Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Coaching for Impact with Samantha Bennett

I had the pleasure of learning from the highly engaging, super positive Samantha Bennett at my local CESA this week. I saw Sam speak at WSRA last spring and was thrilled to learn from her again. She did not disappoint.

We began the day by asking questions, making connections and reflecting on three learning targets Sam had for us. They were...
  • I can articulate my beliefs about what matters most to teacher learning that impacts student learning.
    • I can support my beliefs with best-practice theory/research.
    • I can describe how my use of time aligns with my beliefs.
  • I can use research to analyze a professional development experience.
  • I can (re)design a learning experience for a teacher, a PLC, a school, or a district meeting that puts what matters MOST (backed by research) 'to work'.

We then spent some time reading pieces of articles and research that Sam has found helpful in her practice. She stressed the importance to know who "has your back". During the readings we looked for connections to our beliefs. I chose to read an excerpt from Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School by Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullen. I had read this book when it first came out and enjoyed reading through this passage. What really resonated with me was the following quote, "The more the student becomes the teacher and the more the teacher becomes the learner then the more successful the outcome." We must think about who is doing the work. Our students should be working harder than us and we should be spending the majority of the time observing and coaching them.

Sam then walked us her learning lab experience. It involved 8 steps which we jigsawed. Sam begins the lab with a prep email and then the host teacher writes a context letter back to Sam. The next steps include an observation, a response letter, co-planning, day 2 lab in which a group of teachers comes in to observe student learning, another response letter, teacher reflection on lab experience and then ripples are hopefully occurring due to the experience. One key component of this work is to get the teacher focusing on spending 2/3 of the workshop time with students engaged in their work. 

I look forward to infusing Sam's ideas for learning labs with Diane Sweeney's ideas for student-centered learning labs next year as we continue to use them as part of our professional development.

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