Coaching Works!

Coaching Works!
115 reps in 30 minutes

Beginning TPRS teacher — less than 1 year teaching

Prior workshops: 0

Coaching: 1 hour of individual or small-group coaching every other week

“I had the worst kid (behaviorally and linguistically) in every class count how
many times I said Qu. On Monday, my worst kid was shushing the class so that he
could hear all my Qu s. He counted 115 and knows the word Qu, by heart. “

What he didn’t realize when he wrote this was that HE is amazing — 115
repetitions of an item in a 30 minute session?!? Lots of experienced teachers
would be proud of that sort of number! This is a new teacher in an inner-city
school, and he’s doing that many repetitions and still keeping the students
engaged! Can you imagine what his kids will be able to do by the end of the


I found this note by visiting as Laurie recommended on her blog (see under TPRS blogs). Both the comment about handling a difficult kid as well as the response demonstrate what happens in coaching meetings: the teacher shares an idea everyone can benefit from, and the coach points out the gems that the teacher might not even recognize as genius.

I had been thinking about how to start back up again next week–mostly about discussing with kids that if they get an A on the (very small percentage of the grade) classroom participation by following Ben’s classroom rules every single day, I would consider that A to have a very heavy weight when time  comes to set semester grades. I don’t mark those participation grades too regularly, but I think I should be a little more consistent about them. Generally, if the kid is . . . looking me in the eyes, sitting up straight, volunteering with answers, responding to every question or statement, reading actively, and asking for clarification when needed, that kid has every chance of succeeding. It would be interesting classroom research (I know perfectly well that it would be totally biased, so don’t get me wrong) to be really tough on giving out A’s for that teeny “non-academic” grade and then comparing the rest of the standard areas. My hypothesis is that any kid who could get an A in participation would also get A’s everywhere else.

But a number of kids who are in SpEd still struggle to maintain these classroom behaviors. I’m not sure, but I think it could be a chicken/egg situation–maybe they’re on an ASD spectrum, so they haven’t learned to look at a speaker, or they feel beaten down by school, so they haven’t developed the expectation that a class could be exciting, and their behavior leads to a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s an uphill battle to get them to participate, but it turns out that SpEd program kids are the best Russian speakers, because they don’t have the perfection expectation shyness of some of the AP types. Still, getting them over that hump of learning to act like students is rough, and this idea of turning the count over to them is really an interesting one.

Well! I certainly went off on a tangent there. I meant to say that this quote captured the essence of coaching. I love coaching. I can’t wait ’till January 7, when Alaskan TPRSers are gathering again to discuss our grading systems and practice!!! Someone is going to have to channel Laurie. . .

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