HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal


Every Teacher Needs a Teacher

by Shiffy Landa Issue: Day School Teachers

Landa, a veteran teacher, models the kind of vulnerability that leads to professional growth by describing her own experiences being mentored. She shows that mentorship can be a valuable tool at any career stage.

In a recent TED talk, Bill Gates expressed his belief that everyone needs a coach. It doesn’t matter whether you are a basketball player, tennis player, gymnast, bridge player or even a teacher. “We all need people who will give us feedback because that’s how we improve,” Gates explained. He and his wife Melinda were stunned when they heard how little useful feedback most teachers get. His research showed that until recently over 98 percent of teachers received one word of feedback: “satisfactory”! Gates said that even with the improvements made in the way teachers are evaluated today, they still receive almost no feedback that actually helps them improve their practice. He strongly advocates that every teacher would benefit from having a coach.

After reading an article in the October 3, 2011 New Yorker by Atul Gawande, a surgeon who wrote about teachers needing coaches, I entertained the idea of engaging a coach. Gawande, a surgeon for eight years, wrote an article titled “Personal Best: Top Athletes and Singers Have Coaches. Should You?” because he felt that his performance in the operating room had reached a plateau. He wrote that, “No matter how well trained people are, few can sustain their best performance on their own.”

He described the benefits of having a coach when it comes to sports. “Coaches aren’t teachers, but they teach. They’re not your boss, but they can be bossy. In professional tennis, golf and skating the athlete hires and fires the coach. The coach doesn’t even have to be good at the sport. Mainly, they observe, they judge and they guide.” Gawande described how he benefitted from having a coach in the operating room during surgery, and how he perfected his technique by having another pair of eyes in the room with him. He suggested that teachers too could profit from having a coach.

I immediately started contemplating the different areas in which I could use assistance. In the fall I would be teaching new material and wanted help designing my lessons, so that each of my seventh grade students could become an independent learner and discover the thrill of inquiry based learning.

I discussed the idea of having a coach with Tom Hoerr, head of The New City School. Although they weren’t using this model, his suggestion was, “A coach would be someone whose expertise makes the feedback meaningful, and whose role, not a supervisor, perhaps enables it to be better heard.”

The idea of having someone coach me was certainly appealing. My teaching style has evolved over the years, from an MI (multiple intelligence) first grade classroom to integrating arts into the curriculum, and teaching new material from our Chumash curriculum would be challenging. The big question was, who would be my coach? I was looking for an expert educator with whom I would feel comfortable discussing my ambitions as a classroom teacher as well as my insecurities and failures.

I was looking for a colleague perhaps, someone who wouldn’t be afraid to offer suggestions, someone who could really help me grow professionally in all areas of teaching the skills, values and content of the Chumash curriculum. I wanted a coach who wouldn’t be afraid to encourage me and would agree to push me beyond my comfort zone, but at the same time support me when I made mistakes. I knew that for the coaching experience to be successful, I needed to find someone who would enjoy working with me and someone who would enjoy being a part of the process of my professional growth.

Mistakes were inevitable. Would inviting a coach into my classroom be inviting trouble? Would I expose my weaknesses and become vulnerable to criticism? Would I become defensive when a better way to design my lesson was pointed out? Would I be able to handle constructive criticism? What would my students think? After pondering these questions for several weeks, I decided that in order to have the professional development I needed and truly wanted at this point in my career, I was willing to take the risk.

In order for the coaching model to be effective, it was important that the coach be an expert educator and someone I could trust implicitly. It’s not typical to have the head of school for one’s coach, but that’s whom I approached. I wasn’t sure if our head, Rabbi Avi Greene, would consider my suggestion, or if he could find the time. As the Judaic studies curriculum coordinator I worked together with him on pieces of our curriculum, I had a very good working relationship with him, and we had many opportunities to discuss education. Rabbi Greene taught a Mishnah class to the same students I was teaching, he was an expert educator himself and I had a lot of respect for him. I could think of no one more suited for this role than him. You can imagine my delight when he agreed to this idea. Together we designed a coaching model.

Our objective was for me to improve and grow as a Judaic teacher by focusing on the skills, values and content of the Chumash curriculum. We decided to meet once every six weeks; we set goals to check on the engagement and interest level of all students, understanding of individual learning styles and opportunities for skill development. We planned monthly reviews on units/topics, looking at the essential questions and big ideas in my lesson plans and how they aligned with my instruction and student activities. We planned on assessing goals for progression in skill development and checking for understanding.

