Mathematics Tip - Effective Coaching

Routine, routine, routine! Children especially thrive on predictability in their day. It is important in your Eye Level Center to set the expectations for each learner (and instructor!) up front so everyone knows what will happen in each session.

It is important for instructors to remember to have every student come up for one-on-one coaching. Not all students need the same amount of time, but all students do require coaching at some point during the session. A more self-directed student may only need to come up for few minutes, but a preschooler might need 15 minutes. It is also important to realize these minutes do not need to occur consecutively. For a new student, it is especially important to check in at both the beginning and end of the session to make sure he does not have any questions, particularly while he is still learning the routine.

Who should be the first person in the class to receive coaching? To determine this, instructors should understand the coaching priority. An instructor should first consider coaching a young student, a new student, a student receiving a new topic, or a student that struggled last week. Students that have been long-term members already have developed self-directed learning (SDL) habits and therefore can be coached later in the session. 

The first thing that instructors should go over with students is the cover page. Although it may seem insignificant, the cover page will set the expectation of the booklet. By going over the learning goal with the student, the instructor is increasing the learning awareness, so the students know what is coming up. It is also good for the instructor to check to make sure the name and date are written on the booklet.

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During coaching time, the Standard Completion Time (SCT) must be recorded by the instructor for all students in Level 1, booklet 5 through Level 23, booklet 18. Moving forward, SCT will be found using page 2 of BTM booklets. Even if a student receives 2 or 3 BTM booklets, it is acceptable to only conduct the SCT once. Be sure to record the SCT in the student’s booklet as well as the new Key and Manager. If a student is taking a level test, this should also be timed at the instructor’s desk.

During coaching time, it is important not to spoon feed the child answers. An instructor should ask guiding questions such as, “What do you think you should do?” and, “Do you recognize this concept from another booklet?” It is also vital to motivate students to be more proactive- coming up to ask the instructor a question should be the last resort. Students must refer to the target page on their own to see how the concept was initially introduced before asking for help. On target pages, anything that has a dotted line should be traced. The tracing helps reinforce the concept. Anything that is not traced should be given back to student before it is graded. All the targets pages in all the booklets do not need to be coached with the student-there simply is not enough time. A booklet that introduces a new topic or is a key element should be coached with the student. A review booklet and non-key elements the student should be able to complete on his own, whether at the SDL desk or for homework.

If a student has some trouble on the target pages, the instructor should continue to coach on non-target pages. Pages 5,6, 11, and 12 are great pages for instructors to implement verbal testing to further check for understanding. At the SDL desk, a student may use her fingers or tap her pencil to help with addition and the instructor might not ever notice. By asking verbal questions, the instructor will be able to see how the child came up with the answer to determine if true mastery has been achieved. If the student had a lot of trouble with the target pages or the review page, the work for the week should be adjusted and previous booklets should be reassigned.

It is not too late to change the behaviors in your Eye Level Center. The beginning of the month is a great time to implement new ideas. Change will not happen overnight, but once the expectations of the class session are set, the students and instructors will slowly begin to follow the new routine.