MATCH Teacher Coaching

1. On Valence Street I'm in New Orleans this week. We've borrowed a few classrooms from the generous folks at the Samuel Green Elementary School. Their kids are pictured above, karate-chopping the Achievement Gap. Hmm. My late grandpa was named Samuel Greenberg. I never met him. But I'd bet he'd have liked this trend-line.

Thank you, Green School. For what you do to help kids, and for lending us some air-conditioned rooms.

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2. Kickoff To MATCH Teacher Coaching NOLA

MATCH is launching a small teacher coaching effort down here. We have a group of 30 teachers, spread across 18 charter schools. Our median teacher is entering his 3rd year of teaching.

60 teachers signed up for the coaching. Our evaluator, Matt, randomly selected 30 for us to coach. The other 30 teachers are a control group. That is, we'll see in Summer 2012 how both groups did -- the ones we coached, and the ones we didn't.

We promised the teachers (and our backer, New Schools For New Orleans) that we'll do everything we can to get them to improve. We'll be diligent. We'll collaborate with them and their principals. We're very confident that most teachers will enjoy their coaching and find our folks absolutely professional.

But we guarantee nothing in terms of measurable change. It's quite different from our teacher residency, where we know we can deliver, and guarantee it both to the schools which hire them (money back guarantee) and to our residents (they'll get hired in top charter schools).

With our teacher coaching, we can't guarantee results, because we really want to learn. The thing is, if we talk a big game and promise to grow, we'll probably then see what we want to see. We'd come up with measures that show our stuff "works."

After all, this is our first time formally training teachers with experience, who already have habits. Many of the habits are hard-wired. We want to be "appropriately respectful" of the challenge.

As I've written before, studies of professional development are kind of scary. The education sector knows little about "what works." A 2007 paper found that out of 1300 studies of P.D. had yielded only 9 that any sort of reasonable evidence. And 0 of the 9 had studied P.D. for middle or high school teachers.

So we have 2 puzzles.

A. The obvious puzzle: how can our coaching deliver real game-changing results? What can we learn from others? Where should we break the mold?

B. And a second puzzle: how do we authentically measure our coaching, instead of "seeing what we want to see" and declaring victory?

I'll be blogging about both.