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 just finished writing my part of a chapter that focuses on setting Expectations in Real Time for our new book, Rave Reviews: Coaching for the Big Eight! Real Time Expectations are those transitions that occur between activities or within lessons. These transitions include closing one text book and getting out another, moving from one location in the classroom to another, formatting a paper in a certain way, and so forth. So what do Expectations in Real time have to do with Snow Snakes?
During most of our married life, you could find my husband and me charging down one of Utah’s great ski slopes on weekends. Once in a while, for some unexplainable reason, we would crash into a chaos of skis and poles. If we couldn’t figure out why, we’d shrug our shoulders and say it was a snow snake. If teachers do not manage Expectations in Real Time, the classroom can crash into a chaos of student call outs, side conversations, and just pure nonsense – turning a transition that should have taken 30 seconds into five frustrating minutes of wasted time. Setting Expectations in Real Time are snow snakes for many new, and some veteran teachers, who are not aware of the importance of setting clear expectations when a change is about to occur between or within lessons. Thus, these teachers are mystified at what causes chaotic transitions and how to make them more seamless and effective. And this is where my epiphany comes in.
As I wrote about Expectations in Real Time, I thought about what master teachers did that resulted in smooth efficient transitions between and within lessons. I realized that they answered five questions that fall into two categories:
Creating Clarity for Self
- What do I expect my students to do?
- What will it look like and sound like if they do it perfectly?
Creating clarity for Students
- What might I say to help students clearly understand what to do?
- What might I do to increase clarity for students?
- In what ways might I let students know what they are doing well so they will be motivated to meet Expectations in Real Time?
Master teachers answer these five questions nearly simultaneously. Teachers who may wish to strengthen their Expectations in Real Time will need to approach this process more deliberately and take more time to complete this thought process initially, but the pay off over time is worth it. By teachers shoring up Expectations in Real Time, transitions between and within lessons will be seamless, thus creating the conditions that contribute to optimal student learning and greater job satisfaction.