Classroom Coaching 101

It seems like Mack Brown is popping up all over Austin these days – on CapMetro buses, on RunTex billboards, and PSA’s. And he keeps talking about being a Classroom Coach. So you may be thinking “I’ve volunteered before. Am I a Classroom Coach? Am I changing the game?”

In mid 2008, Executive Director Kathrin Brewer decided that Austin Partners in Education needed a way to brand our small group learning structure to differentiate it from traditional mentoring and tutoring, even though it incorporates both of these components when building a relationship with students. Small group learning takes place when 7-10 volunteers come into a classroom during the regular school day and help small groups (get it?) of 3-5 students in a key area of their education: 2nd grade reading, 8th grade math, and 12th grade college readiness.

“But isn’t that just tutoring?”
It’s really so much more! Not only do our volunteers help students with reading and math, but they show up every week at the same time. This consistency shows the students that it isn’t just their teachers who care about their education. The whole community, including people they’ve never met, cares enough to come see them every week!

For the visual learners (and football fanatics) out there, here’s what Classroom Coaching looks like:
Communications Picture 2

Or if X’s and O’s aren’t your thing:
Communications Picture 1

“But does it really make a difference?”
Yes! The small group learning structure has given us real results. Teachers rave about the improvement they see in their students by working in a group with a Coach for the school year. And students are excited too! The 2nd graders wait eagerly at the classroom door or wiggle in their seats as they await their Coaches’ arrival. The much cooler (obviously) 8th and 12th graders give their volunteers a smile and are quick to share a story of personal success when they see their Coach. When it comes to the numbers, students in our program actually perform 7-10% better on the TAKS tests than students who don’t participate in Classroom Coaching.

“But is 7-10% really worth a name change though?”
Actually it is! 7-10% means that the students who were on the verge of failing reached the passing point and students at key developmental stages actually see the potential of meeting academic standards for their grade level. Even students who make average grades can make the leap to the top of their class.

With all of this success, we wanted to make it easy to spread the word about these programs and the amazing volunteers who change the game every week. We’ve heard our volunteers referred to as cheerleaders and partners and buddies and tutors, but what they are really doing is coaching. In a traditional sense a coach is a role model that helps you learn a skill while encouraging and motivating you toward success. Our Classroom Coaches help students develop their skills in math and reading while setting them up to be college ready when they graduate high school.

We’re always ready to recruit new Coaches, so if you’ve scouted someone out for us, ask them to visit www.classroomcoaching.org. Or leave a comment and let us know about your experiences as a Classroom Coach.

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About Austin Partners in Education

Austin Partners in Education is a non-profit organization that provides innovative programs to improve student academic performance.

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