Providing Professional Support A Guide for Literacy Coaches Dr. Sharon Walpole University of Delaware
Overview • Research on professional development initiatives and models • Outside the classroom work • Knowledge building • Data analysis • Book Clubs • Inside the classroom • Observing • Providing Feedback • Modeling • Outside the school • Positive professional relationships
Goals • Improve student learning • Implement research-based best practices • Create a real, sustainable learning community • Respectful, professional inquiry • System for collaboration • Resources for learning • Tools for observing and providing feedback
Reform Conundrum • Change is not always good • Forced change is likely to fail • How can we support change without alienating adult learners? • Situate the change within the knowledge and skills of the learners Richardson, V. (1990). Significant and worthwhile change in teaching practice. Educational Researcher, 19, 10-18.
Goals and Strategies Guskey, T. R. (1986). Staff development and the process of teacher change. Educational Researcher, 15, 5-13.
Ineffective Strategies • Drive-by, fly-by presentations • Knowledge only sessions • Practice only sessions • One-teacher sessions • Incoherent sessions
Effective Eisenhower Initiatives • Organized as reforms • Grade-level or school-level • Specific content • Active learning for adults – reviewing student work or observation of teaching • Linked directly to curriculum and assessment systems Birman, B. F., Desimone, L., Porter, A. C., & Garet, M. S. (2000, May). Designing professional development that works. Educational Leadership, 28-33.
Reform Initiatives in Literacy • Intensive and extensive • Support at the implementation level • Planned systems for observing instruction and providing feedback • Interactive • Elements of choice • Link teachers, administrators, and even researchers in efforts to solve building-level problems Anders, P.A., Hoffman, J.V., & Duffy, G.G.(2000). Teaching teachers to teach reading: Paradigm shifts, persistent problems, and challenges. In M. Kamil, P. Mosenthal, P.D. Pearson, & R. Barr (Eds.), Handbook of reading research: Vol 3 (pp. 721-744). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Models of Professional Development • Individually guided • Observation/feedback • Curriculum improvement • Training* • Inquiry Sparks, D., & Loucks-Horsley, S. (1990). Models of staff development. In R. Houston (Ed.), Handbook of research on teacher education (3rd Ed.,). 234-250.
But what if you are a Literacy Coach? • You have to individualize • You have observe and provide feedback • Your job is curriculum improvement • You have to train • The data forces inquiry • You have to craft a hybrid model
Professional Support System • Resource allocation (time and money) during the work day • Differentiated so that all can learn • Collaborative relationship between teachers and administrators • Targeting both beliefs and practices
Professional Support System Joyce, B. & Showers, B. (1988). Student achievement through staff development. White Plains, NY: Longman Inc.
Don’t test what you haven’t taught Build your program one step at a time: Teach about that step outside the classroom Model it inside Give teachers a chance to practice and ask for help Observe and give feedback
Building Knowledge: Getting Started Start with your curriculum • We use these assessments in this way at this time for this reason • We use these materials/procedures/schedules in this way for this reason Use your curriculum as a vehicle to discuss the model of literacy development that drives your reading program Set up an expectation that all professional support in your building has an immediate practical implication
Well this year has been the big rollout year. The first thing that we rolled out was [a new phonics program] and we spent all of our study groups and our meeting times on the phonics and the theory of it and then what we were going to use. And then we got down to the nitty gritty part of it where we had a trainer that came in and she trained [the teachers] and then we went out and we started it.
Building Knowledge: Being Responsive • Once basic instruction is rolling, ask your learners what they would like to learn more about • Surveys? • Interviews? • Work to build a bridge between your learners’ needs and your own knowledge
Take stock • What are the strengths and weaknesses of your school’s current system for building knowledge?
Building Knowledge: Using Data Data analysis, with teachers, makes the focus of the change unambiguous I think what’s happening as teachers are seeing with the scores and things that they’re seeing and listening to the children read and seeing improvements that they’re making, they’re finally buying into it. I think [you] told us you’ve got to tough it out at first and then let them see that it will happen and then they believe and they’ll do it.
Building Knowledge: Using Data Use data to engage teachers in problem-solving and inquiry: What do we know now about the needs of the children in this building? What problems are not yet solved? How can our reading program grow and change because of this new information?
Take stock • What are the strengths and weaknesses of your current school’s system for using data in professional development?
Building Knowledge: Book Clubs • Learning together, not learning from • New power structure • Text selection is important; avoid contradictions • You know but they’re so literal. They can’t hear one person’s spin on something and apply it to fit our model. They’re not thinking about it. They just think, ok this is a clear step, so I’ll just go do it.
Practical steps in implementing Book Clubs • Identify specific areas for study • Identify professional texts that address these areas and are consistent with research. • Purchase sets of these texts. • Facilitate whole-school, role-alike, or choice groups. • Establish a timeline for reading and a procedure for discussion. • Establish a procedure for sharing across groups.
Take stock • Do you have any experience with professional Book Clubs? What was it like?
Building Knowledge: Looping • You’ll never be done; go back, go deeper I’m looking forward to being able to go back and go over it all again and for us to get deeper into it. You know we’ve skimmed the surface, and we’ve hit all the high points, but now I’m hoping that we can get deep, deep into it so that we’re better and better and better.
Building Knowledge: Looping to practice Get it rolling, watch it, fine-tune it First we had to make sure that [teachers] were doing read alouds every day, and that it became a habit, and that it was a routine in their day. Everybody expected it, and there was nobody, nobody who didn’t do one. And so we got the ritual and routine down of doing the read alouds: when they were going to do them, how often and how much time they were going to spend. And then we had to see what is the weakness there? Where do we need to go? Where are they and where do we need to go with them?
