks. But he definitely was one teacher that dove in knew exactly what he wanted to work on. And he saw the progress, it was tangible by the end of our coaching cycle together.

Emily Cowan:

Love it. Yeah. Yeah, so mine is a little more relevant to, you know, COVID. And some of the challenges that that brought on, one of the teachers I was working with, had the issue that her students were not communicating in her classroom, they were hybrid learning. So they would maybe sometimes use the chat, but the students who were in class in person didn't talk to each other. They didn't talk to the hybrid students. And as an English teacher, you know, discussion is one of the big pieces that she typically worked on. And she did come from a Montessori background. So for her discussion is huge, and not kind of sticking to the norm. So her her problem of practice, obviously was getting her students to collaborate and communicate. And so we focused on ways to get them communicating where they didn't necessarily have to speak because we realized that a lot of it was that fear of speaking up and being your voice being heard in the classroom and on Zoom. And so we spent the whole time trying different strategies, we looked at parley. And so students were able to discuss and interact with one another in the virtual platform, and it went really well. We focused on using Breakout Rooms and having them come back with tangible evidence of their discussion. Because when she would pop into the breakout rooms before, she noticed that they were completely silent, one person would speak up in class and pretend that the whole group talked, but they did not. So by bringing jam board in to that, to allow them to have something to show for their discussion. And so she was so thrilled with those tools and those strategies, that that's not just a COVID solution. But that's something that she wants to use long term because she really did see the benefits. And we never would have gotten there kind of like on a one to one, you had to have coaching cycles for that. So it was really beneficial to her. And then I think the students as well, because it really did. Her goal was to increase engagement by 80%. And she really did have over 80% of her students interacting after some of those strategies.

Katie Ritter:

That's awesome. Yeah, that's really cool. I was just going to share I

Justin Thomas:

saw Yeah, something over there. I

Katie Ritter:

know, I was debating if I was going to share it or not. But I'll share just a couple of the just really quick, not necessarily adding the background, but I just think like hearing it in a short and sweet. How might we statement is also really helpful. So one of our other coaches, Brooke, this was actually a slide that she created with the teachers that were going through the coaching cycles with her. And it's examples like how might we flip instruction to provide more critical thinking activities during class time? How might we engage students in deep analysis of credibility and bias and World War One propaganda? How might we maximize limited instructional time to teach both social studies and ELA content? And then this one always gives me the goose season makes me cry a little bit when I think about it, but gives students with speech difficulties and opportunity to better connect with their teachers. So I won't steal her thunder in case she ever comes on and talks about that one. But there's a good feel good story behind that, too. So thanks, guys. I didn't mean to totally derail us, I just think sometimes it's helpful for when, when a coach who has never done a coaching cycle before to think about what does this even look like? What are really the types of things that we will be doing? How is this different than me just checking in on a teacher, you know, fairly frequently. So thanks for sharing those. Those are great stories.

Justin Thomas:

Those are great strides. And I'm always like that type of person is like, well, what what are you talking about? Like what is an example? So I think it's really good to put those out there as well. I'll tell you and mentioned more people that wear multiple hats, we do multiple things with coaching. So some of our listeners might be wondering what is the difference between coaching cycles and just kind of your door to door coaching. So we'll get to that here after a moment break from our sponsors. Looking for a program that reaches all teachers in learning new tools to integrate in their lessons, and you badges is the answer and she was in anytime anywhere badging program that is designed to take bite sized tools for instruction, and teach teachers how to use them. LG has received the STC of alignment for Educator Standards, and each badge in our expanding library is aligned to the ISTE standards and the Samer model. Learn more about the program that teachers call addicting and Ford hyphen edge dotnet backslash edu badges and instructional coaches support teachers, students, administrators, and really everyone in the district. In fact, research shows instructional coaching is one of the most impactful forms of professional development. The results in improved teacher instruction and student achievement. But who is supporting the coach Ford Edge provides multiple year long mentorship options recommended by the Google for Education certified coach program to help you gain the valued support you need as an instructional coach, visit Ford hyphen, Edge dotnet to start giving PD to the ultimate PD providers. Welcome back. We have Tyler Irwin and Emily Cowan joining us here for the first part of this series that deals with coaching cycles. And I had asked prior to the break, what is the difference kind of between a coaching cycle and more of that door to door coaching? If you could maybe kind of elaborate on that?

