June 2022 Newsletter – Coaching: Director’s Corner: Coaching for Success

As a member of leadership, you may be responsible for establishing coaching relationships between staff members or inviting outside organizations into the program to participate in a more formal coaching experience.  In both cases, it is important to understand your role and the ways you can support the success of your efforts.

Most importantly, as facilitators of coaching efforts, members of leadership need to understand a few basic concepts about adult learners.  Malcolm Knowles, a pioneer in studying how adults learn best, identified a number of characteristics of adult learners:

  • Adults benefit from being involved in determining what they learn and how they learn it.
  • Adults learn best when learning is experiential – they learn through doing.
  • Adults prefer to learn about topics that are directly relevant to their work or lives.
  • Adults learn best when topics solve their problems.
  • Adult motivation to learn is internal rather than external.
  • Adults bring their past experiences to new learning experiences.

Understanding these key concepts can help leaders set up effective coaching programs and evaluate outside individuals or agencies that may seek to provide coaching to your staff.  Make sure that the approach used in the coaching program:

  • Accounts for employees’ experience and culture.
  • Allows employees to participate in goal setting and evaluating the program.
  • Focuses on the challenges that are relevant to each employee’s current experience.
  • Takes into consideration what employees know currently and build on current skills.
  • Promotes accountability and active participation on the part of employees.
  • Recognizes mistakes as valuable learning experiences.

From this point, it is important to align staff with the spirit of the coaching initiative. Some individuals may not see the point of participating in coaching sessions.  Some may see coaching as punitive, while others resent the time that coaching requires.  Work with your team, and individuals as needed, to identify the benefits of participating in coaching.  Brainstorm the WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) reasons that coaching is worth the effort.

Instill an overall positive attitude about quality improvement and life-long learning in your program that new employees learn about when they join your team. This will require you to participate and demonstrate how members of leadership are on a path of continuous quality improvement before asking your staff to follow your lead.

 

For the main article Coaching, CLICK HERE

For the article What is Coaching?, CLICK HERE

For the article Characteristics for Coaches and Coachees, CLICK HERE

For the article Structure of Coaching Sessions, CLICK HERE

June 2022 Newsletter – Coaching: Structure of Coaching Sessions

It seems that everywhere you look, you can find another coaching model or steps to follow when entering a coaching relationship.  Which one is best? That is difficult to determine because each coaching relationship is different.  Differences also apply based on the source of coaching and why it is being conducted.  For example, coaching mandated by a governing body may look different from coaching that occurs when new employees join the team.

In any case, it is important to have a structure that is followed for each coaching session as well as for the overall coaching experience.

For the overall experience, coaching may follow a path that looks something like this:

  • Greeting – time provided for coaches and coachees to get to know one another or catch up.
  • Observation – time for the coach to watch the coachee in action.
  • Reflection – time for coaches and coachees to identify target areas, obstacles, and solutions.
  • Goal-setting – time to prioritize the skills and practices that will be introduced.
  • Action-planning – time to collaborate on a plan of action to achieve goals.
  • Demonstration – time for coaches to show how new skills can be used.
  • Practice – time for the coachee to use new skills.
  • Feedback – time for the coach to provide guidance and resources, and promote continued reflection.
  • Adjustment – time to reevaluate goals and strategies and make changes as necessary.
  • Closing – time to celebrate efforts and determine next steps, if required.

These steps will likely not remain in this neat order as the coaching process progresses. Coaches need to understand how to build these overall steps into individual sessions in an effective way.

A typical session may look like this:

  • Greeting
  • Demonstration
  • Practice
  • Feedback
  • Closing

A session may look like this

  • Greeting with updates
  • Reflection
  • Demonstration
  • Closing

A coaching session may also look like this:

  • Greeting with a progress report
  • Adjustment
  • Action planning
  • Closing

Coaches must be prepared for any number of situations to arise during coaching sessions.  They should have the skills to be able to pivot to meet the needs of the coachee and keep the coaching relationship intact.  Blindly following a set of steps may disregard the needs of the coachee while having no plan at all will result in a disorganized experience that is frustrating for everyone involved.

A balance of accountability and flexibility is required.

 

For the main article Coaching, CLICK HERE

For the article What is Coaching?, CLICK HERE

For the article Characteristics for Coaches and Coachees, CLICK HERE

For the article Director’s Corner: Coaching for Success, CLICK HERE

June 2022 Newsletter – Coaching: Characteristics for Coaches and Coachees

For coaching to be effective, the individuals involved should possess certain skills and attitudes. It’s not enough to have a perfectly suited coach if the person being coached is not interested in what the coach has to say.

