The Cult of Pedagogy Podcast, Episode 26 Transcript

Jennifer Gonzalez, host

Listen to the audio version of this podcast.


Jennifer Gonzalez: This is Jennifer Gonzalez welcoming you to Episode 26 of the Cult of Pedagogy Podcast. In this episode, part one of a two-part episode, I interview an instructional coach to learn how she helps teachers get better at teaching.

[Music playing.]

Gonzalez: I first heard the term instructional coach probably three or four years ago. It wasn’t really that long ago and the second I heard it I thought ‘What is that? That sounds amazing. It sounds like a great job. It sounds like something I would have loved to have done if I had known about it at the right time and the right place. So I looked into it a little bit more and it just seems like in the past few years I have heard that term more and more and more. I’ve either heard instructional coach or literacy coach or math coach. So it seems like this field has been opening up quite a bit and I wanted to learn more about what the job entails. Also what the different sort of variety of roles for instructional coaches. And I was also really curious to learn about what it’s like to be an instructional coach, what the day to day work is like, what are some of the techniques they use and also just sort of what does the workflow look like. What are some of their challenges that they face and so on. So I thought what I would do is research it a little bit. And I—I’ve done that. I’ve got an article that’s going to be going up on Cult of Pedagogy that’s just called What It’s Like to Be an Instructional Coach. And I also decided to interview two instructional coaches to find out more about the work they do.

So each interview is about thirty minutes long so I decided to split this up into two episodes. So this is going to be the first interview. This is, I’m interviewing Gretchen Schultek Bridgers and she is an instructional coach in North Carolina. And she also has a podcast, so if you’re a regular podcast listener, her podcast is called Always a Lesson and it’s really just, you know, encouraging teachers, basically. She also has a website, also the same name, Always a Lesson.  So I just wanted to ask her some questions about what she does and learn a little bit more about what it’s like to be an instructional coach.   

Part two, which is Episode 27, I’m interviewing someone named Eric Sandberg who is also an instructional coach, so definitely want to check that one out too. So before I play the interview, I’d like to thank those of you who have taken the time to leave me a review on iTunes. When people are looking for new podcasts to listen to, seeing a high number of ratings on a podcast makes it more likely that they’ll try it. So if you’ve been learning from this show and you think others would also benefit from it, pop on over to iTunes for a few minutes and leave a quick review. Thank you so much.

All right, let’s get started.


Gonzalez: I would like to welcome Gretchen Schultek Bridgers. She is an instructional coach. She also has a website and a podcast that are called Always a Lesson. And she is going to answer some of our questions about being an instructional coach today. Welcome, Gretchen.

Bridgers: Thank you so much. I’m excited to be here.

Gonzalez: So can you just, let’s just start off by just having you describe what you do. And I think you’ve told me that you’re in a new position this year, correct?

Bridgers: Yeah, so my journey—I was an elementary school teacher for eight years. I did second, third and fifth grade and two different schools. One was title one. One was just a residential school. Went through lots of leaders, you know when a leader gets great they move them out and bring someone else in. So I got to learn a lot about leadership. And I started doing some mentorship and was a cooperating teacher and provided some professional development. And then I was asked to help design the mentor/mentee program. So through all these experiences I realized, Man, I kind of want to do something more than just stay in a classroom, and what would that even look like? And so I started asking my principal. I already thought that the only way out was to be an administrator in some form or fashion. And she said you know, our district has things called facilitators and you could be one in literacy or you could be one in math. And I thought, well that doesn’t really sound—I’m not really passionate about a subject. I’m passionate about good teaching. So I was like, I don’t know that that’s a good fit for me. I think admin would get really political, so I don’t know if that’s the route for me.

