Expert Response

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Middle School: Creating a Character

Imagine a coaching conversation

clip One approach for conducting a post-observation coaching conversation, adapted from the Santa Cruz New Teacher Center, starts with the coach asking the teacher who has been observed some version of the question, "What do you think was successful in that lesson?" After giving the teacher time and encouragement to think along those lines, the coach then turns to "What challenges or concerns do you have?"


Here is one possible conversation, when the coach calls the teacher’s attention to her use of the countdown to gain the students' attention.

Coach: I noticed that when you did the countdown, some of students still weren’t quiet and looking at you when you got to 0.
Teacher: Yeah, I tried to start but some still were talking and messing with other stuff. I had to wait again.
Coach:  You did, but they went with you that time. Can you think of how that was different?
Teacher: Different? I wasn’t counting. I was just waiting.
Coach: Mmmm. When you were doing the count down, I noticed that you were looking at your notes and talking to the student who was picking up the books, talking to some other students, while you were trying to count. What do you think would happen if you were quiet as you counted?

clipCompare your observations to what some other coaches noticed in this segment.

What went well?

The teacher kept a positive, calm tone, even when redirecting students.

Using a student to review what happened in the previous lesson was a good strategy.

The teacher followed the review with a clear statement about the work they were going into-writing a play.

The teacher was aware that she did not have all the students’ attention and stopped.

From the assignment description we hear, the students got to choose which of their earlier writings would become a play.

The teacher directed the students to be metacognitive and to talk with their peers, explaining why they had selected a particular piece to turn into a play.

She circulated among the groups while the peer discussion was going on.

She gave clear directions about handraising when surveying students about the pieces they’d chosen.

She directed the students to think about details relating to their character. The guidelines in the handout, which would have been distributed after the segment, would help develop their ideas further.

What were some concerns?

Time cues and countdowns are good strategies, but it is important for the teacher to focus on getting students’ attention. The teacher herself did not follow her first countdown focus.

She was inconsistent in the countdown procedure and then had to use other strategies to get students’ attention.

The teacher seemed inconsistent in her awareness of and response to off-task behavior.

During the video, it seemed that the teacher had to re-explain the task to several groups. If she had given the worksheet as an organizer before the pair work, the assignment would have been clearer.

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