A Day in the Life of a Summit Learning Instructional Coach

My typical day is always far from typical. As an instructional coach at Holy Family Catholic Schools in Dubuque, Iowa. We are a private school system with four elementary schools, one middle school and one high school. I mentor and challenge teachers in every content area to learn new educational strategies.

In the 2017-2018 school year, we had a group of 25 students from our 100-student 6th grade class at Mazzuchelli Catholic Middle School participate in a pilot of the Summit Learning Program. Never have my days been more varied than this year, when I began work with our Summit Learning pilot group. It has been unlike any other year I have ever experienced and I couldn’t love it more.

Come join me as I share a few of the activities you might see me engaged in if you come into our Summit Learning classroom and stay for awhile.

My Morning as an Instructional Coach

I begin the day by meeting with my Summit Learning teacher, Kayti Frank, whom I coach. Kayti teaches English Language Arts, Math, and Social Studies. She also serves as a mentor.

Her co-instructor in the program is an 8th grade teacher who teaches Science and supports students alongside her during students’ personalized learning time, when they practice Self-Direction and work through Focus Area content in ways that work best for them.

Together, Kayti and I analyze her students’ Focus Area data collected on the Summit Learning Platform. Focus Areas allow students to build Content Knowledge on a given subject area.

Today, based on the data we review, we decide to offer a note-taking workshop on “Point of View” in English. Later that same morning, I observe her teaching the eight students that need this workshop.

I then work 1:1 with a student who is learning how to paraphrase. The student is using paraphrasing as a strategy to understand a text about Egyptian culture.

Soon, it is time for lunch. Students head out to the cafeteria. I head to our high school building and sit with future Summit Learning educators and share highlights or fun stories from the day. I field questions, concerns, or musings about what life is like in the school’s newest classroom.

My Afternoon as an Instructional Coach

After lunch, our Summit Learning team meets with and listens to a parent who would like to learn if their student is a good fit for this Program.

We meet with parents regularly throughout the year. Before students join the Program, we hold informational meetings. Once students begin the Program, we hold onboarding family conferences to set goals with everyone present.

But in this situation, a parent is nervous because their child appears to be falling behind. We ask the parent to share what their concerns are about the program and specifically with their child. Sometimes we also ask the student to be present to share their feelings and understanding as well. From there, we respond to their concerns.

Parents sometimes need to be reassured that even though their children may be at different points on the learning curve, or that progress and evaluations in Summit Learning may look different than what they’re used to seeing, these students are doing just fine.

Then, I head upstairs with Kayti, and model Projects alongside her.

During this Project, I lead a figurative language practice exercise where we analyze poems for evidence of metaphors and similes.

Summit Learning Showcase
Teachers put structures students built to the test in an earthquake simulation during a Summit Learning Showcase. (Lisa Krapfl)

My Evening as an Instructional Coach

At day’s end, Kayti and I reflect on the day and debrief about student behaviors  during today’s Personalized Learning Time, in which students work at their own pace through Focus Area content.

We decide that the first item on our agenda for tomorrow will be to search the Summit Learning Platform for resources to answer a few educational approach questions that were brought up during our discussion.

My Satisfyingly Full Schedule

As you can see, my day is busy and varied. When I look at the words I use in writing about my day, I see verbs such as: join, search, reflect, model, observe, debrief, work, listen, decide, lead, and ask.

It is an amazing list and even more so, an amazing experience to be collaborating, learning, and leading with our team and an even larger team through Summit Learning.

Summit Learning Student Presents at Summit Learning Showcase
Parents and community were invited to see student work for the trimester. During this showcase, Gracie is presenting her favorite poem in front of a real audience. A teacher and Instructional Coach are scoring for oral presentation skills. (Lisa Krapfl)

Above and Beyond as an Instructional Coach

There are many things I do in addition to my daily efforts to support our teachers.

I plan, coordinate, and attend off-campus experiences to support career exploration with our students.

I meet weekly with our school team and our Summit Learning Mentor, Maia Peterson, via Zoom video conference. She looks over our Platform, answers our questions, and supports us.

I regularly engage in conversations and presentations to staff, parents, and community members about our Summit Learning partnership.

I also join my colleagues to reinforce our skill sets at Summer Training, and Spring and Fall Regional Convenings. In these activities, I plan, coordinate, attend, meet, engage, and join (if we are still keeping track of verbs).

My Continued Passion for Being an Instructional Coach

The bottom line is that my work is about action and about doing what’s necessary to make personalized learning a priority for our system. Collaborating with Summit Learning has made this possible.

Regardless of what I do, at the end of the day or year, I know our students will benefit in the Summit Learning Program because they are empowered to harness their own gifts and put them into action too!

Inspired to adopt Summit Learning in your school or classroom? Check out these 10 Tips for Implementing Summit Learning.

About the author

Lisa Krapfl
Lisa Krapfl is in her second year as a Secondary (Grades 6th-12th) Instructional Coach at Holy Family Catholic Schools in Dubuque, Iowa. This is her first year serving as an instructional coach for two teachers of 25 6th grade students in Summit Learning. Lisa has been appointed Director of Personalized Learning for the 2018-2019 school year. Her involvement as a coach and leader at her school was preceded by 20-plus years in education as a teacher of students from grade three through college. She was also Program Director of Iowa Collaborative Assessment Modules, the state assessment program. Lisa is passionate about learning both professionally and personally.