Move to the Middle
I’ve been talking about the top 5 strategies for your coaching toolkit. We’ve already discussed strategy #1, work with the willing, and strategy #2, find the challenge. This week, we’re tackling the next strategy, move to the middle.
The idea behind moving to the middle is that you want to work with as many people as you can in your school, building or district. To do this, you can’t simply work with the willing.
In this week’s video, Kim Cofino focuses on the third strategy for coaches, “Move to the Middle.” Watch the video, then read the show notes below.
You need to move to the middle.
As a coach, you want to meet everyone’s needs. There is a community at our schools of teachers that are excited about what you’re doing, but they aren’t first in line to try it. These people don’t jump on the bandwagon – they’re your “move to the middle” people!
If you want teachers to adopt a learning strategy, in my case, it’s usually technology, I will definitely work with the willing, and use strategy number 2 and find the challenge, but an effective strategy is to talk with those highly respected, solid practitioners that are open to trying out new things, but aren’t the first to do them.
These teachers usually have a strong voice among their colleagues and are highly respected. They aren’t jumping on every bandwagon. If they’re taking the time and effort to learn something new, they’re doing it because it will add value to their practice.
How do you move to the middle?
Very similar to finding the challenge, you’ll need to figure out what’s going on in their classroom to see how you can help them.
As in the two previous strategies we’ve discussed, some ways to start a coaching conversation include:
- Attend planning meetings: You can listen to what problems teachers are facing with certain lessons to determine the best way to help them. Use these meetings as an opportunity to see if you can understand what their challenges are, then approach those teachers to see if they’re open to working towards a solution to their challenge.
- Classroom observations: Approach classroom walkthroughs in a friendly and approachable manner. During your time in the classroom, it can be helpful to have a chat with students to see what they’re thinking about their learning. You can give this feedback to the teacher and see if it opens up the floor to a coaching discussion to talk about what they’re doing great at, and what they might be struggling with.
- Look at documented curriculum: Take a look at a teacher’s curriculum to see if there are clear ways you can help them improve their students’ learning experience.
These three strategies work at any time. Most of the time, teachers in the middle majority want to put in the time and effort to make their practice excellent.
Other ways to get teachers in the middle on board with coaching include:
- Invite them to share what they’re already doing: Teachers in the middle are usually more quiet about the work they’re doing. Invite these teachers to share what they’re already doing with other teachers. They may already be doing interesting things with technology in their classroom.
- Observe other teachers: Have a teacher observe another teacher (perhaps one of the teachers from the original willing group) to see if something sparks from watching them use technology purposefully during a lesson. This can help to open the conversation about how they can use technology to make a lesson better for their students.
- Build relationships: Make sure you’re talking to at least one teachers from each year level or subject. At this time, you may want to identify who you need to build relationships with that you haven’t already done work with.
Why should you move to the middle?
Teachers in the middle majority are really solid practitioners whose voices are strongly regarded. If they try something new with you, others will be more willing to try as well.
The middle majority wants to see if what you’re doing will help them and if it is worth their time to work on it. You need to answer why they should take the time to work with you, and how it will improve student learning.
Want to learn more about the coaching strategies we’re focusing on? Download our free PDF, “The Top 5 Strategies for Your Coaching Toolkit.” This PDF gives an overview of the top 5 strategies we recommend to help you become a successful learning coach. This PDF is great for coaches and teachers wanting to move into a coaching role. Download the PDF here!