Side-stepping the Assumptions
I learned early on from Chrissy Beltran, at www.buzzingwithmsb.blogspot.com, that formal introductions as a coach are CRUCIAL! It goes deeper than simply giving a hello with a handshake and a, "Yes, I'm the new instructional coach, it's nice to meet you." Otherwise, you go into the year with assumptions laid upon you. And even when you do implement formal introductions, people may still confuse the aspects of your job. In fact, after the first month or two of the introduction process (that I'm detailing in this post) and time building rapport with staff, some people still said, "Oh, so you help teachers with SeeSaw...," or, "Yeah, you're So-and-So's assistant...," or, "Now what do you do, again?" While this introduction process doesn't solve all of the problems that come with assumptions, it DOES provide a streamlined way of getting out all of the important information about your position to the people that matter most: teachers and students.
Introducing yourself to Teachers
It provides more specific information about my role and invites teachers to a sort of "get-to-know-you" event. You can grab your free editable version here! Simply add text boxes and QR codes as you see fit. Then print on tag and cut apart! Voila! You could easily place these in teachers' boxes or directly in their hand as you walk about the school.
The FUn Part: Introducing yourself to Students
1. Send a Sign-Up: After a couple of weeks with students in classrooms, I sent out a link for teachers to sign up for a 20-25 minute "teaching break" that would allow them a much needed breather and me a chance to introduce myself to their students. I provided a plethora of dates and times from which teachers could choose. The schedule filled up quickly!
- I introduced myself: name, a few pictures of my family and animals, and an out of school hobby
- I shared my job title, "instructional coach", and asked students to turn and talk about what they know about "coaches" and the things coaches do. I heard things like PE, soccer, sports, football, etc. I also heard students say that coaches help people get better and cheer players on. This allowed me to share with students exactly what I do as an instructional coach. We even made the connection of a football coach in action to an instructional coach in action and "on the field".
- After clarifying my role, I told students that sometimes the teacher and I might take a "teacher time out" as we work together. (More about this technique can be seen here.) As I taught a pretend lesson, we practiced what this teacher time out would look like and sound like. Because I was giving the teachers a little break, I invited a student to be the pretend co-teacher with me, which they thought was hilarious.
- I finished up my time with the students with a brief, fun activity. For older students, we did Chair Tag (5th and 6th grade) or, the favorite, Woosha Warrior (2nd and up). For younger students (PK-1st), we did a Mirrors Up challenge, where students mirrored my silly shenanigans. (See Responsive Classroom for these and many more energizers!)
3. Leave them with high expectations. Before it was time to go, I invited students to consider their job when they see me come into their classroom. Each class set similar expectations: Stay on task. Keep working and learning. Listen to the teacher. Etcetera. I also told students that they were welcome to say hello or greet me at appropriate times.
Culture Of Collaboration
Welcome! I am Casey Watts- teacher, mentor, leader, mother, and wife aspiring to be much more!