At Westminster Schools (#WestminsterAtl) we are working on introducing a coaching model into our program. We have supported some coaching professional development through Jim Knight’s Kansas Coaching institute, but we believe the coaching work needs to be adapted to our context and school culture. This year we launched the project with our department chairs in the Upper School and curriculum leaders in the Middle and Lower Schools. We divided people into two cohorts of about 15 people per cohort. Our goal is to provide background, experience and time to share work on learning and integrating different instructional strategies into our teaching. We accomplish this through two-hour workshops scheduled once a month on a particular strategy that faculty expressed a desire to learn more about. We collected this information through a survey on different instructional strategies.
After a workshop to learn and practice a strategy we ask the teachers to integrate it into their classroom practice or iterate it to their particular situations, and share the strategy with at least one other person. At our next meeting we review the progress people were able to make and then launch into working on a new strategy. Over time, we hope to build capacity for our faculty to have a richer toolbox of strategies to use in their practice.
At our first workshop, we looked at how to make learning visible through the use of a chalk talk. If you want more information on the technique you can go to the book, Making Thinking Visible, or the website, Visible Thinking. Coaches (faculty) who attended the workshop ended up either using a chalk talk or adapting it in some way to fit their lesson or objective. Some teachers used the visual thinking strategy developed by Philip Yenawine and Abigail Housen as a way to making the learning visible. In the slides below, you will get a sense of what coaches did to incorporate it into their teaching and how they shared it with colleagues (some of the embedded videos may not play in full). We have a professional learning community (PLC) structure in our Middle and Lower Schools so some coaches shared the strategy in their PLC, while others shared it with a colleague.
We are in the midst of collecting feedback from the coaches, iterating our model, and looking at how best to enhance every teacher’s toolbox of strategies to reach all students.
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