Coach's Corner: Book Review of Get Better Faster
We all know that teaching is hard, but being a new teacher can sometimes seem downright impossible. Fortunately, Paul Bambrick-Santoyo has laid out a critical tool for driving the professional growth of new teachers in his latest book, Get Better Faster: A 90-Day Plan for Coaching New Teachers.
The Chief Schools Officer for High Schools and K-12 Content Development at Uncommon Schools, Bambrick-Santoyo has become a leading figure in school leadership, professional development, and data-driven instruction. In Get Better Faster, Bambrick-Santoyo lays out a compelling case for how school leaders, administrators, and coaches can guide new teachers to develop their instructional practice efficiently and effectively, making an immediate impact on the lives of their students.
In focusing on new teacher quality, Bambrick-Santoyo recognizes the immense power teachers have in shaping the lives of their students as well as the corresponding responsibility for coaches to guide their teachers to success. Across the nation however, Bambrick-Santoyo notes:
Teachers aren’t receiving much coaching. As a consequence, educators are very rarely asked to practice the micro-skills that will make them better at teaching–especially not under the supervision of an expert who can help them get better on the spot. Unlike soccer players, actors, or doctors, teachers tend to have to learn on their own.
It should be as no surprise to know that many U.S. teachers leave the profession within their first few years of teaching, often in response to the lack of support needed to feel and be successful.
Get Better Faster is built off of the guiding concept that what is actionable is “practice-able” and therefore able to respond to effective coaching.
Bambrick-Santoyo begins by identifying and unpacking three core principles of coaching:
- Go Granular: break teaching down into discrete skills to be practiced successively and cumulatively.
- Plan, Practice, Follow Up, Repeat: Coach a teacher through effective practice.
- Make Feedback More Frequent: Make the most of every observation by increasing the frequency of feedback.
The text then moves into a detailed scope and sequence for rapidly improving teacher practice. Bambrick-Santoyo outlines how to support teachers with classroom management and rigorous instruction by identifying a prioritized list of key action steps with guidance on when to use the strategy, what it looks/sounds like, and scenarios for practicing. For example, the scope and sequence for classroom management begins with “routines and procedures 101” then scaffolds up to using a “strong voice”, giving clear directions, and actively scanning the room. For instructional rigor, the sequence guides leaders through coaching on lesson planning, use of exemplars, meaningful independent practice and methods for checking for understanding.
Like his prior publications, Get Better Faster is full of strong real-classroom examples, recommendations for implementation, printable resources and a thorough video library of great coaching in action. Leaders across the country working with new teachers will be well-served by the expertise Bambrick-Santoyo has captured in this book and many students will be grateful for their doing so.
We have used the concepts and resources in Get Better Faster throughout our work with many clients including the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, New York City Department of Education, and DREAM Charter School. For more information about those projects, visit http://hendyavenue.com/clients/.