Coaching Corner Series: Initiative and Curiosity for Everyone — Children, Coachees, and Coaches
Ragan McLeod: Hi, everyone. Welcome, and thank you so much for joining us today for our Coaching Corner webinar. Apologies for the barking dog. Today, we are talking about Initiative and Curiosity for Everyone – Children, Coachees, and Coaches. Thanks again for joining us. I am Ragan McLeod. So happy to be here with you today.
I'm joined by my colleague Sarah Basler. We are so glad that you've all come to be with us today. We're excited that we have a guest expert today, Jennifer Cunningham from the University of Washington. She is going to talk to Sarah in a bit about our topic for today, and she will also introduce herself.
We wanted to point out, if you're new to Coaching Corner but maybe you've heard of some of our other DTL webinars, that we are doing an integrated approach this year to our webinars. The content that we cover today is the same topic area as what is covered in some of our other webinar series, so our Teacher Time webinar series, our Education Managers webinar series, and our Home Visiting webinar series. They're all going to be focused on this same content around this time. The idea is that you and others in your program can watch these different webinars and be able to collaborate and work together on this content. If your program is using this approach, we would love to hear about it. Feel free – if you've been doing this in your program, where different people have been watching these webinars, or you've been watching multiple webinars focused on these topics – to share how that's working for you and anything you'd like to share about that process. We'd love to know for our purposes, but also to share with your colleagues that are on this webinar today. Feel free, if you've been using that integrated approach, to drop us a note in the Q&A right now, we'd love to read it and share it out with others.
Another reminder is that we are going to be making touch points with what we call the Teacher Time BASICS. These are a collection of strategies that you use in any setting when you're interacting with children. Every month, or every Teacher Time webinar rather, there is a connection to these BASICS. It's always important to remember these basics when you're interacting with kids. Again, these are about interactions with kids, but it may also be how a home visitor supports the families they're working with and their children.
When we're talking about the BASICS – you can see them here on this slide – they are: Behavioral expectations in advance, attend to and encourage appropriate behavior, Scaffold with cues and prompts, Increase engagement, Create or add a challenge, and Specific feedback. Throughout the webinar today and in the resources that you have, if it relates to one of these strategies, we're going to point out the strategy using those block icons you see on the left-hand side of this slide. Know that if you see those little blocks with the letters, they're referring to these Teacher Time BASICS.
Now that we've gotten through those intro pieces, we want to hear from you. What is it that you're hoping to gain from today's webinar? Please feel free to write into the Q&A. What is it that you would like to get out of our conversations and our materials that we'll share with you today? We'd love to hear from you, and we'd like to refer back to your ideas that you'd like to get out of it as we're going through our webinar today. It may be that you want to hear about strategies for planning with your coaches, or how you might do different observation strategies, or the practices. We would love to hear what you're thinking for today. We are – wonderful, some people wanting to learn more about how to keep kids engaged, gaining knowledge to support their coachees, how coaches can support teachers as they are engaging from a curiosity standpoint, and ways to promote curiosity. Lots of people really interested in this topic. We’re so excited to share with you. Again, thank you all for putting in your ideas.
What we want to cover today, what we want you to get out of this webinar, we want you to be able to explore ways for staff to encourage children’s, coachees’, and coaches’ initiative and curiosity.
Let's get started with the real meat of this. If this is your first time, you may not know this, but if you've joined us for our previous Coaching Corner webinar this season, we are focusing in on the Approaches to Learning domain within the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework for you all. Many of you are probably familiar with the ELOF, if you're a Head Start person. It does describe the skills, behaviors, and knowledge that programs should foster in all children. This Approaches to Learning domain incorporates emotional, behavioral, and cognitive self-regulation under an umbrella that helps us to guide teaching practices that support the development of these skills for children.
The domain also includes Initiative, Curiosity, and Creativity, and supporting children's skills in this domain helps children acquire knowledge, learn new skills, and set and achieve goals. Children learn to successfully navigate learning experiences that are challenging, frustrating, or simply taking time to accomplish.
How children engage in learning influences development in all domains and directly contributes to success in school, so we know this Approaches to Learning piece of our ELOF is important.
The Approaches to Learning domain has these four sub-domains. In previous webinars, we focused on Emotional and Behavioral Self-Regulation and Cognitive Self-Regulation. Today, we're going to focus on Initiative and Curiosity.
