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College of Education

For Alison Schriro, the College of Education has ‘been there every step’ of her teaching career

The CarolinaTIP completer is encouraged by continued investment through the Coaching Academy 

Alison Schriro enjoyed her time at the University of South Carolina, but she never imagined she would continue her connection to the university past graduation. As a member of the inaugural class of the Carolina Teacher Induction Program (CarolinaTIP), Schriro gained three years of personalized coaching and joined a community of fellow novice educators. With six years of teaching under her belt, she’s now joining another innovative cohort in the college – the first class of the Coaching Academy. 

“It is really validating to feel like I am still important to the University after graduating,” says Schriro. “It’s a great experience to join the first iterations in all of these programs. It is rewarding to know I’m participating in cutting edge work. The college has been there every step of the way.”

Schriro struggles to believe that the work she is doing is groundbreaking, but coaching teachers provide invaluable support to the next generation of educators. She helps future educators find their way in the classroom, navigate common pitfalls for novice educators and discover their teaching personality. The college established the Coaching Academy to empower coaching teachers and celebrate their input. 

Schriro’s first intern assignment went swimmingly. She and her intern shared personality traits and classroom vision. 

“We were really a perfect match,” says Schriro. “We operated the same way and it was truly a seamless fit. I’m not sure if my experience in the Coaching Academy would have been as impactful if all my interns were that well-matched.”

Schriro’s experience with her second intern was strikingly different. This intern more aligned with characteristics of a younger generation, and Schriro felt their age gap more profoundly. Schriro credits the tools she gained in Coaching Academy with her success with this student. 

“We would not have worked as well as co-teachers, if I had not been part of this program,” says Schriro. “I had a really difficult year and needed my intern’s participation in classroom management and assisting with difficult concepts. I was able to engage with constructive feedback and delivery methods that helped me facilitate meaningful interactions.”

Schriro learned to adjust communication styles to encourage progress . 

“Previously I would have been more likely to be blunt, or share how I could fix classroom situations[CB1] ,” says Schriro. “In this case, I was able to help my intern create solutions on their own through self-discovery.”

Novice educators often struggle with establishing authority in the classroom — especially when teaching high school and it can be easy to build student friendships. While building relationships are important, students need to see their educators as in control. Schriro shared that she could see this playing out with her intern, and she was equipped to redirect this issue by helping her intern realize the mistake for themselves. 

“It was a long process,” says Schriro. “During one of our daily after class debriefs, my intern realized where the problem was. I felt that I was having a greater impact as a coaching teacher because of what I had learned.”

The academy deliberately incorporated the issues affecting coaching teachers into the program of study. Schriro emphasized that this was pivotal to the program’s success. 

“During one of our first sessions, we met with an expert on Generation Z,” says Schriro. “All of the interns graduating from now on will be Gen Z, and very few current educators are from this generation. This lesson helped us embrace the way they think differently than we do instead of fighting against it.”

Schriro explained that a major component to Gen Z thinking is how work affects their mental health. At first Schriro expressed uncertainty about whether this thinking relates to work ethic. Schriro shared that when her intern began, they had a conversation about prioritizing mental health, and she was able to accommodate their needs and even celebrate them. 

“Because I had prior notice and we were able to create a plan, I was glad to accommodate what my intern needed,” says Schriro. “I realized this is actually a healthier way to live and approach our work.”

Schriro appreciated the insight and data that was presented at each of the academy’s meetings, and said it was some of the most engaging professional development she had ever received. 

“The passion that team had for us is what made the experience so rewarding,” says Schriro. “Some of the team members drive more than four hours to meet with us multiple times a year. You can really tell that they pour their heart and soul into our experiences.”

Schriro is now on a committee working to grow the Coaching Academy and plan its future. 

About the Coaching Academy:

Every future educator who studies in the College of Education completes several field experiences in area schools. These experiences culminate with Teacher Candidates completing a full-time internship where they teach classes, assist their assigned Coaching Teacher and learn the profession firsthand. For this culminating internship, each Teacher Candidate is paired with an experienced Coaching teacher who serves as a mentor and guide while preparing the intern for their future in their chosen vocation.

The Coaching Academy at the College of Education was developed by college leadership to provide coaching educators with training, professional development, and community involvement. This experience seeks to build on the Coaching Teacher’s efficacy and satisfaction in their role. Throughout the summer we are sharing stories of academy participants and how the college is ever innovating to best prepare our future educators, as well as continue our work with those already in the profession.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.