Let’s first take a look at the characteristics one would expect to see in a coach.  In addition to being knowledgeable in their area of expertise, coaches should also be:

  • Strength-based – When guiding others, coaches must focus on identifying strengths and building on the strengths of others.
  • Respectful – Coaches understand that people bring unique experiences and perspectives to their work. Coaches find ways to blend experience and best practice in a way that respects the coachee.
  • Goal-oriented – Coaches need to be able to identify and prioritize the skills that need to be enhanced, and then remain focused on providing support and accountability until goals are met.
  • Observant – Coaches must be able to notice details that may not be apparent to others. They should strive to see the bigger picture in order to guide coaches to create appropriate goals.
  • Reflective – Coaches must be able to guide their coachees to reflect on current practices while also reflecting on their own approach to the coaching relationship.
  • Realistic– Coaches know that making change takes time and that change can make people uncomfortable and resistant.
  • Supportive – Coaches need to be able to keep coachees engaged in the process of reaching their goals. They need to provide the right level and type of support based on the needs of individual coachees.
  • Clear – Coaches must be able to communicate clearly about the skills being worked on as well as the responsibilities of the coachee. They must understand their role as the guide, not the person responsible for making the changes happen.
  • Organized – Coaches must be able to manage the pace of each coaching session as well as the overall experience. This requires planning, time management, and being able to prioritize needs and responses.
  • Resourceful – Coaches may need to try a few approaches to tackle tough challenges their coachees face. This requires a creative and resourceful attitude.
  • Open to learning – It is common for issues to arise in a coaching relationship that require research and growth on the part of both the coach and the coachee.

The individual receiving coaching must also be prepared to bring their best skills and efforts to the coaching relationship.  First and foremost, coachees should recognize that everyone benefits from coaching from time to time.  Professional athletes operate at high levels of performance, but they still have coaches.  Sports coaches help high performers work within a successful team just as much as they help players build skills.  When coachees are able to set aside ego and remain open to new ideas, coaching sessions can be extremely productive.

Here are a few other characteristics that coachees should have:

  • Honesty – Coachees should strive to be honest with their coaches about their beliefs, skills, and practices. They should be honest about their understanding of concepts and about their attempts to try new approaches in the learning environment.
  • Curiosity – Coachees should build their capacity to be curious when faced with challenges in the classroom. They should ask themselves questions like, “I wonder what would happen if I tried something different?”
  • Responsibility – Coachees will be held accountable for setting goals with coach support, and they are the person responsible for making the changes that will lead to the achievement of their goals.
  • Persistent – Positive results can sometimes take multiple attempts and coachees must be willing to try strategies multiple times before expecting success.
  • Commitment – Coachees should work with coaches to adjust goals and deadlines to be realistic and achievable. This will ensure that they are able to maintain their commitment to completing the process.

 

For the main article Coaching, CLICK HERE

For the article What is Coaching?, CLICK HERE

For the article Structure of Coaching Sessions, CLICK HERE

For the article Director’s Corner: Coaching for Success, CLICK HERE

June 2022 Newsletter – Coaching: What is Coaching?

According to the Early Childhood Education Professional Development: Training and Technical Assistance Glossary from NAEYC and NACCRRA (Child Care Aware of America), coaching is:

“…a relationship-based process led by an expert with specialized and adult learning, knowledge and skills, who often serves in a different professional role than the recipient(s). Coaching is designed to build capacity for specific professional dispositions, skills, and behaviors and is focused on goal-setting and achievement for an individual or group.”

Sometimes, the term coaching is used as a synonym for mentoring, but in reality, there are differences between coaching and mentoring.  Mentoring is defined in the Glossary as:

“…a relationship-based process between colleagues in similar professional roles, with a more-experienced individual with adult learning knowledge and skills, the mentor, providing guidance and example to the less-experienced protégé or mentee. Mentoring is intended to increase an individual’s personal or professional capacity, resulting in greater professional effectiveness.”

Here is a chart that contains a comparison of the two processes:

CoachingMentoring
Focuses on specific skills and practices.Focuses on overall professional growth.
Can be a one-time event or occur over multiple meetings.Occurs over an extended period of time.
Concludes once goals have been achieved.The relationship continues beyond the achievement of initial goals.
Can contribute to performance evaluations.Does not contribute to performance evaluations.
Coach is either self-selected or assigned by a supervisor.Typically, mentors are selected by mentees.