Within Initiative and Curiosity, we have some specific goals for children, for infants and toddlers, then I'll share some preschoolers. Note that these are the goals, the outcomes for children. Since we are talking about coaching today, we don't want you to confuse this with goals we write for our coachees. These are goals for our children related to initiative and curiosity. You can see that children demonstrate emerging initiative in interactions, experiences, and explorations. We also want infants and toddlers to show interest in and curiosity about objects, materials, or events.
When we're thinking about preschoolers and these goals – again, goals for children themselves – we want children to demonstrate initiative and independence, and also show interest in and curiosity about the world around them, at the preschool level. You will probably notice across the infant and toddler and preschool goals that they are very similar.
Let's talk about Initiative and Curiosity for a moment. Initiative is defined as the ability to assess, initiate, or begin tasks independently. Children's instinctive draw to learn about the world is known as curiosity. As children grow and learn, they begin to show an increasing interest in curiosity about objects, materials, and people in the environment. But why is that important? When children are curious about the world around them, they take risks, they learn to be observant, they gain knowledge of how things work, they develop language to describe what they are seeing, feeling, and thinking, they're inquisitive, and they look for new ways of doing things. As you can see, I put a good quote here from Albert Einstein – "I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” If Einstein had not been so curious, he might not have revolutionized how we think and what we know about the universe, so being curious is an important thing.
But not all children innately have initiative and curiosity. There are practices we can do to foster initiative and curiosity. Children need to be given opportunities to safely explore the environment using all their instances, they need to be provided open-ended materials to explore, they need to be asked open-ended questions that encourage them to think more deeply. It's also important that adults follow their lead, let them explore and follow what they do, and observe and let kids try things out before they offer help or show them how to do it. That's how kids learn, is by exploring and trial and error.
The same is true as a coach working with a coachee. A coach might follow the lead of a coachee by allowing them to guide what goal they want to work on, or by allowing the coachee to try out a practice or strategy before offering to problem solve or telling them how to do it. Another important practice a coach should be familiar with is asking those open-ended questions to prompt reflection with a coachee.
For ideas about effective practices a coachee can use with children and families, we want to refer you back to that Viewer's Guide I mentioned before for a sample needs assessment. There's actually two examples – there's a sample needs assessment of practices that we can use with infants and toddlers, as well as one that we can use with preschoolers.
We want to do a little – a little temperature check, a little check for you to think about, are you, as a coach, using these practices with coachees? Are you using any of these practices when you are working with coachees? Are you providing opportunities to explore? Asking open ended questions? Following their lead or observing and waiting before offering help? I'm going to put out a little pulse check, and you can think about giving a thumbs up if you feel like you're doing any of these or all of these, or a thumbs down if you think, “You know what, I really need to be doing that more.” Should be seeing that thumbs up, thumbs down. You can click on one to let us know if you feel like you're doing any of these practices with your coachees.
We're getting some answers in. A lot of people feeling like they're using one or more of these practices with their coachees, so that's great. But if you're feeling like, maybe I need to do it more, and a couple people noticing and – are noting in the Q&A that's how they feel about it as well. Thanks for your honesty and for your reflection, and now I'm going to turn it over to Sarah.
Sarah Basler: Thanks, Ragan. That's great information to set the stage for what we're going to dive into now. We're going to shift into our Mindful Moment segment, which is where we take a look at the topic that we are sharing – in this case, it's Initiative and Curiosity – and we talk about how it can affect you and your role as a coach. Today, we're excited, because we have our guest expert, Jennifer, to talk to us a little bit about reflection, its importance in Initiative and Curiosity, and how it relates to you as a coach. I'm going to give Jennifer the opportunity to introduce herself and tell us a little bit about her.
Jennifer Cunningham: Hi, everyone. I'm thrilled to be here today and was so excited when Sarah and the team asked me to come and join you all and have this discussion today about coaching. It's something that I'm passionate about and love doing. I am a researcher and inclusion specialist at the University of Washington. My work focuses on developing and implementing professional development and coaching strategies that are responsive to coachees’ needs and interests and leveraging those interests and priorities to create and establish a rich and engaging coaching partnership. I've had the opportunity in this work to work directly with families and classroom teams and coaches themselves, and I'm excited to share a little bit about that with you today. I also was a preschool teacher prior to stepping into that role and worked at a program that used the project approach, which is all about following children's lead and picking up on moments of curiosity and leveraging those as teaching moments and moments for relationship and interaction. Thrilled to get to talk to you all today about what that means for kiddos, but also what that means for our coachees as we're interacting with them.
