Humanities Newsletter

Reflections on Teaching, Coaching, and Learning at RES

February 2016; Newsletter #1

Coaching Connections

What can a coach do for me?

You may have heard that some teachers have been working with me and wondered what in the world are they doing together?

Some teachers ask for tradition coaching. I watch lessons and record teacher and student talk. We follow up by discussing what the teacher notices. It is a chance to reflect on what worked in the lesson and what engaged students. As you analyze your lesson, you can find opportunities for growth.

Look below to see other ways teachers have been working with me.

Coaching is an opportunity for you to be supported as you continue to be a learner as well as a teacher. You don't have to do it alone. If you'd like to collaborate with me in any way, send me an email, or even better, stop by to chat. I'd love to start the conversation.
Coaching Feedback Survey

Please take a few minutes to help me. Click the link above. Your voice is needed to help shape the coaching role into a position that best meets the needs of RES.

Eyes on Instruction

Balancing teacher and student time

Cathy Bailey helped me refocus my lessons when she shared that a well planned lesson should be 1/3 teacher talk and 2/3 student engagement. You model a skill or concept, students try the skill with support and then on their own. While they are working independently, you have a chance to work with small groups or touch base with students one-to-one. It sounds easy enough, but I like to talk so my lessons were too long.

To improve my timing, I used my students to guide my instruction. The moment I noticed the blank eyed expressions, I knew I had been talking too long. I reengaged them by having them turn and talk about the new learning. After just 3 minutes of sharing, the energy level rose, and I could finish helping the students learn and not just teach the content. As time went on, I realized that I should only model for 5-10 minutes before letting the students talk or practice.

I'd like to say that I mastered this timing, but it continues to be a focus area for me. If I model teach in your room, I'd love your feedback as to whether I am holding true to this best practice. Thanks in advance for helping me continue to grow as a teacher.

PSSAs, TDAs, and Analysis; The Rigor Keeps on Rising

The instructional coaches attended training on the state's current expectations for students. We learned that the focus is on the thinking not necessarily the form of the written response. That means students who show high levels of analysis in their writing and support that thinking with evidence from the text get the highest scores. Students who write beautiful five paragraph essays with clear introductions, great vocabulary but limited evidence of analysis do not score advanced. This changes our main focus from form to function. Of course, we will still continue to push students to grow as writers, but now we also need to make sure they are truly analyzing their reading before beginning to write.
If you want to work with me on shifting the balance of your lessons, increasing your students' ability to analyze or any other focus area, just email me or stop by my office.

Tech Tip of the Month

Loved my iPad sessions but now what...

Overall, our technology staff development day was a success. The day ended with lots of energy and positive comments. Now we are back in the classroom and wondering what to do now. Here are a few pointers for using Notability.
If you want support using technology in your classroom, I can support you and your colleagues with how-to lessons as well as teach lessons using technology or co-teach with you.

Upcoming Events

March Madness Battle of the Books

Starting February 29 and ending March 18, RES will launch the first school wide March Madness Battle of the Picture Books. Look for the bracket displayed outside the library. All students and teachers are encouraged to vote for their favorite books and keep a close eye on which books make it to the next round.

Go to the RES Library website to vote.

  • Round One - Vote for 16 best picture books. Polls open on 2/29 and close on 3/4.
  • Round Two - Pick the eight best from the 16 surviving books from round one. Polls open on 3/7 and close on 3/9.
  • Quarter finals - The battle will be intense to see who will move into the semifinals. Pick four books. Voting starts on 3/14 and ends on 3/15.
  • Semifinals - Which two books will make to the finals? Vote for two books. You can only vote on Thursday, 3/17.
  • Finals - Only two surviving books will battle for first and second place. Your vote will help pick the winner. Vote on Friday, 3/18 until 3 PM. The winner of Battle of the Picture Books will be posted on our website at 3:15 PM.


My Life as a Coach

Believe or not, we are over halfway through another school year. In the past, I always looked forward to this time when the students begin to assimilate all the strategies and concepts into their everyday practice. Students write with more confidence and variety. Their conversations are more analytical and questions are more probing. Some students' understanding of reading strategies solidify, and you start pushing them to read more challenging books. I hope you are starting to celebrate the growth you see in your own students.

Being new to the world of instructional coaching, I am torn. I truly love the classroom where I know who I am and find comfort in the rhythm of the year. I have yet to feel at ease in this new role. I cannot seem to piece together the ever changing puzzle pieces that make up this job.

Thankfully, I have ventured into this murky world with the support of the welcoming community of RES. Every teacher I approach has been willing to help me as I stumble around experimenting with different methods of coaching. Every question I am asked, every request I receive, every piece of feedback I hear helps me build a better understanding of who I am supposed to be now.

With that said, I ask you to keep dropping by to share ideas, ask your questions, vent your frustrations and celebrate your successes. Every time I wonder why I entered into this new role, my interactions with you settle the ground beneath my feet and help me feel balanced once again. I just wanted to express my thanks.

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