A Day in the Life of an ACES Academic Coach
A Day in the Life: Academic Coach
By Jenn Schultz
One of the great things about being an Academic Coach is that, although there is a lot of routine and ritual involved in classroom activity, no two days ever look the same. Some days are more focused on individual work and planning, some days are all about teamwork and experiments, and others are filled with creative thinking, large projects, or group games!
Routines vary slightly by site and the time of year the program takes place, but the structure remains fairly consistent. The day starts with a 15 minute pre-meeting, in which Academic Coaches can share their lesson plans with their Site Coordinator and discuss any challenges they foresee. They might talk through whether they have enough materials, brainstorm a way for students to work together instead of individually, or problem-solve how to make the math skill of the day challenging enough for the students who are stronger with the material while still giving students who need more time the support they need.
Once the students arrive, ACES program officially begins with academic time. This is an opportunity for students to get help with their homework or play math games with other students or their Academic Coach. This is also a great time for Academic Coaches to check in with their students, feeling out their energy for the day and uncovering any situations that happened at home or school that might affect their ability to focus on curriculum.
After academic time, the Academic Coach leads the students in a brief huddle activity, which takes around ten minutes. In the huddle - our version of an icebreaker or teambuilding activity - the Academic Coach introduces their class to the math and social-emotional objectives for the day and models the activity. The huddle is designed to get the kids moving around a bit while practicing the social-emotional skill they will be using during the curriculum. Some favorite huddles of students are The Floor is Lava, a game in which students work as a team to solve a problem, and any type of relay where they get to engage in a bit of friendly competition!
The curriculum portion of the day is the longest, approximately 25-30 minutes, and is made up of two activities, one focused on the social-emotional objective for the day and the other on the math objective. Academic Coaches use standards-based ACES-written curriculum to create their lesson plans for the day but are encouraged to modify the curriculum to best meet the needs and interests of their students. For example, the math activity might have a worksheet included in it, but it can be difficult to get students excited to solve math problems on a sheet of paper. Some of our more creative Academic Coaches have modified the lesson plans to turn these worksheets into a math game, an online escape room, and even a scavenger hunt!
Academic Coaches wrap up their curriculum with group reflection. Reflection allows students to think more deeply about the objectives for the day and how they might be able to use what they learned and utilize it outside the classroom. For the Academic Coach, reflection is a great way to get a better understanding of which students are having difficulty grasping an objective, learning which objectives they might need to spend more time on and the various learning styles and interests of the students in their class.
The Academic Coach’s day ends with post-meeting: an opportunity for the Site Coordinator and all Academic Coaches to discuss what went well and areas of growth for the day. It’s also a great opportunity for an Academic Coach to get coaching and feedback around how to handle more specific challenges they might be facing. An Academic Coach’s best resource is their Site Coordinator and other Academic Coaches!
The most rewarding part of being an Academic Coach is the relationships they build with their site team and the students they work with. It is not uncommon for an Academic Coach to be greeted at the front door of their site by a small crowd of kids excited to see them! These relationships are fostered and strengthened in the time spent outside the classroom with the students, such as in-class hours at their school, dinner time, and field trips. The kids love knowing their Academic Coach cares about what is happening to them as an individual and outside of the classroom. When these relationships are built, students are more willing to open up, develop a trust level that doesn’t always come easy for them, and engage in the ACES classroom. This is when the Academic Coach is able to make the biggest impact!
If you’re looking to make an impact on youth and feel an alignment to the position described above, please consider applying for one of our current Academic Coach openings!