Coaching Teachers- Promoting Changes That Stick- Week 5

This was to be the final week of my Coursera course from Match Education. I knew when I began this learning that coaching was an area of my practice I felt that it was vital for me to develop. I don’t think I could have chosen a better way for me to begin this journey and having applied some of the approaches to my practice already- I am beginning to see how transformative these things might be for me, fellow leaders, coaches and our colleagues- and therefore how transformative for our students too.

Read week 1 here (an introduction to the coaching equation)

Read week 2 here (fixed mindset tax)

Read week 3 here (clarity of instructional vision)

Read week 4 here (quality of feedback – currently missing)

As it’s the final week, we’re able to see that Mr Good Coach has now graduated to Mr Effective Coach!

He is clear about the teacher’s last big takeaway before he goes in to observe and this is clear and specific- ‘Improve student time on task by more quickly noticing and responding student misbehaviour, particularly students having side conversations when they’re in group discussion.’ There’s clearly some actions to be expected from the teacher in relation to this being observed but there’s also clarity about the behaviours we can expect to see from the students. He’s clear about the ineffective practice seen in a previous lesson and he’s also clear about the impact this has on the students’ learning- when the side-conversations are taking place – the students are not able to hear the feedback she’s giving to their peers therefore there are wasted opportunities to learn.

After the observation, he’s able to provide a summary easily as he knows what he’s been looking at and for. He has also ensured that the debrief is 20 minutes after the observation to give each of them some time to take notes and reflect but not so long that the learning opportunity has faded away.

The coaching session begins with a ‘let’s dive right in’. There will be no time wasted on chatting but the relationship between them is warm- they’ll achieve what they need to in this session. What was your big takeaway? The teacher is prompted to share the takeaway and he asks her to reflect on how it went. The teacher reflects and is able to reference the things they had clearly practised together in their previous session.

He is able to prevent the teacher from diving into a fixed mindset by referencing solid evidence of what he’s seen. He’s able to compare the number of side-conversations last lesson with the number this time around. She still believes that she’s not ready to move onto another target as she feels she hasn’t mastered this one. He is able to point this out as an ‘unhelpful moment’ and says, ‘I want you to think about it differently.’

‘You didn’t miss one side-conversation you went from missing 7, to missing 1.’ He asks the teacher to repeat that back to him in order to help her out of her fixed mindset. She’s now ready to move on and so he asks her to remind herself what strategies they had discussed to address the side-conversations. She is able to recall these and now the coach is able to share how many times he saw these approaches displayed; when, with whom and their effect on student learning. Specific moments of the lesson are referenced continually. He’s then able to give her his implementation score for how well she implemented the approaches (and the impact on the students).

He gives her some praise for something else he saw (positive praise of a student) as he felt it was well worth noting and he moves on to the next big takeaway.

He’s able to reference the Kraken (their shared instructional vision) and which category within that they’ll be moving into- student practice. ‘Remind me, in a nutshell, what our vision is for student practice?’ The teacher is now able to share what she understands about this area of practice so that they can continue to move onto the next big takeaway in partnership.

He had been able, during his observation, to calculate the number of minutes students had spent on independent practice (9) and he’d also observed that during group discussions, there were maybe 5 kids engaged. He asks her, ‘What are some problems with that?’ This is where the coach is working to elicit what the next big takeaway will be for the teacher and the focus is on the students and their learning at all times.

After she’s articulated the problems for learning with this, the coach is then able to provide her with an action- ‘You’re going to turn 3 of your discussion questions from discussion questions into ‘stop and jot’. 

He was able to quote some of the approaches she’d taken to these questions during the lesson- ‘Which was the most rigorous and why?’ He’s encouraging her to use cold call and she can see that this will help her students to engage and therefore learn but also stop and jot at other times so that she’s able to assess their response to provide feedback and all students will have the opportunity to practise.

Now to the teacher’s opportunity to practise- he discusses what she’s teaching tomorrow and asks her to note a string of questions she’ll ask tomorrow.

He makes it authentic by getting her to stand up.

She begins, ‘Johnny, what effect…’

The coach questions her about the effect of saying the name first and the focus is on the impact on students of questioning in this way. Feedback is immediate and helpful.

She says ‘think about’– he repeats, ‘Think about?’ She says, ‘Write about!’ They go on like this for some time until she’s written an effective question. The coach keeps the session to time so he asks her to script another moment and practise them in lessons before he will see her next in a week’s time.

The next steps for me will be to-

  • Try out the coaching approaches for myself with staff I work with
  • Introduce the approaches to our leaders
  • Produce some quick guides and resources to support us
  • Explore more coaching learning from Match Education and elsewhere

Explore ‘Match Minis’ here for yourself to support the development of your own coaching skills.

Coaching Teachers- Promoting Changes that Stick- Week 3

Clarity of Instructional Vision

A reminder of the equation- Teacher change as generated by coaching = clarity of instructional vision of the coach X quality of feedback delivered by the coach X (1- fixed mindset tax)

Read week 1 here (an introduction to the coaching equation)

Read week 2 here (fixed mindset tax)

After the first two weeks of this online course, I was really excited to begin week 3. Even better that I could learn sat on a deckchair outside in the sun. For me, this week was all about diving to the depths of what ‘effective’ practice looks and feels like.