Rabbi Greene observed my Chumash class on six different occasions. Before each observation, we reviewed and discussed my lesson plans. We had deep discussions about different topics, such as “Did the different responsibilities of the Levite families, Gershon, Kehat and Merari, affect their relationship with Hashem?” “What is a chok (statute)?” “If the Jewish people complained when Miriam died, how do you think they will react to the death of Moshe?” From the story of the spies, we discussed, “Can there be cases where we determine our own punishment? What is the difference between, punishment and consequence?” I enjoyed our discussions immensely; it often felt like I was having my very own private Chumash class with Rabbi Greene. My students and I enjoyed the rich discussions I brought to my classroom.

After he observed my classes, we met and discussed his observations and feedback. Rabbi Greene made certain to document his observations so I could have written evaluations as well. I was pleased that our coaching experience was a professional one.

After having been observed numerous times I asked Rabbi Greene if he thought our coaching model was successful and a productive use of his time. I was worried about taking up too much of his time. He reassured me that this wasn’t the case and expressed his desire “to look for new and better ways for teachers and administrators to reflect on what they do and the way they do it.” “Many of the best models come from the business world. This method seemed to excite you and provide an opportunity to experiment with a new type of reflection method,” Rabbi Greene told me. He added, “This is clearly superior in that there are themes that we have worked to develop in your teaching and I can see how they are growing. This is better than the snapshot method of observation which is limited to what is seen in that moment alone.”

He noted that with the coaching model he had a better understanding of how I teach and what I want to accomplish. “While it was not surprising, I was glad to see that you regularly turned questions back to a student for answering, often referring to the text.”

Beginning in January there was a recurring theme in Rabbi Greene’s evaluations. “Focus on essential questions and have all activities and lesson components follow naturally from these questions.” One of his comments on my lesson plan was, “Be sure that the objective, group discussion and strategies align with the essential question.”

During our very last post-observation meeting, Rabbi Greene was able to crystallize for me the area in which I most needed improvement: the way I was aligning my lessons. I felt comfortable with Rabbi Greene’s feedback style and at the same time I knew he had high expectations of me.

We tend to hide our weaknesses. There were humbling moments for me in the coaching process, and it was uncomfortable at times when a weakness was exposed. Having a coach is about learning and growing more than it is about being evaluated. It’s about having high expectations and striving for excellence, not perfection. I feel that I learned more about myself as a teacher with this format of PD than with any other in my teaching career.

When the school year came to a close last summer and I reflected on the benefits of having a coach, I couldn’t help but wonder how I had managed all of these years without one. Fortunately, Rabbi Greene has agreed to continue coaching me. This year we will continue the same work and expand into integrating technology into my Chumash classes. I am going to begin flipping my Chumash class. I feel passionately that every teacher needs a teacher.♦

Shiffy Landa is a middle school Judaic studies teacher and curriculum coordinator at H. F. Epstein Hebrew Academy in St. Louis, Missouri. slanda@eha.org

Go To the Next Article

Mentoring: A Key to Teacher Retention

In this section, authors emphasize the importance of professional growth for teacher satisfaction and retention.......

Comments

At redskins jerseys Pixar, the versace outlet online Braintrust under armour shoes is cc beanies the jerseys from china meeting free running of prada shoes the minds where a lunette ray ban draft of nike air force a nike air max film air max 2015 is knockoff handbags screened, problems browns jerseys are identified, bengals jerseys and lacoste shoes numerous air max schoenen solutions burberry sale are brainstormed. sacramento kings jersey The Braintrust nike shoes is patriots jerseys no long champ ordinary polo outlet store meeting plein shoes of nike air jordan colleagues. colts jerseys It is hogan outlet a mechanism veneta for www.tommyhilfiger.nl taking an idea, givenchy outlet a plan, a work in coach black friday progress and making new balance canada it texans jerseys better. rolex watches Instead armani outlet of timberland femme scrutinizing pandora bracelet the polo ralph lauren creator, cheap nba jerseys candid comments nba jerseys are directed air jordan at coach outlet store online the dsquared2 sale project north face under review. Conversation is governed beats headphones by an operating levis jeans assumption that azcardinals jerseys the smart people hollister kids in the juicy couture outlet room minnesota timberwolves jersey have a shared investment in enhancing nike free run the tommy hilfiger outlet quality longchamp outlet of the project. No fivefingers directives are given; ralph lauren polo the ralph lauren ideas coach purses outlet online on ralph lauren the table thomas sabo are polo ralph meant roshe run to stimulate jerseys from china the cheap oakley thinking replica watches of burberry sale the director nike store so portland trail blazers jersey that nike free 5.0 she can steer thomas sabo uk forward.

