In a world of ever-increasing productivity, it is easy to feel the pressure to do more. I know many educators, including myself, have been forced to learn how to do more with less in this down economy and diminishing education budgets. I, in fact, have been reflecting more on my current realities and have been trying out different strategies for increasing my teachers' effectiveness. So far one of the most effective strategies has been helping teachers establish and follow through with a traffic light reflection. If you work in a coaching role with teachers, try these three strategies for helping increase teacher effectiveness.
1. Examine your practice. When I work with educators, I constantly try to help them make connections between their efforts and their desired results. Well, that involves two important steps: understand clearly what you are trying to achieve and recognize the actions you are taking to accomplish your goals. I believe it is essential that a coach have clarity in both before successfully helping an educator reach his goals. Basic questions like, what evidence should you see to inform you that you are reaching your goals, what would success look like for you, or what moves have you made as a result of these on to the next challenge, should become a regular part of a teacher's reflection and should be answered with clear measurable steps or actions for the coach.
2.Red Light, Yellow Light, Green Light. In everything a coach should strive to help a teacher take a structured approach toward reflection. As I mentioned earlier, it is easy to get into the routine of adding on more things to do or taking on more responsibilities. In my work I have found that more attention should be given to identifying the actions that are contributing to the goal as well as those that are not contributing. To do this I recommend using what I call a traffic light approach to reviewing action. If followed one should look at the actions that should be started - the "green light", the actions that should be continued - the "yellow light", as well as the actions that should be stopped - the "red light". I have personally found it easier to find the green and yellow light tasks that should be added or continued, while the red light tasks that need to be discontinued are sometimes less obvious.
3. Take a 30 day challenge. This step is simple. Now that you have clearly articulated the end goal and have applied a traffic light reflection to your actions, make a concerted effort to keep track of your efforts for 30 days. I have found that making this short-term goal allows you to ease into the new reflection habit while giving you enough time to measure a change in your effectiveness. With a new year right around the corner this could be a perfect fit.