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RIDE supports several blogs throughout our website where Rhode Islanders and RIDE staff share their thoughts.

On this page, we have collected all of the blogs on our site - many of which share posts from Rhode Island educators other than RIDE staff. Blogs are listed in alphabetical order:

  • Commissioner's Corner: Blog posts and messages from the Commissioner to the Rhode Island community.
  • District Teacher of the Year (DTOY): Posts from the Rhode Island District Teachers of the Year, past and present, who share about instructional successes and challenges they encounter in Rhode Island classrooms.
  • Equitable Access to Excellent Educators: Rhode Island educators and RIDE staff explore factors and perspectives on the importance of ensuring that all students are taught by high quality educators.
  • Leadership: Reflections and insights from RIDE’s Leadership Fellow and other district and school leaders on the challenges and opportunities of being a school leader.
  • Rhode Island Poet Laureate: Reflections and poetry focused on teaching, learning, and the experience of education from Tina Cane, Rhode Island Poet Laureate.
  • Rhode Island Science Education (R.I.S.E.): A communication blog to update stakeholders in education and in the community on important developments, events and accomplishments in science education in Rhode Island.
  • Student Voice: Because student voice is an essential component of our discussion on education, RIDE will post essays written by students from around Rhode Island.

Click on a category below to filter by a particular blog:

Why Veteran Teachers Need an Instructional Coach

Posted by: Kamlyn Keith on 1/11/2019
Liz Russillo
2019 Smithfield Teacher of the Year
Smithfield High School
Science Teacher

Word scramble with coaching at the center, also including training, personal development, help, plan, knowledge, lead, career, skills, leadership, goal, mentor, expertise

Jill is sitting at her desk during her prep period and feeling overwhelmed. She is overwhelmed because she is driven to be a more effective teacher today than she was yesterday. She is overwhelmed because she has 15 ideas floating around in her head that she wants to try with her students. She is overwhelmed because she is unsure how to stay efficient and also improve her instructional quality and depth. She is overwhelmed because she doesn’t know where to start. Jill could be any teacher across the country feeling the constant drive to improve without the resources necessary to do so. The thing is, the resources exist and they are in our buildings. Thanks to coaching, Jill is no longer feeling overwhelmed and her instructional toolbox has expanded.

Instructional coaching is not a new idea. In fact, I had an instructional coach 16 years ago when I first started my career in education. This year, I am lucky enough to have another one. This is something that Jill and I share; we actually have quite a few things in common. We are both veteran teachers in our buildings, we both have instructional coaches, we both are instructional coaches, and we have both grown tremendously as educators over the past year.

As a veteran teacher in my building, I have been asked to facilitate many professional development sessions and find myself working hard to ensure that the teachers in my department are growing. Veteran teachers are bottomless pits of knowledge. They have spent countless days trying different formative assessments. They have engaged students through various questioning techniques. Most importantly, they stay current in the field and can share the pros and cons of the latest professional books they have read. I have always been excited to facilitate professional development, but this year I have been inspired by my own professional growth.

This year, I have had the privilege to work with a coach with whom I meet on a bi-weekly basis. I have had someone to bounce ideas by and collaborate with on instructional strategies. My coach has given me focus when my ideas are huge and bouncing around in my head.

The coaching started with an overall goal at the beginning of the year: I wanted to work on incorporating more student choice in my classroom. Jill’s focus was related to formative assessment data. The coaching sessions always begin with a current wish for the classroom, a brainstorming strategies session, and thinking of obstacles on the path to achievement. We then develop a plan to be implemented in the upcoming class periods and collect evidence to show achievement (or failure) of a new instructional strategy. If the strategy was successful, we analyze ways to expand it beyond that topic and if it fails, we discuss why and how it could be improved. When I asked Jill how her coaching sessions were going, she beamed with excitement about how her formative assessment process has been streamlined and she has an efficient way to track student data.

As I think back over my 16 years in the classroom, I can say without a doubt that this is the year that I have grown the most. When I asked Jill about this, she agreed wholeheartedly. We both want to present to our faculty and encourage them to work with an instructional coach as well. The best part about instructional coaches is that they exist in our schools. They are the other veteran teachers next door or down the hall who have a different skill set than our own. We need to break down the walls between our classrooms (not literally, I went to elementary school in the era of no walls) and start coaching each other. Veteran teachers need coaches and, I dare to say, even more than new teachers because the excitement that Jill and I feel this year is that of a first year teacher and we are ready to pass along the lessons that we have learned.

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