As part of our instructional coaching training, coaches and administrators have been able to participate in Coaching Labs following a model developed by Diane Sweeney. A coaching lab allows viewers to witness a coach and teacher in action. They watch them plan together, co-teach in a classroom, then discuss their results and next steps. Afterwards, participants share their observations, discuss how this influenced student learning, ask questions of the coach, and plan their next steps as coaches. One of the most valuable parts of the coaching labs were the conversations--thinking deeper about the whys and hows of the art of teaching.
In December, DNH hosted a coaching lab at the Junior High for ten coaches and administrators from other districts. Math instructional coach Diane Eilderts and 6th grade math teacher Jill Hoffman planned, co-taught, then debriefed a 6th grade math lesson. Parts of their conversations are shown in the video below.
While coaching labs are a good tool to improve, the video highlights the most important piece of the puzzle--the conversations. Reflecting about teaching practices, asking for feedback, discussing observations are all ways to improve classroom actions and ultimately student learning.
As coaches, we are available for co-teaching, but maybe that’s not what you need. We could be someone to brainstorm lesson ideas or another pair of eyes to track students. We can offer ways to differentiate for different learning styles or offer ways to tier assignments to support different abilities. We are here to support what you and your students’ needs. Conversations can be powerful.
Winter Break has passed. We have celebrated 100 days of school.The halfway point of the school year has come and gone. And we are getting into that part of the year where we are reaching the “teacher low”. According to Moir, 1990, it is at this time of year that first year teachers are in the disillusionment phase of a teacher’s attitude cycle.
This cycle pertains to not only first year teachers, but also to veteran teachers who are feeling the “teacher low” that comes along each year. So how does one get out of those winter blues?
Take a break! Make some time for yourself. Whether you enjoy exercising or a weekend away, whether you need a day out with friends or an evening just to read a good book that you haven’t made time for, you need to plan time for yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in the routines of school and forget about your family and friends, but these are the people who help rejuvenate you.
Visit other classrooms! As teachers, we tend to get stuck in the rut. Our classrooms are running smoothly, but they may have also become somewhat boring with the same routines. This is a good time to visit other classrooms to gather ideas for how you can spice up your routines and classrooms. Check out the Pineapple Chart for opportunities to visit classrooms or ask a colleague. The instructional coaches are available to cover your classroom so you can make this happen.
Try something new in your classroom! Maybe you have been thinking about trying a new strategy or rearranging your classroom for a different learning environment. Maybe you saw something during a visit to another classroom or heard teachers talking about something they do in their classroom. What better time is there for trying something new? If you’re wanting to try something and you aren’t sure where to start, you could contact your instructional coaches or a model teacher. They would be happy to help!
Decorate your classroom for summer! What better way to get rid of winter than to prepare for summer? A change in scenery always helps change our perspective and since we can’t take a tropical vacation, we can do the next best thing. Bring the vacation to your classroom! Refresh those bulletin boards that have been forgotten. Change out books, toys, etc. that students use to give them something new and exciting to explore. Decorate for a luau. Transform your room into something that gets students excited and interested in learning and something that makes you excited to be teaching--even on these long, cold days of winter.