Tyler Erwin:

Yeah, I mean, we touched on it a little bit in the previous question. It's really just the depth at which you go into things. And I think it's the focus to typically when you're doing things more door to door coaching the informal dropins or Poppins, it's going to be like that, on the fly in the moment help, you know, hey, you know, something's not working on my LMS or I need help with this upcoming lesson plan, you know, I want to make sure that this game is set up and ready to go. As opposed to when you're doing the coaching cycle, I think the focus moves away from the teachers needs and it moves more to like the students needs and the classroom impact. And that's not to say that sometimes those on the fly, you know, pieces of advice or help don't impact the classroom, of course they do. But when you really start to take the focus off of the in the moment things and bring it to more of the in depth planning, and the decisions you make as a teacher to really impact students, I think that's the difference between what you get from a coaching cycle versus your Poppins. And so once again, as I mentioned earlier, it took the fulfillment level up a notch for me as well, just because I felt like I was like really doing the job as it's intended to be done. Once I started to do coaching cycles, instead of the more like random on the fly engagements that I would have before.

Emily Cowan:

And if I could hit the retweet button, I would say everything. I feel like a lot of my door to door will find door to door salesman, I felt like I was focusing on the tool or fixing something that was broken. And like Tyler said, coaching cycles really allows you to address a problem of practice. So you're identifying, you know, the teacher is telling you what's wrong, but you're helping them identify what the underlying issue is. And then you're giving them multiple ways to find their way out of that situation. So it's not just, you know, one tool to fix this or one, one, whatever, it's, it's really allowing you to give them options to solve the problem the best way that works for them, or the way that impacts or enhances student learning the most.

Katie Ritter:

All right, guys. So now kind of the fun part, I think with this question where we get to learn from you your successes, and maybe your your failures, or your fail forwards, put a little bit of a positive spin on it. But explain how you personally started coaching cycles in your districts. And if you can kind of highlight maybe those successes and sort of what you learned from and you did it differently next time.

Tyler Erwin:

Yeah, so for me, coaching cycles were sort of a collaborative effort between myself forward edge in the district I was going to be working with. So like that was my goal to come there and once a week and do coaching cycles. And so that was such a treat, because like that was my only focus, I knew that I could come in, invest all my time and energy into the program, and not really have to worry about anything else. So because that's how it started off, I was able to go through each of the different grade level teams with one of the curriculum directors, and we were able to actually like sit down and explain to all the teachers in person, like what coaching cycles would be like, how often we would meet, like when we would do all these things we've already talked about. And so that was just an awesome way to start things off. Because not only did it clarify like what coaching cycles are for the teachers, but it had that level of credibility, because here I had someone from the district with me supporting everything I was saying. And so you know, that may not be your case or your situation. But the more support you can get from the district, the better. And once again, the clearer you can make the expectations, the better. And then from that point on, we actually started off the very first time I did coaching cycles, we had teachers film, a short audition video. And so we were expecting there to be a lot of people to sign up because once again at this district, they were giving you an extra day of spring break if you did coaching cycles. And we got a lot but definitely not as many as we expected. And when we asked people why it was because they did not want to do the video. So this was in the age before COVID And before we were on Zoom every day of our lives. And I think people were just a little gun shy about filming a video about themselves and like why they want to do coaching cycles. Well Once we removed that sort of expectation or that requirement, we had a lot more people sign up. And so

Justin Thomas:

Emily's over there nodding your head, like, yeah, that is not what I want, I would not

Emily Cowan:

have signed up to work with you.

