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3 ways to identify teachers who are drowning

3 ways to identify teachers who are drowning –and the best way to rescue them

Struggling teacher 2

Lifeguards—the really good ones– have learned to scan the water to look for two things: swimmers whose behavior is so reckless it could endanger others and swimmers who are struggling and potentially about to drown.

The best school principals and administrators are, in many ways, like lifeguards—minus the water. After years of working with teachers, they know what to look for to quickly determine who is in over their heads.

3 effective ways to identify struggling teachers

Student Behavior:

  • Tardy to class but in no hurry to enter the room
  • Roaming around the room—even though instruction should have begun
  • Laughing frequently and loudly—but not with the teacher
  • Not paying attention to the teacher
  • Leaving the class in large numbers to use the restroom, visit the nurse, or roam the halls

Teacher Behavior:

  • Has a lack of “with-it-ness” regarding what is actually happening in the classroom—doesn’t see or hear the problems
  • Is either too loud (yelling) or saying nothing at all to disruptive students
  • Ineffectively tries to use “positional authority” with students
  • Sends an excessive number of students to the office with referrals
  • Spends a lot of time using “stand and deliver” instruction
  • Rarely encourages students to talk and rarely checks for understanding—too afraid of losing control of the class
  • Seems unable to implement the suggestions others have made for improving

Academic Results:

  • A high number of students are receiving progress reports and low grades
  • Benchmark scores are among the lowest in the building or district
  • Parents are complaining about the teacher

Are We Willing to Make the Investment?

Saving a struggling teacher begins with a belief that they can be saved along with a willingness to make an investment in saving them. What kind of investment? Depending on the resources in the building, the best investment is most likely in investigating a relatively new resource—the resource is called virtual coaching.

Why Virtual Coaching?

Virtual coaches specialize in saving new and struggling teachers. While there are many positives to hiring a virtual coach, perhaps the greatest one is that virtual coaches, as expert outside consultants, do not require the time, attention, or supervision of the administrator. Good virtual coaches have developed their own plan and process that works!

How Does Virtual Coaching Work?

At companies like Sibme, a technology and professional services company, virtual coaching is a service that is offered using a blended approach. Seasoned coaches begin a six-week coaching cycle with weekly, personalized coaching calls to focus on “greatest area of needs” goals. They share relevant resources with the teacher being coached to build a common understanding of ways to make improvements in association with goals. The teacher being coached submits several “snapshot” videos each week via the Sibme technology platform to show the evidence of his/her work on the goal(s). Coaches provide specific time-stamp feedback to the videos. And, finally, each week ends with a coaching report that is shared with both the teacher and the administrator.

 The Only Thing Worse Than Having a Struggling Teacher…

The only thing worse than having a struggling teacher is having a struggling teacher with no systematic and sustainable plan in place for assisting them. Schools typically lack the resources to provide the long-term support necessary to not only help teachers survive—but help them thrive.

It really comes down to two questions for administrators: Do you believe the teachers who are struggling can improve? Are you willing to make the investment to save them? If the answer is yes to both of those questions, then consider exploring companies that offer virtual coaching—it is the best way to save struggling teachers.

Allyson Burnett is an adjunct professor in the Urban Education Department of a university in Houston, Tx. Since retiring from public education and becoming an educational consultant, she has specialized in working with new and struggling teachers.



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