Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Coaching Spills Over

What started out as a “moral obligation,” sold to us by our former beloved principal, has turned into so much more. About five years ago, Terri was charged as a Regional Superintendent to move student achievement forward in her 26 schools. Her niche in the power of persuasion helped convince the three Math Leads at Chets to embrace a Math Cohort. Two teachers from 26 schools would attend a full-day of monthly math training at Chets to learn from our best practice. The idea was to build math leads at each school so they could build capacity at their school site.

We thought, who in the world wants to come listen to us? Well, it turns out, they all did. Seldom did any of them miss a day of Math Cohort. One of the most valuable lessons we learned from the three years of Math Cohort was that math teachers were hungry to discuss professional practice, read professional literature, and watch other teachers in action. The highlight of each meeting was a live demonstration lesson in a K-5 classroom and a debrief.

At the end of three years, the county made the recommendation that this training be provided to all Duval’s elementary schools. The Chets team, which added a couple new players along the way, agreed to merge with district math coaches to offer the training to a larger audience. The Math Cohort became known as the Academy of Mathematics and over a hundred schools were invited to attend. The location changed to the Schultz Center for Teaching and Learning but the basis of development stayed the same. Each agenda would include a live demonstration lesson and debrief. To accomplish this we turned to videostreaming.

The first Academy of Math gathering of the year was held last Friday. Math professionals from around the district participated and the demonstration lessons were as valuable as ever!

A 2nd Grade Math Teacher, Melissa Ross, videostreamed her math mini-lesson, work period, and closing session. Then, she comfortably took a seat in the corner of her classroom in front of the TV to debrief with the live audience.

The math presenters from Schultz asked her to reflect on her lesson. Then, the presenters opened the discussion to the audience. They asked her questions; How did you plan for this lesson? Did you group your students according to data? Did you teach this lesson any differently this year than you did last year? How did you choose students for closing session? They also complemented Melissa on her tedious planning, impeccable rituals and routines, and use of technology in the lesson. They told her they were going to take her visual best practices during closing and implement them in their classrooms.

Changing other teacher’s classroom practice based on best practices they’ve observed, can it really get any better than that? Kudos to the coaching spilling over!

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