Tyler Erwin:

And so maybe we set the bar too high at first, but we were able to just like, be flexible and pivot in the moment and say, hey, if that's like a barrier, that's just a silly, like, artificial barrier, we don't want to have that in place, that it's going to prevent people from signing up for this awesome experience. So that was one of the first like, failures, for sure is just, hey, we had this expectation, we're gonna get 20 people to sign up and we maybe had like, six, right. And then you remove that requirement. And we had a almost 20, signup for the first cohort. So it was pretty amazing in that way, just to see the response from all the different teachers in the district. And you know, I can't stress once again, some of the questions we've already touched on, get your admin on board, get their support, make it tangible, let the teachers know exactly what you're going to be doing, how they sign up when you're going to be meeting. And so once we had the cohort in place, we made the schedule, and we just started meeting together, you know, right on cue. And I think overall, even though there were some minor failures, and some fail forwards, there was a lot of success with my very first coaching cycle. And I feel like if you're on the fence, still, you'll have the exact same experience, there might be things that you redo or rethink, but most of it is going to be an extremely positive experience.

Emily Cowan:

Yeah, I like everything that you said. And you know, being on a team that shares resources, Tyler had shared that Google form where they were asked to record and I had modified so that they could type or record themselves. And that still, I think, was a little bit of a hindrance to who, who ultimately submitted. So moving forward, I completely remove that piece and just said, like, do you commit to working with me for this many weeks? Do you commit to this many meetings, which has been helpful, but honestly, I'm excited to start them this year. Like I said, one of my districts is doing it for the first time. And so, you know, I've really gotten the opportunity to get this off the ground running in a very positive way. And that looked like the admin carving out time at the last staff meeting of the school year, where I had about 15 minutes to just kind of plug what coaching cycles were, what I could do for them. And to kind of remind them to think about it over the summer. Just because we know our teacher brains never truly shut off. So while you're planning for the school year, or you know, packing up your classroom, if something pops into your head, jot it down or be thinking about things that you could work with me next year, because I know that sometimes you get to coaching cycles, and they're like, Well, I don't really know, especially if you're doing full coaching cycles, I don't really know what my problem is, I don't really know what I want to work on. So getting started ahead of time, is a really great way to do it. I've used Canva, to create flyers that I'm going to spam their inboxes with, when we go back, usually I try to keep it like funny and light and not too informational. But I have emails prepared to send out just so that they know constantly what's going on and what's coming. And one of the things I'm most excited about is that they actually carved out time on their PD day, not for me to provide actual PD, but for teachers to come in, get a refresher on what coaching cycles are. And then I'm also supposed to use that time to kind of like workshop some goals or help them kind of brainstorm what they could work on in a coaching cycle. So I think that's really going to promote and ensure that I do get people signed up. So especially we talked about it this morning that teachers are not necessarily totally ready for PD right now. So I think that's a great use of that time. Yeah,

Katie Ritter:

awesome ideas.

Justin Thomas:

All right. Someone on our team once said, coaching cycles can be compared to a pair of jeans, everyone prefers a different fit. I don't know who that was. But it's interesting. And I think it's kind of cool, because I think that's probably true with when we're talking about jeans. But let's talk about districts as well, because it's true, every single district probably has a little different style of what they would want to accept as a coaching strategy. So how would you suggest finding the right fit for your school district? And more specifically, thinking about planning that structure for the coaching cycle?

Tyler Erwin:

