I'M WORKING ON IT

Here are a few things that support my coaching.

Coaching Approaches

A mash-up of my go-to coaching approaches - melding similarities and examples.  I always start from a Cognitive Coaching lens, zooming in to one of these approaches in response to the teacher's needs. 

 

This resource has been very helpful when working with fellow coaches and school leaders as a place to examine how we coach in our roles, and why.

Example Coaching Feedback Form

Thinking about asking for end-of-year feedback from teachers?  Here is the form I circulated last year as a first attempt at gleaning some feedback on my coaching from faculty. It's really simple and open-ended, but I find it helps to have something to pick apart, rather than start from scratch so I hope it is of help. 

 

This year my form will be more specific, reflecting the goals I set for this academic year...which grew out of the feedback I received as a result of this form!

Honouring different thinking

Working with teams is tough: sometimes our teams are all so aligned we agree on everything, seeing things through the same eyes.  Sometimes we are so polarised, it's hard to believe we are even looking at the same thing. 

 

Appointing a devil's advocate when thinking through ideas is a great way to enrich the conversation, making a safe, constructive space for differences of opinion that exist within the team, or alternatively ensuring all angles have been considered before moving ahead.

The Thinking Collaborative has a great, simple protocol for utilising a devil's advocate in team discussions that rotates the role through all members of the group.  It's particularly effective because the role of nay-sayer is a shared responsibility, meaning each person at some point during the discussion must extend their thinking and explore alternatives to their own ideas or beliefs.

Digging in to those Essential Qs

So you have designed some really great EQs... now how do you get them off the walls of the classroom and make them an essential part of the learning?  One way is to build them in to students' reflections on the learning that is taking place. 

I was recently invited back into the HS English classrooms during their examination of identity and nationalism, a unit which I helped design a few years ago.  These concepts are so important for our students as they try to make meaning of our host nation (and for our local students, their home) which is still defining itself post-apartheid.  The unit allows students to explore these concepts through a variety of works, starting with a few mentor texts.  Then they are free to choose works in any mediums, recording their thinking in a journal throughout the unit.  To find 'common ground' in text types ranging from graffiti to fast food ads, we supplied a journal frame within which all prompts were optional, except the last prompt:  

Reflect on how has this work has deepened your understanding of the relationship between identity and nationalism.  Students constantly reshape and record their understandings of these concepts and their relationship to one another.  This process gives each student the 'think time' they need, leading to richer class discussions where each student can contribute to a 'class' understanding through their unique study. 

Rubrics and the IBDP

I'm a big fan of Susan Brookhart, and the pages of my copy of How to Create and Use Rubrics for Formative Assessment and Grading are well-worn.  I have a few additions/exceptions when I work with people to make rubrics, which I'll write about in future.  I love Jan Chappuis' tips for writing rubrics with students in Seven Strategies of Assessment For Learning, and highly recommend it if you are wondering how to make assessment tools matter to your students and support learning.

IBDP rubrics don't exist, so making sense of them as a teacher and then helping students understand what the criteria look like in action is critical.  Here's an example of one I created with students for the Literature and Performance IA, Criteria A and B.  If you are interested in the process, please get in touch.

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The Curious Coach is a place to wonder and share educational 'aha's!', inspired by fellow teachers, readings, travel, and the memories made over 15 years in education.

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