On this last day of school of 2011, I feel compelled to reflect on the first half of this academic year, especially in light of my new position. It began with a professional development workshop on assessment, which refined my vision for the year--kids have to know where they are headed, where they are now, and how they will close the gap. They have to be able to name the things they are learning so they can evaluate their progress. Teachers have to provide meaningful feedback in reasonable chunks and kids need time to reflect on their learning. In my role as instructional coach I have been trying to hold these key ideas in my mind in all of my work with teachers. I see the positive effects of teachers naming the learning targets for the kids, having them reflect on their progress, and setting weekly goals. I am grateful to have attended the workshop led by the Assessment Training Institute and feel like this is the right path to take to help kids become more metacognitive and engaged learners.
The next stop on the professional development train took me to Kansas for Jim Knight's Instructional Coaching Institute. My goals as a coach became easier to name as a result of the training: be a better listener (active listening is really hard), work with people who are excited about being coached, and strive for reciprocity (by getting as much as I give). I have tried to do these things, and I am particularly pleased to say that I have gotten far more than I have given. I plan to continue working toward these goals in 2012. Thank you to all of the teachers who have let me in your doors and allowed me to help you fine-tune your craft.
The rest of my professional development has happened on the job. I am so lucky to work with such a broad range of teachers and their students, dealing with challenges as diverse how to introduce fiction writing to kindergarteners to how to engage middle schoolers in science. I am most grateful to my coaching partner, Penni, and our technology integration specialist, Melissa. All three of us are navigating instructional coaching together, even though we have different content expertise. Thank you, Melissa, for inspiring me to begin this blog!
As I head off for winter break, I pack my bag full of what I'll need to begin 2012 well: a list of blogs to read so I can stay abreast of what's working in schools near and far, a copy of Troy Hicks' The Digital Writing Workshop so I can continue to plan for how to move writing workshop into this century, and works by George Hillocks to deepen my understanding of inquiry-based learning.
Until next year...