And something came through our district newsletter that said “Hey do you want to help new teachers?” And I’d just helped develop that mentor/mentee program, so you know I was like “ding, ding, ding, yes this sounds great!” And it was The New Teacher Project or TNTP for short, and so I applied and ended up doing some part-time roles for them, but that is where I am now, working solely for them. I left the school system, but what’s so great is they partner with my school system so I’m still in all my same schools with all my same teacher friends helping my same kids. I’m just not paid or employed by them. So it’s kind of the best of both worlds, but just really helping new teachers developing effectiveness faster. I know when I started I didn’t really think I gained momentum until year three. And so we’re really helping them kind of learn all the tricks of the trade as quick as they can so they go into these needy schools in our district and just hit the ground running.

Gonzalez: So you’re training, you’re training the brand new teachers before they go in?

Bridgers: Yep.

Gonzalez: So you’re not—in your last—I think I might have missed a step there. Did you take on a role as a facilitator at any point?

Bridgers: I shadowed and helped develop that, but I never ended up going that route. I went on numerous interviews and semi- took positions and decided that that was not—I didn’t want to stay in the school because then I could only work with those teachers. In my role now, I’m able to hit many different schools. So right now I work K-12, working in six to ten different schools. So I feel like that was a better fit for me. So I would say I sort of started, but I never really completed that avenue. So I didn’t really share that part of my story.

Gonzalez: So, okay, so…And you’re working exclusively with new teachers now, not with people who have already been in the classroom for a number of years.

Bridgers: Right, so well that’s a half answer as well, because I’m starting to decide if I want to go out on my own. This Teach Charlotte is where I work because the North Carolina section because TNTP is nationwide. So this one location is going to stop working with new teachers and they’re going to solely work with principals, which I’ve never been one so I can’t coach one. Totally understand that. So I need to now recreate myself. So I’ve started developing webinars and helping people on the side. So I’m kind of moving more into that consulting phase of being my own boss. So this will be a very interesting year of my life. We’ll see where it takes us.

Gonzalez: Okay. So, so as far as you know, in your area, unless you wanted to move there is not any kind of an agency that employs people who are instructional coaches. You would have to—You’d have to go the independent route if you want to keep doing what you’re doing?  

Bridgers: Yes, or I could get hired by the school district as an instructional facilitator or coach. But that’s just a personal preference, nothing is better than the other. Just for me at the time I wanted to have a different type of impact than that role had. What’s so great about coaching is it’s developing. I mean a lot of principals are not even sure how to use a coach. So I think even at each school within a district they’re being utilized in many different ways. So I think it’s just about finding the right fit. So I think if someone’s interested in being a coach, you need to know what type of coach you want to be and then go find the school or the school system that will allow you to do that.

Gonzalez: Okay. That’s great advice, because that’s part of the reason I’m doing this is to help teachers who may want to go into coaching understand. It seems like I only heard the term instructional coach about five, six years ago.

Bridgers: Yeah.

Gonzalez: And I thought Woah, what is that, that sounds like a great job!

Bridgers: Well and the one thing that I will say, when you’re at a school, you can get pulled in many different directions. And I don’t say that to scare anyone off, but that was one thing that I stepped back and had to think about. Because your office is now in the front office so people start looking at you like you’re an administrative person even though you’re not. You’re just a peer, you don’t do any evaluations. But then as well as that it’s “Oh I need help with bus duty.” or “Oh can you run this form?” or “Oh can you help this student?” So not that they try to use you for more things, it just happens and then you have ten percent of your day actually doing what you were hired to do. And so I think you know if someone’s hired you might want to set those parameters with your administration and say “I love this and I can’t wait to dive in but I just want to make sure we’re on the same page for what my day to day might look like.”

What Instructional Coaching Looks Like

Gonzalez: Yeah. So when you go into different schools—You just said your office is the front office. Do you just sort of like grab a conference room to put your stuff down in or do they actually have offices for you?

Bridgers: No, they—We just go into the classroom and do a quick observation or I am live coaching, which means I’m whispering in your ear to do something or I’m holding cue cards or writing on a whiteboard. And then when the kids happen to go to the next class, you and I are chatting. Or I come back at the end of the day or do it during lunch. So we try to schedule it so there’s time in that actual classroom to chat or we just go to the library that’s on-site. So it’s really not an issue because I don’t need a whole lot of room. It’s really just a conversation where I’m going to share my feedback. You’re going to practice. I’m going to give you additional feedback. And then we’re going to close out and I’m going to see you again to see if you’ve applied that. So I really don’t need like a whole classroom space or a quiet area, it’s just a really intimate conversation happening.

