A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to participate in what we (ESSD instructional coaches) deemed "Dave Week." Dave Holden (@DavidHolden) is a co-founder of the American Alliance for Innovative Systems (AAIS). As our consultant, Dave works with the instructional coaches in our district with two primary goals: (1) Helping instructional coaches develop understanding of the coaching cycle and other roles related to coaching; (2) Increasing our understanding of instructional practices and demonstration classrooms.
Developing Instructional Coaches
Every building in the Excelsior Spring School District has an instructional coach. Our primary objective is to support teachers in ways that have a direct impact on student achievement. This work looks differently depending on the teacher we work with, the ultimate goal of our collaboration and the area in which the teacher is looking for support.
We learned about the different roles that instructional coaches can take on and how to be as effective as possible. I am excited to try out some of the coaching strategies that Dave shared with us during this time.
A Focus on Instructional Practices
Academic language, in my opinion, is one area that is often over-looked as teachers plan instruction and is also an area that can have the greatest impact on students.
All vocabulary can be sorted into three tiers.
A second aspect of developing academic language that is incredibly important is developing a student's ability to participate in Academic Conversations. Academic Conversations foster deeper thinking and understanding of topics that teachers cover in class. Academic Conversations need to be explicitly taught at first but should develop into a common practice in a classroom. These conversations lend themselves to a socratic seminar that many educators have begun to implement.
Two resources are embedded below, the discussion rules and conversation stems. Click here to make a copy and customize the discussion rules for your classroom. Click here to access the conversation stems.
The most effective educators use formative assessment on a daily basis (arguably, more than once a day). I'll be writing a blog post soon about formative assessment, but here are a few key components that help formative assessment to be successful:
Critical Thinking Routines
Our final focus during "Dave Week" was the study of critical thinking routines. Instead of giving information about the background of critical thinking, I've decided to lay out 3 of my favorite routines. If you have ideas for additional routines, please list them in the comments section below!
Here are a few book recommendations related to the content of this blog post and the work we did with David Holden. Also, feel free to check out his website if you would like to explore this information! His website is: http://www.aais.us/
Danny Todtfeld | Elkhorn Elementary Instructional Coach | Cross-posted
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