We have hit the ground running with our first facilitations of the new school year. What better way to start off than with classroom management.
I am working with a faculty at an elementary school in Southern Utah and having a blast!!!!!!!!!!! Why? We are learning to develop common formative assessments for the standards that they had previously unwrapped – a challenging complex task. They have jumped in with both feet! These teachers are collaborating within grade level teams, as well as across grade levels. They have dug deeply into learning and applying the technical aspects of producing a variety of assessment items that are aligned with essential concepts and skills in their curriculum standards. These teachers are chomping at the bit to apply this knowledge to their own curriculum. You might wonder what produced this level of excitement to do this challenging work? I believe that engaging these teachers actively in learning the new knowledge and skills is a major contributor to their level of excitement. They had fun learning and learned at deep levels – a recipe for success!
I was in New Mexico, working with a VERY motivated group of teachers at a small school. Our topic was Depth of Knowledge – what it is and how it affects test scores. One activity that teachers did was to identify the terms in each of the four levels of Webb’s Depth of Knowledge that they use frequently, terms they use synonmys for, terms they may want to use more frequently and terms that would LOVE the grade level preceding them to foot-stomp. Teachers examined their practices and thought about the last round of testing, monitoring students taking the test, watching students give an incorrect answer and knowing that the student did know it – AAAHHH! Is it possible the student missed it because they didn’t know the vocabulary – the test said to cite evidence and the teacher had been using show me in the text? Did it say tabulate and the teacher had been using figure? Had the teacher been using a synonym? Hmmm. Something to ponder. Today (Friday), we will be going back to our December work with our prioritized, differentiated core standards and determining what DOK level is expected by the core and then infusing DOK levels into our Learning Targets. It’s going to be an intense – hard and deep thinking day! Just the kind I really love – with (as I said previously) a VERY motivated group of teaches!
Day Two (Wednesday) with the Utah Instructional Coaches was a fabulous learning experience! Our topic this day was consulting and coaching new and/or struggling teachers. We took coaches into area schools to practice doing non-evaluative observations and determining the next steps an instructional coach would take.
The big “take-aways” from my group were:
Focused and Engaged are very different things. Focused means students are sitting where they are supposed to be, looking the right direction, not bothering anyone else. Engaged means students are actually responding – I can see and/or hear them doing something – they are actively participating.
Proximity for the purposes of assessment and assistance and behavior (both redirecting off-task behavior and cueing positive behaviors) is a very powerful tool. The element that make it even more powerful is when the teacher (during proximity) is “coaching” individuals or small groups of students asking them strategic level questions.
Even super good teachers benefit from a coach – someone asking them questions to help them reflect on their own practices.
Practice makes perfect!
At this very moment, Ellen and I are having the totally delightful experience of working with 35 coaches from throughout the state of Utah.
What an amazing group of people! Our topic today is deepening your coaching skills. We are focusing on the three P’s: Pause, Paraphrase and Probe. Are you an instructional coach – read on!
First ponder, what is the difference between a coaching conversation and an interrogation – other than the dangling lightbulb : ) ?
The difference revolves around paraphrasing – restating (NOT parroting) what someone said so that they know you are truly listening – truly attempting to understand. Here are some sample paraphrase stems for you to try:
-Just to be clear in my own mind…
-It sounds like…
-You’re wondering if…
-So, your experience…
-Your perception of the problem is…
Tomorrow, we will be with these same fabulous coaches headed into local schools to practice data collection from a non-evaluative stance.