In August of 2012, I embarked on my journey as an English and Language Arts teacher right after college. I was placed in a newer charter school in Newark, New Jersey through the Teach for America program where I received a variety of supports. However, the most important factor in my growth as a new educator was the coaching I received from Ms. Ayanna Taylor from 2012 to 2014. Ms. Taylor observed my instruction multiple times a month and provided me with live feedback and a debrief after each observation. Her feedback was always bite-sized and actionable but incredibly impactful in the long-term and helped propel me on my path as a hopeful life-long educator. One specific piece of feedback Ms. Taylor provided me with early on in my career was around lowering my register during specific moments of instruction to force students to listen to me as opposed to fighting for their attention and speaking at a louder register. This helped me develop my "quiet power,"and this is a technique that I still use today and practice with the teachers I coach. Ms. Taylor's feedback was not only geared toward management but also rigor which is something I struggled with as a new teacher who had to create lesson plans from scratch. To assist me in writing stronger lesson plans that increased the quality of thinking my students had to do, Ms. Taylor provided me and the rest of the English and Language Department at my placement school with professional development sessions tied to questioning/checks for understanding. This session completely transformed the way I viewed teaching. Prior to this session, I had the erroneous belief that kids were learning if I was talking. After that session with Ms. Taylor, I finally understood that student learning happens when they have to answer rigorous questions and that good teaching is essentially good questioning. I am now in my 5th year as an English and Language Arts teacher and Instructional Leader, and I am eternally grateful for the coaching I received from Ms. Taylor early on in my career. Without her guidance, experience and profound wisdom as an educator, I am not sure I would still be in this profession today.
- M. Butcher - Instructional Leader, Uncommon Schools
We hired Ayanna as a yearlong coach for our instructional leader and as a facilitator for our end-of-year leadership team discussion. In both cases, Ayanna was a wonderful asset. She helped us refine our goals, determine our priorities, and develop an accountability system. She brought her extensive knowledge of schoolwork with her but at no time did she insert any personal preferences she may have had about how schools should reform. Rather she was a good listener and built her consultancy around our ideas and needs and was never afraid to ask the tough questions.
- Dr. Irene Hall, Founder and Leader
Discovery Charter School, Newark, NJ
Speaking with Ayanna has been quite rewarding. Being a stay at home mom for many years, I felt like I had lost all sense of me. Although my highest priority is taking care of my family, I put myself and my feelings aside.
Ayanna's coaching has helped me to reorganize my time, get more accomplished, and put new priorities into perspective, allowing more time for me and better time with my family.
From the first session with Ayanna I immediately felt comfortable like talking to an old friend, still keeping with the utmost professionalism. I would highly recommend Ayanna to anyone seeking guidance to make a change in their life!
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