The first video this week is back in with Mr Good coach and a new teacher he’s working with. The teacher is taking on board all of his feedback about improving students’ learning. He’s got so caught up in watching all of her new teacher moves, that came from his advice that he’s forgotten one crucial part of the picture: the students.

The fundamental question should always be, ‘In what way did her new teacher moves impact the students?’ ‘Did it change their experience in any kind of meaningful way?’

Students actually have a lot of expertise on great teaching; after all, they’ve been ‘subjected’ to plenty of it in a variety of guises.

Read the article below about ‘measuring’ effective teachers-

Ensuring fair and reliable measures of effective teachers

Whilst we may feel good because a teacher has effectively implemented strategies you’ve discussed with them, it’s the equivalent of a teacher feeling great because the students in class were ‘highly engaged’ – (a poor proxy for learning).

As a teacher coach, our job is not just to get the teachers changing their behaviours but to promote changes that will have a real and meaningful impact on students’ learning experiences.

Clarity of instructional vision is therefore not just a vision of what the teacher is doing. We mean a clear vision of what students are doing, saying and thinking. We need to help teachers to make the connections between what they’re doing and students’ optimal levels of behaviour and thinking.

Ultimately, a coach needs a student-facing vision.

An effective teaching rubric is the starting point for our relationship with our teacher. It defines the language we’re going to use to discuss instruction in our coaching sessions. A rubric will also add a level of urgency to those sessions; we have a finite amount of time we’re able to spend with our teacher and a rubric helps us to use it effectively.

The rubric is like a syllabus; it constrains the relationship and defines the paraemeters of what we’re going to talk about when we sit down in our coaching sessions.

It can be quite common for teacher coaching sessions to turn into a grab bag of topics related to teaching. Whilst spending time speaking about education philosophy and politics may be really interesting, sessions are best spent focused on skill acquisition. Defining the skills the teacher will need to achieve the instructional vision laid out in your rubric.

If we can bring focus and urgency to coaching sessions then we can shorten skill acquisition loops (see the snowman effect from the last blog).

Match Education’s rubric is just intended for analysing classroom instruction to set out a teacher coaching session. By no means does it capture all the aspects of a teacher’s job.

Their rubric is named, ‘The Kraken‘- Named after teachers voted on what to call it so that it wouldn’t just be ‘Match Education Resident Teacher Evaluation Rubric‘…

They’re looking for students who are working hard throughout the class; consistently putting forward real effort on rigorous thinking tasks. Those thinking tasks are well-aligned and ordered to help the students achieve a bigger goal from the lesson. They’re getting lots of opportunities to practice and the teacher is assessing that practice in order to give them really meaningful practice so that students know where they are at any given moment and how far they have to go to improve.

 

The Kraken

Daniel Willingham has shaped many of their beliefs for the rubric.

Specifically, two principles for learning that he lays out in, ‘Why don’t students like school?’

Principle 1- Memory is the residue of thought

The longer you spend thinking about something, the more likely you are to commit it to long-term memory. This informs their beliefs about practice in a lesson. The more students are practising a set of coherently aligned thinking tasks, the more likely they are to commit that content to their memory.

Principle 2- Learning is memory in disguise

What we perceive as learning, is really just memory at work. So if we can get students to remember the content that we teach, we have real, genuine, learning coming out of lessons.

The rubric is student facing so the best way to explore the particulars is to look at learning through the eyes of a student.

Kraken 1

 

Kraken 2

Kraken 3

Behavioural climate

What teachers are doing to set the necessary conditions for lots of learning to take place in the lesson.

  •  Time on task- to what degree are students engaged, focussed and working hard throughout a class period?
  • Teacher radar and student response to questions- the degree to which students feel like their behaviour is noticed by the teacher. If the teacher does notice the behaviour, how does the student then respond to those corrections.

Target task mastery

A task the teacher expects all students to be able to master by the end of class. There’ll be something each of the students is required to complete independently to indicate they’ve met the learning goal in a given lesson.

  • The rigour of the target task- the students feel it’s challenging but not so challenging that they couldn’t achieve it during the lesson.
  • Thinking tasks- once the student knows what the target task is, the end destination, the next question is, ‘What’s happening to get me there? What are all the inter-related thinking tasks, activities, prompts and questions that are helping to build me up to accomplishing that target task on my own? This is one of the most challenging parts of a teacher’s job but ultimately for the students, ‘Do the activities make sense to me, in light of the destination task of the lesson?’

 

Student Practice

If the teacher is giving the students lots of opportunities to practice content throughout the lesson then they’re doing more of the mental heavy lifting than the teacher. Of course teachers need to explain difficult content and make connections between ideas but ultimately they need to get out of the way to let the student try to do the work on their own.

