Updated: Mar 12, 2021
You told them to do it. They know to do it. Why aren’t they doing it?
Well, clearly there is a gap. Elena Aguilar introduces how she uses these gaps in a post titled "A Coaching Framework For Thinking Before Acting". In this post, Aguilar outlines five gaps that could be playing into why outcomes aren’t being actualized with those you lead and coach.
While these gaps are not necessarily a reflection of what you have failed to do as a coach, considering the impact of the difference between what you expect to happen and how people are encountering that expectation allows you to provide the most effective and efficient support - to help those you coach/lead manifest the next steps or positive changes!
As a companion and extension to Aguilar’s original post, let’s expand on the what, why, and how.
What are the gaps and what needs to be clarified to address each gap?
The reason that people don’t do what you told them to do (or what they decided to do) typically fall into at least one of these categories. As these are not mutually exclusive, you might find that different people might encounter obstacles to doing the work in more than one of these ways. You should also expect that different people will have different gaps when asked to do the same thing - such as a school wide initiative.
In any case, asking questions about what difficulties they are facing and/or truly reflecting on their reactions to the initial task will help you identify which of these gaps are in play.
WILL: The desire and motivation to start and persevere through a task
Why am I doing this?
SKILL: The art of the act of teaching/leading
How do I do this?
KNOWLEDGE: A deep understanding of pedagogy/content
What am I doing?
CAPACITY: The mental, emotional, or physical ability to act
How do I manage this?
EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE: The ability to be aware of, manage, and express one's emotions and to recognize the emotions of others based on actions of themselves or others
Who am I in this work?
You don’t have to include everything in every aspect of your support. This is not meant to be a structure to make your support more comprehensive. You want your support to be EFFICIENT, EFFECTIVE, and SPECIFIC. There are only 24 hours in the day and people don’t need to hear what they don’t need to hear.
Based on the gap, what is the SPECIFIC, EFFECTIVE, & SPECIFIC support you can provide?
These supports don't represent an exhaustive list and neither are they only appropriate exclusively for the heading they are under. The idea here is that you can do a lot of different things to help without doing all of the work yourself, without alienating people from the coaching relationship, and without taking a lot of time standing in front of them boring them to death with soliloquies that might not address their gaps.
WILL: The desire and motivation to start and persevere through a task. Why am I doing this?
Explore the purpose and impact: Facilitate an exploration of how and why doing the thing helps move students forward and what this progress means for students in the future.
Create student- & teacher-centered goals: Use the GROW protocol to have a conversation about why the plan is the plan to use.
Dive into the data: Provide student-based data that shows where the gap lies. Then explore how this data negatively impacts students now and in the future.
SKILL: The art of the act of teaching/leading. How do I do this?
Inspect a model: Using live observation or a video, have participants code the ways that the next step is used and its impact on students. Here’s an example of what coding can look like.
Script lesson plans: While scripting is a bad word in education, it can be used as a tool to provide written supports to be used in real time as a teacher learns to implement something new. Collaborating to create what the teacher needs to remember in the moment provides the space and time for teachers to slow down and practice it correctly as soon and as quickly as possible.
Facilitate real time coaching/co-teach: If possible, co plan and be there in the class session to direct teacher actions in a way that is not visible to students.
KNOWLEDGE: A deep understanding of pedagogy/content. What am I doing?
Analyze the structure of a lesson: Using an upcoming concept or topic, identify the opportunities for deep learning related to that topic through the use of specific instructional strategies, such as group discussions, interactive lecturing and think-pair-shares, a flipped classroom. cooperative learning (including team-based and project-based learning), guided note-taking, and guided inquiry for example.
Outline development of a concept/skill: Using the Understanding by Design framework, outline what students need to understand and do to show mastery of the concept or skill, and how students will use the understandings and skills in the future.
Sketch a unit and/or across the year: Create a space where you collaborate to make the learning sequence make sense by creating a cadence for learning across a unit to make it both clear to students and the teacher.
Mine for the student skills needed for an assessment: Dissimilar to identifying the standards for a set of assessment questions, look at each question on it’s own to identify what skills the students need to use to solve/answer each of the questions. This allows the teacher to understand before they teach what they should be teaching and how they should be asking students to practice.
CAPACITY: The mental, emotional, or physical ability to act. How do I manage this?
Schedule work time: Identify the how, when, and what for lesson planning and schedule sacred time to get those things done across every week based on when what is useful.
Prioritize tasks based on their impact: There’s always something else to do. Share these tips to help teachers prioritize the what and when so they don’t get buried as things pop up.
Clarify what resources are available and used: Co-create a list of resources that are used to lesson plan and identify the resources that are available and unused or need to be made available.
EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE: The ability to be aware of, manage, and express one's emotions and to recognize the emotions of others based on actions of themselves or others. Who am I in this work?
Uncover the effects on students and colleagues using a case study: Investigate the relationships at play using a case study. Craft questions that ask how one’s actions affected the subsequent beliefs and actions of others to help uncover alternative ways to interact with others to influence more positive outcomes.
Reflect on how actions embody the mission, vision, and values: Create a space for asynchronous reflection where the teacher compares and contrasts their habits and beliefs around their teaching and learning to the mission, vision, and values of the school. Discuss new ways or adjustments that could help the teacher embody the mission, vision, and values more explicitly.
Investigate the data: Analyze the data available with the teacher to create an action plan by having them answer these questions in relation to the data: (1) What are the root causes of my instruction and student practice that might have led to the patterns seen in student performance? (2) What root causes are within my control to change? (3) In what ways can I change specific instructional practices or features of my classroom environment that might yield improved outcomes for students? And (4) What changes or action steps will address the goals we set for our students' learning?