Student Centered Coaching

I just got back from a 2 day conference by Corwin about Student Centered Coaching (SCC). When I got this position as a specialist, our district had just started learning about SCC and had a goal of having us enter a cycle with a teacher. However, because I came in the middle of the year, I wasn’t quite sure how to do this, and I am thankful I got to go to this conference to wrap my head around it all, solidify my knowledge, and further myself in the idea of SCC. I loved hearing from Diane Sweeney herself as she has a genuinely encouraging tone and is full of passion and knowledge. After big days of learning, I like to write to synthesize my learning for myself and if it can help anyone else reading this, that’s an added bonus too. So, here we go:

Student Centered Coaching Definition: An outcomes based approach to coaching that focuses on student learning. 

Key Quotes and Thoughts: 

  1. Coaching should not be about “fixing” teachers, It’s about student learning and should build on the strengths of a teacher.
  2. Coaching should not be one more thing we have to do, how do we frame it so it’s not? Always be thinking…what about the kids?
  3. Learning targets and success criteria are necessary for teacher clarity (“Students can hit any target they can see and that stands still for them.” – Steve Ventura

Providing Strengths-Based Feedback:

  1. The coach and teacher engage in a conversation that flows from starting with clarifying questions, to value statements, and finally uncovering possibilities through questions and discussion. In both of the following I started with the Notice and Naming coaching move.
    • I tried this with a teacher today during her conference 2nd period after I was able to be in her 1st period. It really helped focus our conversation, affirm good practices, and maximize results for the next class period.
    • At the conference, I was a little worried of how I could fit in feedback conversations like this if the teacher or I didn’t have time during lunch or conference. Today during lunch, a teacher asked me to observe their 6th period class and it actually gave me the perfect opportunity to try it out in a short time frame since I wanted to provide feedback for their next class. During passing period, we were able to talk using these three stages (clarifying questions, value statements, and uncovering possibilities) to lead to some changes for the next class. Of course I would love to talk during a conference or lunch to have more time and less sense of urgency, but I know it’s possible and resulted in positive reflections/additions.

Visible Learning 

  1. Teacher Clarity: .75 effect size. Learning Targets and Success Criteria are integral to increase teacher clarity and they need to be revisited during the lesson by both teachers and students.
  2. Collective Teacher Efficacy: 1.57 effect size. Definition: The belief of teacher groups about the collective ability to promote successful student outcomes.
    • In our PLCs we can work to ensure we have collective teacher efficacy by writing clear goals (.68 effect size and PLC question 1), providing feedback (.7 effect size and PLC question 2), RTI (1.07 effect size and PLC question 3). (additional source I researched after the conference: http://www.steveventura.com/about/efficacy.php)

Lastly, in Steve Ventura’s keynote speech he outlined several qualities of inspired and passionate teachers including developing relationships, providing feedback, engaging in dialogue, providing challenge, managing so learning is the focus not behavior, using a wide range of instructional strategies, and valuing expertise over experience. As a coach, I hope to focus my conversations in a way that cultivates the strengths teachers come with and motivate teachers to move students further using these qualities. 

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“Flashy Poster Syndrome”

Do you ever find yourself using a lesson you found from the internet or one you created thinking it had high potential for learning, and then quickly realize after you used it that while the products may be beautiful and artistic, no real learning happened? I’ll admit it…I have! I remember a couple projects I gave where I wanted students to summarize their learning, connect to a real world topic, and display their learning visually, but somehow the end result was a bust as far as students transferring their knowledge. While I am glad I have had many successful projects and lessons, these, deemed “Flashy Poster Syndrome” lessons, are the ones that weigh on my mind because I wonder why it just didn’t work.

On Friday, we had a little book study at work with the book, Facilitating Teacher Teams and Authentic PLCs, and this rubric below jumped out at me as a way to intentionally vet lessons like the ones I described above to achieve “high quantity and quality of learning.” As the book stated, I think this can be very useful in PLCs if teams are finding themselves deciding on an activity that had been used in years past or one pulled from the Internet. By using this tool to analyze the activity, the focus of the conversation becomes more proactive rather than reactive. Therefore teachers can spend less time discussing “What do we do if our students don’t learn?” and more time discussing, “What’s the best way to teach this so that our students learn it in the first place?” (This aligns with DuFour, FuFour and Eaker’s 2nd PLC question: How will we know students are learning?)

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This quick check list can help teachers have an “evidence-based” conversation and although you do not need to come to consensus on the exact “scoring”, it rather focuses on strengthening the lesson for student learning.

*Notes: 1. If using this as a team, it is safest to use this with a lesson that is not specifically tied to one individual on the team because “there is a vast psychological difference between scoring a stranger’s work found on the Internet and scoring a colleague’s work.” 2. Do not always throw out high maintenance tasks, but give that thought when planning. 3. I LOVE the questions the book asks to determine rigor: “Who is doing the thinking here-the teacher or the students? Who is asking the questions-the teacher or the students?”

 

Source: Facilitating Teacher Teams and Authentic PLCs, Daniel R. Venables