A coach for the coaches

When I think back to the Olympics this summer, what stands out to me is the coaches.

There was Australian swimmer Ariarne Titmus’s coach, who could literally not contain his excitement when his protege beat the legendary American, Katie Ledecky, in the 400 meter freestyle.

There was gymnast Jade Carey’s dad – who is also her coach – crying as he watched her achieve her childhood dream of winning gold. And there was the hug between Simone Biles and her coach, a public affirmation of support after Biles’s difficult decision to drop out of the competition to focus on her mental health.

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 27: Simone Biles of Team United States is embraced by coach Cecile Landi during the Women's Team Final on day four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre on July 27, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Coaches are guides, providing feedback, strategy, and support during victories and challenging moments. This is true for the teaching profession too — behind every terrific teacher is a coach who helped them develop the complex craft. When aspiring teachers enter the classroom, they are often supported by clinical supervisors and mentor teachers who offer advice and accountability. But rarely do those coaches get the opportunity to improve their own practice, to have someone in their corner offering tips and advice.

That’s changing this fall, as dozens of clinical educators join Deans for Impact for a series of coaching workshops and professional learning sessions as part of the Learning by Scientific Design Network. The training is designed to help them identify and coach for excellent and equitable instruction informed by principles of learning science.

By training clinical supervisors (and eventually mentor teachers) on learning science, Deans for Impact hopes to create cohesive clinical experiences for teacher-candidates that expand on the learning science principles they learned previously in methods courses.

“We’re hoping to see a lot of awesome coaching conversations happening between our teacher-educators and our teacher-candidates,” said Dr. Amber Willis, Program Director overseeing the project. “We’re going to be listening really carefully and thinking a lot about the language that they’re using, helping teacher-educators to use the language that the teacher-candidates are hearing inside of their methods courses and K-12 classrooms in coaching conversations as well.”

To guide progress throughout the year, our team will collect data using our Learning by Scientific Design Assessment, classroom observation, exit tickets, and artifacts of coaching conversations such as lesson plans. Then, they will coach faculty and staff on how to make changes and improvements. The teams will also meet twice to share high-level data and trends at network convenings.

“We’ll be providing workshops, coaching cycles, and convenings, as well as assessment points to help teams see the growth of their knowledge over the course of the year,” said Randi Blair, Program Manager. “We’ll be collecting various forms of data to see if the teacher actions are being implemented correctly, and use that to inform our coaching calls.”

Through data-informed improvement, these programs continue to take steps to ensure every teacher graduates with a firm grasp on learning science. To stay up-to-date on the work of the Learning by Scientific Design Network, subscribe to our newsletter.

Staci Bradbury

Creative Content Manager

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