Tag Archives: coaching

A Gift to Remember

We teachers  are part of the village that raises our communities’ children, but somehow it seems we are increasingly the only ones being held accountable.  So much is continually asked of us, expected of us, and evaluated of us that many teachers are leaving the profession and fewer are choosing this path as a vocation. We need to find ways to support one another in an increasingly stressful  life as teachers. As an instructional coach, I see part of my job as encouraging greater self-care and supporting teachers hearts and minds as well as their professional learning.

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This year I wanted to give a small gift to our teachers that might make a meaningful impact.  I’ve been practicing greater mindfulness in the past few years that has helped me find a better balance in my personal and professional life, as well as in experiencing a greater sense of harmony and presence in my day to day life. A weekly yoga practice, a daily meditation practice, and lots of ‘Zen’ reading has fueled this awakening.

But until it becomes a habit, it can be easy to forget to be more mindful. So I wanted to gift a reminder to my colleagues that might help them. I gave each a mindful marble as well as this letter:

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My hope is that we are able to reduce some of the stress in our lives and develop a deeper sense of gratitude for what IS and worry less about what COULD or SHOULD be.  I would love to hear how you are practicing self-care and welcome ideas for how we can support one another in the coming year(s) and open our hearts and minds to more meaningful experiences.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

One More Off My TBR Stack!

hey kiddoHEY, KIDDO by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

A powerful graphic memoir by author/illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka, this left me with greater appreciation for his artistic success and deeper empathy for our children growing up in homes with addiction. Krosoczka offers us glimpses into his life that are raw and real; heartbreaking at times and inspiring at others. He cleverly incorporates original artwork from his childhood and teen years, as well as letters from his incarcerated mother to share his story. This is no pity party, but it is sure to move you. With difficult subject matter and authentic obscenities I’d say this is a powerful window-book for older readers, but could be an inspiring mirror-book for children growing up in similar situations. A National Book Award Finalist, this novel deserves all the praise it is receiving. You can see Jarrett’s TED Talk about his journey from boy to artist here:

 

 

 

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Sketchnote Coaching

I’m back to blogging after a bit of a hiatus. I finished my second book for Stenhouse and turned over the manuscript recently, so my writing time was pretty focused. I’ll write more about that process, but today I wanted to share a new way I’ve been using sketchnoting in classrooms.

During this year of coaching, as teachers have asked me to observe lessons, I’ve been sketchnoting the activity, interactions, and movement of the class and teacher with visual notes. These have become a powerful tool for post observation conferences.

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As I take notes, I try very hard to be non-evaluative and encourage teachers to self-reflect and self-evaluate their lessons. Sketchnoting has made that so much easier for me. I capture what I see in words and images that are not filtered through my descriptive vocabulary.  This has opened up greater conversations with teachers, and they love keeping a copy of the sketchnote for their portfolios.

This last week I tried something new. I often ask the teachers what they are focusing in their lessons, what their learning targets or success criteria may be, or even what they want me to notice-this guides my observation and allows me to get targeted feedback. However, this time I created a color key for the literacy areas Caroline, a 2nd grade teacher, was trying to incorporate into her science lesson. I sketchnoted her lesson and then afterwards asked her to reflect on her lesson with those areas in mind. Where did she feel like she was able to incorporate them? Where did the students engage with them? She then coded the sketchnote with those colors as we discussed the lesson.

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Before color coding

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After color coding

Caroline told me this was the best observation she ever had. She is already an incredibly reflective teacher, and this let her tangibly reflect and document her self-assessment.  I think this could be a powerful tool for teachers to use when observing student group or independent work as well.

If you haven’t tried sketchnoting yet, I’d encourage you to check out some resources over the summer. I’ll be presenting with Tanny McGregor and Buffy Hamilton at ILA in Austin on sketchnoting. I’ll share more information on this in future blogs as well.  You can check out my Padlet of resources to get started.

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One More Off My TBR Stack!

Screen Shot 2018-06-02 at 8.49.43 AMGhost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Jerome is shot and killed by a police officer who mistakes his toy gun for a real weapon. The story is told from his perspective as a ghost as he watches his family’s agonizing struggle to seek justice for his death. The only human who can see Jerome is the police officer’s daughter Sarah, who is also struggling as her family’s life has been upended. Sarah wants to right a wrong done by her father and help Jerome, but she isn’t sure how. Jerome also meets another ghost-Emmett Till- who was lynched in 1955 and is the presumed leader of the ghost boys-murdered young black men. What does justice look like? How do people (or ghosts) heal from these tragedies. How do we face unconscious bias in our world? Jewell Parker Rhodes’ book may help start that conversation for many readers as she shows us not everything is as black and white as we see it.