Going Beyond 140 Characters: Instructional Coaching Through Ineffective Teaching

This piece stems from an #IAedchat side conversation…

I need to start by saying that there is a big difference between an ineffective teacher and one that refuses to adhere to the vision of the campus community. When one absolutely refuses to do what is right for kids, that is so much more than an ineffective teacher alone. That is an ineffective teacher coupled with a slew of other issues including belligerence.

I also believe that a teacher can be “ineffective” but also want to change but skill, belief and even motivation can get in the way. All of those factors can and should be addressed…but not through mandates for all which is where the following quote comes into play…

“We need to make every decision based on our best people. Every one” – Todd Whitaker

I fully support the above statement but I also know that in SOME schools…not most, not ALL…but SOME….campus admins twist the “Whitaker words” to mean that they only address the needs of the great and ignore “ineffectiveness” entirely. I even know one that says he does not even speak to the ineffective teachers. He has no time for them at all.

Because…yeah ignoring a problem fixes it…

Then there’s this…”Take action when the best teachers have had enough“.

To be clear, when dealing with an “ineffective + other issues” teacher, your good teachers had enough before the school year even started. As a matter of fact, when they got the letter in the mail saying that they would be forced to sit in a room with the “destroyer of all ideas”, they cringed…cried…complained and also secretly plotted their exits from the environment.

Most great teachers won’t complain to their principal about “the destroyer of all ideas” until they have reached their breaking point and should we really be waiting for that to happen??? (NO!)

From an instructional coach… “Ineffective teachers need more support than I can give.” (That depends on which type of ineffective teacher. One that is willing to listen deserves your support. One that is not willing to listen most definitely needs an admin on your side)

As an IC last year, it was tough working with both types of ineffective teachers. We had PLC everyday and I was often the person that helped keep ideas alive because if not…the team would’ve been required to come to a consensus on lessons…ineffective ones at best. (Clearly this line from “Shift the Monkey” was missed because a mandate was made that all teachers teach the exact same lesson…at the exact same time…to every class. That decision had to have been made on the basis of dealing with “ineffectiveness” because otherwise it’s just a really bad decision for kids. Hello differentiation!)

I spent a great deal of my time co-planning, co-teaching, modeling and co-reflecting. The known “stubborn” came around eventually because they were gaining something that had been missed…Investment. Relationships matter a great deal and you have to be willing to build. What I saw happen was a combination of engagement and compliance. I’m not naive enough to think that all were engaged, but the “refusals to change” did at least make a visible attempt and that was HUGE.

I fully agree with the Whitaker statement and pretty much every book that he writes. I don’t believe that we ignore the problems because at best, you need a history of defiance in order to make massive necessary change on behalf of students.

At some point, those “I refuse to do what is right for students” teachers need to understand that they will be asked to get off the bus…and better yet, not even be given a ticket for the next year.

(To be clear, putting 140-165 kids in a class of a known ineffective teacher and ignoring that class entirely is wrong on so many levels. Creating a “recovery class” for those kids to retake the course coupled with 5 different sections of summer school courses that parents have to pay for is down right insane.)

Trust me…I lived it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *