Student-Centered Coaching: A Guide for K-8 Coaches and Principals

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Diane Sweeney

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  • Praise for Diane Sweeney's Student-Centered Coaching: A Guide for K–8 Coaches and Principals

    Sweeney's stories of coaching and the useful materials, tips, and protocols bring student-centered coaching alive. This book has the power to revolutionize the ways coaching is conceptualized and enacted in K–12 schools nationwide.

    —Nancy Fichtman Dana, Professor of Education University of Florida School of Teaching and Learning Gainesville, FL

    Student-Centered Coaching will change the conversation about coaching in this country. For too long, coaches and principals have been angst-ridden about getting teachers to utilize certain teaching practices with precious little conversation about the outcome for students. Sweeney shows us how vital it is to focus our coaching efforts on the ultimate beneficiary—the student. With a myriad of tools including rubrics coaches can use to place themselves on the continuum of student-centered coaching, we walk away from this book with the means to implement student-centered coaching as well as an entirely different perspective.

    —Ellin Oliver Keene, Author and Consultant Mosaic of Thought (Heinemann, 1997) Denver, CO

    The breadth and depth of her knowledge led me to want to dig deeper and improve my coaching skills, and to advocate for student-centered coaching districtwide. She provides insight that I believe will impact my ability to get into more classrooms, to work more effectively with more teachers, and to be more thoughtful in my work.

    —Mary L. Morris, Instructional Coach for Math & Science Tacoma Public Schools Tacoma, WA

    An excellent resource that should be on the bookshelf of every principal and instructional coach.

    —Roberto Pamas, Principal O.W. Holmes Middle School Fairfax County Public Schools Alexandria, VA

    This book is a must-have for new instructional coaches. I wish I would have had it at the beginning of my first year!

    —Kevin Schlomer, Instructional Coach Terrace Elementary School Ankeny Community School District Ankeny, IA

    Diane has taken a commitment to instructional leadership and turned it into practical models and applications. She has a thorough grounding in the research, which she combines with extensive personal experience and a brass-tacks orientation toward helping teachers, coaches, and administrators improve.

    —Rob Stein, Past Principal Manual High School Denver, CO

    This is a timely and important piece in the coaching world. The focus on students rather than teachers is the only way we will help schools reach meaningful change.

    —Jennifer Thoma, Instructional Coach Northeast Elementary School Ankeny Community School District Ankeny, IA

    Copyright

    View Copyright Page

    Acknowledgments

    I began writing this book in the lazy days of summer. I would set up my computer just inside the screen door so I could hear the hummingbirds buzzing around. Now, with the project in its final days, winter has arrived and snow blankets the ground. At times the writing was a long, hard slog and at others my fingers seemed to light the keyboard on fire. Through the good and bad, through the hard and easy, the common thread has been the people that fill both the pages in this book and in my life. People whom I would like to thank.

    First is Dan Alpert, Senior Acquisitions Editor for Corwin. Without Dan's interest and attention, this book simply wouldn't be.

    Many thanks to a tireless group of district leaders, including Tony Byrd and Lara Drew (Edmonds School District, WA); Lisa Meredith (Parkway School District, MO); Cheri Patterson, Brian Shindorf, and Jaime Dial (St. Joseph School District, MO); Phil Collins and Amy Rubin (Glenview District 34, IL); Kathy Horvath (Northbrook District 28, IL); Carrie Cahill (Midlothian School District, IL); and Margo Mann (Wentzville School District, MO). I have benefited greatly from the insight, experience, and dedication of each of you.

    I would like to thank the committed coaches and principals whom I have been privileged to work with. Too numerous to name, they include the coaches and principals from the following school districts: Edmonds (WA), St. Joseph (MO), Parkway (MO), Glenview 34 (IL), Northbrook 28 (IL), Midlothian (IL), Kent (WA), Federal Way (WA), and Wentzville (MO). A few whom I'd like to highlight are Julia Andrews, Maggie Conners, Kim Copeland, Shelly Dearmon, Pam Schaff, Marie Verhaar, Mary Sue Smith, Jamie Downes, Angie Klaassen, and Lisa Elifrits.

    Many thanks to the teachers that I have learned alongside—teachers who have helped me detangle my thoughts about school-based coaching and figure out how it looked in real classrooms with real kids. Two that I would like to thank by name are Kristi Welch and Nicole Miller.