Both relationships are built on trust and include reflective work and feedback. Experts promote both coaching and mentoring as part of a larger professional development plan.

 

For the main article What is Coaching?, CLICK HERE

For the article Characteristics for Coaches and Coachees, CLICK HERE

For the article Structure of Coaching Sessions, CLICK HERE

For the article Director’s Corner: Coaching for Success, CLICK HERE

June 2022 Newsletter – Coaching

Until recently, the role of coach was most commonly associated with athletics. These individuals are the experienced experts who see the bigger picture and strive to bring players together for optimal results.  You may have a favorite coach or at least recall a powerful moment or two from your interactions with coaches in the past.

Good coaches are dedicated, motivating, knowledgeable, and strong communicators. They work to gain the trust of their players and colleagues and push everyone to give their all on the field.

Steve Kerr, coach of the Golden State Warriors, tells us “If you’re going to have a team of role players, then you better have a team of players who truly understand their roles.”

Vince Lombardi, a famous football coach, said “The only place that success comes before work is in the dictionary.”

And Pat Summit, female basketball coach, wisely said “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts the most.”

Coaches have a particular perspective that makes them very valuable to the teams they lead. In recent years, coaching has moved beyond the sports arena and entered the business and professional realm. In this issue of the CCEI newsletter, we will explore the role that coaching plays in early childhood education and ways that coaches can be used to address issues and support quality improvement efforts.

For the article What is Coaching?, CLICK HERE

For the article Characteristics for Coaches and Coachees, CLICK HERE

For the article Structure of Coaching Sessions, CLICK HERE

For the article Director’s Corner: Coaching for Success, CLICK HERE

Language and Literacy Activities for Preschoolers

Language and literacy activities for preschoolers is one of our favorite topics because developing language and literacy skills in your students offers a number of important benefits. It supports their cognitive development, improves their creativity, builds their language skills, helps improve their concentration and problem solving skills and the list goes on.

And fortunately, teaching ABC’s can be as easy as, well, ABC. Plus, it’s a lot of fun!

There are a number of easy, fun and engaging literacy activities for preschoolers to help your students become strong readers and communicators. Below are 10 of our favorite language and literacy activities for preschoolers that will help your kiddos develop skills that will serve as a foundation for their entire educational journey.

Read Aloud to Them

First and foremost, read aloud to them. Yes, it’s easy and likely something you’re already doing, but its importance can’t be understated.

Reading to your class is probably the single most important way to build literacy skills in preschoolers. And while they might not understand everything being said, it’s a critical first step for helping them understand the written language.

As a rule of thumb, toddlers enjoy books that rhyme and have a good rhythm. Repetition is something else to look for. While selecting age-appropriate books is important, just like anything else, don’t be afraid to introduce more challenging books. Also, make sure the books you choose cover a wide range of topics. Not only will this keep them engaged, but it will help broaden their horizons by introducing subjects they’re unfamiliar with.

In addition to a wonderful preschool literacy activity, this is a great way to bond with your students, which is important to their development. Plus, a regular reading period gives them something to look forward to.

Kick the Alphabet Cup

This simple, fun activity from Fun Learning for Kids helps children identify letters and sounds. As a plus, it gets them up and moving. And best yet, it’s easy to set up and only requires a small ball, plastic cups and a marker.

You simply write a letter on each cup, line up the cups on the floor and have your students kick the ball to knock over a cup. You then have them pick up the knocked over cup and have them sound out the letter.

At first, you might have to sound out the letter with them. As they progress and learn their letters, you can instruct them to kick over a specific lettered cup, e.g. “now, can you kick over the ‘A’?”

Additionally, in this activity, as well as all the others, it’s a great idea to have them trace the letter as they pronounce it. This practice is wonderful for helping develop fine motor skills and eventually, handwriting.

Sing a Song

Not only does singing help communication skills, but kids love it. Partially because our brains are pre-programmed to appreciate music. Additionally, singing is closely related to cognitive development and when you incorporate it, it helps lessons stick better by reinforcing letter names and sounds.

There are a number of great ABC songs, including the classic, easy-to-follow Alphabet Song.  If you want to take a deep dive into other options and expand your repertoire, there are countless ideas on the internet, and one of our favorites is Jack Hartmann’s Kids Music Channel.