Sarah: You are the perfect fit for today's webinar. I wanted to get started with asking this question, because when I think about initiative of a coachee to engage in coaching, the first thing that comes to my mind is that importance of following a coachee’s lead. Can you talk a little bit about how a coach might follow a coachee’s lead and the impact it might have on that partnership?
Jennifer: I think that piece of partnership is what's so important. When we're following the coachee’s lead and we're learning about what is a priority for them and what they're thinking about in terms of their interactions with children or families that they're working with, that helps us build their engagement and excitement about the coaching partnership and helps honor them as a partner in a two-way street in this interaction between a coach and a coachee. Ragan mentioned earlier that asking open-ended questions is a foundational way to get that started, and it also encourages reflection. I always like to think about opening coaching meetings – opening with those questions. Instead of diving right into feedback or specific ideas about something that you saw in an interaction, maybe when you observed or while you're in the classroom, taking a step back and starting with those more open-ended questions. “What have you been noticing in your classroom environment recently?” “What feels important to work or learn more about next?” Providing some time and space within your coaching interactions to start there as a way to promote that engagement and buy-in and excitement about the coaching process. Some of those questions specifically about an observation that you just did in a classroom, maybe you're meeting with them afterwards to debrief. It might be things like, “How did that activity go today?” “How did it feel for you today?” “How do you think children responded today?” What did you notice about how they engaged with that new material you put out?” “What might you change next time?” Starting there to initiate that conversation so that it's not evaluative, it's thinking about helping teachers and coachees notice things in the environment about children and how they're interacting in the environment and bringing that to be the anchor for your conversation.
When you do move into those moments where you're giving feedback or you're sharing what you noticed, sharing your contributions in a non-evaluative way. Making statements about what you noticed in an activity, how children reacted, before you give those specific suggestions about what they might try next. Avoid coming into the coaching meeting with a pre-conceived notion about how it's going to go. Be genuine about those open-ended questions so that you can be following their lead. You're going to come with your notes, with your observations and be prepared, but authentically demonstrating that openness and show that you value the coachee’s ideas. When we show that value in their ideas and follow their lead, we're sending a clear message that we're partners with them, which can build confidence, build their self-reflection skills as they learn new strategies or expand how they're supporting children in their environment.
Sarah: Awesome. Some of the things that you touched on there is really following their lead. I think that's helpful to showing that you're coaching with someone, instead of doing this to them. I love all those things to think about.
What are some ways that you like to help a coachee feel more comfortable to explore and take some risks related to coaching?
Jennifer: I think this is something that we want to set the stage about early in our coaching relationship. Making it clear that you're not there to judge or evaluate, but to be a thought partner with them. Thinking about what things look like in their spaces and their environments with children and how they're interacting with children. An important part about that is, if you have some overlapping responsibilities where maybe part of your job is to do some staff evaluations, making sure that at the beginning of your coaching partnership, you're setting some clear boundaries about what happens in your coaching sessions, and communicating that with the coachee. You can create that trusting space where coachees feel that they have that openness to share with you when you ask those open-ended questions and follow their lead, making it that safe space. Again, opening with those opportunities for reflection instead of jumping in and giving feedback or making evaluative statements.
I also think a little bit about how we can use one of our important teaching strategies of modeling, how that's relevant within our coaching interactions. Sometimes, it can be a little intimidating when we open with those open-ended questions and leave a lot of space for anything to come up. We leave you – if you're working with a coachee who is not quite comfortable with that yet, modeling that yourself. Talking through your own thought processes, sharing your own experiences out loud to model what that feels like and set the stage for what kind of back and forth exchanges you want to have with coachees. Starting small, especially if this is a new relationship – new to you, new to the coachee – and to be involved in these coaching interactions. Helping them reflect on the strengths in their environment during the day and how they can take those moments and leverage them to build up into new skills. Noticing the strengths and things that are going on, pointing them out to the teacher and letting that be a way to launch those conversations.
Sarah: Awesome. I loved that you were talking a lot about that transparency of coaching. I think that is so key with nurturing and building that collaborative partnership just that everyone knows what's going to happen, setting the stage with that as well.
