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Instructional coaching: 10 effective year-end activities

From reflection to celebration, instructional coaches can choose from a variety of ways to look back on the year's progress, Donna Spangler writes.

6 min read

EducationVoice of the Educator

multiracial group of three teenage girls jumping at the exit of the high school. end of exams and classes. beginning of the vacations. for article on instructional coaches year-end activities

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As the academic school year draws to close, instructional coaches play a critical role in helping teachers and other coaches effectively wrap up the academic year. Engaging with teachers and coaching colleagues in this process is essential for maximizing impact and fostering a culture of continuous improvement within schools. Closing out the year strongly involves more than just tying up loose ends; it’s an opportunity for reflection, celebration and strategic planning to propel professional growth and instructional excellence. Coaches can choose from several year-end activities to do so.

When instructional coaches work with teachers to close the year, this practice maintains consistency, fosters reflection and strengthens the coach-teacher relationship. By collaboratively reflecting on progress made, celebrating successes and identifying areas for growth, teachers and coaches gain valuable insights into their practice and set priorities for professional development for next year. 

5 year-end activities with teachers

  1. Virtual showcase of best practices. This idea organizes an online platform where teachers exhibit their most effective strategies, inventive lesson plans or notable student projects to their peers and might include video. This showcase is ideally hosted towards the conclusion of the academic year, enabling educators to reflect on their accomplishments and highlight their successes. Such an event is crucial as it cultivates collaboration, sparks creativity and nurtures a culture of knowledge-sharing among teachers, ultimately enriching the educational community. If coaches use a dedicated professional learning platform, coaches can have a video library all year long.
  2. Student feedback sessions. This year-end activity involves teachers facilitating opportunities for students to provide input on their learning experiences, teaching methods and classroom environment. These sessions are typically held towards the conclusion of the academic year, providing teachers with valuable insights for reflection and improvement. Such feedback is invaluable as it empowers student voices, guides instructional practices and fosters a stronger teacher-student relationship. Teachers can do this through written surveys, online polls, one-on-one conferences, student focus groups, structured group discussions, digital feedback platforms, videos or discussion boards.
  3. Cross-grade-level collaboration days. These days allocate dedicated time for teachers from various grade levels to convene and exchange insights, strategies and resources. Typically scheduled toward the end of the school year, these collaborative sessions aim to foster vertical alignment, ensure consistency in instruction and cultivate a shared commitment to student achievement among educators. This collaboration allows educators to learn from each other’s experiences, share effective teaching practices and discover new approaches to instruction fostering vertical alignment across grade levels, creating a cohesive learning experience for students.
  4. Coaching feedback surveys. This entails administering surveys to gather input and reflections on coaching experiences from teachers. These surveys are typically distributed towards the end of the school year to capture teachers’ reflections on the support they’ve received. They provide valuable insights into teachers’ perceptions and satisfaction with coaching, helping coaches assess effectiveness and identify areas for improvement. Coaches can then use survey data to adjust strategies, prioritize development and enhance teacher collaboration.
  5. An end-of-year video montage. This inspiring or humorous video showcases memorable moments, student accomplishments and staff collaborations throughout the school year. Typically presented during a staff meeting or end-of-year celebration, this montage commemorates achievements, fostering a sense of pride and unity among staff members while celebrating the collective journey of the academic year.

Instructional coaches collaborating with other coaches provide an opportunity to share ideas, align coaching practices and create a supportive professional learning community. Moreover, ending the year with instructional coaches makes teachers feel appreciated and supported, which fosters a collaborative and trusting environment that promotes ongoing growth and learning. 

5 year-end activities with other coaches

  1. Cross-school coaching exchanges. These exchanges involve arranging visits where coaches from various schools observe each other’s practices and participate in collaborative discussions. Coaches typically schedule these exchanges when coaches can dedicate their focus, such as on professional development days or at the school year’s conclusion. By facilitating these exchanges, districts foster professional development, expose coaches to diverse perspectives and encourage the exchange of best practices, strengthening the district-wide coaching network and promoting collaboration among educators.
  2. Coaching innovation challenge. This activity invites coaches to form teams and devise inventive coaching initiatives or projects similar to models for instructional innovation. Coaches present their ideas, receive feedback and collaboratively refine and implement their plans. This challenge fosters creativity, promotes experimentation, adds some fun and cultivates ongoing enhancement in coaching practices districtwide.
  3. Virtual coaching communities of practice. These communities offer a platform for coaches to engage in continuous dialogue, share resources and participate in professional learning. Coaches interact through online discussions, exchange best practices and collaborate on problem-solving activities related to coaching. These virtual communities foster ongoing support, collaboration and professional development among coaches, transcending geographical barriers and school assignments.
  4. Structured coaching self-reflection. This year-end activity allows the coach to self-reflect and to incorporate the responses from the coaching feedback surveys from teachers (see No. 4 in the section above). Using a free, structured tool allows coaches to assess their achievements, identify areas for growth and set targets for next year. It also allows coaches the opportunity to celebrate the successes and to continue to evolve, learn and provide effective support to their staff and school. 
  5. End-of-year coaching impact reports. These reports include summaries of coaching achievements, outcomes and impact. Toward the end of the school year, they are distributed to school leadership, teachers and stakeholders. They provide tangible evidence of coaching effectiveness, showcasing progress, student outcomes and instructional enhancements. For instance, reports may include data on teacher participation, student performance growth and testimonials illustrating coaching’s impact on professional development.

As the school year comes to a close, instructional coaches and educators should work together to prepare for the next one. This collaboration is crucial for achieving ongoing improvement and success in the classroom. It creates a culture of continuous growth within schools, benefiting students and teachers alike. By working together, educational communities can foster a culture of excellence, ensuring every student receives the support and resources they need to thrive. 

Opinions expressed by SmartBrief contributors are their own. 


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