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Sunday, February 01, 2015

How Do You Coach Your Learning Team?

Who do you define as your "team" at school?

Who makes up the coaching team?

My team is the 44 fifth graders I teach every day with a partner teacher.

The coaching team includes educators, specialists, assistants, family members, and students too.

As we move into the second half of the teaching year, how can I strengthen the coaching efforts and result?

Set the Stage for Learning
This effort never ends as the "stage," classroom, changes continuously to respond to the learning at hand, however the main objectives remain the same:
  • "Everything in its place, a place for everything."
  • Time for students to know how to use and access important learning tools. Time to play with the tools to in order to "get to know" those tools well.
  • A good variety of spaces for student choice and learning:
    • Cozy corner
    • Tables for project work, coaching.
    • "Amphitheater" space for whole class instruction, listening, and presentation.
    • Supply areas.
    • Book corner(s) or classroom library(s).
    • Tech supply area(s).
    • Teacher area.
Learning Routines
Create routines that give students the time and support to ask questions and advocate for their learning. These routines should also support students' readiness for learning and ability to access multiple learning venues.
  • Post daily schedule.
  • Communicate to learning team via a weekly newsletter.
  • Online learning resources updated regularly to support student learning.
  • Supply spaces, organization.
  • Listening and speaking routines.
  • Collaboration and team routines.
  • Share and question protocols.
24-7 Online Classroom
Create an online classroom resource that students are able to access 24-7 for homework help, learning resources, review modules, and more.

Engaging Learning Experiences
Design learning experiences that include meaningful introductions, engaging project work, and summary/share time. Introduce the learning structure and rationale to students to gain their investment. Design learning so that there is significant time for teacher-student coaching as well as student-student coaching.

Project Presentation and Share
Make time for student presentation and share on a regular basis. Give students the tools and time they need to share and lead classroom learning efforts. 

Assessment, Reflection, Revision, and Feedback
Make time to assess the learning efforts in both formal and informal ways. Reflect on that success, then revise as needed to improve the learning/teaching menu. Provide regular, effective feedback to inspire students' efforts in multiple ways to develop their confidence, learning mindset/behaviors, and education.

Collaborate with the Learning Team
Communicate with the learning team with transparency, regularity, and an open mind. Work with the entire team including family members, students, colleagues, leaders, and the community to develop the best possible teaching/learning program for students. Make time to create, implement, assess, reflect, and revise learning programs together. Maximize each others' strengths and acknowledge challenges in order to teach all students well.

The work we do each day matters, and the way we structure and carry out that work matters too. The guidelines above offer a map to good work and a structure to follow as we work well to teach all in the second half of the year.

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Addition: What does this post look like in real time, right now?

Set the Stage: 
  • continued work on STEAM center organization, supplies, and projects
  • completed grant paperwork to access additional materials
  • math materials/tools reorganization
  • cubbies for math materials
  • general clean-up, organization.
Learning Routines
  • review of routines and rationale for routines with students.
  • simplifying routines and making routines more consistent.
  • becoming a "star classroom" using new student leaders as point collectors
Online Classroom
  • continual update, revision, enrichment, and streamlining of online websites and resources.
  • continued routine of weekly newsletter, home study page update and share.
Engaging Learning Experiences
  • continued research, assessment, reflection, revision, and review of all learning experiences.
  • continued design and professional learning. 
  • continued trying out new ideas and including students in the learning design process. 
Project Presentation and Share
  • Focusing on this with greater strength during performance assessment time of year (March-April) and PBL time (April-June)
Assessment, Reflection, Revision and Feedback/Collegial Collaboration
  • Continued RTI/PLC work that focuses on this effort.
  • Improving feedback loop w/revised organization, student showcase portfolio creation, and more.