Sarah: One of the things that you mentioned – it felt like a good place to make this PBC coach competency connection – is that an effective coach supports coachees’ autonomy, so their independence to experiment and explore new behaviors and practices while still maintaining that focus on a coachee’s learning experiences. That makes me think about what you were just describing, how following a coachee’s lead helps to encourage them to want to take those risks, to initiate and try new things, as well as to help the coachees buy into coaching, to understand, “This is something that will be helpful for me, and I can grow.” So, we have included the PBC Coach Competencies as a link in the resource section of this Viewer's Guide. If you want more information about those coaching competencies, feel free to check that out. Each webinar, we try to point out where we have alignment with those coaching competencies.
I want to know how you encourage a coachee to become curious about trying new things, what's some strategies you use.
Jennifer: That's a great question. I think some place that I start with goes back a little bit into that relationship-building, and making sure that from the beginning, you're helping coachees recognize that they're the experts on the children and the families that they are working with and interacting with. Emphasizing that they know the environment that they're in, the children, the families, the patterns of the day better than you might. You're coming in and observing in a regular fashion but might not see everything all of the time. Making the point to coachees that they are the experts in their classroom or in their space that they are with children. Learning about that with them and helping them start from a space of feeling like they have the space to offer ideas, to try new things, and to bring that into that coaching conversation.
Also taking time to make some personal connections with them. Learn about what interests and excites them, what are their passions inside of the classroom and outside of the classroom, and what their strengths are. Having those available to you as the coach, to be able to bring them up and point out where you might be able to make connections and encourage them to think about those as they are incorporating them into other activities. If you learn that they're interested in music or art, helping them seek a connection between how they might be able to use that and think more outside the box about how they might introduce something into their classroom. Pushing on those strengths or interests that they already have. It might start simply by sending an article or a resource. Maybe not specifically connected to something you're doing right then, but, “I read this, and I thought of you. I knew this thing about you, I knew that you were interested in this,” or “Last time we tried this in your classroom it was really fun, and I saw this other example and I thought of you.” Planting some seeds and allowing some space for them to explore that, and again, modeling what it looks like to think outside the box and try some new things.
Making a connection between when they do try something new, or they plan a new activity, or they think out loud about how they might want to try something and they give it a go in the classroom. Making sure that during that debrief time where you're reflecting on how it went, you make clear connections about how their new ideas and activities impacted the children and the families. Taking specific notes about, “I noticed that when you tried this new type of activity, you included this new material, you tried something new in the classroom, you tried this strategy we're working on – I noticed that one of the children that usually doesn't come over to that center stayed there for 10 minutes today.” Helping them make clear connections between something that they did and something that children and families are responding to.
Then, using that coaching time to share examples and videos to spark ideas for things that they could plan for, to expand what they've added to their classroom. I've also found it helpful, when it's possible, to host some small group sessions. Some of the most productive conversations I've had with coachees is when they can brainstorm with other people who are in the classroom or in the same kind of early learning environment that they are in and can see what it looks like to try a different strategy, to use a different material or visual, how another person interpreted that and gave it a try, and to think together about how it might look in their classroom. Helping people build communities amongst themselves to think about how they might try something new.
Sarah: Yeah. Another thing I'd like to point out about that, what you just mentioned about small groups of coachees coming together, is that builds the capacity. Once you may not coach them anymore, they have other people that they might come to get ideas from, so I love that. I also love that you made the point to say connecting what happened related to that new strategy or activity and the impact it had. That's so powerful, linking it to the actual impact that was seen. That can be so helpful.
I want to know a little bit about why providing these opportunities for a coachee to reflect, why are they so important? You've shared lots of great ideas that – what are some ways that it's important?
Jennifer: I think it's a great time to provide practice in that skill of self-reflection. We all need to be able to do it to be effective in our interactions and our relationships when we're working with children and families with our coachees. Providing that space for that is a practicing of that skill. It links a little bit to what you and I were just talking about with making connections between what you see a coachee doing and how it translates to an impact on families and children. That skill of noticing those things and thinking about what changes or ideas we can keep or change or do moving forward in response to what we're noticing about how it impacts the environment, how it impacts children's learning and engagement and feelings of belonging in the classroom – that is the foundation for refining our effective practices and learning new strategies. When we start our coaching sessions with those opportunities for reflection, when it's really built, baked in as this essential part of what we're doing, it helps coachees practice that skill and encourages them to be continuously observant of their own feelings, reactions, and thoughts during interactions with children and families and on children and families’ engagement emotions and interests. Like you said, we might not always be in this coaching partnership with this coachee. It's giving them a space to refine that skill of self-reflection so that it becomes a more continuous part of, this is how they interact with others, and thinking about that self-reflection piece to do continuous refinement and improvement of strategies and skills.
