Shared Vision

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.

Taken from: "Coaching Teachers: Promoting Changes that Stick" Match Teacher Residency.
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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.

Creative English Classes

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.

¿Cómo mantener el Lenguaje Secundario?

En la actualidad nuestras vidas permanecen agitadas por gran cantidad de deberes y poco tiempo disponible. Entre el trabajo, los estudios y los quehaceres del hogar, se nos hace difícil encontrar espacio en nuestro calendario, especialmente para aprendizaje adicional.

Un área de la cual escucho inquietudes con frecuencia es la de hablantes de inglés como segunda lengua, quienes temen perder sus habilidades por el hecho de no darle uso continuo. Me preguntan cómo lograr seguir estudiando inglés si hay otras prioridades en sus vidas.

La verdad es que dominar una segunda lengua es un proceso complejo al cual hay que dedicar tiempo y esfuerzo para su adquisición y posterior mantenimiento, máxime, si la persona vive en un país donde la lengua oficial no es el inglés.

Afortunadamente, esta tarea se ha hecho más fácil en la medida que el idioma inglés ha tomado preponderancia, además del desarrollo de tecnologías para su uso. Adicionalmente, involucrarse en actividades que garanticen que el Lenguaje-2 se mantenga actualizado y listo para su uso cuando sea necesario.

A continuación, presento algunas buenas prácticas y medidas que pueden ayudar a mantener el lenguaje secundario en óptimas condiciones:

  1. Rodearse de exposición a todas las habilidades lingüísticas: programación de TV en inglés, listas de reproducción de canciones en inglés, podcasts de programas de radio en inglés, revistas, libros y periódicos. Finalmente, escribir un diario personal, un blog, la agenda, las notas de post-it, composiciones formales, etc. en idioma inglés.
  2. Utilizar un diccionario en el celular, tablet o laptop: Existen varias apps que pueden ayudar para estos fines. Merriam-Webster tiene algunas que son estupendas y que trabajan sin internet, hay otras que son igualmente adecuadas.
  3. Pagar una tutoría: Mantener un programa de clases individualizado puede servir a los fines de adaptación al horario personal y las facilidades de poder recibirlo en el hogar u oficina.
  4. Revisar los libros: Echar un vistazo a los libros de texto y de trabajo de niveles anteriores puede refrescar el conocimiento y aclarar dudas que hayan podido surgir. Tambien el uso de libros nuevos que esten el mercado es buena idea si se sigue un plan de clases que uno mismo puede diseñar.
  5. Hablar, hablar: Si se pudiera encontrar un circulo de amigos en el trabajo o vida personal que incluya personas que hablen la lengua, sería estupendo para mantener el idioma vivo. Viajar o visitar lugares donde podamos interactuar con hablantes es otra opción factible.

 

 

 

How to Produce Oral English

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.

 

 

Be the Best Teacher You Can Be

Be the Best Teacher You Can Be

What do you think about the subject of this question? WHY would you want to be a better teacher? Is it important for you? for your students? for our society? When it comes to making decisions about our careers there are several considerations to take into account and it could be hard to get the right choice.

Deciding on being better at what we do can be simplified by a method, a decision model that it’s simple and efficient, especially when our decision involves two options: being a better teacher or staying the same. Here’s a plain decision- making model convenient at any given condition:

  1. Relax. Take a deep breath and expelled air, do it twice. Bringing oxygen to you brain will enhance your performance and health.
  2. Say something positive. Something like “I can do this” or “I was born for success” to boost good vibes.
  3. Identify the problem: The issue here is to make a decision that is relevant to you and many others, and what are the consequences of it.
  4. Think of all possible solutionsGreat teachers help create great students. In fact, research shows that an inspiring and informed teacher is the most important school-related factor influencing student achievement, so it is critical to pay close attention to how we train and support both new and experienced educators. Consider the consequences of your solution. 
  5. What is important to you? Are you a persistent and progressive professional? Experience is not doing the same thing over and over again but to improve the methods over the course of time.
  6. Make the decision. After reflecting on all the previous, it’s time for action.

