It is now the Spring semester of a wild school year, and all schools are open for 5 days of in-person instruction. What this means for students is that they are finally in person consistently with their teachers. What this means for teachers is that they have some consistency for their planning, and what this means for coaches is that observations of instruction can finally take place!
While last semester had a heavy focus on mindset and vision coaching, this semester, TFA Chattanooga has decided to focus on specific instructional skills sets to push overall successes and academic growth in the classrooms. All Corps Members have been split into two “pods” of coaching with two different skill focuses. All 1CM and 2CMs are either in the Learning Environment or Rigorous Instruction coaching pod, based on what the current needs are in the classroom.
The coaches have now been in to observe every CM in each partner school and have started a goal-based plan to increase the effectiveness of the learning environment or increase the effectiveness of the academic and instructional rigor in the lesson planning and delivery. Along with the observation/debrief cycles and classroom pop-ins for specific look-fors, each pod has had small group events to practice specific skills related to their area.
The impact has been that there are successes in the classrooms! Whether this is from more targeted support, teachers having more consistency with the district phases, PDs coming from the schools recently, may be too soon to tell. However, school-based instructional coaches have noted greater successes in the classrooms with clear and consistent routines, voicing and holding expectations, as well as deepening student discourse and thoughtful lesson plans. Observations from TFA coaches have also noted more effective learning environments for students and teachers to thrive in during instruction, as well as thoughtful questioning that push students to explain their understanding. Additionally, CMs have noted that they appreciate having different viewpoints from different coaches, enjoy the direct feedback that comes from observation debriefs, and feel like they have new tools to implement into instruction immediately.
Pod Coaching will continue through April, allowing May to have time for end of year conversations, reflection, and classroom testing. Yet, as Spring pushes forward, with Spring Break around the corner, more rounds of benchmark testing scheduled, and end of year assessment looming, we hope to continue to see the consistent growth in instructional moves that are, most importantly, creating more success moments with our students. The 2020/2021 school year is sure to end with teacher and student growth, alike.