Podcast: Coaching Virtually Without Observation | Steve Barkley

Podcast: Coaching Virtually Without Observation

Coaching Virtually Without Observation

There are situations where the opportunity for a coach to observe the teaching and learning process is not available. Steve models a post conference in this podcast that illustrates a coach’s ability to support teacher reflections following her project based learning activity. Ending a post conference with a pre-conference for their next coaching conversation is included.

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PODCAST TRANSCRIPTSteve [intro]: 00:00 Hello and welcome to the Steve Barkley Ponders Out Loud podcast. Instructional coaches and leaders create the environment that supports teachers to continually imagine, grow and achieve. They model an excitement for learning that teachers in turn model for students. This podcast is dedicated to promoting the important aspects of instructional leadership. Thanks for listening.

Steve: 00:27 Coaching virtually without observation. I’ve only stressed that a teacher does in pre and post that has the real impact on teacher growth. The following post-conference occurred after my pre-conference and the teacher’s work with grade one students. Having not observed the students and teachers, the conversation is based on the teacher’s observation and reflections. Note that we end with a pre-conference so post-conference turns into a pre-conference for the next coaching conference.

Steve: 01:15 Hi, Page. I’m really excited to hear about your your experience with the classroom architecture project. So I’m wondering for a starter, if you could talk a little bit about where did the students’ responses and engagement match what you had predicted when you were looking at the activity and planning to use it?

Page: 01:47 Yeah. So in the initial product, I had them illustrate our existing classroom and I introduced that as sort of a shape punt as well. So walking around the classroom, identifying 3d and 2d shapes, and then going back to draw from a bird’s eye view, our classroom. And they were quite engaged in that process. I think scaffolding it with going and identifying shapes was a good baseline assessment for me. I was able to walk around and engage in conversation with kids and have them point out and use math language to describe some of the objects in our classroom as it is.

Steve: 02:57 So let me check on that. When you looked at the activity and you were doing the planning, if there was a movie running in your head as to what it was going to look like when you did it with the kids, this piece matched up – that the kids responded the way you thought and kind of laid out your plan that they would.

Page: 03:18 Yes, there were definitely some additional scaffolds that I had to put in that I maybe did not necessarily plan for. I’ll say that we did a geometry unit leading up to this to this task and so I did have to provide some additional vocabulary scaffolds for some of my students in that observation of our classroom. So I had to scramble a little bit there and pull some – I had them get their math journals out and just pull those and walk around with their math journal to have that vocabulary in front of them for those more visual learners. So that was one thing I did not anticipate happening because we had done this unit, but was able to make that adjustment. And it worked.

Steve: 04:25 Any spot where you’d say there was a big surprise in the student response compared to the movie that ran in your head as you were planning?

Page: 04:46 I think that their understanding of bird’s eye view was challenging. So when drawing, some of them began by drawing more three dimensional objects in our classroom, as opposed to, you know, that idea of looking down and making things all 2d. So we had to revisit that 2d versus 3d shape difference. And I also showed them some examples of some maps that were drawn in different forms. So one being like well on Google maps, you can click to have it more 3d and to zoom around and then have also the top down view. So that was something again that we had to revisit and I had to break down a bit further than I anticipated initially.

Steve: 05:54 So when we when we had pre-conference, you had mentioned a focus on student listening and on reflection. So I’m wondering what you observed as you as you taught or coached those listening and reflection skills.

Page: 06:17 Yeah. So after we did the mapping illustration to start the project, I had the students as a whole group, list sort of how we learn best in our classroom and share some ideas around, you know, what physical objects in our costume helped them learn, but also what parts of our classroom they enjoy learning in.

Page: 06:57 And so from there, I had them think of questions to ask and to ask each other to engage those kids that maybe didn’t want to in a whole group raise their hand to share more about, their preferred learning and tools that help them learn. So in that process having them come up with some interview questions that they could then as an architect go and in a small group ask each other, that, I had to coach a little bit, I had to I gave some examples to start like, how do you like to learn in our classroom? And have them try to come up with other types of questions like that. And in that lesson, I learned that, you know, having kids formulate questions is a challenging thing.

Page: 08:13 And we did generate, I would say four or five together that then helped them go off to these interviews, initial interviews with small groups and partners to get gather information from each other. So that piece again my initial thought would be, oh, they’ll be able to come up with lots of questions for each other about this it’s about them. But that was a little more challenging. In the actual speaking and listening portion, so when they did go off to interview each other, we talked a little bit about this in the pre conference here, but that anticipation of, you know, wait time. So asking a question and in the conversation, giving some wait time, it had to be modeled again and again, and I went around to each group and reminded them of that. And also in that piece, like you’re pausing to listen, what does listening look like? Listening looks like your eyes are on the speaker. You might be writing some notes down so you remember what your partner said. Those types of things, I use the rubric to go back and to have that available for me as I went around to check in with groups and with kids. But that piece, you know, we’re still working on it.

