My understanding of coaching deepens with every year I coach. After this last year, I'm firming up my conviction that strategic planning is a key activity for a coach to be successful. By strategic planning I mean how we design the coaching work that we'll do with a coachee--the work plan that we create, the goals within it, and the identification of the activities we'll engage in in order to help our coachee meet her goals. That's part one.
Part two is how we monitor that work plan throughout the year. Monthly written reflections are extremely useful in assessing our progress on a plan and making necessary adjustments. A mid-year assessment is critical. These pausing points offer us a chance to recognize our coachee's growth, see our own success as coaches, and correct course, if need be. Finally, an End of Year Report and reflection is essential.
This year (2012-13) I led a team of instructional and leadership coaches who worked with some of Oakland's most struggling middle schools. Each coach wrote End of Year Reports on their clients, describing the growth the teacher or leader made and providing evidence of that growth. This process allowed my coaches to gain deeper understanding of themselves as coaches, as well as of their clients, and allowed them to clearly identify next steps in their work.
Below are a few excerpts from a report written by Anna Martin, an ELA coach on my team. I'm hoping that these excerpts will whet your appetite to read more. The report in its entirety (Here it is: A. Martin EOY Report.doc) is remarkable.
The first part of the report asks for a narrative description of the change. Here's a slice of what Anna wrote:
At the beginning of the year, Jasmine's classroom, while relatively behavior management issue-free, was almost completely lacking in terms of planning. Her pacing in her first month included 7 minutes in a single lesson to pass out a single piece of paper to each student; she did not have learning targets or agendas posted and the structure of the class was almost entirely teacher-centered. She would sit at the front behind a desk and call on mainly volunteers to respond to questions or to read out loud while the rest of the class sat there and followed along. In charting an observation I scripted on 9.11.13, over a period of 50 minutes, there were 24 individual responses to questions (7 called out, 14 from volunteers--6 of which were the same student, and 3 non-volunteers) at a rate of about 1 question/response every 2-3 minutes. There were 0 opportunities for students to speak to each other or interact. She got up once to monitor a single students' work in the entire 50 minute period. She gave 5 positive praise comments during that time that consisted of "Very good" and "good." She did not have a clear learning target posted or an agenda and the lesson involved 30 minutes of reviewing a worksheet they wrote answers to the day before, and 20 minutes of reading aloud from their class novel with occasional comprehension questions being asked. The lesson ended when the bell rang and the teacher waited for the student reading to stop and then said, "Okay, I will see you guys after lunch."
See all those specific examples? Anna goes on to narrate the many changes in this teacher's class.
Part two of the report asks for "Specific Indicators of Progress." Here's a segment of what Anna wrote:
- Jasmine has moved from about 100% of the time not circulating the room (and around 40-50% in December) to about 80%+ of every lesson circulating.
- Jasmine has begun included varied checks for understanding (exit tickets, think-write-share, equity sticks, and circulating as individuals are working or pairs are sharing) into most lessons (up from 100% use of oral, individual response to teacher-posed questions checks at the beginning of the year).
- Jasmine occasionally (once or more a week) uses exit tickets at the end of her lessons as a check for understanding, which is up from not knowing what an exit ticket was as of late September.
- Jasmine is using a timer to increase the effectiveness of her transitions. She has moved from 20 minute Do Nows to 7 minutes.
- Her circulation is allowing her to closely observe/monitor about 1-2 students' work per minute compared to monitoring 1 student every 2-3 minutes in January and monitoring almost no students' work during a lesson at the beginning of the year.
Other elements of the report include "Sources of Evidence," "Contributing Factors," and "Lessons Learned and Next Steps."
Anna's reports are exemplary. She supported 5 teachers, and for each one wrote a report ranging from 8-15 pages long. These reports provided me, as her manager, with a tremendously detailed and vivid picture of her work this year. They showed me her growth as a coach, as well as the growth her teachers had made. They illustrated what is working in our professional development plans for our schools, as well as what needs improvement.
When I met with Anna to review her work this year, she repeatedly mentioned how much she had enjoyed and learned from writing the End of Year Reports. I want you to hear her reflections--they're more compelling than me telling you that these reports are important. So in early July, Anna Martin will be my guest blogger and she'll tell this story. Stay tuned!
And if you'd like to read more about End of Year Reports and reflections, see Chapter 14 in my book, The Art of Coaching.