I’m almost finished packing…
Amanda and I will take part in the Coaching part of the institute on Thursday and Friday this week. Before I went to my first Coaching Instititue, I had no idea what it would entail. The first one I attended was in May of 2008 at Teacher’s College in New York City. Little did I know that I would be made to teach and coach alongside perfect strangers from all over the country in a random classroom in New York City.
The participants were basically told “Go out on a limb. It will feel akaward, but you’ll learn a ton.” Akaward turned out to be an understatement, but I learned so much. And it really pushed my teaching forward. That’s why I continue to go to these types of professional development experiences. I’ll never be finished learning how to be a better teacher or how to support other teachers as a coach.
So what happens at these institutes? Amanda and I will be in different small groups with other coaches from the region that we have gotten to know over the last few years. In our groups, we will run labsites on Thursday in classrooms at HKIS Lower and Upper Primary. The teacher will provide us with a teaching point, but we will have to decide who is going to do what parts of the teaching across the workshop that day. We will teach in front of each other and probably a couple of teachers from HKIS as well.
We will video the labsites and talk through what we did that worked and what we could improve on- not just the teaching portion , but the work we do as coaches in the labsite as well. It’s always unnerving, putting yourself out there in front of strangers with the intent of actually picking it all apart later. But time spent thinking though one lesson carefully impacts all the thinking I will do about subsequent lessons and labsites I might organize.
Of course, there will also be time spent learning from the experts. Maggie Moon will lead us in thinking about supporting teachers in teaching small groups effectively, how to run topic specific labsites for teachers across grade levels, and how to make conferring toolkits for use in reading workshop.
We will work with Matt Glover to learn about ways to help teachers foster motivation and energy in their units of study with younger writers.
And we will work with each other to learn what other schools are doing, the challenges they are having, and how we can tackle those challenges productively.
This will be my 5th coaching institute and every time I come away feeling energized and totally overwhelmed. I always learn so much, and I also realize how much I have to learn. I am really excited about the next few days.
Maya Nelson, the principal at HKIS in the Lower Primary and former TAS teacher, tells me that there are 30 participants for the Coaching Institute and 220 for the weekend Literacy Institute. I am thrilled that so many of our TAS colleagues will be there this weekend so we can continue the conversation around lifting the level of our teaching.