Yeah, I think that that's something that Emily and I can both really speak to because we are in very unique and like different circumstances. So when I first started out, like I mentioned earlier, one day a week, like that was my only focus. And so I could do coaching cycles with no other responsibilities or attachments. And I could just fill up my schedule, you know, so every bell of the day I was meeting with a different teacher or doing a different classroom observation or whatever it might be. That's likely not your situation if you're listening to this podcast now. The It's very unlikely that all you're doing in your district is coaching cycles. And so you need to look at how many days Am I in the building? You know, what hours of the day would be best to meet for coaching cycles? What other responsibilities do I have on my plate? And that's one of the things that we work through with all of our coaches is how many days of the week? Are you going to offer coaching cycles? Is it going to be quarter based semester based? How many weeks are you going to do coaching cycles for? How many teachers are you expecting to have in your cohort, for some of us, it may just be one or two teachers a building. For other coaches, you may be able to fill up your plate and do 810 or more coaches or more teachers in your coaching cycles. So it really just depends on where you're working, what their schedule is, like, what their needs are, what other responsibilities you have. And then once you figure out all those different variables, then you can start to put a schedule in place that aligns with that five step coaching model from Google, where you can say, hey, you know, week one, we're going to do phases one and two, of the five step model. And then, you know, maybe throughout weeks two and three, we're going to focus on phase three, and then move on to the other phases throughout the rest of the cycle as well. So it just gives you that opportunity to really think about what's going to fit the needs of your teachers best. And make sure that you're maximizing your time, and of course, giving the attention to the other responsibilities that you have.

Emily Cowan:

Yeah, so it's going to look a little different for me this year, generally speaking, kind of like Tyler said, I plan for eight meetings over 16 weeks. So it usually runs about a semester, which has been really beneficial, because those off weeks have allowed me to pop into classrooms for informal observations, or co teach, or just some general time between our meetings so that I can research and collect information or prepare something for my teachers. But this year, it's going to look quite a bit different. So I'll be able to meet with any teacher every other week. But I will not be in those buildings on the in between weeks. So I will still be kind of figuring out what that might look like. So it might be meeting with them one time a month. And then the other time that I'm in the building that month, I will probably be then doing my observations and my Poppins so to speak. But no matter what your structure looks like, I think that you're gonna see growth. So I think it is important to kind of build that in I know, I've always done semesters, but I think one of my districts this year is even thinking about quarters. So

Katie Ritter:

yeah, I was actually going to ask that as a follow up question with you guys. So I think I think most of the people on our team do it on a quarterly basis to allow for those eight meetings every other week, so that the teachers aren't committing to like eight weeks in a row without having an off week in the coaching cycle. For me, and my experience, I always found that teachers are more responsive to that, because they know it's, it seems like less of a commitment for some reason, instead of like eight to 10, or however many meetings you're going to have of weeks in a row of giving up your plan bell on a certain day, every week. So I was just going to get your guys's feedback on that, and kind of your experience. And if you think teachers are more responsive to that or not.

Tyler Erwin:

Yeah, so I've done both, I've done both, or you have a week off in between, and you're maybe like flip flopping between different groups of teachers. And then where you just go straight through and do eight or 10 weeks straight. In my experience, it's best to have the off week, not only to give the teachers a bit of a break, but also for you to like give you the time, you need to come back to the table with options and ideas. And to follow up on all the plans that you made in your previous meetings. I think another thing that's really key with this is just ask, because there are some teachers, they want to do eight straight weeks, because like they have something upcoming, their goal is maybe a unit that they want to do a month or two from now. It's maybe not next semester. So if you're extending it out over a period of 16 weeks, maybe over two quarters, the unit that they want to work on can be done and gone by then. And so I really do think it's best to be flexible when you can, you know, put the structure in place and kind of let them know, Hey, here's some of the things I've noticed when I have done eight straight weeks or a quarter base coaching cycle. But if that's what you'd like to do, like I'm all for it. So the more flexibility you can give them, the more adaptable you can be the better. Because I do think some teachers like they already have it in their mind, this is what I want to work on. Here's when I want to use it. And you kind of look at the calendar and you're like, hey, that only gives us eight weeks. So we better get started now if this is what you want to accomplish. Yeah, so just you know, whatever structure you end up using, ask the teachers what's going to work best for them and be flexible. That's going to give you the most success.

Emily Cowan:

I absolutely agree. I think that I show up as a better coach like Tyler said when I have that week in between because that really allows me to put How to Prepare to create, to bring to have stuff to bring to the table for them. But like he said, I did have one teacher who we met every week for 16 weeks, they did not want the off week, they really wanted it to keep rolling. So I agree, if you can give them the opportunity to kind of guide what works for their schedule, or what works for their goal, then I think that's really impactful, too.