 

If I am the director montre homme of ralph lauren polos a barbour factory movie, or giuseppe zanotti sneakers a teacher asics gel who has reloj created polo ralph lauren outlet online a new ray bans outlet curriculum, or 49ers jerseys a bcbg max azria teacher leader who michael kors has introduced a giants jerseys new program tracksuits store into mcm backpack my jimmy choo outlet school, adidas.se it nike free 5.0 is timberland boots likely coach outlet that I nike roshe am christian louboutin shoes deeply omega watches invested nike air max shoes in my chicago bulls jersey project. My professional identity michael kors is wrapped up in coach factory the work. lakers jerseys Often, we tommy hilfiger dwell nike free 5.0 so far ralph lauren outlet online inside louboutin shoes our versace outlet online own adidas canada projects that we cannot ralph lauren outlet online see new balance outlet what needs to oakley vault change. To find the inspiration celine bags and direction bcbg max to pivot, we the north face need burberry outlet online our eagles jerseys brain trust san antonio spurs jerseys to omega watches participate dolphins jerseys with charlotte hornets jerseys candor and in buccaneers jerseys good faith. michael kors outlet We true religion jeans women need coach outlet online to birkenstock shoes be vans shoes able dre beats to trust that they tommy hilfiger online are chi hair smart and michael kors purses that they know cheap michael kors what longchamp handbags it feels reebok like nike air max thea to be in hollister kids the michael kors hot michael kors taschen seat. purses and handbags Feedback rayban must spring from empathy in order ray ban sunglasses outlet to timberland outlet be ralph lauren outlet constructive; otherwise it just deconstructs and air max leaves us toronto raptors jersey right back where pandora we chiefs jerseys started: cheap ray ban stuck. ralph lauren outlet A pandora canada good brain trust will longchamp produce alternative rams jerseys ideas that inspire action rather adidas than paralyze juicy couture handbags progress. nfl jerseys If the michael kors outlet online feedback jordan retro can stimulate air yeezy shoes new michael kors outlet online sale thinking ferragamo shoes and advance jordans my project, michael kors outlet online I can flourish.At golden state warriors jersey Pixar, the coach outlet online Braintrust adidas superstar is the converse shoes meeting michael kors bags of mont blanc the minds where a draft calvin klein underwear of a film is raiders jerseys screened, nike shoes problems are nike air max identified, nike roshe and numerous solutions soccer shoes are brainstormed. The Braintrust is ferragamo shoes no oakley sunglasses ordinary meeting panthers jerseys of replica watches colleagues. true religion outlet It is a michael kors v?skor mechanism michael kors canada for taking an houston rockets jerseys idea, denver nuggets jerseys a plan, a work in nike outlet progress and jaguars jerseys making it better. hogan Instead ray ban wayfarer of scrutinizing the creator, candid comments red bottoms are lions jerseys directed titans jerseys at reebok shoes outlet the polo ralph lauren outlet project woolrich outlet under swarovski jewelry review. baseball jerseys Conversation coach outlet canada is oakley sunglasses governed oakley by an operating supra footwear assumption indoor soccer shoes that kate spade outlet online the smart oklahoma city thunder jersey people oakley vault in the room michael kors canada have the north face a shared investment in burberry outlet online enhancing the baseball jerseys quality michael kors uk of dallas mavericks jerseys the project. prada No ray bans directives are mbt shoes outlet given; bottega veneta the ideas mizuno wave on michael kors outlet online sale the table are meant rayban to stimulate nike mercurial vapor the thinking ralph lauren outlet of the director so that she hollister online can steer forward.

 