Regardless of the songs you sing, this is one of the best language and literacy activities for preschoolers. And don’t worry if you can’t carry a tune – your students won’t care!

Alphabet Playdough

This activity from No Time for Flashcards not only helps improve literacy skills, but it’s also a great sensory activity. Simply grab some playdough and alphabet cookie cutters and you’ll be on your way.

Give your students a glob of the putty and the cutters and let them loose. As they begin to press out letters, you can verbalize what they’re doing, e.g. “look at that, you’re making a ‘B’.”

Then, you can then instruct them to pick out specific letters and make molds as they learn and develop a better grasp of the alphabet.

When it comes to literacy activities for preschoolers, this one can’t be beat.

Scavenger Hunt

For this preschool literacy activity, have students take turns pulling out toys from the classroom toy bin. As they pull out an item, ask them to identify it. For example, if they remove a stuffed bear, you can say, “that’s a bear, and bear begins with ‘B’.”

As your students become more familiar with letters and the alphabet, you can ask them to find an object in the toy bin that begins with a specific letter, for example, ask them to pull out an object that begins with the letter ‘B.’

Finally, you can expand this activity in a couple of ways. First, you can ask them what color the object is or if it’s a toy animal, what sound it makes. Second, you can encourage your students to make up a story with the item, since storytelling is also an important part of building literacy skills.

Storytelling

Speaking of storytelling, this deserves its own place in the list of language and literacy activities for preschoolers.

In addition to reading your students stories, it’s also important to have them practice storytelling. This helps them build confidence and strengthens their ability to communicate their thoughts, feelings and ideas. It also helps them develop their creativity.

There are several amazing language and literacy activities for preschoolers that can help them develop their storytelling skills.

One of our favorites is using a prompt jar. Simply write easy words on pieces of paper or use pictures, and put them in a jar (for this activity, at this age, animals work well). Have your students take turns selecting prompts and telling a story based on what they select. If a student gets stuck, that’s perfectly fine. After all, at this age, they likely won’t be able to create complete sentences or complex sequences. If they do need a little help, you can always offer suggestions like, “what sound does your animal make?” and “show us how your animal moves.” And don’t be afraid to join in the fun!

Recite Nursery Rhymes

Nursery rhymes are an excellent preschool literacy activity and fun way to get your children using words since they’re easy to learn. Also, because nursery rhymes are made up of patterns, they are easy for preschoolers to grasp, and they help them develop an ear for language.

You likely have a nice collection of nursery rhyme books already, but if you want to branch out, Bilingual Kidspot has a great list of nursery rhymes here.

Play I Spy

This guessing game has been around for ages and is one of the first activities children learn to play.

Play I spy, and say, “I spy with my little eye, something that begins with a ‘B’.” Then see if your students can identify the object. They’ll likely miss and grab something that begins with a different letter, and that’s OK. Simply, in a re-affirming way, correct them.

This is a perfect preschool literacy activity since it also helps them build their vocabulary. Additionally, it’s a good exercise for teaching students how to take turns.

Go Fish

When exploring literacy activities for preschoolers, How Wee Learn shares a great version of a learning card game, which also happens to be one of the easiest and oldest ones in the book.  Also, since all you need is paper, scissors and markers, it makes for a quick, simple activity if you’re crunched for time.

Mail a Letter

This is our own take on another No Time for Flashcards activity.

During an arts and crafts lesson, have your students draw pictures, such as simple shapes or animals. Then, take each drawing and put it in a sealed envelope and on the outside, write the letter (both uppercase and lowercase) of the image. For example, if the picture is of a cat, label the sealed envelope with a “C c.”

Then use a cardboard box to make a classroom mailbox. During your next literacy lesson, have students take turns pulling out the envelopes. As they remove them, you can say, “that’s a C,” (or ask them to identify the letter based on ability) and have them open the letter and remove the drawing, and say “‘C’ is for cat.”

This preschool literacy activity is a fun way to teach letters while also incorporating art. As a bonus, your kids will be excited to open the letters and see what’s inside!

If you’re looking for other resources for language and literacy activities for preschoolers, we offer a number of professional development courses related to this topic, as well as curriculum development and more.

In all, ChildCare Education Institute offers 150+ online courses in both English and Spanish that can help you incorporate literacy activities for preschoolers into your lesson plans.

Visit the ChildCare Education Institute for more information on all our offerings and to see why tens of thousands of early childhood professionals just like you trust CCEI for all their professional development needs. CCEI offers more than just language and literacy activities for preschoolers, learn more today!