Joshua Parker: My name is Joshua Parker and I'm an instructional coach for English Language Arts at Paul Laurence Dunbar Senior High School in Washington, DC.
I've said many times that in the end what will save teaching is teaching and what is fundamental about coaching and getting better at coaching is learning how to continue to improve the teaching aspect of it. Coaching isn't telling. Coaching is walking with someone and helping them understand where they need to step next.
Let's go. Take a seat.
I learned the coaching cycle through my own teaching, which has a lot of elements of it, but also through training in my district, which taught me that it's important for adults to differentiate their process to include a pre-observation process, then a debrief after the observation.
Last year my focus was on creating the infrastructure for great instruction to happen. This year, my focus is around two principle components. The first is being able to make meaning together collaboratively and the second is using observational data to improve the feedback process.
In the past we've talked about students writing independently because we know on upcoming assessments they're going to be reading something and then having to react to it. One of the teachers that I coach, his name is [Marky Colquitt 00:01:33].
Today I want to move us into text-dependent questions.
He's a second year teacher. He's somebody that I have found to be coachable and someone who's always ready to try something new.
Marky: Mr. Parker worked with me today to improve my skills of creating and executing text-dependent questions.
Joshua Parker: Let's look at some of the data from the last time we were together.
We started with looking at the prior observation that we did. We did some meaning-making with that and then we set goals for the learning and the teaching for today.
What I want to do is get our script together.
I love that I am typing a script rather than just summarizing different points because when you see dialog you're able to really dig into what's happening.
Marky: The thing that jumps out at me first is that there seems to be a lot of teacher-student interaction.
Joshua Parker: Yeah.
Marky: It looks like I'm asking the question, the student responded.
Joshua Parker: Right.
Marky: I'm asking the question, the student responded, and that just carries on.
Joshua Parker: As you look at teacher and then students interacting in discussion, we want to look at how do we release the students to owning more of their work.
Joshua Parker: I can see us branching further where there's some independent discussion to get them ready for the work. What I do like in what I see though ... you're asking probing questions, which we've talked about. In the future, what I'd like us to talk about is how can we get the students to ask these questions?
Joshua Parker: So we did a very general understanding of text-dependent questions in the pre-observation and we set different markers for what we wanted to see.
All right, let me go into what you gave me today so we can look at that real quick.
Marky: I wish that I would have asked more. Most of the [time 00:03:16] it's been a question where it's independent.
Joshua Parker: All right, that's fine. You think you want to ask more?
Marky: I think I will.
Joshua Parker: I like the silence, then that ... little think-pair-share.
Marky: Right, right.
Joshua Parker: You're reading aloud possibly the first part, first paragraph and so then you model this question.
Joshua Parker: Once they get to it.
Marky: Correct. I was thinking the same thing.
Joshua Parker: So when you see this working right, you're asking questions that they can't necessarily answer quickly but they need to look at the text for a little while and use that magic term, grapple with the text. Gotta grapple.
Marky: Gotta grapple.
Joshua Parker: Gotta grapple the text.
I think that's something I'm going to look for in your lesson today. I'm going to look for text-dependent questions. I'm going to look for any independent discussion that's going on. I'll be taking notes in the back, per usual. We'll go over this, of course, afterwards. I'm excited. Let's go.
Marky: I think I'm ready.
Joshua Parker: All right.
Marky: Good morning.
Class: Good morning.
Marky: How y'all feel?
Today I have the students working on looking at Nathaniel Hawthorne's, The Birthmark. What I had them do was open up with a Socratic seminar.
You'll have eight minutes, in a circle ... you may begin.
And that seminar discussed major ideas in society and how society shapes, or can shape, our perception of what beauty should look like.
Student: What beauty said is they say that women is supposed to be thick and then other things says you're supposed to be skinny. How do they expect us to come to this whole thing of perfection if they keep changing it? Like it doesn't make sense.
Student: I agree. I feel like society makes it seems like you have to look a certain way.
Student: But you can't always blame on society because that's a person's choice whether they want to look like everybody else or if they want to look different from everybody else.
Marky: Good. All right, this discussion will directly inform our lesson for the day.
After that, we led into the reading of The Birthmark. A long time ago there lived a skilled scientist who-
The students had to analyze the text, look for juxtapositions, and then answer text-dependent questions.
What juxtaposition do you all notice in paragraph one? Perstephanie?
Perstephanie: Love and science.
Marky: Okay, good. That's the one that stuck out to me as well. What evidence do you have to support that there is a juxtaposition between love and science? Perstephanie?
Perstephanie: Towards the end of the paragraph where it's like, it's not unusual for the love of science to compete with the love of a woman.
Marky: Okay yes, very good. I'm going to stop there. I'm going to give y'all time to read in pairs. Make sure, once again, that we're annotating for juxtapositions. When I see that we are done, we will move right into the [exit slip 00:05:52]. You all may begin.
Joshua Parker: What are your thoughts right now on how things are going?
Marky: I think it's okay. I like the fact that-
Joshua Parker: Sometimes when we have an observation, it's days before the teacher gets feedback. So, I think providing him questions and feedback during the lesson helped him to understand what he needed to work on already.