Gonzalez: Okay, and so when you get assigned to a person, do—How do you start that relationship with them? Do you just sort of make an e-mail contact or phone call or how does it get started?

Bridgers: Alright, well with instructional coaching at a school, the principal will generally decide who they’re going to pair you up with and that’s usually based on their performance data. So they have a rubric that they assess teachers on and so it’s like “Here’s my teachers that are struggling. Here’s my teachers that are right on the cusp and they just need a little one on one to push them over the edge.” And so they kind of dictate who you work with. But if you’re working by yourself, then you get to choose, you know, what kind of teacher you’re working with or maybe it’s voluntary versus assigned.

And then you sit one on one with them and you just get to know them as people, because I’ve learned that a lot of the things that hold teachers back are their own personal mantras about life or about how they think about themselves. So you really, to fix an educational problem, have to get to know the people because we’re in the people business, you know, so I have to really understand who you are, where you come from, where these biases come from because sometimes that’s what they’re struggling with is they make assumptions about their students. I’m like “Okay, so show me how you know that.” And they’re like “I have no data point.” And it’s because it’s this preconceived notion. So really helping them understand who they are.

Then from there we have a coaching cycle. So we’ll sit down and say, okay, first thing I want to do is look at your lesson plan. So we make the lesson plan as great as it can be. Then I say “Well, in order to actually execute what you have planned, I need you to now practice in front of me.” As awkward as that is, I can play the role of the student or I can just watch. But, if you don’t ever practice what you’re going to do live, it’s never going to happen. You can’t just say “Oh it’s going to be the best lesson, it’s just going to happen in the moment.” I’ve been teaching way too long to know you can’t just show up and deliver. I mean you have got to know how it could potentially go. So I’ll give scenarios. What if Johnny doesn’t say this, what are you going to do? Or what if this happens over here? So we kind of walk that through and then they just feel this sense of pride as they’re getting it. It’s the same thing as a student “aha!” moment, it’s just with this adult. And it’s like “Oh, I totally get it!” And then when I come in the class, I’m just in the back smiling and like “Yes! This is exactly like we practiced. Great job! I’m so proud of you.” Or I may say “Ooh, push a little further.” or some cue that we’ve established ahead of time of what we’re going to be focusing on. And we cycle through just depending on what kind of support they need.

Some teachers really need some intensive support but just like any coach when you start finding your own rhythm the coach kind of steps back. And that’s the best moment, knowing that they have achieved all because of their hard work. I’m just here with a different lens or different perspective, so it’s easier for me to see areas to tweak. But they do all the work and I get to watch the whole process. It’s really rewarding.

Gonzalez: That sounds fantastic. Do you ever get to—I think one hesitation that people may have in going into coaching is that they might have that self doubt of I don’t know everything there is to know about teaching so how can I tell somebody else how to do it? How do you reconcile that? Do you just sort of have a repertoire of strategies that you have—that are just your go-to strategies or—How have you dealt with that? Or do you have that doubt with yourself?

Bergers: I do and I’m just honest. I say “I know some things, that’s how I got here, but that doesn’t mean I know everything.” In each situation a teacher is so different just like every year as a teacher you’ve got new students and you’ve got to find out new strategies because it’s not always going to work. So I just say “I am here to represent you, to really stand up for all the growth that you’re going to have so that you can share this with your principal and show that you’re actually implementing the strategies asked of you. But I’m also going to push you out of your comfort zone. And if you ask me something and I don’t know I’m going to do everything I can to go find the answer. That’s what I’m here for is to be your support. I’m not here to tell you that I’m better or that I’m right.” I mean I don’t think any teacher has ever looked at me and said “You act like you know more than me.” It’s more like How can we help each other? You know? I need to get better as a coach so you need to tell me how can I say this in a way, how can I practice differently with you? You’ve gotta tell me what you need and that helps me develop my own tool belt so that next time I can say “Oh here are some strategies I’ve learned, will this help you?”

