"Only Once Did She Have To Discipline a Student"

Great Wall Street Journal story about our teacher residency friends at AUSL in Chicago:

In one solo session on a blustery January morning, Ms. Filippini's lack of experience was still evident. The children were antsy after a two-week break. During the daily academic warm-up, Ms. Filippini spent six minutes trying to help a girl named Jada understand that a penny and three quarters equals 76 cents. She tried repeatedly to get a girl called Antonia to verbalize 759,264, before giving up.

Later that day, she sat down with Ms. Dantes to break down the lesson, part of which Ms. Dantes had videotaped on an iPad. Ms. Dantes offered advice like a Gatling gun: Ask more questions that guide students to the answer; project work sheets on the wall so students can understand what is being asked; and sometimes stretch the lesson into a second day when it is clear students are overloaded.

During her final two-week solo teaching stint in late March, Ms. Filippini's progress was clearer. She stood at the chalkboard, shoulders relaxed, as she guided the class through the morning grammar warm-up. Every child sat at attention.

There were stumbles. A grammar lesson was disrupted when a student passed gas. It took Ms. Filippini four minutes to get them refocused.

But a lesson on a complicated new subtraction technique was a success. Ms. Filippini selected a poem about the moon and the third-graders shouted over each other to explain its meaning. Only once did she have to discipline a student.

Congrats to Brian and his team in Chicago.

Congrats to the reporter, Stephanie Banchero, for what I believe to be the first news story mentioning a fart....when I say that in talks that I give, and that we try to prepare teachers for moments like that, everyone snickers. It's so...declasse. But it's life! After my talk, teachers always approach me with their memories of flatulence interrupting class.

How do programs like AUSLs and ours help novice develop a calm, focused classroom?

One of our MTR coaches describes it this way:

Maybe it all comes down to please and thank you. Consider the following two statements:

“Take your hand off your face and repeat your answer.”

“That was an amazing answer. But I don’t think everyone could hear it. Could you please take your hand off your face and say that one more time?”

The first statement is militaristic, an adjective I often hear in critiques of MTR. The second is honest, positive, and the type of feedback that I would I my own four year old daughter to get.

I feel like critics of MTR imagine all the instruction happenings in bursts of sentences like the first. But as a coach, if I heard that, I would say, “Wait! Can you rephrase that direction in a way that incorporates some positive narration? Let them know how much you love that answer and why it’s so important to hear it.” This is what most coaching at MTR looks like.