Take stock • What are the strengths and weaknesses of your current school’s system for providing a direct link between PD with teachers outside of the classroom and their work inside?
Observe to build your own knowledge Observe for yourself, so you can make decisions about knowledge-building • On average, what do teachers do very well? • On average, what are we struggling with? • How can I build knowledge in this area
Observe to build consistency • Walk through • Watch the schedule – let teachers see you watching it I think the biggest obstacles that I’ve been facing is people telling me one thing that they’re doing and then they’re not doing it when I go by.
Observe to provide support • Never link professional development to evaluation. • Never make documentation of observations public. • Have a pre-observation meeting in which you review your commitment to confidentiality and ask the teacher what he or she wants you to watch for. • Tell the teacher exactly how the observation will be conducted and how and when he or she will receive feedback.
Observe to differentiate Every, each teacher has a different weak…I shouldn’t say weakness, but something that they need to work on. [The important thing is] going in there and finding out what each teacher needs and being able to talk with them. And trying to develop a relationship with them so they won’t think of me as the enemy.
Observe to loop back to knowledge To some people teaching is a job, and to others it is a profession. And I think that some of it’s lack of knowledge because my teachers come from different colleges that have different philosophies, and I think that’s part of it. They just don’t have that knowledge, and they’re not…either they’re not self-motivated to find it or they don’t even know that they don’t know. And I have to realize that they’re just like kids in that they’re all in different places in their knowledge. We’ve made a lot of assumptions here about what kids know. We’ve assumed that they know things that they don’t and I…I have to get out of that with teachers. So it seems like I try to collect information and use that to drive the upcoming session.
Give Feedback: General • Even from walk-throughs • Here’s what I’ve learned about our program since the last time we met. • Here’s what I’ve learned about my own sessions since last time we’ve met. • I need to do a better job with . . . • I need your help to think this through . . .
Give Feedback: Personal I took a laptop computer with me and I have a little form that has 3 sections: A description of what I see, celebrations, and then considerations. I try to make the descriptions almost just like a script, as much as I can, as quickly as I can. The celebrations, that’s pretty easy. I try to always make sure I give a little general one right from the onset. And then I try to get really specific things. And I don’t think a day has passed yet that I’ve given the feedback that I haven’t had a teacher approach me and say, “I appreciate that.” If I don’t write something that was a celebration, but I remembered to mention it to them outside of that, then I think they really feel like “she was watching when she was in there.” A lot of us have never been watched this way. You’re the only one that’s going to see [my observation.] That’s the end of it. What happens is you read it and hopefully you benefit from it and that’s all. We’ll carry on and I’ll give you another [observation] next time.
Consider self observation • Video-tape yourself working with children • Ask a teacher to video-tape her own instruction and then provide a self-observation • Use video for small-group reflections • Use video to allow all learners to practice with your observation guide • Use video for problem-solving
Consider Teaching Labs • Identify a strong teacher with the self confidence to host visitors • Schedule groups to visit across several days • Set up debriefing sessions
Consider vertical visits • Set up visits for each grade level to observe the previous grade level or the next grade level • Develop shared knowledge of the reading program
Consider Peer Coaching Peer coaching: Divide your staff into learning teams. Schedule observations. The person being observed is the coach. The person watching is being coached. Showers, B., & Joyce, B. (1996, March). The evolution of peer coaching. Educational Leadership, 12-16.
Take stock • What are the strengths and weaknesses of your current school’s system for observing and giving feedback?
Move to Modeling Show, rather than tell • Model outside the classroom, as you build knowledge • Model inside the classroom, as you build skills
Model to build your own understanding Model to practice with new materials and ideas I started it myself. I went in to a second grade classroom. I stayed in there 2 weeks. I did the lesson. And then I had the other teachers come and watch me. And then I modeled for them and then after that they went out and I started observing them. That’s how [I’ve started] every piece that we’ve brought in this year.
Model to loop back to knowledge Usually the morning part of my day is spent coaching. So I’m observing, I’m modeling, I’m demonstrating lessons during those blocks of time. And whatever I’m teaching in staff development courses usually parallels what I’m modeling, demonstrating or observing so that it is a simultaneous kind of thing. I guess some transforming is the right word. But I try not to evaluate anything that I haven’t already taught. And I don’t want to observe and I don’t want to model anything that I haven’t already taught before. I like it to be hand in hand.
Model to differentiate I had a teacher who was at the kindergarten level and this was her first year. She really experienced some difficulty trying to manage her groups. So I went into her classroom and I became a center and as the children rotated, I sat in there for about 3 hours and I helped her to develop some better ways of having her students transition and manage her classroom. And I actually took her to visit another school so that she could observe teachers teaching kindergarten just to go to a different environment so that she wouldn’t be intimidated. I went back into her class Monday just to ask her a question and she had already started making changes in her class and I thought that that was wonderful. She was open-minded and she was willing to accept change.
Model to build coherence I’ve had several teachers, interestingly enough, who have said I would like for you to make recommendations. I want to try to implement them and I want you to come back and see me again and then I want you to model a lesson.
Make your modeling count • Video tape whenever possible • Collect artifacts • What did you have to do to plan? • What was hard for you as you taught? • What evidence of student learning could you collect? • Use what you learn when you model to do a better job in outside the classroom pd sessions
Take stock • What are the strengths and weaknesses of your current school’s system for modeling?
Literacy Coach as Learner Outside the school learning On the job learning Creating professional networks
What is your Professional Support Plan? • How will you build knowledge outside of the classroom? • How will you build knowledge inside of the classroom? • How will you support individual teachers in meeting their own goals? • How will you provide training?