Marky: I'm seeing it was a little bit awkward.
Joshua Parker: So what are some things you could do to tie it up and then prepare them for the assessment? What are you thinking about?
Marky: So the first thing I would like to do is circulate the room to gather some data to first of all see their annotations. And then to see if they're all right trying to answer the question independently.
Joshua Parker: I'll look for that and I'll also check with you.
Marky: Thank you.
Joshua Parker: Okay.
Student: I think it's more being-
Marky: I really like what you're saying. The key point now is, is there anything that supports what you said?
Student: It talked about how the mark makes me an object of your horror and disgust.
Student: Wait. I understand what you're saying, but what if it's [C 00:06:59] because she loves her husband, I mean her husband-
Marky: Whose hand do you think that could represent?
Student: The hand represents his hold on her heart and how she was trying to hold on to their love, but he couldn't accept it. So he had to change it and make it perfect.
Marky: Good. Who made her? Who made Georgiana?
Student: [inaudible 00:07:23]
Marky: Okay, so with that in mind, what do you think the hand represents?
Student: Oh, she was an angel and ... not angel but I guess she was trying to help him.
Marky: Do we notice anything wrong with Aylmer?
Student: Yes, he wants to be perfect.
Marky: Good. How do you know that?
Student: Because [inaudible 00:07:38]
Marky: Very good. That's really good.
Joshua Parker: All right, listen, consider your timing now so now you're going to have to transition it real quick and think about the timing now.
Marky: Okay. All right.
How do you think that Georgiana could be an allegory? Iana, what do you think?
Iana: You know, while we were talking about earlier how society wants to shape us into this perfect kind of mold and I feel like he was trying to do that with his wife ... but I felt like it was not out of hate, but kind of out of love.
Marky: Good. Now we're going to move right into the [exit slip 00:08:17]. You'll have the rest of the period to work and you may begin.
No big deal. Yes, you are more than welcome to take this home and bring this home with you tomorrow. Great job. Thank you very much and I will see you all tomorrow. Have a lovely day.
Joshua Parker: The last part is fine. Even if it was cut off by the bell, I think they got a lot of it. We'll talk about pacing later, but I think it was a really good one.
Marky: Okay. Thank you.
Joshua Parker: Okay, before I tell you any ideas that I have or any possible adjustments I'd like you to look at our running record and then tell me what comes up for you as you continue. So, take a minute.
Marky: Just thinking from where we were last time it looks like there was more student to student interaction.
Joshua Parker: I'm telling you, I was really excited because as I was scripting I couldn't keep up with the students that were talking to the other students.
Joshua Parker: Throughout the lesson, what I was really encouraged to see was that they continued to interact with one another.
Marky: Another thing that I did was asking more probing questions.
What is the significance of Hawthorne using a hand as her birthmark? Why is that so important? What do you all think?
Student: I think it was put there. [crosstalk 00:09:39]
Marky: Think about that as you continue reading. All right, why is it so significant that there would be hand right there? A stamp as a hand. Think about that. I'll leave you with that.
Student: It maybe was a past relationship that she can't get over.
Marky: Okay, we're going to move into the [exit slip 00:09:56]. I do have a few questions that I would like to ask you all briefly-
I wish that the pacing had been a little better. I think some parts took longer than what I had anticipated.
Joshua Parker: What I wonder about is, did the increase in your questioning take you off-track and potentially impact the end of the lesson? I want to talk about this idea about text-dependent questions along with pacing in a lesson. Where can you lose time easiest?
Marky: I would say the middle.
Joshua Parker: Yeah, so the middle is a key area and also how you begin.
Joshua Parker: So here's the connection to pacing. You heard me talk about guiding questions ... as you use questions that relate to craft choice and voice, you can use these questions to guide the pace of instruction.
In your lesson, you would say that after the beginning ends, I want them to at least have a grounding understanding of perceptions of beauty. So you stick a guided question right there.
Marky: Oh, okay.
Joshua Parker: Then, as you go along I want them to understand that authors use juxtaposition to give comments about beauty. So, you ask a check up question here. And then towards the end, since their objective was to compose an argument, you want them to take a position or a stand on beauty as a result of what they read in the text and then you ask your check up question here.
Joshua Parker: So, you're asking guided, text-dependent questions as you go along the lesson so that you can continue to stay on track.
Marky: What was some juxtapositions that you all noticed through your reading of The Birthmark? Xavier.
Xavier: I would say hidden and exposed.
Marky: Can you elaborate on that a little more? Can you pack it up for us?
There are some things, especially when we get into the heat of teaching, there a certain things that I can't see as far as my own performance is concerned, so having him in the class really helped today and it made the lesson more effective.
Joshua Parker: I also liked how you asked, how did you know that. You want to keep emphasizing that.
I think there's always room for improvement, especially in things that I'm doing. Going forward, I want to make sure that I provide him with more resources, including student work, and also their progress towards a standard and hopefully video of the practice so that we can combine those data pieces together to create a more accurate picture of the learning and teaching that happened in that space.
Marky: I do want them to realize that the units are like a musical, like they do interconnect.