Katie Ritter:

I love that that's a great thing. And I'm glad that you guys shared those perspectives, because especially since you know, we use the Google certified coach, the five step model and, and implement implementing that and with that curriculum, and that I think, is the one place that I differ in my opinion from the curriculum, I know that they recommend eight to nine straight weeks in a row. And so what I like about that, and what I just kind of want to reiterate, especially if listeners are using that curriculum, to understand and implement coaching cycles is it is a model, they call it a model, you know, it's a skeleton to give you a framework to work off of where you are allowed that flexibility to kind of do what works for you. It's not like taking it to a copy machine. And you have to implement that as is. So I appreciate that perspective, especially, you know, asking the teachers, there's a novel idea.

Tyler Erwin:

I'm even thinking of like some of our coaches who listen in, you know, I've heard from your own experience that you may only be in a building once a month. Yeah. So how in the world could you even do like the every other week thing. So it just comes down to like looking at your circumstances, looking at your district calendar, your coaching schedule, and finding the situation that fits your needs and your teachers needs best. And so if that doesn't line up to the model, like that's okay, you know, that's an ideal schedule gives you an idea of where to start. But then you really do have to modify it to fit the needs of your district if you want it to be successful.

Justin Thomas:

Yeah, and I'll even chime in with that. I had a couple of teachers I worked with for coaching cycles, and we did kind of every other week. And on the on the off week, we were doing Google session. So that can actually, I mean, we were meeting every week, but it was a little different focus. But some of those conversations we have with learning different Google tools. And some of those things actually help feel some of those deeper dives in the coaching sessions as well.

Katie Ritter:

Awesome double whammy, double whammy. Yeah. All right, guys. Last question for you. We've been ending with top tips. So that's how we're going to end today. So share your top three tips to start a coaching cycle.

Tyler Erwin:

Alright, this is a good question. So I thought about this earlier. I think for me, tip number one is set clear expectations. So I've said that several times throughout this podcast. But you know, that includes the schedule, when you're going to meet what's you're going to meet about how long it's going to be how you sign up where they access the information, just make everything so crystal clear. So that when a teacher signs up, like they're ready to go, they're excited, there's no guesswork to it, I would say the second thing would be be ready to be empathetic and open minded. So you may come in thinking, wow, I'd really like to work with this teacher on this problem of practice. And they may end up going in a different direction. Once you build a relationship with them and get to know them, you may realize that maybe they need to go in that direction, or they need help in a different area that you didn't anticipate. And many times as you work with teachers, you'll see that it does put them in a vulnerable position to be open with you, and to talk about some of the struggles or the areas that are a problem for them in their classroom. And so the more empathetic you can be, the better relationship you can build with them. That's really going to help when they eventually pick their goal. You don't want to pick the goal or problem of practice, you want to let them do that. And honestly, they may not. If you kind of already come in with the direction you think this cycle is going to go. So be empathetic, be a good listener, be open minded. And then I would say lastly, just keep it fun. And so when you go to meet with them, keep it fun and beneficial. So make sure you're always bringing something to the table as well. Yes, the teacher is going to be doing the bulk of the work is still there classroom, it's still there content, it's still there students, but you do want to continue to bring things to the table, to show your worth to benefit the teacher and to give them the insights and knowledge that they need. And when you do that it is a fun experience. And so you can keep it light joke with them build that relationship, but the better you can come prepared, the more beneficial it's going to be for everyone.