Gonzalez: Yeah, nice. When you—When you’re first—I want to just scroll back a little bit because you were talking about the importance of getting to know the person at the beginning. Are there some standard questions that you ask in those first, you know, early conversations that will help you quickly get to know them?

Berger: Yeah, I just say “What’d you do yesterday?” and I think that simple question lets me know what are your interests, what are your priorities, how do you view life, because they could grunt and say “Uhh, like it was such a bad day yesterday.” Then I’m like ding, ding, ding, I might have this mindset I gotta work through. Or “It was so great, I saw my family or I walked my dog.” And I’m like okay, these are things that when times get tough I’m going to say that they need to go and do. So if they’re having a rough day and I remember a conversation two weeks ago that you walked your dog and it put a smile on your face, I’m going to say “Your homework tonight: go walk your dog.” So it’s just all about knowing who they are as people so then I can help them as a teacher.

Challenges of Being an Instructional Coach

Gonzalez: Talk to me a little bit about your biggest challenge. What are some of your biggest challenges as an instructional coach?

Berger: So they say, this is the infamous phrase, like “This won’t work with my kids or in my school in or in my district.” And what that really means is what I’m telling them is unfamiliar. They can’t wrap their head around and personalize it. So what I have to do is get in with their kids. This is where co-teaching is a great part of coaching because I can say “Alright so you’re struggling with this group of students. Let me show you how this technique can work.” And when they see it happen in their own classroom, with their own kids, that takes that whole excuse out of it. Because they’re like “Oh you worked in Title One with some tough challenging kids.” or “That wouldn’t work here.” or “You worked in this suburban school.” or “You only worked elementary.” And I’m like, I taught elementary, but I only coach middle and high school. I feel like I’ve got the gamut that I’ve learned. Again I don’t know everything, but I just want you to give it a shot. And then we can move from there and we’ll problem-solve together, but I think that’s the one sentence that it’s like I can almost bet it’s going to happen.

And you can see it on their faces. They’re like I don’t know if what you’re saying is actually going to work. But I just say “You know, please have an open mind.” Just admit that they’re not sure what to do or I’m just giving a suggestion. You know, even if they have tons of life experience, maybe they’re an older teacher or in another field and they’re saying “Well when I was the manager, that’s not how people responded to me.” and you know, everything evolves and changes so even if it didn’t work ten years ago, let’s see if it works today. You have nothing to lose because it’s not working the way you’re doing it, so let’s just try and then we’ll tweak it from there.

I think it’s a lot of pride, you know they don’t—Especially if they’re getting assigned a mentor or coach, there’s a lot of resistance because they feel like their room is scarlet letter. That it’s like someone has told me that I’m not good. And so they’re trying to prove themselves and “Look how awesome I am.” And I’m like hey, I didn’t even look at the paper that said your scores. I don’t care. I just know that you want some help in this area and here I am. Like let’s do this. It’s more like I’m showing up to practice with you and we’re going to scrimmage versus me coming in like telling you “No, this is not how you do it and you’re a horrible person and you’re never going to be successful.” But you have to actually just say to them those things so they can be like “Ahhh” and just relax and the wall can come down. And when they realize that you’re not going to go back and tell everything to the principal that you discussed there’s that sense of relationship and feel like that trust is building. You know the best way to overcome any kind of a stressful situation is a team type of relationship, really valuing each other and what you bring to the table is really how I combat that response from them.

Gonzalez: So you use—You mentioned co-teaching a minute ago. That’s one of the—that’s one of the ways that you get over them not being able to envision their kids…you actually get up and teach it alongside them, or do they sit and watch you teach a class to their students?    