    Thank you to Roberta Buhle, Shari Frost, and Marcia Caulkins at National Louis University. Your willingness to share my drafts in your coaching courses provided invaluable feedback and support.

    I am indebted to Susan Levy, Mariah Dickson, Shannon Stanton, and Brooke O'Drobinak. I turned to you for insight and you tackled my messy and sometimes incoherent drafts with vigor. I thank you for taking time out of your busy lives to share your thoughts and opinions to make this a better book.

    I sometimes wonder aloud when life will slow down, and then my husband reminds me that with a four-year-old and seven-year-old, it could be awhile. Many thanks to our family and friends who have brought to life the saying, “It takes a village.” This includes Ted and Genese Sweeney, Richard and Karen Rosenberg, Kenneth Rosenberg, Gretchen Faber, and Cary Cazzanigi. Without them, I would have never been able to write this book.

    To my children, who think it's really cool that I go off to work in classrooms and schools around the country. Their patience and love is without measure. And to my husband Dan, who, due to my many frequent-flier miles, has endured countless nights alone with our children, making a frozen pizza, giving baths, and tucking them in to bed. He truly understands the passion and importance I feel for this work and has supported me every step of the way.

    The seasons will change once again, and our teachers and students will continue on with the important work that they do each and every day. And for them, I give thanks.

    Publisher's Acknowledgments

    Corwin gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the following reviewers:

    Deborah Ekwo, Instruction Coordinator/Coach

    Houston Independent School District Professional Development Services

    Houston, TX

    Kathy Ferrell, Instructional Coach

    Excelsior Springs Middle School

    Liberty, MO

    Sandy Humbyrd, Math & Science Instructional Coach

    Hollister R-5 Schools

    Hollister, MO

    Jenny Jacob, Instructional Coach

    Ashland Ridge Elementary School

    Ankeny, IA

    Alissa Jones, Instructional Coach

    Ankeny Schools

    Ankeny, IA

    Nicole Kemp, Principal

    Williamsburg Elementary School

    Williamsburg, MO

    Marianne Lescher, Principal

    Kyrene de la Mariposa Elementary School

    Gilbert, AZ

    Wanda Lofton, Instruction Services School Coach

    John Stanford Center

    Seattle, WA

    Kristi Mixdorf, Instructional Coach

    Northwest Elementary School

    Ankeny, IA

    Sara Muller, Instructional Coach

    Westwood Elementary School

    Ankeny, IA

    Roberto Pamas

    O.W. Holmes Middle School

    Dallas, TX

    Lois Reitz, Instructional Coach

    South Valley Middle School

    Gilcrest, CO

    Linda Robinson, Retired Principal/School Consultant & Coach

    Houston, TX

    Ed Sansom, Principal

    Seven Oaks Middle School

    Lebanon, OR

    Kevin Schlomer, Elementary Instructional Coach

    Terrace Elementary School

    Ankeny Community School District

    Ankeny, IA

    Jennifer Thoma, Instructional Coach

    Northeast Elementary School

    Ankeny, IA

    About the Author

    Diane Sweeney is Lead Consultant for Spark Innovation, a consulting firm specializing in coaching, literacy, and leadership. In her current role, Diane supports teachers, coaches, principals, and district leaders in the development of a student-centered approach for instruction and professional development. Diane has also served as a teacher, literacy coach, and university professor. She currently lives with her family in Denver, Colorado.

  • Resource A: Tools for the Assessment and Evaluation of Coaching

    Student-Centered Coaching Rubric

    Results-Based Coaching Tool

    Results-Based Coaching Tool for Small Groups

    Resource B: Agreements

    Teacher and Coach Agreement
    Section 1: Coaching Focus
    • What do you hope students will learn as a result of our coaching work?
    • Is there any student work or data that could help us decide on a focus that would make the most impact with students?
    Section 2: Strategies for Coaching and Collaboration
    • How would you like to interact during our time in the classroom (co-teach, model, observe)?
    • I suggest a weekly planning session for 30–45 minutes; what time works for you?
    • It is also important for me to be in your classroom for one to three times per week; what time is best for you based on your goal for students?
    • How would you like to communicate between our planning sessions (meetings, e-mails, other)?
    Section 3: Meeting the Teacher's Needs
    • Do you have any other concerns about the coaching?
    • Is there anything you want me to be sure to do as your coach?
    Principal and Coach Agreement
    I. The Work

    On what topics/areas should we focus to improve student learning?

