Lead, follow or get out of the way.
My daughter Ahna and I were driving when I spotted flashing lights in my rearview mirror several blocks behind us. I signaled and parked in the right shoulder of the road.
“Why are you stopping?” Ahna asked.
“It’s our job as drivers to get out of the way so the police or fire fighters can help whoever needs it,” I told her.
“Why stop all the way though?” she asked.
As the sirens wailed past I had Ahna watch how fast the vehicles traveled and how the safest way to do that was creating a clear path.
“It’s good when everyone pulls over then,” she summed up.
As a coach I’ve had to learn to spot flashing lights and pull over. A few years ago we started facilitating workshops to score student writing together. The first quarter we did it after school. I got several emails asking if we could please plan it as release time instead. So the next quarter I advocated for release time. I got the same number of emails complaining that we needed to go back to the after school model. Now superficially it may have appeared, “You can’t please everyone,” but I had a feeling we were on to something. The teachers who wanted release time said, “I can’t do this important work after teaching a full day” and the others said, “I want to be with my students and can focus much better at the end of the day.”
The next year I figured out a model that allowed teachers to choose whether they’d get a half-day release or after school professional development hours. I proposed this to our administrators by saying, “No teacher is saying this assessment work isn’t important to their instruction, they are just saying we need to let them choose when it happens.” When the numbers were all in, most grade levels were split 50/50. Half the teachers requested the half day, and the other half met us after school.
It seems counterintuitive to say that it’s part of a teacher leader’s job to help figure out how to get out of the way, but it’s true. If the other drivers and I clear the path, teachers can speed on with urgency and purpose. In Ahna’s words, it’s good when everyone pulls over then.
This week we look at student research online. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Contributor, Choice Literacy
Heather Rader is an instructional coach in Washington State. Her Choice Literacy publications include the book Side by Side: Short Takes on Best Practice for Teachers & Literacy Leaders and the DVD On the Same Page. You can find her “Coach to Coach” blog at www.heatherrader.com.
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Here are three features from the Choice Literacy archives to read when you’re considering online research with students.
Bill Bass has advice for Helping Students Evaluate Online Video for Research at the high school level:
Chris Lehman shares a lot of good advice on student research in this podcast:
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Gretchen Taylor finds Streamlining Research Check-ins in her middle school classroom is easy to do when she uses a simple online tool to eliminate a mountain of paper:
Can kindergartners do informational writing? Keri Archer finds the answer is yes, as she applies Common Core standards to her classroom in Penguins Are Amazing!:
Maria Caplin explains four changes she is making in her fifth-grade classroom with writing instruction in Common Core Research Shifts:
In this week’s video, Andrea Smith’s fourth graders brainstorm next steps for their research project on owl habitats, which includes writing a research proposal:
Gretchen Schroeder continues her Shakespeare and the Common Core series on teaching the classics in high school with Act II: Understanding Hamlet Through Close Reading:
That’s all for this week!