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COACHING AT MONTVIEW ELEMENTARY SCHOOL*
Reviewing her schedule for Thursday, Renata sees that Julia, her teacher leader, will come in as usual for a weekly observation during her reading lesson. She reminds herself to review her action plan before their meeting and to make sure that Carol, the paraprofessional, has been scheduled to cover her classroom while she meets with Julia after the observation.
Renata remembers that initially she was concerned and very self-conscious about the coaching process; constructive feedback was sometimes hard for her to take. Working with Julia, though, Renata has found that while Julia is, herself, knowledgeable about reading, she lets Renata know that its okay not to have all the answers, that, in fact, its important to be able to ask questions.
When they meet to talk about a lesson, they focus on Renatas action plan the one she made for herself and talk about how it played out in the lesson. One thing they dont talk about is how to "fix" the lesson. Referring to specific things she observes, Julia often asks, "Why do you think that happened?" Sometimes they agree, sometimes they dont. But if they dont, they explore further, and thats when its really the most fun.
Over the last few weeks, Renata has based her action plans on the kinds of questions she asks during reading group. The students, she felt, had not been taking responsibility for their learning. So during the lessons, Julia wrote down the questions Renata asked. As soon as she and Julia looked at the questions together, Renata realized she was doing way too much prompting. She was taking so much responsibility for the students success that they didnt have to. Julia and Renata talked about what the questions would be like if she were to gradually release responsibility to the kids. Renatas questions during subsequent lessons started to change.
Julia also recommended some articles about questioning strategies that she and Renata could read and discuss. In fact, Renata had built one of those new strategies into the lesson Julia would see on Thursday....
* This vignette is constructed from the experiences of several Montview teachers.
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