I’ve long been curious about what’s underneath. The back story of the author, the inspiration for the music, the influences that created the athlete. It’s not just the history or the origin story I’m interested in, it’s the story wrapped inside the story that grabs my attention and makes me want to keep uncovering. And I know I’m not the only one because so many of you reach out to me, stop me at a conference, or after a workshop, and ask for all the details. Did you really mess up that lesson or did you plan to? How do you grade all of that writing? Did your students only do that stuff for the camera? How do you come up with your ideas? What happens next?
For as long as I’ve been making videos with Teaching Channel, I’ve had this idea that there should be a version where I get to pull back the curtain and tell the story behind the story. Even though our medium is video and everything seems visible, it’s not. There’s so much invisible work in teaching: the ideation, the planning, the “fake left and go right,” the careful attention and revision. With this in mind, we’re launching our new series, Tcher’s Cut, to give you an insider’s look at all that invisible work, to help answer the questions you’re prompted to ask.
My first year as an instructional coach was a learning year.
I was experienced as a department chair, but the role of an instructional coach was a bit different. For starters, I was in a different district. The District of Columbia Public Schools have a robust approach to coaching called LEAP — Learning together to Advance our Practice. This method of coaching almost mirrors how assistant principals observe, except for the evaluation component. It was an adjustment at first, but LEAP has helped me to hone my craft as an intentional observer.
The school where I coach and teach, the historic Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, was America’s first Black public high school. In the first half of the twentieth century, this school was an elite institution, which attracted an extraordinary faculty. (Watch as I give a tour of the school’s museum.) Today, we remain a committed and extraordinary faculty; however, like many urban public schools, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School is a high-poverty school that has historically experienced high staff turnover. Nearly half of my ELA department is either new to the building or new to teaching.
Finally, understanding the human dynamic present within the feedback cycle is something that has to be experienced to be appreciated. Teachers are humans, just like every other professional, and their humanity must be maintained throughout the observation and feedback process. At the same time, however, instructional coaches and other school-based leaders must see the potential in each teacher and design learning opportunities that help them to see potential in themselves as well.
In this new series, in partnership with San Francisco Unified School District, we step inside classrooms where teachers are using strategies to engage and support all learners, especially their English Language Learners (ELLs). In Part One of the series, we visit two elementary classrooms to see how teachers use the district’s recommended five essential practices to teach their students during designated English Language Development (ELD) time, as well as to integrate ELD into content. For more information on these practices, read Lisa Kwong’s blog post about the district’s ELL work.
A few days after the November election, I had a meeting with Angie Estonina and Lisa Kwong, two talented educators who lead professional learning efforts on ELLs for San Francisco Unified School District.
With our webcams on, the mood was a bit somber — the election talk of deportations, walls, and targeted registries hung in the air as the rhetoric suddenly became more real. In fact, it felt a bit suffocating. In education, we all have days when we feel weighed down by how much needs to be done and by our professional and personal puzzles, but the unknowns of impending political shift pushed on us from the sides, making us feel the squeeze of change.
I even started wondering if an upcoming presentation I was about to do in Canada on ELLs with school districts from Ontario/Montclair, California, and Yakima, Washington, was even relevant. In retrospect, it was incredibly sad to even think this. But this was my state of mind. It was easy to go there when the personal and professional intersects — my nine-year-old son who is of half Mexican descent asked if he was going to be deported. This was not a question I had at nine years old.
Welcome to The New Year!
A time to celebrate, reflect, and set goals. As teachers, we naturally set goals for ourselves in January. Even though it’s a midpoint in the school year, for some reason January feels like a fresh start. But what about our students? Do they use January as a time to reflect, reboot, and set goals for themselves? While hopefully reflection and goal setting are a natural part of your class culture (and if not, check out our Growth Mindset Deep Dive for ideas), January is a great time to ask students to reflect and set some larger learning goals to work toward over the rest of the school year. Here are four ways you can help:
As we look back on 2016, we’d like to take a minute to turn an eye to our Tchers’ Voice blog.
In 2016, our community published 545 blog posts!
We think that’s an amazing accomplishment because we know our community of educators gives two of their most precious resources — their time and expertise — to make Tchers’ Voice a home for innovative, passionate ideas and a place where we can all get better together.
It’s been another amazing year at Teaching Channel!
As 2016 comes to a close, we’d like to take a little time to reflect on the work we’ve done together.
As you know, growth is at the core of Teaching Channel’s mission. We believe in not only teacher professional growth and student growth, but also growth in what we do behind the scenes, so we can continue to help build this vibrant and engaging teacher community. This year the Tch team set out to innovate and reimagine the kinds of resources you can find at Teaching Channel.
This year Teaching Channel released some really amazing videos that were quite popular. Your clicks told us you loved learning about Number Talks, especially with ELL students. Your likes made videos such as Reading Workshop in Kindergarten and Assessing with Twitter-Style Exit Slips feel loved. But there are a few videos that we at Tch think are great that seem to have missed your “must watch” lists. Well, it’s time to give those videos the love they deserve.
Check out these eight that are great from 2016.
Are you concerned about the health of our democracy? Do you feel like schools aren’t doing enough to prepare young people to fully leverage the potential of the digital age or to avoid the pitfalls? Do you wonder how to prepare young people to address the great challenges of our age from climate change to racism?
Managing a class isn’t easy! Before you can teach content, you need to create a positive learning environment (check out our Class Culture Deep Dive for tips on how to do that). Building culture is a long process, one that eventually makes management easier. But what do you do when you need your class to calm down and focus? Or how do you deal with a student who is outright defiant?