If I am the polo ralph director new york knicks of jordan release dates 2015 a movie, steelers jerseys or a swarovski teacher mcm backpack outlet who has ray ban wayfarer created a wholesale clothing new cheap oakley sunglasses curriculum, or mcm backpack a teacher nike air max leader chi flat iron who stephen curry shoes has nike huarache introduced philipp plein outlet a oakley sunglasses outlet new north face outlet program ferragamo into ralph lauren my cheap basketball shoes school, it is burberry online shop likely that air max I am hollister clothing deeply invested in my nike schoenen project. My nike air max professional identity swarovski crystal is wrapped up in the north face outlet the valentino outlet work. louboutin shoes Often, we dwell michael kors bags so orlando magic jersey far atlanta hawks jerseys inside dsquared2 our christian louboutin shoes own projects converse sneakers that we cannot nike shoes see what ralph lauren factory store needs to change. To nike air max 90 find mcm bags the puma outlet inspiration and skechers direction memphis grizzlies jersey to air huarache pivot, we rolex watch need northface our brain trust cheap nfl jerseys to softball bats participate seahawks jerseys with tory burch outlet candor and swarovski jewelry in good faith. We nfl jerseys need to be able nike schuhe to trust that adidas superstar they are smart burberry outlet and that they know what it feels birkenstock outlet like oakley sunglasses outlet to tory burch be katespade in vikings jerseys the pandora charms hot seat. Feedback ray ban occhiali must spring coach store from empathy longchamp outlet in order to be constructive; coach outlet online otherwise hogan outlet it just chargers jerseys deconstructs nike roshe and hermes leaves us right back where we started: stuck. oakley frogskins A michael kors outlet online good brain trust will thomas sabo jewellery produce alternative ideas ralph lauren polos that inspire action rather burberry handbags than paralyze progress. If giuseppe shoes the red bottom shoes feedback can iphone 5s cases stimulate falcons jerseys new fitflop outlet thinking chrome hearts and michael kors outlet online advance my roshe run project, dansko outlet I can nike.dk flourish.At Pixar, the Braintrust watches canada is the coach outlet online meeting vans schuhe of ray ban sonnenbrillen the coach factory shop minds where saints jerseys a draft prada outlet of vans outlet a film nike.se is cleveland cavaliers screened, north face jackets problems air jordan shoes are identified, prada sunglasses and glasses online numerous solutions are coach outlet brainstormed. hermes bags The Braintrust swarovski online is nike shoes no cheap oakley ordinary air max meeting of colleagues. It tommy hilfiger outlet stores is a mechanism long champ for burberry taking los angeles clippers jersey an idea, a plan, michael kors a work true religion in gafas oakley progress new balance and making oakley it adidas online better. ray ban sunglasses Instead burberry outlet of scrutinizing michael kors the creator, philadelphia 76ers jerseys candid comments coach factory are nike air max directed at the hollister clothing store project phoenix suns jersey under baseball bats review. timberland shoes Conversation is swarovski australia governed by birkenstock deutschland an operating assumption hilfiger online shop that the salvatore ferragamo smart people in oakley sunglasses the bills jerseys room jerseys from china have michael kors outlet a shared glasses frames investment barbour jackets in enhancing skechers outlet the quality instyler ionic styler of abercrombie the project. No directives beats by dre are given; the ideas jerseys from china on the cowboys jerseys table detroit pistons are hugo boss shop meant to stimulate the thinking asics of supra footwear the director so ray ban zonnebril that broncos jerseys she north face backpacks can steer skechers forward.

 

If oakley I michael kors outlet online sale am the boots on sale director of burberry sale a movie, or a indiana pacers jersey teacher iphone case who has tommy hilfiger created a prada outlet new purses and handbags curriculum, or cheap michael kors a teacher coach outlet online leader rolex watches for sale who has introduced fossil uhren a new program barbour outlet into soccer shoes outlet my new balance school, pandora schmuck it is rolex likely louboutin that huarache I am katespade deeply invested in my project. nike outlet My coach factory outlet professional identity marc by marc jacobs is converse outlet wrapped marc by marc jacobs up in the work. new balance Often, ray ban outlet we ed hardy clothing dwell so oakley sungalsses outlet far inside ralph lauren outlet our nike shop own projects barbour jackets outlet that jets jerseys we christian louboutin shoes cannot see what air max needs bears jerseys to utah jazz jersey change. To find converse chucks the packers jerseys inspiration and michael kors outlet direction stone island polos to pivot, ferragamo shoes uk we need boston celtics jersey our brain new orleans pelicans jersey trust hollisterco to nike tn participate with pandora candor fred perry polos and in oakley canada good faith. mcm handbags We roshe run need coach factory outlet to be zapatillas nike able to hoodies trust that ralph lauren outlet they are smart ravens jerseys and that michael kors they adidas superstar know what ray ban it handbags outlet feels ray-ban sunglasses like michael jordan to adidas online be oakley outlet in burberry outlet the hot baseball jerseys seat. Feedback burberry outlet must ecco outlet spring from air jordan retro empathy in true religion jeans order to be fendi handbags constructive; otherwise it just deconstructs and fred perry outlet leaves barbour outlet us burberry outlet store right salomon schuhe back where we lunette ray ban started: ralph lauren stuck. A puma online good brain jimmy choo shoes trust will washington wizards jersey produce milwaukee bucks jersey alternative ideas longchamp taschen that ray bans inspire beats by dr dre action rather fidget spinner outlet than cheap true religion paralyze progress. the north face If true religion jeans outlet the coach outlet online feedback can stimulate new thinking burberry outlet online and north face advance my heat jerseys project, hermes belt I oakley sunglasses cheap can babyliss pro flourish.

brooklyn nets jerseys

up
0 users have voted.

Day School Teachers

Are there unique qualities and characteristics that we expect—and find—among day school teachers? Is there sufficient infrastructure to train teachers in the numbers needed by day schools, and do schools support those teachers sufficiently to grow and retain them?

Click here to download the PDF and printer friendly version of this issue of HaYidion