A Teacher’s job is to teach, but who supports the teachers? Briarcliff School District has an in-house coach for technology, but for the first time, Todd Elementary School now has its own in-house instructional coach, whose focus is helping teachers improve their craft, with a focus on reading this year.
Jessica Bandel is the first-ever instructional coach at Todd Elementary and brings extensive background with providing instructional support elementary school teachers. Previously she has taught for 12 years in the New York City District: six years as an elementary school teacher and six years as an instructional coach. She holds a second masters degree in Childhood Literacy.
“When I was working for the New York City Department of Education, I worked for Central Offices, but I was also a field support specialist, supporting P.S. 86 in the Bronx, which has 1,600 students, and is the largest elementary school in NYC,” she said.
Bandel’s current role is to provide in-house professional development and coaching support for teachers and she plans to provide support in a variety of ways.
“My office is also a lab, so it is a space for teachers to meet with me in grade teams according to their grades, where we can work together for professional development,” Bandel said.
In addition to meeting with teachers in groups, Bandel also plans on meeting teachers one-on-one at the end of the day.
“Each teacher has received their own curriculum binder that I have made based on the specific goals that they will work on,” Bandel said.
In order to assist teachers, Bandel plans on going into classrooms for coaching cycles.
“I may model for the teacher, co-plan, or we may co-teach the lesson together. I might also do informal observations, just to give the teacher feedback, and get a pulse on the level of support I am providing,” Bandel said. “It is important to have instructional coaching, as I can help teachers identify a problem of practice, create goals and then take steps to reach those goals.”
According to Bandel, some teachers might need help with planning the pacing of lessons, or perhaps they might need help with conducting the guided reading portion of a lesson.
“I can observe what is happening in the classroom and then provide resources and walk the teachers through, so that they can meet their goals,” Bandel said.
Aside from meeting with teachers and going into classrooms, Bandel has also organized a library just for teachers, to support guided reading. One of the rooms in the main hallway has been converted into a library and is now called the Scholastic Literacy Book Room.
The room houses books in reading levels A-Z that teachers can check out for assessing students’ reading levels. There is also a section of professional texts for teachers.
“It is a great resource for teachers and I think they take advantage of it, along with all of the other resources that I can provide,” Bandel said.
According to Bandel, her main role is to enhance the instructional practices, provided, provide ongoing support, and also to draw on their strengths.
“I learn from them just as much as they learn from me,” she said. “They have so much to offer and many combined years of experience, and they are hard-working and dedicated, so I am very happy to support them. The coaching is not mandatory for teachers, but so far, they have been very receptive.”
Bandel also looks forward to working with students and being an integral part of the Todd Elementary community.
“The end goal is to improve students’ abilities and outcomes, and by helping the teachers, I ultimately help the students,” she said.
“We are lucky to have Bandel as new member of the Todd Elementary community and the first instructional coach in the district,” said Dr. Jasmine McQuay, Director of Curriculum and Instruction. “She hit the ground running this summer by creating pacing guides for teachers, individual binders, and helped set up model classrooms to prepare teachers for the implementation of the new reading and phonics programs. This level of ongoing support will provide teachers with the ability to receive just-in-time support and ultimately have a positive impact on students.”