Instructional Vision

Think of this metaphor: Before you get behind the wheel of a car, you’re handed a book with all the rules of the road. This is a vision for how an optimal roads system operates. Then, you’re asked to pass a written test to assure your understanding of this vision before you motor out into the real world to start making all those grey area decisions required of a driver. Eventually you might define your own vision—within the letter of the law—of what optimally safe and efficient driving looks like, but while you’re learning, your driving instructor asks you to adhere to the DMV’s.

The same goes, we believe, for teaching. In order to learn and grow as an instructor, you need to have some vision for what optimal instruction looks like. This vision ideally has specific language for how to talk about that optimal instruction.

And, crucially, in a coaching relationship, there needs to be alignment around this vision. If you can develop agreement between coach and teacher, then feedback will make sense because you’re both operating within explicitly clear parameters. You both know you need 30 feet between you and the car in front of you on the highway—it said so in the manual. Now here comes the coaching. “Hey, teacher. You’re at 25 feet, let’s just tap the brake lightly.”

By clarity of instructional vision, we mean that both the coach and the teacher that they’re coaching should have a shared idea of what a high functioning classroom looks like at any given moment of instruction. Importantly, we believe that that vision should be student-facing. That is, the picture should be of what the students should be saying, doing, and thinking at any given moment of the class.

“Students are on task, paying attention, and working hard throughout the lesson. They think the teacher notices their behavior, so if they do slip off task for a moment. They’re able to be redirected without much fuss or complaining.”

“The students also feel like the objective of the lesson is really clear to them and it’s rigorous too. It’s something that’s difficult, yet still attainable for the given class period.  They also know that the activities of the class are aligned with that objective. They’re helping them achieve the ultimate goal of the lesson. And they feel like they’re getting tons of opportunities for practice and receive feedback from their teachers, so they know where they are at any given moment. And they know how far they have to go to master the goal of the class.”

The moral of this story is not that you need a particular philosophy, it’s that you need a shared approach with the teacher that you’re coaching. An aligned instructional vision is a necessary prerequisite to an effective teacher-coaching relationship.

Continue reading “Instructional Vision”

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Welcome to Match Minis!

From Match Education: 

We started the Match Charter School in 2001, and over time — from trying, testing, and trying again— we have piled up know-how of all kinds. And now we are sharing our ideas and best practices with the world.

Each Mini represents one piece of wisdom from our work, packaged up and shipped to you.

Get started by watching these introductory videos to our teaching

Why You Should Learn a New Language

English is fast becoming the world’s universal language, and instant translation technology is improving every year. So why bother learning a foreign language? Linguist and Columbia professor John McWhorter shares four alluring benefits of learning an unfamiliar tongue.

English is fast becoming the world’s universal language, and instant translation technology is improving every year. So why bother learning a foreign language? Linguist and Columbia professor John McWhorter shares four alluring benefits of learning an unfamiliar tongue.

Creative English Classes

“Something especially important to avoid is poor structure of interactions due to repetition of teacher-student patterns. It’s a monotone design where students open their books, the teacher gives instructions and the flow continues with questions about content, students raise hands and provide mechanical answers…”

The aim of a creative English lesson is developing enough interest in participants as to generate a remarkable learning experience. This is only possible when its forming parts include variety in content and form.

Creativity in presenting the topic, in the statement of references, creativity that entails variety during introduction and that includes wide options of practices are key features in today’s classroom.

Something especially important to avoid is poor structure in interactions due to repetition of teacher-student patterns. It’s a monotone design where students open their books, the teacher gives instructions, and the flow continues with questions about content, students raise hands and provide mechanical answers.

Nope! This is exactly why people complain about the continuity of traditional models in schools. We can’t afford to lose interest in students’ minds when they think our classes are boring and unmotivating.

There’s nothing revolutionary in presenting a lesson with variety, it’s just an additional 15-minute supplement that our classes require, like the time you put into dressing up before leaving to work. It’s a necessary phase of our work journal.

The insertion of variety represents an important piece of this reflection and it includes: the layout to organize students, role plays for students to engage into, considering the different types of learning styles and including suitable material for each.

Not less important: incorporating collaborative work even in its simplest form like Think-Pair-Share exercises, asking questions that develop critical-thinking, using technology in different ways; and most of all, provoking varied types of language interactions: teacher-student, student-student, student-student-student… etc.

We can do it better, no matter if we must change old doings, wrong methods or lazy habits, it’s just a matter of decision. Let’s do it today and get classes way much interesting than ever. In the end, everybody will benefit from it.

Improving Oral Production

“I’ve seen the same process in many of the students that I interview for placement tests and during casual conversations with intermediate levels. They are not sure how it works, but they are able to find the structures and words to express their ideas.”

As I look back to the time I started composing oral language, I realize that it actually took place long time before that. It worked like magic because I didn’t have to consciously remember how to say things in my native language, and mental images would take the form of words when I needed it.

I’ve seen the same process in many of the students that I interview for placement tests and during casual conversations with intermediate levels. They are not sure how they achieved it, but they are able to find words and structures to express ideas.

You too, can develop this ability if you’re serious about your effort to learn a new language. All it takes is commitment and work. For some, it will be easier, and for the rest of us -like it was for me, it’s the result of systematic enforcement.

Firstly, there’s the need to increase vocabulary, which is the base of language. It’s been said that a learner needs to incorporate at least 7 new words everyday, so imagine the importance of collecting words, expressions and collocations, so you can speak up.

Secondly, being aware of the structure that is required to keep up with a conversation, such as: simple present tense, simple past, and future. Learning the rules of tenses includes different types of sentences: affirmative and negative statements, Y/N questions, WH-questions.

Lastly, making sure that intonation, pronunciation and clarity comply with the standard accepted; in other words, there’s no effective communication if the other person cannot easily understand you.

So, just follow this 1-2-3 method to accomplish the goal of producing oral language, and be proud of communicating with others, through this wonderful channel.