Academic Coaching Expectations Pacing Assessment
February 8, 2017
Academic Coaching involves the coordination of all resources available to a student to help inspire them to become the agent and advocate for their own learning experience. An Academic Coach is not just a tutor, he or she is a mentor.
Regardless of the material, I gage ALL academic expectations to the real students sitting in front of me. People are a flawed, feeling and often fickle bunch. I have honed my intuitive sense and use it to read the room. This affords me the option of establishing a happy medium between what the curriculum demands and what my students can handle. .This is NOT an underestimation of their abilities, but a path to challenging their limits by highlighting their strengths in order to combat their weaknesses. Without fail, expectations change and rise as we move forward.
Once established, I am extremely clear as to the objective of the daily lesson, the unit, the semester and the year. Without a road map, getting lost is incredibly easy. I may know where I want to go, but my route may not always be the best for each individual. If I explicitly state the objective, that gives the individual the option of finding their own path. Who cares how a student gets there, as long as we all meet up at the final destination.
Next is repetition. There nothing that kids (and many adults) find more comforting than repetition. Many complain about having to sit through Frozen seventy times, but kids relish the familiarity. Use that. If you can redirect that driving force to writing various Balanced Chemical Equations seventy times, THAT would be a true triumph for both you and the student.
Artificial Timelines benefit NO ONE.
When faced with the pressures of hitting Institutional, District or National Benchmarks, it is easy to forget rule number one which, again, is that your students are people.. They all have good days and bad days. They are distracted (but to be fair EVERYONE is distracted these days), and the likelihood that they are getting, suffering with, or recovering from some school pandemic is pretty high. Therefore, trying to shove the nervous, digestive and circulatory systems down their throats in a single class followed by a “little quiz”, because the pacing guide says so, will result in EPIC failure.
The solution is to be honest with them.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, in April you will sit for an exam which will require you to know the ins and outs of the nervous, digestive and circulatory systems. I am going the outline what will be expected of you , try to go into as much detail as possible and answer any questions you might have. Success, however, lies with you.”
Kids, even very little ones, get this. I teach 5 year-olds complex self-defense moves that baffle adults. When I’m honest and explicitly state that I understand how difficult what I’m asking of them is and that together we can get through it all if they just give me their best effort, they shine. Each and every one of them shines.
Give them what they can handle, LISTEN to them when they say they don’t get it and give them the support they need to succeed.
You may not hit The Benchmarks but what DOES get through STICKS.
This is my BIGGEST concern with the education system today.
ALL “Assessment Tools”, all testing must be relevant to the instruction. DO NOT teach Content and test for Critical Thought. Critical Thought is a LEARNED skill. You wouldn’t hire someone for a job, give them a dry list of tasks and expect them to preform intricate and intuitive assignments like a seasoned professional.
Why do that to a third-grader?
This is where Mentoring comes in. I constantly share how I experience the material. There are certain concepts that I find difficult to grasp, but I have created approaches that help me conquer those challenges.
Make room in a lesson to share these personal experiences. It does not make you LESS of a Teacher, but actually MORE of a Mentor.
There are many other aspects to being a good coach, trainer, teacher, mentor and friend to a student. I’d love to share more of my experience with you and maybe apply some of that experience to your struggles.