Instructional Coach Pleased with Successful Inaugural Year

Jessica Bandel

Michael Jordan said “A coach is someone that sees beyond your limits and guides you to greatness.”

Coaching is not limited to sports. Teachers at Todd Elementary School have benefitted this year from Todd’s first-ever instructional coach, Jessica Bandel, who has created a myriad of ways to guide teachers into greatness.

Bandel has spent the past year establishing and building relationships and rapport with teachers.

“I am the first instructional coach at Todd and I am happy to say this has been a successful year,” she said. “We have been able to accomplish so much together. Everyone has welcomed me in and opened up their classroom doors to me.”

Bandel counts 25 inter-visitations this year among her successes.

“During those visits, teachers watch me model various methods of instruction in other classes,” she said. “We also had all of the first-grade teachers visit another first grade teacher to observe their best practices.”

As part of her work with teachers, Bandel also works on professional development.

“We have established coaching relationships between myself and individual teachers, as well as between myself and teacher teams,” she said. “Every day I hold professional development in the form of Instructional Coaching meeting in the Instructional Coaching room at 2:15 pm.”

With a focus on curriculum coordination of two new-this-year programs, Scholastic Literacy and Fundations, Bandel was able to expand her training to teaching assistants as well.

“I have trained teaching assistants in how to implement Fundations – phonics and word study – and guided reading, since the focus has been on these two areas of instruction this past school year,” she said.

Another focus this year has been small group instruction and guided reading.

“I have worked with a teacher on a guided reading six-week coaching cycle,” Bandel said. “She wanted to refine her practice regarding guided reading, so with my support, she was able to achieve her goal.”

According to Bandel, during that cycle, she and the teacher worked closely several times per week.

“I modeled in class, we co-planned and co-taught and I observed her and gave her non-evaluative, friendly feedback,” she said.

Although a six-week coaching cycle is common, Bandel works with teachers on a both longer and shorter basis.

“I also do cycles that can last up to eight weeks, as well as mini-cycles that can last two or three weeks,” she said. “Sometimes teachers come in for drop-in coaching and we brainstorm together in a short 15-minute session, or a 45-minute co-planning session.”

Bandel appreciates that teachers are open to feedback.

“They are reflective of their own instruction, but at the end of the day, it is not about the teachers’ style, but rather the student performance,” she said. “It is student-centered coaching, so we always look at where the gaps are in terms of student learning and student knowledge and fill those gaps during the coaching cycles.”

Although the school year is ending, Bandel will be busy this summer.

“I work on-site in the summer and plan to reach out to new teachers in August for a one-on-one orientation,” she said. “I will help them set up literacy instruction physically in their classroom, just as I did last year.”

Bandel shares a menu of her services with all new teachers. She offers services such as planning support, data review, analyzing student work, classroom visits and feedback, resource recommendations, modeled lessons, co-teaching, inter-visitation and professional development.

“I am filled with gratitude for everyone for welcoming me into the school community,” she said. “I am also grateful to Principal Jessica Michaelidis, Assistant Principal Anne Marie Foley and district leaders for welcoming me. We work very closely together and they are very supportive of my coaching work.”


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