Bridgers: So we call it “timing in.” So I’ll be watching a teacher in the back of the room and signing for them to do different things. And if I see that this is an opportunity and they’re not capitalizing on it, then I’ll just say time out with a T on my hands—and this is something we’ve established beforehand—and I’ll jump in. They will introduce me to the kids so it’s not like I’m this weird person for the first time. Like they’ll try and get me involved in activities so I have a relationship with the kids and I’ll just start teaching. I won’t say to them “Watch me do this.” You know it’s just like I’ll start either giving better directions or ensuring that the student can’t just say no to the answer, that they give a full response. Then I’ll time her back in, or him back in, and they come back and they continue the lesson. And then when we debrief, we talk about “Okay, so why did you think I had to come in at that moment?” or “What did you see me doing?” or “What was the difference between the way you were trying to help the student versus what I ended up doing?”

So I think co-teaching to me is just pausing for a second. I really want them to watch and hear what’s happening, but there are times we’re tag team and going back and forth. And that’s a teacher that’s almost got it where they just need my help with questioning or elaboration, but they pretty much are you know without the training wheels. So I think again it’s really individualized and you as the coach have to think ‘What is the best way to intervene so that this person’s successful?’ If they’re brand new, I’m not going to jump in because that’s so overwhelming. Because there’s going to be a huge gap at what I do as an experienced educator versus what you do as a new teacher and I don’t want your kids seeing that gap. That makes it obvious that you’re inexperienced and I don’t want to do that. So we will just talk through and practice a lot more before that lesson rather versus than in the moment.

Gonzalez: Right. You know you’re using a couple of terms that are really piquing my curiosity. You talked about timing in and you mentioned earlier about live coaching where you are actually whispering in their ear. I’m—Did, did those techniques come from the training that you originally got in the—Where you—Where did you learn those techniques?

Bridgers: So there’s a couple of phrases that The New Teacher Project uses like, “Give a glow and a grow.” So instead of giving you a laundry list of things to work on, I’m just going to give you here’s the best thing you did and here’s the best way you can impact something you need to work on. So those kinds of things are from The New Teacher Project. But timing in and timing out is something that I created because I didn’t really know how to describe what it would look like in the moment, but I just thought when you’re playing freeze tag and you’re time out for a second. That’s my only way to really relate and everyone’s got it. So it just kind of stuck.

Gonzalez: Yeah.

Bridgers: Live coaching to me is kind of a term that’s used all over the internet but I think it has multiple meanings. But for me it just means that I —Okay so facilitators in schools often go in and watch. They observe and then they’ll talk to you after. And The New Teacher Project did a lot of research with that and said well, you’re actually letting bad habits to develop. So you actually have to stop them as soon as it’s not going the perfect way, and tweak it in the moment. That way they’re never building a muscle memory in the wrong way. So you have to in the moment so that it’s not going the wrong way. So that’s why I call it live, because I’m not just going to be in there and being passive. I have to be involved, whether I’m cuing you or I’m whispering to you or I’m pointing to a student that needs to be addressed or whatever. I’m like the you know guy in the football field in the top that can see the whole field of what’s happening and you and I are connected through this little microphone that’s like here’s what I want you to do. Speaking on microphones, some coaches do use them. I don’t. But live coaching just is that, in the moment we are just going to go with it. I can’t plan what I’m going to say or do and neither can you. I mean we’ve prepped for the moment, but kids come with unique experiences and talents and decide to do weird things in the moment that we can’t plan for. So that’s what makes it live.

Gonzalez: So, geez, this sounds to me like some teachers would really respond to with just a lot of anxiety. I’m thinking that some personality types would really bristle at somebody in there pointing out everything they’re doing wrong as they’re doing it. Have you ever had any experiences with just a super strongly negative reaction?

