I have been looking for ways to increase collaboration and provide teachers with authentic opportunities to lead and learn from one another. This year I introduced POP Teams (Peer Observation Partnerships), and for the first half of the year they seemed to work well. One of the biggest drawbacks of POPs was teachers wanted to collaborate with more than just their chosen parter. I also noticed the level of peer coaching wasn't where I would have liked it to be, and the number of instances where teachers went in to visit another classroom was small. One day, as I was looking on Twitter, I came across Mark Barnes' Pineapple Chart blog post. I began reading up on this, and approached you principal about possibly implementing this next year.
Recently, I was asked what I thought the three most important tasks of instructional supervision/evaluation were. The response was to be from an Instructional Coaching lens, but as I thought about my answer, I noticed it wasn’t far off from how I would respond in one of my administration graduate classes.
My three tasks: Shared Vision, Feedback, and Reflection.
Shared Vision - Cultivating a shared vision entails identifying the teacher’s (or building or district’s) current reality and together using data to inform decisions, identify and progress toward the desired state.A professor of mine once said, “If you don’t know where you’re headed, any path will lead you there” and to me, having a shared vision doesn’t do anyone any good if you haven’t thought out where you want to end up.
Feedback - Feedback should be specific, grounded in data, and non evaluative when coming from an instructional coach. If it’s from an administrator, than the feedback more than likely would be evaluative.
Reflection - Reflection involves employing coaching language, and allowing or encouraging teachers to reflect on their practice and choose areas for improvement. Reflection should be forward thinking, rather than dwelling on the past, or being content with how things are.
Those were my three tasks, and I’m curious what your three would be.
Last week I had the opportunity to model a close reading lesson in our fifth grade classroom. The classroom teacher asked me to do this so her student teacher would be able to incorporate close reading instruction into the ELA block. The fifth grade teacher asked me to use the passage "I Will Fight No More Forever" which she found in 24 Nonfiction Passages for Test Prep: Grades 4-5. Below you will see my lesson plan, a PDF of my slides, as well as a video excerpt of my lesson.
Note: I used my Swivl for this lesson and forgot to turn on the auto tilt! I promise there are 20 fifth graders in the classroom, unfortunately you just can't see them!
Close Reading Lesson Plan:
This afternoon our district's curriculum team and Instructional Coaches gathered at our district office for our monthly Instructional Leadership Team meeting. Since this is the final meeting of the school year, we began by celebrating the accomplishments we've made as first year Instructional Coaches. A few highlights on my list included:
Once we finished our list, we had to choose our top three to share out. It was difficult to narrow down my list, but it was neat to share successes. Too often I focus on what's left to work on, so it was great to focus on the positive impact I've had in my first year as an Instructional Coach.
There's still lots to do, and I have a list of hopes and ideas for next year, but for now, I'm happy to look back at the impact I've had and know that I've not wavered from my goal of positively impacting teaching and learning in my building.
As I began reading Chapter 2 of Instructional Coaching, I was immediately struck by the quote at the top of the chapter and included to the right of this post. Just last week a member of the community asked me a question I've heard a lot: "Why aren't you a teacher anymore?" Since accepting this position last spring, this question has come up in a variety of forms, all of which stem from people not understanding what an Instructional Coach does. I think Devona Dunekack's response is the best answer I've seen, and plan on using the next time someone asks me what an Instructional Coach is and what Instructional Coaching looks like. I am still a teacher, I just have a different audience. My goal and purpose of impacting students has not wavered, and during the past four months I have become more reflective and have grown as an educator.
Full disclosure: I've had this post sitting in my drafts for over a month, not feeling ready to hit "publish." After seeing a call for #educoach topics earlier this evening, and typing this topic there, I decided to go ahead and hit post.
I'll admit it, I'm always on the lookout for new ideas, activities, and resources to use in my own teaching and learning. While that has worked wonders for the past six years, in my new position it's starting to seem like a barrier. I never keep these "ah ha" moments to myself, I'm always tweeting, emailing, and sharing with colleagues. Now that I'm four months into my new Instructional Coaching position, I feel like I am having a hard time shaking the title of "resource finder" that I inadvertently gave myself. It's not that I don't want teachers to come to me, it's that I want to go deeper and work alongside teachers to locate these resources based on goals they set. In other words, I want to begin transitioning from the enrollment phase toward coaching cycles. I recognize this will not be an easy change, and am hoping my PLN will have ideas and suggestions as to how I can begin to move away from being viewed as someone to go to when you're putting together your weekly lesson plans and need an activity to teach _________ (insert any elementary level topic).
So, what suggestions do you have?
Have you experienced the same barrier? If so, what did you do?
Mix and Match, Let's Collaborate!
As I begin my new position as an Instructional Coach this week, I wanted a way for staff to visualize what my new role and responsibilities entail. You see, I'm moving from a Title I position where I co-taught math and ELA every day for the past three years. Co-teaching and collaboration was, and still is, one of my favorite parts of my job, but my new position requires a shift in thinking as I'll no longer be teaching students and instead focusing on teachers. This shift has to happen not only on my part, but also my colleagues, all of whom have seen my work as a teacher, and now are experiencing my change from teacher to coach. Over the summer I searched for Instructional Coaching resources, and found several menus that were in line what I hoped to convey to our staff. In the end, I found two that I really liked, took parts of those, and added some of my own information as well. Ultimately, I am pleased with the menu, and look forward to sharing it with staff over the next few days.