Emily Cowan:

All right, well, mine are different, but those were really good. I was gonna say, start by preparing your code your like dream team coaching cycle and that looks like picking teachers of all ability levels, all different content areas. Generally that can come from teachers that you already know well or you work with frequently. If you are a first year or coach, then I recommend you spending the first few weeks of the school year really building relationships and kind of finding those people, maybe that means you're on a shorter coaching cycle like six consecutive weeks or you know, whatever. But find the people that you think would be a good fit. If you have coached before you like, I don't know, someone said earlier, I think it must have been Tyler, about using the people who have been in your coaching cycles in the past to recommend people for your upcoming book, kind of have an idea in mind of people that you can go to and seek out and invite personally, because I do feel like personally inviting people to participate in coaching cycles. helps, because then they know that you're like actually reaching them and not just sending out this generic email or Google form. And then the second thing would be just very basic, good advertising, make sure they know what's happening. Like Tyler said, like, have it all laid out ready to go make it exciting, make it fun, but just send those emails, hang those flyers, even if it's in the bathroom, or in the copier room, but just make sure they know what's happening. Because I can't tell you many times, it's like, oh, I would have done that, if I had known and it's like, could not possibly have told you. Yeah, any more times. But okay, sure. So just make sure you're very clear that you're, you're having those conversations, you're posting that information as many places as possible. And then kind of like what Tyler said, plan ahead. Even if you're not going to start in fall, you're not gonna start till spring look ahead, plan the dates that you're going to do it the weeks that it's going to fall on, have an outline, start creating materials to share for that advertising. Or start, you know, building that group of people or talking to those people, but it's really hard to launch kind of on the spot. So take the time and know exactly how it's all going to fall into place when you when you are going to start them.

Justin Thomas:

I really liked all of those tips that was really good Tyler, like your your, you know, the empathetic tip as well, because I think that goes so far with building that relationship. And being someone that is you can trust to really kind of throw some of these crazy ideas you might have your teachers might have and trying to figure out how you can actually go about doing that, and emulate like your dream team incorporating, you know, all different levels of tech, you know, if you have a basketball team, your dream team is just a bunch of shooters, and no one actually plays defense, you're not going to probably win very many games. So I like that to have kind of a well rounded team. You know, I think Tyler can relate to Oh, yeah,

Tyler Erwin:

I was always all about it.

Justin Thomas:

Any final aspects that kind of go along with this idea of setting up coaching cycles, anything that you feel like you hadn't mentioned yet, or anything along those lines?

Emily Cowan:

I know we've said it multiple times. But if you have not listened to the episode about Google's coaching curriculum, I would definitely go back and listen to that. And also going through that curriculum, because that's really going to set you up for success with all the resources that are available and the information. If you haven't done that, I definitely would check that out.

Katie Ritter:

And that is Episode 13, I believe? I think so.

Tyler Erwin:

Yeah, I would say for me, you know, just if you have been a coach for many years, just try to remember what it was like being a teacher, you know, all the different things that you struggled with all the different responsibilities you had on your plate, and then try to envision what it would what it would have been like, had you had a coach and ally on your side, you know, helping you through this sustained conversation towards some sort of goal or problem of practice. And when you can put yourself in those shoes, and envision what that would have been like, then I think you can really start to like in your mind, picture what it will look like for you as the coach on the other side of things to be helping them. And so you definitely want it to be of benefit, want it to be fun, and everyone's going to enjoy it. In the end, it's going to be a great success. So if you haven't done so already, you know, dive in and get to planning because there's no better time to start the now.

Justin Thomas:

Awesome. Well tune in next time for part two of this four part series on coaching cycle. It's going to be talking about impactful coaching conversations. I believe Tyler is going to be joining us again for that one. So excited to really dive into that. So that's once again, coming up two weeks from now.

Katie Ritter:

Awesome. Well guys, thank you so much for all of these wonderful ideas that you shared with our coaches. And that is it for today's episode listeners. So please be sure to subscribe to restart recharge wherever you listen to podcast, and follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at our our coach caste.

Justin Thomas:

And as we are diving into this coaching Cycle series, obviously there might be some things that come up on your mind. Please feel free to reach out to us on those social media channels and we can kind of incorporate that into our sessions as well.

Katie Ritter:

Absolutely. So press the restart button

Justin Thomas:

recharging coaching batteries and leave feeling equipped and inspired to coach fearlessly with the restart recharge podcast,

Katie Ritter:

a tech coach collected Have

Justin Thomas:

you edit this sorry