Steve: 09:57 I can tell you from from my coaching experience, I’ve had high school teachers have the same conversation with me that you’re having when they set out to do a an interview or begin a research piece. That framing questions is a skill that takes takes practice to develop as well as the conversation of being able to probe the next question off of something that the person responded.

Page: 10:31 Yeah. And I thought when I was planning of possibly just giving them the interview questions, but I do think the coming up with the learning list and then questions from there was an engaging experience for the kids even though it was challenging and required a lot of prompting and coaching on my part. I do think that it engaged them in a different way than me handing them a sheet of paper with pre-written questions on there.

Steve: 11:11 There’s a learning in the struggle is what I’m hearing.

Page: 11:16 Yeah. Yeah.

Steve: 11:17 You may have gotten a better “product” by handing them the questions, but then they would’ve missed the learning piece.

Page: 11:26 Exactly. Yeah. And it wouldn’t have been as personalized as this was. It was coming directly from them and it was for me, it was reflecting back that, okay, this is still still a piece that we’re we’re working on.

Steve: 11:48 Well, I really appreciated that you sent me the copy of the the rubric you were using. What’s your read of where your class progress is based on that rubric that you used?

Page: 12:08 I would say that the students are somewhere in between approaching and some meeting in some of those areas. I think that we worked a lot on the speaking part as far as staying on topic and using language from the unit of study that we’re in. So with speaking, I noticed a lot of that happening. Again, I mentioned, you know, the waiting time and the listening are still in that developing approaching standards section. And I think, you know, that makes sense to me. And that’s how I’ve rolled it out this year as the focus being on the speaking portion on using content vocabulary, on formulating questions and staying on topic and all of those good things. And I think the listening piece developmentally too, with six and seven year olds makes sense.

Page: 13:33 I think that, you know, it is truly developing and that’s okay for where they’re at. I would say that a lot of them, although it’s not being done as consistently they’re aware of it. And I mentioned those visual cues that I use like the speaking card and the listening card. And then I do think those help just to have them have and to look at like, I am now listening, the other person is seeking. And, you know, I think of myself as adults when we’re engaged in conversation, when someone says something we want to respond right away, like I want to interrupt that person often and say, oh, like, I have a connection to that. Or I was thinking that this, you know, that’s related and students do that same thing, but they just don’t have that filter to pause, to wait then to respond. So a lot of it’s self-control too and the excitement piece I love. I don’t want to I don’t want to squash that but, you know, thinking back it, just coming back to, what does what does a collaborative conversation look like and the purpose of the conversation? And just, coming back to those ideas and those goals.

Steve: 15:09 I’m sure that teachers in future years will appreciate that you worked with the six and seven year old kids on this, because it’s definitely an important learning how to learn skill. I’m wondering what your thoughts are on going to a second project here as part of our coaching work. Are you thinking you want to stay on the same student focus, or are you thinking that you might want to switch it over to something else?

Page: 16:04 I think that I would like the focus to change more to my questioning. And I know I mentioned that piece of wanting to observe how the, how the kids reflect and revise their work as they go. So I’m wondering, you know, how I’m supporting that process. I think for me as a teacher, that can get lost because there are you know, wwith these projects, students are all at different places. And so when I’m going around and conferencing with one student or a small group of students, how am I encouraging them to be reflective and have that growth mindset of this is not where the project ends, because I’ve done this, this, this, and this and it might look complete, what can I do to challenge those students to think differently and to further engage them in that design thinking process.

Steve: 17:38 Is that more of a one-on-one conversation or small group or whole class?

Page: 17:44 I’m envisioning it more to start, one-on-one. And then I think, from there, when I feel like I have a better understanding of where the kids are, then I can sort of group them like you know, these few kids have this, and this. And that tells me that I could push them in this direction and maybe they could work on it collaboratively. But at first, I think one on one too, to start.

Steve: 18:15 I’m wondering how you’d feel about maybe recording a couple of those so that you can go back and listen to do your reflection.

Page: 18:25 Yeah. I think that would be helpful.

Steve: 18:28 And I’ll step forward and say, if there’s one or two that you’d like to forward to me, I’d be happy to listen to them and use that
going into our going into our next conference.

Page: 18:40 That’d be great.

Steve: 18:43 Sound good?

Page: 18:43 Yeah.

Steve: 18:44 Alright. Thank you.

Page: 18:45 Thank you.

Steve: 18:47 It was great supporting pages reflections. I look forward to getting her tapes for our next conference. Thanks for listening. Thank

Steve [Outro]: 18:58 Thank you for listening. You can subscribe to Steve Barkley Ponders Out Loud on iTunes and Podbean. And please remember to rate and review us on iTunes. I also want to hear what you’re pondering. You can find me on Twitter @stevebarkley, or send me your questions and find my videos and blogs at barkleypd.com.

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