Sarah: Awesome. Another tool in their toolbox. Self-reflecting.
Sarah: We've talked about coachees, but let's talk a little bit about, what are some ways that a coach can reflect on their own practice? If it's so important for coachees, doing that as a coach must be important too.
Jennifer: Exactly right. We want to be modeling that within our own practice. Knowing that that self-reflection piece is so important as you're saying, we've got to engage in it ourselves as coaches, because we're also wanting to try new things and be curious and use those moments to improve our skills and our capacity to build relationships with coachees and be most effective in helping them see their goals and priorities come to life in their early learning settings. Thinking about some of the open-ended questions we talked about earlier, about, how did that interaction feel? What did you notice was the impact? What might you do differently next time? What resources would you need to help make that work? Flipping some of those same questions that we're jotting down that we might open our coaching sessions with, back to ourselves. Either having time when you're weak, where you are maybe logging what happened in your coaching sessions. Maybe there's a time where you're noting all the scheduling and all the things you're doing. Carving out a little bit of time in that to think about, how did that go? What might I do next time? How might I change this? I know for myself, particularly when things get busy, it's easy to get stuck in our routines and do things in the same way, because it's how we've always done them, and we know them, and we recognize them, and they feel comfortable. And sometimes that's great, and those are effective foundational practices. But sometimes we can get stuck. We can be with a new coachee or a new partnership where we need to think about things a little bit differently in order to match their needs and their interests. That might mean doing some reflection for ourselves about how we can do that. Again, flipping those questions back on yourself, and same thing with those ideas about building communities. Finding other coaches that you can talk to and have moments to share about how something is going in an interaction, how you felt afterwards. What connections to resources might you be able to make? What can they share about how they approached a similar situation? Using your community around you as a space to be able to engage in that self-reflection and share that with others.
Sarah: Yeah. That is one of the things I think that built my coaching practice the most, was having a community of other coaches that I could kind reflect with, like, “This is what happened. What would you try, or do you have a resource to help?” I'm glad that you mentioned that.
Jennifer: That idea of resources is so important. I think that's an important question that I have to ask myself. Do I have enough knowledge about this question that a coachee came to me with, or a situation? If I can't answer it, that's OK. Of course that's OK, but we need to think about where we can – if I want to be able to be an effective partner with this coachee, I might need to learn a little bit more about a certain topic. I might need to reach out to a colleague that I think knows something about a new strategy or something I could try in order to be able to do that. Finding those resources and having those spaces where you know you can get them is important.
Sarah: I think that's an important skill to model, that you don't know. You might be the expert coach, but it's good to show like, “I might need to learn a little bit more about that,” or “Let me research a little bit more before throwing something out there that might not work.”
I wanted to make another connection here to one of our Coaching Competencies, it's in the domain of Reflection and Feedback. An effective coach supports and extends through ongoing reflection on progress related to the coachee’s goal by asking reflective questions and making connections to that observation. I think it's important to note that it's not only important as I mentioned to help the coachee to reflect, but it allows you, as the coach, opportunities to think about your own PBC practice. It can be helpful to think about your own coaching skills and areas that you might need to enhance or improve. Maybe you need to learn a little bit more about a certain practice or a certain strategy. I think one way to do that is taking a look at these Coaching Competencies as well, and digging in to see if there are areas that you might want to dive deeper and enhance some of your coaching skills.
Thank you so much for letting us pick your brain about how to support a coach and a coachee's own initiative and curiosity. Now, we're going to shift into coaching and practice. This is where we're going to focus on prompting reflection and delivering feedback.
We want to hear from you. How confident are you at supporting reflection and feedback? Are you feeling confident supporting reflection? Maybe you feel confident providing supportive feedback, maybe you feel confident in providing constructive feedback. X Maybe you feel confident in all three. We want to hear from you. Pop in the – it could be that you feel confident in all these. I'll be honest that when I first started out, I felt solid about providing supportive feedback, because supportive feedback felt good to give. Supportive feedback was fun, because I could share something great that happened, and I could see the smile on my coachee’s face. But constructive feedback was not – it was a little tougher, it was more challenging to begin with. It looks like here that – of the responses, I'm seeing everybody is feeling confident with reflection. Like 100%. Is that similar to your experience as a coach, Jennifer? Did you feel confident with all three right up front when you first started?
