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Coaching Teachers [INFOGRAPHIC]

coaching teachers

“Am I a good coach or am I an effective coach?” One area Kristin Houser going to work on is the quality of my feedback. In this infographic she identifies 4 ways to focus on improving your coaching game in 4 weeks’ time. What area do you struggle with or would like to improve in your own coaching practice? These ideas can help.

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Teaching: Natural Human Ability

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Reposted from the Seattle Times:

Scientists have a well-developed picture of how learning works in the brain, which was summarized in the seminal 1999 publication “How People Learn” by the National Research Council. But when Vanessa Rodriguez, a former New York City middle school humanities teacher, tried to find similar studies about how teaching works in the brain, she found almost nothing.

In her new book, “The Teaching Brain: An Evolutionary Trait at the Heart of Education,” Rodriguez and co-author Michelle Fitzpatrick, chart a path toward understanding teaching in all kinds of daily situations, not just in classrooms. They argue that teaching is more than a job, it’s an evolved human ability that emerges early in childhood — just watch kids huddled over a smart phone teaching each other how to play the latest video game.

“The human brain has been designed to learn,” Rodriguez said. “What I’m saying is that it’s also been designed to teach.” She’s also adamant about what teaching is not: unscrewing a student’s empty head and pouring in knowledge. Likewise, teaching is not just a set of best practices that can be poured into a teacher’s empty head.

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A Teacher’s Letter to Her New Superintendent

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Reposted from Teach with Class:

Welcome to your new job. I cannot imagine being in this position at this time, but you have stepped up to take the lead in Georgia’s education system. I was highly encouraged to read your letter to Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, explaining your concerns with today’s standardized testing crisis. While you have studied and spoken with multiple teachers and administrators, I would like to share how standardized testing affects my students, my school, and me.

I have been teaching in Georgia at Northgate High School for the past seven years primarily instructing juniors and seniors from remedial classes to AP. I love students, and I love teaching. I want to be a teacher who is “part of the solution and not part of the problem” which is harder and harder to do in education today. While I have little control over decisions on a large scale, my mind is continually thinking on and dreaming of ways to make my classroom, and our system, better. I believe the greatest and most under tapped resource in Georgia’s education system today is Georgia teachers, but the good teachers are starting to leave.

I have three degrees, two at the graduate level, but my performance, training, and knowledge is almost always assessed through my students’ standardized tests scores or through a teacher evaluation system which is seriously flawed. While I am committed to the standards on which we are measured, a quick stop in my room by an administrator who is also overworked and held to absurd standards is not how I want to be assessed. Come to my room anytime to see what we are learning and doing, but please take time to do more than check off the requirements I am meeting. My classroom experience is far bigger than a checklist.

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Improving Accountability in ESEA

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Reposted from the Brown Center Chalkboard:

The fix, then, for schools performing poorly is straightforward but not practical: gauge effectiveness for all teachers in a district, and move high performers to low-performing schools. The Institute of Education Sciences tested something like this approach on a small scale. As part of its study, high-performing teachers were offered financial incentives to move to low-performing schools. Only one or two teachers were moved to any one school. The study found that high performers resulted in an improvement of an entire grade level’s test scores. If the high performer were a fifth grade teacher, for example, the entire fifth grade improved its test scores from fourth to fifth grade. The high performer’s class generally improved the most, but that improvement was so large it was enough to move the whole grade level up.

This fix is about as low-risk as one can get to improve performance of a whole school, like ensuring the U.S. wins an Olympic gold medal in basketball by putting ten NBA all-stars on its team. It’s hard to imagine doing this fix on a large scale, however. A practical though possibly less effective approach would be for low-performing schools to increase skills of their teachers. Upskilling quickly means bringing in skilled teachers as overseers or mentors, possibly transferring weak teachers out of schools and bringing in high performers, as noted already, or providing materials or technologies that improve teacher skills directly or indirectly. This is not “teacher professional development” as it’s usually understood. But a school facing consequences right now has little time for its teachers to attend classes, in-service workshops, or summer institutes. A manufacturing company facing bankruptcy because it is producing defective products does not send its employees to the local community college to take courses. It locates the cause of the defects and fixes them as soon as it can.

Suppose a school continues to perform poorly despite upskilling its teachers. What next? The focus would turn to the principal. (These approaches could also happen at the same time.) Another finding emerging from recent research is that, like teachers, principals differ widely in their effectiveness. Principals of low-performing schools can be assigned a mentor or coach, given added support, or replaced by a known effective principal.

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Common Core Standards in Action

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Reposted from Education Safari:

Friday afternoon,  I had an end of first trimester parent-teacher conference with my 2nd grader’s teacher, Mrs. W. I have mentioned Mrs. W. before, in my blog post about Common Core Standards back in October. She is a veteran teacher of more than 25 years. Her husband, now retired, begs her every summer to retire with him so that they can do more traveling together. Mrs. W.  loves teaching way too much. They do travel in the summer, but when the fall rolls around, poor Mr. W. has to go find a project to tinker with or something to do.

I’m really amazed at the progress my youngest child is making. It is very different from the standard that his older brother experienced at the same grade level. Instead of filling in the blanks for reading comprehension, or answering  a question in a single phrase, he writes entire sentences that give the reader comprehensive information.  Mrs. W. instructs them to “P.Q.A. – put the question in the answer.” That means, find the keywords inside the initial question and use that to build your answer sentence.

Mrs. W. is not in the least intimidated by Common Core standards in her classroom. She went over some of the weekly tests with me to illustrate the new standards at this grade level, and I thought I would share some of those illustrations here…

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Teacher’s Surprising Lesson on Social Media Goes Viral

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Reposted from Today:

Melissa Bour teaches sixth grade science and math, but it’s her lesson on social media that’s really striking a chord with children and their parents. Alarmed by some of the images she saw on Facebook, Bour — who works at Emerson Elementary School in Tulsa, Oklahoma — wanted to show her students how quickly photos and comments they post online can spread.

“I noticed more and more pictures were showing up that were inappropriate,” she told TODAY. “So I used a teachable moment. I got out a piece of computer paper and a green pen and I wrote a little note.” The letter, which she wrote in all caps and simply addressed to “Dear Facebook,” read in part:

“My 12-year-old students think it is ‘no big deal’ that they are posting pictures of themselves in bras or with their middle finger in the air. Please help me out by sharing this image and commenting with where you live to show these young students how quickly their images can get around.”

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Student-Led Parent-Teacher Conferences

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Reposted from Edudemic:

Parent-teacher conferences provide parents with updates on their child’s progress and opportunities to see their student’s work. They also open communication between school and home. However, students often are passive, or even absent, during traditional parent-teacher conferences. One way to fix this is to put students at the helm, as they are the ones who are responsible for their work and progress. Here, we detail a few ways to hold effective student-led conferences and we offer a guide for each conference participant.

In the student-led conference format, students and teachers prepare together, and then students lead the conference while teachers facilitate. “The triad then sits together to review and discuss the work and the student’s progress. The message, once again, is that the students are responsible for their own success.” Student-led conference models vary, but the premise is the same: “This is the student’s moment to share his or her reflections on achievements and challenges.”

According to Gus Goodwin, a teacher featured in the book, “Deeper Learning: How Eight Innovative Public Schools Are Transforming Education in the Twenty-First Century” (which in turn was quoted in this excellent MindShift article) is quoted as saying that parents appreciate student-led conferences as an alternative because they realize report cards are not useful, “and over time, the parents begin to set a higher bar for their students at these conferences.”

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