Sometimes I feel stuck in the middle of…well, everyone. Not only am I navigating and sometimes mediating relationships among teachers, I also wind up third party to student-teacher, counselor-teacher, or administrator-teacher interactions. Let me be clear: I do not take sides and I do not […]
Tag: coaching duties
Coaches have a vital role to play in teacher self-care. That statement almost sounds counter-intuitive. Honestly, I kind of hate the term ‘teacher self-care.’ I worry it puts the onus of caring for teachers only in their own hands. As coaches, as schools, as districts, […]
It seems like things are slowing down a bit during this time of year. It never fails. Teachers are finishing up last minute to-dos before finals, crafts are being created, and the school has turned into a sea of red and green. All the while, you may be twiddling your thumbs figuring out what todo. Here is some week before break tips to get you through:
- Remain Visible
While the students are involved in “craftivities”and other before break assignments, capture the moment. Be a part of it all. Allow yourself to have a good time in these classrooms. During this time, it is important that you stay connected to teachers, students, and the school. It is easy during this time of year to venture off into your Instructional Coach Island and do your Instructional Coach work. That work will eventually get done. However, in the meantime, go see what is going on throughout the rest of the building.
- Start planning Professional Development.
I am sure that after Winter Break, you will be back on and ready to go. This is the time ultimately to be prepared. Make sure your professional development is planned, your data meeting materials are prepared and you are ready to tackle the rest of the school year with ease. No one wants to have to do work over break because that would infringe on your self-care.
- Give the gift of time.
I do not know about you, but during thistime of year, I miss being in the classroom. I want to teach lessons and interact with teachers and students. This is the perfect time to give the gift of time to your teachers. This allows teachers to get some “free time” and get a break while you “cover their class.” They need it. This just might even land you a “Coach of the Year” trophy. Well maybe not a trophy, but they sure will appreciate it!
- Be flexible.
This is the best advice that a coach can give another coach during this time of year and here is why. You will be asked to cover classes, stand in hallways, check parents in, check parents out, and any other extra duties that may come up during this time. The truth is you are needed. You have to be as flexible as possible. This is a time when you may think this is not in my job description, but this time of year your help is needed. Be flexible. As we all know with being in education, being flexible is in your job description.
- Set goals for 2019.
Use this time to reflect on your year so far. Write down at least three professional goals for yourself and the work you want to do in 2019. Ask yourself what are some things you can improve upon and some areas you are going to continue to grow in. Celebrate the successes you have made and make some next steps for yourself.
This time of year use this calmness and quietness before winter break to allow yourself to breathe, plan and get ready for 2019!
Evaluating materials is often a part of the coaching gig, even though it isn’t in the typical coaching job description. We are often called on as experts to evaluate a variety of instructional materials, books, and programs. There are so many things to consider when […]
People talk. They gossip. They gripe about their colleagues. As a coach, I feel like I hear it all. To be successful, though, I can’t participate, no matter how tempting. It isn’t because I don’t enjoy gossip. And certainly, it isn’t because I have no […]
Moving to a web-based assessment platform can be daunting. The hype is real. Here are twelve reasons it is totally worth it (and a couple of reasons to be cautious).
- Collaboration- It is possible to collaborate with teachers from all over the world with a web-based assessment platform. A common platform among teammates makes collaborating to create assessments easy, fast, and painless. These systems are typically designed with collaboration features and allow teachers to determine the privacy level of the assessments they create. Often, a teacher can copy and use existing assessments at the click of a button.
- Creating questions- Writing questions is an enormous undertaking. Finding questions can be equally difficult. A web-based assessment platform provides a bank of ready-to-use items from which to choose. Many platforms also provide tools for miscue analysis so the teacher can determine why students are struggling by examining the distractor answer choices. Technology-enhanced and performance-based question options are often available. If a teacher finds that existing questions do not meet their exact needs, platforms typically include options for adding questions.
- Formatting- Test formatting can be a huge hassle. It is frustrating when an assessment looks sloppy. It is important to get the order and placement of questions correct. Web-based platforms guarantee a consistent format free of errors. In addition, a couple of quick clicks allows the teacher to customize the order and type of questions.