This way, and following up a methodical path to successfully achieve the goal, think for a moment in three variables of WHAT is needed to become better at teaching:

  • Knowledge: Reflection, Self-Assessment, Conferences & Workshops, Peer coaching, Readings, Degree & Certifications.
  • Resources: Pictures, Audio texts, Games and Visual aids: Projector/Interactive Board/Computer, Lesson Plans, Teacher Guides & Textbooks.
  • Motivation: Professional Growth, Retribution, Expertise, Status, Passion and Knowledge Share.

Then follow the logical next step, which is HOW to overtake the challenge. There would be many, but we have gathered some that are essential and commonly seen in a teacher everyday’s tasks:

  • Opening our Minds
  • Planning
  • Reflecting and Sharing
  • Exploring
  • Interacting

To illustrate each, here are some stories that relate in distinctive ways:

Open your mind. One day teachers are invited to a workshop of the new Editorial assigned to make the book changes in the teenagers’ program of the school after 6 years of using another Editorial.  Through the plenary, teachers find out about the “no homework” strategy used by this new platform, and the technological input in the monitoring and assessment of students’ progress. Immediate reaction can be witnessed in the room as a negative feature to implement. The panel in charge presents three teachers through a Skype call, in order to tell their own experience using the new method. A teacher raises the hand and asks, “Does this mean I have more paths to communicate with my students at any time?” The presenters confirm the statement and elaborate based on that idea. You can notice the difference in the ambient of the room.

Plan. Jules is preparing for her Adults class next Thursday, and she notices she has only two more classes to cover a full unit. She feels nervous and anxious, since by her own experience and knowing how she likes to deliver the lesson, she would have to select the material to teach and sacrifice the rest in order to achieve the goal. While selecting the material, she feels frustrated and basically disappointed because she understands that this could’ve been prevented.

Reflect and share. The bell rings, students leave, and I stay behind picking up for myself. I start thinking of the last activity we had just 5 minutes ago, mainly about my previous expectations and how that makes me think now that it was a failure. I keep recounting my steps even after I’m home an hour later. The next day I still feel disappointed, and one of the substitute teachers was around and I decide to ask about similar situations. I tell him step by step what happened the day before, and he just looked at me and said, just play with it the next time.

Interact. “It’s time for review…” teacher Jay thinks out loud, knowing that tests are coming next week. He sits with a longing face and thinks about the lesson he’s about to deliver, the exercises to use, the topics to address, and the monitoring involved in the process. Seems to have it under control, it’s usually the same. He takes a moment to ponder of other ways to impart the review, he asks himself what can he do different and what could make my students think different than any other day. After 25-30 minutes alone with his thoughts, another teacher passes by rushing in, and greets Jay. The other teacher starts to take out some papers and items that look like monopoly game pieces, and Jay feels the burning need to ask about it, and the other teacher tells him how he got the idea to play a board game as a review from another colleague. Jay feels excited and really wants to try this.

Explore. The assessment week is here, and Rose is taking her time to grade each student carefully in classwork, homework and writing assignments. Time is running fast and she realizes she needs to speed up the process, but she’s also aware that she might need a plan B at this point. She stands up from her chair and she just takes a minute to think and then she sees a student noticing a mistake in a writing assignment she had on top of the desk. At that point she had the idea to pair students and have them do the checking on the writing assignments by giving students some prompts on how to do it. Students react excitedly and even express their willingness to do it. The teacher starts thinking what other ways she can make students feel useful and make it beneficial for her as well.

Additionally, there’s a critical view to reflect on WHO to becoming better. Reflect on these words and discover if success alone is possible or if it’s worth trying available support: “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. Next, answer the question of how often you engage in these best practices:

  • I plan my classes.
  • I reflect on what helps or hinders learning.
  • I receive peer-coaching.
  • I explore creative ways of teaching.
  • I give-receive feedback.
  • I try to keep engagement in my classes.
  • I practice professional-development.
  • My classes are based on experiential-teaching.
  • My teaching practices are oriented to meaningful lessons.
  • I ask my students to ask questions.
  • I include collaborative-learning in my lessons
  • I deliver my lessons as scheduled.

The more help we need to develop a wide set of pedagogical resources, the more we can realize that support is always available, find out about the Professional Development programs that are set up near you and reach out.

Finally, think of the question on WHEN you’d like to take steps to become better; it will depend on the opportunity you give to yourself, bearing in mind what a great scientist once said: It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.                            

Workshop at ICDA’s In-Service Sept-2016. Source: Be the Best Teacher You Can Be.