Jennifer: I think exactly the same as what you were saying, that I felt very confident with supportive feedback, making those connections. I think that that constructive feedback and thinking about how to be direct and specific about it so that we would see opportunities for change within the classroom, while still maintaining that relationship and making sure and maintaining that value of doing this in a partnership, and not as a “I am an expert, so I have this pot of information that I'm sharing with you.” It's using constructive feedback as a way to come to that place together, to make decisions about next steps. It takes a little bit of refinement.
I saw someone ask a question, actually, about, how do you help coachees see how you value their ideas? I think these reflective questions are an important way to do that. You're giving them space to answer these questions and think about their own strengths and expertise. Starting with those helps build that confidence of, we are both value partners in this relationship. It does develop over time, but that's a way to start.
Sarah: Yeah. I think actually, the reason we only had 100% feeling confident with reflection is that I accidentally moved the poll too quickly, so there you go. But I would like to – feel free to use the Q&A to pop in and tell us your thoughts about providing supportive feedback, constructive feedback, and reflection. Otherwise, we're going to move right along to the part where you get to put on your coaching lens.
In your Viewer's Guide, you're going to see we have an action plan for the clip that we're about to watch. I've put it here, just put the goal here on the screen. This coachee has chosen to work on narrating what children are doing by stating at least one action for each of the children that they're working with. As we watch the clip, we want you to notice what the teacher who is working with these infants and young toddlers during outdoor play is doing. Take notes related to what you see and hear, and think about, is this coachee narrating for children? And how that's happening, if it's happening. Think about some of the questions you might ask this coachee to reflect and maybe some feedback you would provide. We've provided some starter phrases in your Viewer's Guide to give you some ideas, some prompts for what you might ask.
Teacher: [Gasps] Oh. Teacher Jenni set up this this morning. Nice. Our friend from room one. Purple ball, purple ball, what do you see? I see – oh, it landed in your shoe, didn't it? Yeah. What's happening? Oh, my. They're going the other way. You're having to push them down. You're moving them yourself. Good job, Tanya. What happens if we pick this up?
[Gasps] There it goes. Oh, on the stand. Nice. Uh-huh. You're changing it, aren't you? Up! Now it's down. Hmm. Hmm. It comes back to you. Here it comes. Oh, almost. It stopped. I see you. Yeah. Here it is. Nice.
Sarah: I love that clip. It warms my heart. I'm thinking of my son, who is around the same age and would love to roll balls down a ramp like that.
I want to give you a moment to gather your thoughts about what you just watched. Jot down some ideas for what you might – reflection questions you might ask and some of the feedback you would give this teacher. You can use your Viewer’s Guide to do that. As I go through each portion, each component of the reflection and feedback, you'll be given some opportunities to type in the Q&A your thoughts about what you would reflect this teacher.
I'm going to send out a pulse check. I want to know, when watching that video, did you see this coachee narrate actions for all the children that she was working with? Think about that, what you saw the teacher do and what the children were doing. Thumbs up if you feel like all three children, this teacher narrated their actions, or thumbs down we didn't see that happen. I see some answers coming in. It's looking like we have quite a few saying no, that this coachee didn't narrate the actions for all. We're split. When I watch this video, I noticed that particularly the infant that's close to her didn't get narration. No narration happened. She's spending a lot of time working with the little girl with the fur jacket. She does a lot of narration. There's even another child that's a little bit below her line of sight, but I'm not noticing narration for all. And if we think about – it doesn't mean that what she was doing was not amazing, because I love that video, she's doing so many wonderful things in that video. But if we think back to her goal, which is “I will narrate for all the children I'm working with,” she's doing it for one, but maybe not all, there. Thank you for your responses.
What are some of the reflective questions that you might ask this coachee to get her thinking about this interaction with these children, related to the goal? Feel free to drop those in the Q&A.
Jennifer, what would you ask this coachee to get her thinking about that observation?
Jennifer: I think I would start broadly and offering a moment for her to share and reflect generally how she felt the interaction went and how it felt to be working with all three of those children at once. Maybe we know that we want to get to that goal of thinking about using that skill with all children. Centering some of our questions there by starting thinking about, “How did it feel to have all three of those kiddos up at the ball ramp with you? How did that interaction go?” Then taking it a step further and making it a little bit more specific. “What did you notice about each of their engagement and how they responded to your comments and what you were talking about?” Offering a space to start thinking about, how did that feel with each individual child? Since that's part of that goal.