- Aligning to standards- Whether we like it or not, state standards exist and have to be met. Ensuring assessments are aligned can be difficult and time-consuming. Web-based assessment platforms are often searchable by the standard. Existing questions are often already tagged with the corresponding standard and additional tags can sometimes be added. Finally, these platforms provide an easy mechanism to track how each standard is assessed and how students perform.
- Ensuring adequate rigor- Reaching higher levels of rigor with a higher DOK in selected response questions can be especially difficult. Some web-based assessment platforms provide a DOK for each question. In addition, the length and type of questions within each assessment can be tracked over time.
- Managing paper- A web-based assessment platform can remove the need to constantly make and keep track of mountains of paper. Though not every school or classroom has constant access to computers, most have at least some planned access that can be used intermittently. In addition, the master of the test is electronic and easy to store.
- Differentiating- Students come to us at different levels. It is our job to ensure we provide them with appropriate support for them to be successful. Web-based assessment platforms make differentiation simple. Often, there are features available to the teacher can select readability features such as print size, language translation, dictionary definitions, oral reading of questions and passages etc. Some systems allow a teacher to create unique settings for individuals or small groups. We have so many options that require significant work to develop independently.
- Grading- Most web-based assessment platforms auto-grade assessments. The tests are graded immediately upon completion. The teacher has options to set for what to accept as correct answers. Some systems provide opportunities to provide hints or explanations for students. In addition, web-based assessment platforms have easy-to-use technology-enhanced and performance-based question options. These questions often have to be graded by the teacher, but this can be done easily and scores are automatically added to the student’s total score.
- Data Analysis- Typically, web-based assessment platforms provide both real-time and post-assessment analytics. Analytics include an overview of how groups of students performed on an assessment as well as how individual students performed. Many platforms can also track performance by standard and performance over time. Some programs offer additional features such as how long students spend on a question or miscue analysis for distractors.
- Student Feedback- Web-based assessment platforms generally have a student view where students can look at their performance. But students aren’t known for their proactive desire to investigate their grades. Teachers can connect web-based assessment platforms to LMS systems and sites such as Google Classroom. In addition, teachers can write specific feedback to individual students that is immediately emailed to the student. Some platforms allow a rubric to be added to the assessment that students can see as they work. Some allow teachers to create a bank of comments they can reuse regularly. Almost all allow for comments and point adjustments on specific questions for individual students.
- Communication- Communication with other stakeholders is also important for classroom teachers. Web-based assessment platforms often include a mechanism for sharing results with parents/guardians. In addition, other teachers, administrators, instructional coaches etc. can be given immediate access to results and thus feel fully informed about how students are progressing.
- Assessment Validity- There are several ways that web-based assessment platforms improve the ability to validate assessments as reliable indicators of student mastery. First, teachers across a broad range of classrooms and schools can use the same assessment and compare results. Second, the analytics of such platforms provide information about performance in a number of ways that make it easy to identify problematic questions. Third, the same assessment can be used over multiple terms, using features to randomly sort test questions or answers to prevent cheating, and therefore provide longitudinal evidence that assessments are valid measures of achievement. Finally, many web-based platforms certify high-quality questions and question sets as valid and reliable measures.
Despite these many advantages, there are some caveats to moving to a web-based assessment platform worth considering and planning for if a platform is adopted.
- Technology is complicated. Web-based assessment platforms, even those designed to be user-friendly, require training and comfort with computers. It is also important to note that internet and computer access is unreliable in some school districts. A district without a strong technology support system and infrastructure.
- Cheating is a real potential problem that will need to be addressed. Some platforms have measures built into them to handle potential cheating, but many do not.
- Teachers are often intensely resistant to making their work and their students’ performance public as they fear the consequences of both success and failure. Too often, teachers are made to feel inadequate because of differences in relative student performance. Creating a culture that addresses teacher concerns and establishes a positive culture of continuous improvement.
- Cost can also be a worthwhile consideration. Many web-based assessment platforms are expensive. Others are low cost, freemium, or quite costly. It is important to conduct in-depth research to ensure a platform meets the needs of the school or district and will play well with other district products.
Moving a school or district to a web-based assessment platform is a big decision. I believe the pros outweigh the cons.