Bridgers: So I’m glad you asked this because we have a pre-conference that’s part of the coaching cycle. So before I come into your class, we have already decided what is your area that we’re focusing on. So you might say I need help behavior management with transitions. They’re really lengthy and loud. And I’m like okay so when I come in I’m not going to cue you that you need to use higher order questioning. I’m not going to cue you to differentiate your instruction in another way or something. I’m only going to focus on that transition. Because you’re right, you can find tons of things to tweak and that would be so overwhelming. I mean even, you know when I left teaching there was so much more that I could do in every single lesson. So it’s not about being perfect but what is the biggest impact that I can make today in this class? That’s why the glow and grow is important because even though I could give you so many suggestions, it’s what’s the one thing that you can do right now that’s going to make the biggest impact. And that’s really hard for coaches to prioritize because you have your own experience and you’re like “Oh, this really made a difference in my class.” Right, but for this teacher with this class, is it going to have the same impact? You know you really need to be thoughtful about what you’re saying and how you’re providing, you know, support.  

Gonzalez: Yeah. So it sounds like that pre—That pre-observation conference is really, really key.  

Bridgers: Yeah, you can look at the lesson plan and already find gaps. So that’s great, you can save some time there. But then you also can say”This is the cue I’m going to use when I want you to start your transition. And so you have this like—They’re looking at you and you’re like thumb up or something and that means start counting down or whatever system you bring. And they’re like “Okay this is really giving me the strength to do it well. Like you’re holding me accountable. I can’t keep making excuses.” Then once they get through that very first co-teaching or observing or whatever that very first round is going to look like, they’re just like “Come in any day!” You know because they see the change and they actually feel like you’re on the sidelines coaching them through. Like you got this or turn right. And they’re like you know it’s almost hard to turn it off now. I mean when I go back to schools and help new teachers, there’s teachers there that are no longer new, that have had me and they’re like “Can you just come in five minutes, five minutes?” You know they’re begging for feedback because they love how much better they get how much faster.

Gonzalez: Yeah, oh that’s gotta be a great feeling. How, how—Is there—Do you do anything different now compared to when you first started coaching? Have you changed your approach in any way?   

Bridgers: There’s a couple things. There’s three things that I’d like to share. So, the first one’s called the get it, do it gap. This is another TNTP phrase, but what this means is that you can sit through a PD and all the teachers understand what you’re talking about, but then you go see them the next day and none of them do it. And it’s like wait, what happened? You just totally understood it and you verbalized it and you acted it out. Like, what’s happening? But it’s really making it personal for their classroom. And so really helping during our coaching session say “Okay this is what the technique looks like. This is one version of it. What would this look like in your class? Plan this on a piece of paper.” And so then they plan it. And then it’s like “Okay now I want you to stand up and act out what you planned.” And they get up and they’re like “Oh, actually that’s not going to work.” Great, let’s tweak the paper, let’s practice again. We’re really making sure that when you leave here you can really do it because I better see it tomorrow. I don’t want you to say yes I get it and this is what it looks like and then go in there and be like “Wait, actually I don’t. I didn’t think about this piece of my classroom.” You know so this is really making sure that I’m doing more practice than I’m just telling them “Here’s some ideas.” Really getting them up and moving.

The second thing is showing them, not telling them. I made the mistake of saying “Like you know this is how you should do your centers. It should be this many people and they need to be this long.” And they’re like nodding their head and they’re like “Yeah, I get it.” And then I don’t see anything like that. It’s just like utter chaos when I go in there. And I say “What happened?” They’re like well it made sense when you said it but I had a hard time like picturing in my head. I’m like okay let me get up and model what this looks like in your own class. So instead of meeting in the library that day I’m going to meet you in your class so you can watch me walk around the actual furniture so you can visualize yourself actually doing this tomorrow.

And then the third thing is just following through. I would just say “Hey this is great, you’re going to do awesome.” I pop in. You’re really strong. I exit and I follow up a week later and it’s like “Hey what do you need help with?” and it’s like actually, the next day it didn’t go so well. So making sure that you’re not just throwing them in the deep end and then waving them goodbye because they passed training. And then saying they’re going to be great. You have to keep providing them that support. It might look a little different, and it might be less support, but you’ve got to make sure that they’re truly the training wheels are off. It’s like running next to the bike. Your hands are there. You’re not helping as much, but you’re just there in case. So whether that’s email or texting or voxer is a big thing now. Whatever it might be, just really having a touch point throughout the week to make sure that everything’s still going as great as it is.  