    • How has or might student data inform this decision?
    • If necessary, how will we gather the appropriate student data (student work samples, tests, etc.)?
    • How will we collect data across time to demonstrate the impact of coaching on teacher and student learning?
    II. Defining our Roles
    • What roles and responsibilities will we each have in leading professional development (large group, small group, and one-on-one)?
    • How will we introduce the coaching role to the staff?
    III. Ongoing Communication and Scheduling
    • How and when will we communicate?
    • What will the coach's schedule look like?
    • How will we support each other?

    Resource C: Tools for Note Taking and Documentation

    Note-Taking Tool for Student-Centered Labs

    Student-Centered Teacher Evaluation Form

    Resource D: Books and Journals to Support Student-Centered Coaching

    Websites and Journals That Support Coaches and Principals

    Student-Centered Coaching—http://www.studentcenteredcoaching.ning.com

    Spark Innovation—http://www.sparkinnovate.com

    Choice Literacy—http://www.choiceliteracy.com

    Educational Leadership—http://www.ascd.org

    Journal of Staff Development—http://www.nsdc.org

    Literacy Coaching Clearinghouse—http://www.literacycoachingonline.org

    Coaching
    Burkins, J. M. (2007). Coaching for balance: How to meet the challenges of literacy coaching. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
    Dozier, C. (2006). Responsive literacy coaching: Tools for creating and sustaining purposeful change. Stenhouse: Portland, ME.
    Flaherty, J. (1999). Coaching: Evoking excellence in others. Boston, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann.
    Frost, S., Buhle, R., & Blachowicz, C. (2009). Effective literacy coaching. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
    Killion, J., & Harrison, C. (2006). Taking the lead: New roles for teachers and school-based coaches. Oxford, OH: NSDC.
    Knight, J. (2009). Coaching: Approaches and perspectives. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
    Knight, J. (2007). Instructional coaching: A partnership approach to improving instruction. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
    Neufeld, B., & Roper, D. (2003). Coaching: A strategy for developing instructional capacity: Promises and practicalities. Washington, DC: Aspen Institute Program on Education and the Annenberg Institute for School Reform.
    Sadder, M., & Nidus, G. (2009). The literacy coach's game plan: Making teacher collaboration, student learning, and school improvement a reality. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
    Toll, C. (2006). Literacy coach's desk reference: The processes and perspectives for effective coaching. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.
    Toll, C. (2005). The literacy coach's survival guide: Essential questions and practical answers. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
    Culture, Climate, and Change
    Bridges, W. (1991). Transitions: Making sense of life's changes (
    2nd ed.
    ). Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books Group.
    Evans, R. (1996). The human side of school change: Reform, resistance, and the reallife problems of innovation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
    Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in a culture of change. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
    Muhammad, A. (2009). Transforming school culture. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
    Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
    Gender and Generational Research
    Lancaster, L. C., & Stillman, D. (2002). When generations collide. New York, NY: Harper Business.
    Lovely, S., & Buffum, A. (2007). Generations at school: Building an age-friendly learning community. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
    Pace, E. (2009). The X and Y of buy. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
    Leadership and Learning
    Allen, J. (2006). Becoming a literacy leader: Supporting learning and change. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.
    Harwayne, S. (1999). Going public: Priorities and practices at the Manhattan New School. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
    Marzano, R. J., & Waters, T. (2009). District leadership that works: Striking the right balance. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
    Senge, P. (2000). Schools that learn. New York, NY: Doubleday Press.
    Wheatley, M. (2002). Turning to one another. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler.
    Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
    Professional Development
    City, E. A., Elmore, R. F., Fiarman, S. E., & Teitel, L. (2009). Instructional rounds in education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.
    DuFour, R., Eaker, R., & DuFour, R. (2005). On common ground: The power of professional learning communities. Bloomington, IN: NES.
    DuFour, R., & Eaker, R. (1998). Professional learning communities at work: Best practices for enhancing student achievement. Bloomington, IN: NES.
    Guskey, T., & Huberman, M. (Eds.). (1995). Professional development in education. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
    Killion, J. (2008). Assessing impact: Evaluating staff development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
    Sweeney, D. (2003). Learning along the way: Professional development by and for teachers. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.

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    The Corwin logo—a raven striding across an open book—represents the union of courage and learning. Corwin is committed to improving education for all learners by publishing books and other professional development resources for those serving the field of PreK–12 education. By providing practical, hands-on materials, Corwin continues to carry out the promise of its motto: “Helping Educators Do Their Work Better.”


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