Students require space to try out new skills but they’ll also be able to give the teacher lots of information about their learning, which allows the teacher to give students meaningful feedback to help them improve their practice.

 

Teacher Feedback

This is a broad category as feedback takes on many forms; directed at individuals, or to the whole group; the teacher writing notes on student work or whispering advice as students practice something on their own; how teachers respond to a student answer during a discussion that isn’t quite correct.

  • Students get lots of feedback- individually and as a class
  • The teacher is strategic about the feedback given so that it’s actionable and pushes students along towards mastery of the target task

Once all teachers aligned with the same instructional vision and language; feedback can take place.

 

 

 

#LTTO: What I learned from ‘Learning to Teach Online’

I felt that after the plethora of posts made over the last few weeks about a recently completed MOOC: Learning to Teach Online, with University of New South Wales via Coursera, (sorry about all of those!) I should generate one post as a conclusion and a summary of the key messages and learning points. Continue reading “#LTTO: What I learned from ‘Learning to Teach Online’”

#LTTO Module 7- Motivating and Engaging Students

Activities, assessment and resources are important but being able to facilitate and manage technologically inclusive learning- that’s the element that really brings it all together and it requires a set of really specific skills. Continue reading “#LTTO Module 7- Motivating and Engaging Students”

#LTTO Module 6- Online Resources

When you begin teaching online, you need to free yourself of the idea that you need to make everything yourself.

This is module six of a Learning To Teach Online MOOC with Coursera, (all content featured has been curated by the University of South Wales for Coursera) you can read about module 1 here and about module 2 here, and about module 3 here and about module 4 here and about module 5 here.

Module Learning Outcomes
By engaging with the content, and completing the activities and related discussion in this module, you should be able to:

  1. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of open educational resources (OER) and online resources in general
  2. Discuss issues related to Creative Commons and copyright for online resources
  3. Identify OER useful for your own teaching practice

Continue reading “#LTTO Module 6- Online Resources”

#LTTO Module 5- Online Assessment Strategies

Think of the learning outcomes first, then the activity, then the assessment, THEN the technology!

This is module five of a Learning To Teach Online MOOC with Coursera, (all content featured has been curated by the University of South Wales for Coursera) you can read about module 1 here and about module 2 here, and about module 3 here and about module 4 here.

Module Learning Outcomes

By engaging with the content, and completing the activities and related discussion in this module, you should be able to:

  1. Identify assessment strategies that would be suitable for your own course design
  2. Relate assessment strategies to specific technologies, understanding their benefits and limitations

Continue reading “#LTTO Module 5- Online Assessment Strategies”

#LTTO Assignment 2: Designing a Learning Component

By completing this assignment, you will demonstrate your achievement of the following learning outcomes:

  • Design an online component of your class considering your local context, your curriculum, and the benefits and risks of online technologies.
  • Develop evaluation and engagement strategies to ensure your students are engaged with your online course components and how you plan to evaluate the effectiveness of your online course design.
  • Demonstrate independent enquiry and reflective practice

Continue reading “#LTTO Assignment 2: Designing a Learning Component”

#LTTO Module 4- Online Learning Activities

Lists of technologies are limitless so drawing on the experiences of other educators (locally or otherwise) can be helpful.

This is module four of a Learning To Teach Online MOOC with Coursera, (all content featured has been curated by the University of South Wales for Coursera) you can read about module 1 here and about module 2 here, and about module 3 here.

Module Learning Outcomes

By engaging with the content, and completing the activities and related discussion in this module, you should be able to:

  1. Identify how different technologies relate to different types of learning activities
  2. Assess a range of online technologies for their suitability for your own teaching context

Continue reading “#LTTO Module 4- Online Learning Activities”

#LTTO Learning To Teach Online Q & A

I am currently completing a ‘learning To Teach Online’ MOOC with Coursera and it’s fabulous! Each week, our two course lecturers (Negin and Simon) respond to the top-rated questions of the week in the forums and here are my notes on each of their videos each week.

Continue reading “#LTTO Learning To Teach Online Q & A”

#LTTO- Assignment 1: Selecting Technology

Learning Outcomes

By completing this assignment, you will demonstrate your achievement of the following learning outcomes:

  • Describe and understand the importance and use of a range of online technologies in learning, teaching, and course design in contemporary education
  • Develop an evidence-supported argument for selecting particular technologies to support an online component of your own course.
  • Demonstrate independent enquiry and reflective practice

Continue reading “#LTTO- Assignment 1: Selecting Technology”

#LTTO- Module 3- Planning Online Learning

Have a clear vision and aims for the learning of your students so that you don’t all sink into the sand of technology.

This is module three of a Learning To Teach Online MOOC with Coursera, (all content featured has been curated by the University of South Wales for Coursera) you can read about module 1 here and about module 2 here.

Module Learning Outcomes

By engaging with the content, and completing the activities and related discussion in this module, you should be able to:

  1. Describe the principles underpinning the design of online and blended course.
  2. Analyse different online course design options considering the principles of curriculum alignment and the needs of your students

Continue reading “#LTTO- Module 3- Planning Online Learning”