Gonzalez: Yeah, fantastic. These are such great ideas. I’m imagining that anybody who is already an instructional coach is probably picking up something from everything you’re saying, so […]

Bridgers: Oh good.

Advice for Instructional Coaches and Teachers

Gonzalez: Thank you so much. Is there anything else that you would like teachers to know about instructional coaches?

Bridgers: So I have something I want to share with teachers and then something I want to share with the coaches.   

Gonzalez: Okay.

Bridgers: So if you’re a teacher, I just want you to have an open mind. You know we all have different experiences, but I think if you just give it a shot you might be surprised how something might work or develop into something else. You might have a brainstorm in the middle of trying something and make it your own. But I want you to come in with an open mind that this could actually be super helpful and a pivotal moment in your career. I also want you to just focus on growth every day. You might not make it up to the next performance level on that rubric, but that doesn’t mean you’re not better than you were before. So look at the little tiny steps you’re making and celebrate it because it wasn’t happening before. So it’s worth the attention that you give it. Also thank your mentor. Thank whoever has been pouring into you and giving you advice because one day you’re going to be doing that for someone else and it’s really going to make them feel great knowing that they had an impact on you. So that’s my advice for teachers.

For coaches, relationships first, coach second. It’s all about how you relate to one another. You could be sharing the best piece of advice. It could be gold, but if you don’t have a relationship they’re not going to hear it from you and they’re not going to apply it. So it’s just wasted time and energy. So focus on those relationships. Also listen more than you speak. You’re going to find out a lot about someone just by listening to them. So instead of coming into a meeting ready to get right to it and share everything you planned to share, give them a minute to just share whatever it is that’s on their mind because that could really be integral to their improvement.

If you are able to video, that has been super helpful because a teacher will say “I don’t do that.” And then you’re like “I’m just going to videotape you for 30 seconds sometime throughout here and it’s going to be deleted. It’s just for you.” Then I go and oh I talk with my hands or I keep saying um or oh I keep calling on the same student or I have my back to the kids or whatever. So video is super helpful to push through those barriers.

Make sure it’s a professional relationship. I do know I said relationship first, but you want to make sure that you’re not hanging out with the people you’re mentoring while you’re mentoring them. Because that really blurs the lines and emotions start to rise and it could get a little sticky. So wait until they are done with your coaching cycles to kind of have a more kind of intimate relationship.

And also lastly, just make sure you’re respecting the privacy of the conversations. Just like a teacher if there is something alarming, of course you need to share it, but if it’s just something they’re just struggling with, there’s no reason to go and chat up with the principal that they think xyz about someone or something. Hold that close to your heart unless you feel like it’s something you really need to share.

Gonzalez: Fantastic advice Gretchen, thank you so much.

Bridgers: Yeah, you’re welcome.

Gonzalez: So Gretchen Schultek Bridgers and if people who are listening to this are already podcast listeners, then they can find you on your own podcast which is called Always a Lesson and where else can they find you online.

Bridgers: Right, so I’m all over social media which is the great thing of this awesome world. But Facebook is Always a Lesson. If you’re on Google+ it’s Gretchen Schultek Bridgers. Really find me anywhere just by typing those two things in. I look forward to helping you. If you have questions, you can email me. It’s You know I’m just here to help.

Gonzalez: I will be providing links too in the show notes for the podcast —In the show notes so that people can link directly to you if they want to do that so they don’t have to look it all up.

[music playing]                       

Gonzalez: Thank you so much Gretchen.

Bridgers: You are so welcome. Thank you.

Gonzalez: For links to the resources mentioned in this episode, go to and go to Episode 26. While you’re there, set aside some time to explore my other resources for teachers. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

This podcast is a proud member of the education podcast network. Podcasts by educators, podcasts for educators. To learn more, visit


Listen to the audio version of this podcast.

See All Podcast Episodes