From time to time, we all suffer from a lack of confidence, and when we lack confidence it is a whole lot harder to reach our goals. Research from a study conducted by the University of Utah found that, “Performance affects confidence and confidence affects performance. A change in either will elicit a change in the other, for good or bad.” As coaches, one of the most powerful ways we can help others build their confidence is through co-planning and visualization.
Co-planning allows us to work together to envision a path forward. Asking open-ended and student-centered questions, such as those included in the following figure, can guide us. Using student evidence ensures that we are anchoring our coaching in student learning.
Visualization to Help Teachers Build Confidence
Another way we can help teachers build their confidence is through visualization, or mental rehearsal. I experienced this recently on a mountain bike ride with my husband. We were on one of our favorite singletrack trails and I was worried about a section of rocks that I knew was ahead. My confidence was shaky (or missing altogether) because I had never been able to ride it. Like every other time, I thought I would probably end up walking that section of trail. Then, on a whim, I asked if he would coach me. He pointed out the tree stumps and rocks and helped me mentally rehearse a path through. This gave me the confidence I needed to give it a try.
Keep the Focus on Students
When using this strategy with teachers, it’s essential that we take a student-centered approach rather than talking about teaching strategies in isolation. If we say, “How will we make sure the mini lesson is less than seven minutes long?” then we aren’t really focused on student learning. While it might help a teacher visualize how to pace the lesson, it may miss the point. Just because a mini lesson is short doesn’t mean the students learned anything. Instead, we might ask, “What is the learning target and how will we know if the students understood it?” Here the co-planning focuses on teaching and learning at the same time. Visualization kicks in when we start mapping out the lesson with a clear vision for our goals for student learning. The following tool provides some things to keep in mind when using a student-centered approach to co-planning.
Co-planning is a core practice for Student-Centered Coaching because it allows us to work in partnership with teachers to look at the student evidence and then create a plan for what comes next. When in coaching cycles, we recommend co-planning at least once a week so we can not only help teachers build their confidence, but increase their outcomes for students as well.
If I were to be completely honest, I’d have to say that there were a few parts further up the trail where my confidence wavered. Sometimes I chose not to ride something because I didn’t have a chance to come up with a plan. Of course the perfectionist in me wishes those moments hadn’t happened. But the learner in me knows that I’ll tackle those sections next time, especially if I’m lucky enough to have my coach alongside me.