Sarah: Yeah. We have a comment that says, “How did it feel interacting?” Someone said, “Do you think the children enjoyed the activity?” I think that might be a good question to ask. “How do you feel narrating?” These are great responses.
If we think about, next, all the wonderful things we saw happening in this video related to the goal, what would be some supportive feedback that you would provide to this coachee? Participants, feel free to pop into the Q&A.
Jennifer: Something I would start with is starting by helping notice all of the ways that she was helping children get engaged. That's the first part of being able to narrate, is to have children be involved and engaged in doing something, so I'd make sure to point that out. “I noticed you were giving children lots of space to explore and use materials in the way that interests them,” and talk about how she let each child do that differently – some of the kiddos were stacking balls on the tube, others were rolling, some of them were dropping the balls – pointing out there a great moment where each child had the opportunity to explore to start tying in that idea of what she's doing for each child. Then how she was being attentive by sitting with them and narrating many of the actions of the older child. Commenting on how that's helpful for following the child's lead and helping them learn, helping make that connection between the two.
Sarah: Yeah. I love that you said that connection between the two that's key. That's what will help make connections for the coachee.
A feedback session wouldn't be a feedback session without constructive feedback, so tell us a little bit about what you might share with this coachee related to this – this goal.
Jennifer: Since we noticed that the coachee was primarily narrating the actions of the older child, the little girl that she was with, we want to zero in here on some opportunities for the coachee to get to reflect and think about how they could expand their use of, or expand their – meeting their goal here of using it with all children. We might say something like, “I noticed that narrating actions for Isabella came easily for you,” and give some examples of how they did that. Then ask a more targeted question than our opening reflection, which was asking about how it felt, how kids reacted, how they were doing. Then ask a specific question that gets into this again, trying to get to that point where we're coming to that together. We're coming to that constructive feedback moment together in that partnership. Saying, “How did that – thinking about your interaction with Isabella, how did that compare to how you were interacting with Toby and James and their actions and interests? What did narrating look like with them?” And offering some specific ideas for how she might remind herself next time to narrate for all children. “Do you think if you had a rubber band on your wrist that represented each child in your group, you might move the rubber band from one wrist to the other to remind yourself of who you've distributed that attention and narration to?” As a simple way to help keep track of that. Acknowledging the ways that she did it and helping think of a strategy – offering time for her to reflect on it, then helping come up with a strategy for how she might track it next time.
Sarah: Wonderful. That was just a lovely coaching session with this teacher, and I feel like she might have some new ideas to try.
Thank you so much for letting us talk to you and hear your thoughts about prompting initiative and curiosity with coachees and talking about reflection and feedback. This has been so wonderful, and we appreciate you so much. Thank you so much.
Jennifer: Thank you.
Sarah: Now I'm going to turn it back over to Ragan, and she is going to do the Focus on Equity section.
Ragan: Thanks so much, Sarah. Yes, now we're going to do our Focus on Equity, where we lift up the value of equity in all learning environments. What we're going to share with you today was shared on Teacher Time recently, but we felt like it was relevant for what you do as a coach, so we wanted to share it with you.
We talked a lot today about different ways that we support coachees to encourage initiative and curiosity with their children, and one of these ways is asking open-ended questions. In that Teacher Time webinar that happened recently, Dr. Gail Joseph mentions the concept of 80/20. That is that when we observe groups, and in this case groups of children, about 80% of the questions get asked to only 20% of the children. We're not asking those open-ended questions widely. For example, in a classroom of 18 children, this would mean that only four children are getting asked 80% of the questions.
You may or may not have noticed this before when you've done focused observations in group settings. We bring this up to make you aware that this is something that has been noticed in classrooms. When you're coaching, if you're coaching on something like asking these open-ended questions to support initiative and curiosity, you could observe and pay attention to these things. Who is getting asked those questions? Who is getting asked those more challenging questions of the children? Who is receiving encouragement or positive praise, descriptive feedback, or answering those questions, and responding and exploring? Who is getting those non-verbal communications like smiles, or showing their initiative and curiosity?
