Listen to Episode 45


In this episode of #coachbetter teacher spotlight, Kim chats with Lisa Fung-Kee-Fung, 6th grade science teacher, Shanghai American School, Pudong Campus. Lisa’s concrete examples of working with the coaching team at SAS provide clear and practical insight into what makes coaching so powerful for teacher professional growth.

Bonus: Watch the spotlight version of this episode on YouTube!

Featured Guest(s)

Lisa Fung-Kee-Fung

Lisa Fung Kee Fung on twitter

Full Show Notes

Lisa’s concrete examples of working with the coaching team at SAS provide clear and practical insight into what makes coaching so powerful for teacher professional growth. As Lisa points out, by building solid relationships, coaches give teachers the confidence to be vulnerable. For coaches looking to take their practice to the next level with specific examples of how to support their teachers, this episode is full of practical guidance from a teacher perspective!


What do you think coaches do?

Coaches are the person that teachers lean on for guidance: a confidant, a friend, not someone who’s going to judge you, someone who’s there as a listener, someone who’s going to find resources with you, someone by your side to help you be the best version of your teacher self.

How do you work with the coaches at your school?

Last year, first coaching experience. Summer PD. Emailed coach that she was ready to video herself in the classroom. Next day had video cameras in her room. Helped set up the system to analyze the data. Coach did the research about what to do with the data. Went through a protocol: “not looking at you, put yourself aside, you’re looking at your students”. He helped talk me through how to use the data and to put my ego aside. Once I had that in mind, I could look at the data without judging myself, and look at the students and what they were doing. It was a very non-judgemental process. Because I didn’t know what I was looking for specifically, I was able to observe my students at a slower pace. Develop the environment where the teacher leads the way at his or her own pace.

What are some good opportunities for coaches to work with you?

Last staff meeting our coaches designed a menu, like you would find at a restaurant, with “appetizers, main courses and desserts” of what you can do with coaching. Helped me understand what the different coaches can do to support me as a teacher.

I’m going to go down to the elementary with the coach and observe, go back and reflect on it, try something in my classroom and then process it. Then watch another classroom and process together. He’s my person I get to talk out things with.

What do you do when you don’t have the opportunity to work with a coach?

There was a time when I wanted to make homework meaningful AND fun for the kids (not so fun that there was no rigor, but not so hard that the kids dreaded it). I went to another teachers classroom to observe how he did it, and created my own version called The Funky Brain Dumps. I had to do all the leg work, I didn’t have anyone to talk it out with, I didn’t have another person to interview the kids to see if they actually like it.

What are the essential elements for coaching success in a school? What’s needed to build a coaching culture?

A good coach is a good listener, let me drive my learning. When a coach listens and asks the right questions, it helps that teacher uncover the “why”. Helps them be the leader of their own teaching.

Over the years, school has shifted from saying “best practice” to “next practice”. Coaching is visible, coach posts outside his door what each teacher is working on. Great for kids to see that teachers are working to be better teachers for you, as lifelong learners. Chicken Soup for the Teachers Soul staff meeting, signed up for 3 sessions to hear what teachers were working on so you could see what others were doing. You build a culture by sharing and being vulnerable. Coaches give us the confidence to be vulnerable.

Where do coaches / does coaching fail? And what can we do about it?

Coaching is about relationships and if you don’t have a relationship with that person, it’s very hard to approach them and admin that “I’m not good at this.”. Coaches have to be able to build relationships.

Use Brene Brown’s: BRAVING acronym: boundaries, reliable, accountable, act like a vault, integrity and values, non-judgement, good assumptions.

What makes a coach invaluable to you?

The difference between me going to a coach and me going to a colleague, is that I know the coach is invested in me. I can share the same story to a coach and a colleague, the coach would be working with me, through questioning, to help me take my next step.

What was your “aha” moment that shifted your perspective from not caring about coaching to being on board?

When I wanted to video, I thought we were going to spend time talking about why I wanted to do it. But the next day the cameras were in my room. It was the taking action – we’re not just talking about it, we’re doing it.

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Kim Cofino


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