A coaching cycle is a focused and sustained on-the-job professional development, that allows for deep professional conversations. Therefore, it is an ideal approach to try out and reflect on student learning and teaching strategies. At Graded, we use Diane Sweeney’s student-centered coaching model as guideline for our work. This model focuses on student learning and data, looking for growth within a 4 to 6 weeks coaching cycle.
If you wonder what it looks like to be in a coaching cycle, take a look at this example from Social Studies 9. It was a partnership between Mr. Adam Pierce, Social Studies teacher, and Mrs Silvana Meneghini, Upper School Teaching & Learning Coach.
Start with YOUR Interest
The Social Studies 9 coaching cycle started with a resource brought by Mr Pierce, as he had just come back from the Assessment Training Institute. The resource was a Chapter on Unit Plans from Myron Dueck’s Book “Grading Smarter not Harder”.
Mr. Pierce was interested in exploring learning targets as part of his Unit plan that would be shared with students, allowing them to be more in control of their own learning. So this is how we started and developed our coaching cycle goal.
GOAL: Define and Don’t Let Go!
An important characteristic of a coaching cycle is the initial definition of a learning goal for students and a continuous effort to keep the goal at the front of all the coaching work. Because teaching is such a complex endeavour, it can be very easy to side track to any of the related issues. Being focused allows for more precise follow-up of a learning goal.
In the Social Studies 9 coaching cycle with Mr Pierce, the goal was:
The focus of our investigation was students ability to self-regulate, managing their own learning as much as possible towards the achievement of the learning targets for the Unit. A measure of success would be effective self-regulation.
Fall in Love with Classroom Data: Your Guide and Reward
Data keeps us grounded in a coaching cycle goal, allowing focused action and reflection. There is a range of data options that can be used, not all of them have to be sophisticated statistics. As our coaching cycle goal involved student self-regulation, we had to use data that demonstrated that type of ability. As part of their self-regulation process, students had to constantly write blog reflections on activities that helped them close the gap towards the learning targets. Those reflections were part of the data.
We also needed data to measure student achievement and check where there was growth. The learning targets for the unit were assessed through an essay around proposed questions. The rubric for this type of writing task assessed whether students were able to provide Claim-Evidence-Analysis, showing critical thinking and historical argument writing skills in the application of knowledge. As the same rubric/assessment type was used in the previous unit, we decided to use both units’ Summative Claim-Evidence-Analysis scores as a measure of growth. The chart below shows significant improvement in students ability to provide a solid Claim-Evidence-Analysis, specially considering the increased amount of content, and therefore complexity, in the current unit.
Dig Deeper into Research-Based Instruction
As we started with Mr Pierce’s interest in Myron Dueck’s Unit Plans , we went deeper on his perspective by making a connection with the research-based work of Jan Chappuis on Seven Strategies of Assessment for Learning.
Engage in Reflective Professional Conversation
How often and for how long do you have the luxury of engaging in deep professional conversation? When do you have support to look at student data to manage progress ?
The reflection conversation with Mr Pierce generated many take aways, beneficial for his classroom and also for his department. We were both very pleased to go over student reflection data, which showed us how students are able to identify their own needs and act on those needs, when they have clear learning goals and models. As a teacher, Mr Pierce did not have the time to read all students reflections, which were many throughout the unit. But as a coach, I read each one of the reflections because they were part of our coaching cycle data. That gave us a lot more insight and we felt more secure of our conclusions.