This may seem like a lot of data to collect as a coach, so we want to show you a way that you could do that. A coach might collect data like this – this is an example of kids at circle time. You can see for each child, the coach has observed the coachee during circle time lesson and has marked down what sort of interactions the coachee has had with each child. An O indicates that the coachee asked that child an open-ended question. A C indicates that the coachee asked the child a closed-ended question – one of those yes/no or one answer type questions or one-word answer questions. An R is when the child was – responded to the question. A plus is when the teacher encouraged the child. An X is when there was a behavioral redirection, something like "Sit criss-cross" or "Eyes on me.” This is one way that a coach could collect data as they're watching this and see how the coachee is providing support to each of those children. This may be a little bit hard as a coach, though, to figure out, what's really happening here? So you could also turn this into a table. For our focus on equity, what we also did in this table is we added information – not only the names of the children, but their gender, their race, their dual-language learner status, and whether the child has an IEP. For example, Sam, he has under him the initials WB, and that's for a white boy. Lulu is a white girl. Gabby is a Hispanic girl who is a dual-language learner. Luka is a Black boy, so you can see what those initials mean. This is to help us understand how the teacher is distributing those questions, as well as positive feedback and redirection.
As you look at this, what do you notice? What do you see? Feel free to chat your thoughts in the Q&A. What are you noticing about these data when you see it in this table? Just to let you know that this information is in your Viewer's Guide as well, as well as the information about the labels for these children and that sort of thing.
As I look at this, I notice that some kids like Will, who has an IEP, is only getting redirection. He's not receiving any of those open or even closed questions, or positive descriptive feedback. I also noticed that the white girls seem to be getting all of those positives – more questions, more descriptive feedback. On the other hand, our Black boys, Dakota and Luka, are getting a lot less of that, but a lot more redirection. This can help me talk to the teacher about, is she or he being equitable in the way that she is asking those questions and providing feedback?
I see some other people noticing those same things, so thank you all for adding that to the Q&A. Again, these resources are in your Viewer's Guide. Just something to think about as you are working with your coachees on these strategies and how they're distributing those strategies equitably.
We are getting to the close of our webinar, but I want to make sure and share with you Koko's Corner for our Head Start Coaching Companion of this month. I'm going to go ahead and let Koko talk about a tip for using the Coaching Companion.
Koko: Hi. I'm Koko, the Head Start Coaching Companion koala. And today, I'll share one of my favorite HSCC features, Timestamping. Timestamping lets you identify precise moments in videos where effective practices are being implemented. This feature can help coaches and coachees target practices related to their goals and action steps. All videos uploaded into the Head Start Coaching Companion, including videos in the resource library, can be time stamped or tagged. For example, when you upload a video from the resource library directly to an action step, you can time stamp a focused example of a teaching or home visiting practice. Timestamping and tagging can be used by coaches and coachees to identify effective practices. For example, a coach can call attention to changes in the engagement of the children, connecting the practice to the goal for that coaching cycle.
A coachee can also use time stamping and tagging as part of self-reflection to identify their improving practice. Timestamping is done in three simple steps. Play, pause, comment. Press the play button to begin playing the video. Press pause when you are ready to add a comment. Finally, add a comment and save. In this example, a home visitor will not only see the comments left by the coach, but they can click on the time stamp and re-watch the moment during their visit where the action step was demonstrated. Timestamping is an excellent tool to pinpoint moments within a video for reflection and feedback.
For more information, please contact Coaching Companion at ECLKC.info.
Well, that's it for Koko's Corner today. See you next time.
Ragan: Hopefully that was helpful in thinking about how you use the Head Start Coaching Companion. Just a couple reminders, if you have missed a webinar or you want to access this one after today, you can find it on Push Play. We also strongly encourage all of our coaches to join MyPeers and the practice-based coaching MyPeers community so that you can connect with other coaches. Also on the iPD are resources for coaches, including an intro to practice-based coaching as well as a fairly new set of courses on the PBC Coach Competency, so check those out.
Thank you so, so much for joining us today. Everyone take care, and have a wonderful month of coaching until we see you next month.Close
Children are born with a natural interest and curiosity about the world around them. As they grow, they show increasing interest and curiosity about objects, materials, and people in their environment. Children need adults to create a secure environment and provide responsive interactions to help foster these skills. This Coaching Corner webinar identifies ways to help staff encourage children’s initiative and curiosity. There’s also a discussion on methods to boost coachee and coach initiative and curiosity through reflection and feedback. The presenters offer resources you can share with coaches or use for yourself.
Note: The evaluation, certificate, and engagement tools mentioned in the video were for the participants of the live webinar and are no longer available. For information about webinars that will soon be broadcast live, visit the Upcoming Events section.