"Two heads are better than one!"
After going through the coaching series with Oakland School's Marty Chaffee, I now see the benefits of the instructional coaching model. The coaching model can look many different ways, but at the core it's supporting the teacher in their goals with a focus on student achievement. Teachers are continuously reflecting on their practice, setting goals and working towards those goals. However, everyone could use a little help and sometimes it's good to get some outside perspective. When I was in the classroom I would often talk with core teachers to get a different perspective on how I could teach something. A speaker at the AdvancED conference closed with giving one piece of advice to teachers and it was... "Don't be afraid to invite the right people to the table." We become better teachers because of it.
I have to say the process is quite fun. It's definitely a partnership based on trust. You plan together, come up with ideas and resources, co-teach, and model together. It's a good time. To me, the whole cycle is like the MYP Design Cycle. You start off with a goal and you plan and research. Coaching the teacher through the process. You learn together. Create together. Sometimes the model provides co-teaching and modeling. Sometimes it doesn't. It really depends on what the teacher needs and what their personal goals are. The one thing it needs to be is - sustainable. Sustainability is important and necessary as the teacher will need to feel comfortable with the process. Is it sustainable for them? I have to say that to me, the best part of the coaching model is the reflection piece. How did it go? What should be changed? Should anything be changed? Was it beneficial for students? Did we see student growth? Etc. Then the cycle begins all over again.
This is what makes teaching exciting. The constant change. We are more excited about teaching when students are excited about learning.
There's no data on this (sorry). No one will pat you on the back and you can't submit this in any domain area (though I'm sure you could try). This is kind of the best kept secret. One conversation, a few smiles, asking how a student's day is, showing that you care about them genuinely... will always make the difference. It could save a life.
I left the session thankful that I went. It was one of the most engaging PDs I have ever attended. I walked out with these reminders...You set the tone. Be up. Be visible. Build the relationships because that will ALWAYS make the difference. And remember to be in the moment. Take risks and have fun. This is what it's all about.
For me, one of the most moving presentations was by the 4th Wall Kids company. They provide theatre and dance to students with special needs. Their philosophy is that students can develop social and communication skills through the arts. However the most important piece is having them be part of a community who lifts them up, gives them voice, and raises their self-esteem. Then they had some of their students who had down syndrome come out and sign a beautiful song. I thought it was really amazing. I wanted to take a video, but I really wanted to be a 100% present in that moment so I didn't. I'm sure you can see a recording of the TEDxDetroit event if you Google it. It's worth it.
Also, I have to mention how magnificent the Fox Theatre is. Here are some shots (above and below) so you can get an idea of the space if you've never been. We were lucky enough to get on stage and see what the presenters saw all day. A little bit scary, but I can see how exhilarating it could be to perform in front of thousands of people.
At the end of the day, I was so happy I went and was able to experience this with four amazingly awesome students. I say this quite a bit, but I do feel very lucky to work with such talented individuals every day. When I was driving home it dawned on me that it's possibly experiences like these that students will remember the rest of their lives. It won't be the lectures they listened to or the tests they took. The papers they wrote. The chapters they read or the slide shows they watched. It will be the learning experiences that teachers have created for them. It will be the projects they did. The hands-on interactive activities. It will be the teachers they had and the challenging, fun, learning experiences that were provided for them at Royal Oak High School. This is what they will remember.
"It's not about working harder. It's about working smarter"
Let's work together and create innovative learning experiences for students! Great day to be a raven... every day. : )
I love Googling information. If I don't know something, I find out! The Internet is super cool that way. I don't claim to know all things tech, but I love problem solving and trying to find answers.