Amy B is entering her 4th year of teaching. Below you'll find an early draft of her teacher change plan for the coming year. Early. Draft. She was kind enough to okay it going up on the web. First a quick tangent:
Her first 2 years were at a struggling charter school.
Esperanza Charter School in Mid-City was denied an extension because of poor academic performance, but the kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school, which focuses on Spanish-speaking students, will remain open under new management. It will be run by the Choice Foundation, which also operates Lafayette Charter School.
Amy left. She spent last year teaching at Dibert. It is a "takeover," too, part of the First Line network founded by Jay Altman.
Alice Meyer is the Dibert principal. Her 2 teachers in our coaching program love her. I read her bio and the only negative I could find is that she attended the University of North Carolina, which suggests deep character flaws. Maybe she has overcome those.
But the cool thing is that Alice was a teacher at Edward Brooke, a great Boston charter I've written about. With help of New Schools Venture Fund, Alice relocated to NOLA to lead the turnaround. I hear it's going well. This is sort of like college basketball. Brooke's elementary principal, Kim Steadman, mentored Alice, who then departs to lead her own school -- Alice becomes part of the Kim Steadman coaching tree.
Back to Amy. Last year flew to Boston with her colleague Julia and visited Brooke. She was amazed. She visited Excel too. Again: jaw drop. The visits help her to know what she wants her classroom (and school) to be like and look like.
So that's the backstory. Here is a draft of what Amy is considering for her coaching plan this year. She said it would be okay to share with you on the web:
1. I will achieve the following change in my day-to-day teaching: a. When you visit my class, you’ll see something brand new: I’ll actually get to all parts of the lesson. And I will talk a lot less. As you know, I’ve struggled enormously with staying way too long with the first parts of the lesson (particularly when I’m explaining). Therefore I’d never other parts of the lesson (guided practice, independent practice, and exit ticket), or only get there in a rushed manner.
Starting with Day 1 of School, here’s what you’ll see: my timer will beep, I will utter a couple transition sentences, and (sometimes gracefully, sometimes not) move on. It should be easily observable -- either I move on, or I linger too long.
b. Also, a second goal I have is that during guided practice, you’ll also see a big change in Ratio: I will talk less, I will cold call kids more. At least 50% of the time will be kids, not me, and I'll be almost exclusively cold-calling to involve every student.
c. Improved quality and alignment of AIM and Exit Ticket. Please ding me when you see vague AIMs.
2. Obstacles and Emotions I’ve reflected with MTC on why I have this issue. By surfacing my fears, I'm hoping it's easier to correct.
a. I have a lot of raw material to cover, so I try to gush and explain it. Even though intellectually I realize the kids won’t learn unless they do most of the work, I want to cover things.
b. I’m very sensitive to the kids, at any given time, who don’t understand yet. Emotionally, I fear beginning cold calls or independent work if I think both that some kids will get stuck and that I’m complicit in why they’re not yet ready.
c. I have pretty good class climate. When I stop talking and push the work to the kids, I fear things will get looser. So I don't stop talking.
3. Short-term actions I can do right now to prepare for start of school a. I am scripting out the transitions out of every part of the lesson: the Do Now, the Open, the I Do, the Guided Practice, the Independent Practice.
b. I am creating Lesson Plans for procedures that cover exactly what I want students to do when they’re stuck during Guided or Independent Practice. We will practice “Handling moments when you are stuck.” I will create a poster with the procedures, so I can give the “Hands Down” sign and simply point to the poster to remind them of what they need to do.
4. Enlist help
a. My colleague Julia Dezen will come in and watch me, with a seating chart, every day. She's my buddy for the year. She’s going to visit for 10 minutes or less. All she’s doing, at first, is making sure I hit my main goal – when my timer goes off, do I quickly transition to the new part of the lesson.
*Short term, Julia will simply write yes/no on whether I'm making the needed transitions
*Short term, once I have that locked in, she'll rate each part of my lesson, so if she watches a Guided Practice on Monday, she'll rate that 1 to 10; then same on Tue; Wed, etc.
I’ve pledged also to visit her class once a day.
b. My coach Max from MTC will visit for the week of TK. All day, every day. We hope to really push through the nuance of many teacher moves, have me doing them, locking them in, problem-solving whatever comes up.
c. My principal, Alice, will TK TK TK.
5. How will I measure my teacher growth this year? a. Last year, 10 of my 25 kids passed the LEAP exam for Grade 4.
("Pass" for 4th graders means that, in reading and in math, a kid scores at least "basic" on one test and "approaching basic" on the other test. Louisiana has 5 designations: unsatisfactory, approaching basic, basic, mastery, advanced).
My school-set goal is: no unsatisfactory; 65% basic or above; 35% approaching basic. In addition, my personal goal is that 80% of my kids, or roughly 20 out of 25, pass.
b. My principal's perception of me as a teacher goes way up, as measured by TK evaluation.
c. MTC is sending independent evaluators in March 2012 to see what change there is compared to my classroom in April of 2011, when I was observed. My rating on the MATCH rubric that day was 6 out of 10 in Achieving Aim, 5 out of 10 in behavioral climate.