Know thy students

April 22, 2010

Three wonderful teachers shared their strategies for getting to know their students, and all three are worthy contest winners. I hope you will enjoy reading what they do to develop a stronger understanding of who their students are as individuals. I am, as always, amazed by the brilliance and dedication of our teachers.

Tracey Moore

It is hard to get to know my students by teaching them math. I’ve always admired english teachers because they get to know their students through their writings.

The first day of class I give out a student information sheet. On the first page is all of the normal information…parent’s names, schedule, phone numbers, etc. On the back, however, I ask questions like:

What would you do if you were given a million dollars?
Who is someone you admire and why?
What do you think are the characteristics of a good teacher…a bad teacher?
Do you consider math to be something you are good at or a difficulty?

That night, my husband and I go through all of the sheets. We learn which of my students come from single parent homes (this year I have 5 students total that live with both mom and dad!). I learn who is self centered and who is giving (from their answer to the $1,000,000 question). I learn who is already defeated by math before they walk in the door Keep reading »

Using Data to Guide Your Goals

April 20, 2010

One role of an instructional coach is to help teachers reflect on how they deliver instruction and how students receive it. Such reflection can be facilitated in several ways, the most telling of which is data–data about student behavior, questioning techniques, student engagement, teacher movement.
Consider inviting me to your classroom to gather data and reflect with you. Here are a few ideas:

  • High-level Questioning: What questions are you asking your students? Where do they fall on Marzano’s taxonomy?
  • Reinforcement ratios: How are you reinforcing student effort and performance? To what extent is your feedback positive or negative? Keep reading »


April 8, 2010

I ended my last blog with observations about some of the collaboration that occurs between our biology teachers. Before Spring Break our Spanish teachers (Luisa Haynes, Ashley Watson, and Sara Dunham) allowed me the pleasure of observing collaboration in their department.

They learned together.
My involvement began with an hour-long training CPS training session the entire department, including Walt Spencer and Mike Lupo, scheduled with me. This training led to some consensus on the usefulness of the device and to an agreement about building a database of review questions using Exam View software.

They planned together.
On our recent work day, the three Spanish teachers spent several hours tackling a common problem. Keep reading »