Sustaining Change by Leveraging Instructor Data

The dreaded “D” word.  Data.  How do you use your data?  And we don’t mean the data you’re thinking about…

We collect data on students all the time: assessment item analyses, student observation, running records, summative assessments, etc.  You get the point.  We analyze the data, we group students, we use the data targeted to target instruction and close achievement gaps.


What about doing the same for the adults we coach?


Consider the goals of coaching for a minute:

  • Making sure teachers use best practices
  • Making sure teachers create engaging lessons that reach all learners
  • Consider where a teacher is on September 1 and prioritizing needs to get them a few steps closer to becoming a superstar teacher
  • Ultimately, as coaches our goal is to CREATE MASTER TEACHERS

Coaching is about building capacity.  You are one person, in closing gaps in teaching practice, you are building capacity and creating master teachers that can share the best practices with each other.  The better you do your job, the less hands-on you will have to be. That is, the more you go from “guru” to facilitator.  It’s about giving a man a fish and feeding him for a day or teaching him how to fish and feeding him for a lifetime. Sustaining change.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could shift from doing all the demos in classrooms, for example, to setting up labs sites, creating mentoring partnerships, and having teachers take ownership and “train” one another?  Think about the community you’d be building in the process!

How do you get there?  Data!  Here are a few ideas for your toolbox:

  • Create a folder or binder for every teacher. (We’re fans of color coding: blue for best practices, yellow for reading, you get the idea…)
  • Make it a point to visit classes every day. Even if it’s just stopping in to check out the student work on the walls.  Be visible, be available to the teachers.  (And take notes on your observations.*)
  • Speaking of visiting classes…stop in and sit with a group of students for a few minutes or hang out in the back of the room during a mini-lesson. You really can see a lot in a 10 minute visit! (And take notes on your observations.*)
  • Ask teachers how you can help them. Do they want to try Socratic Seminars?  Are they frustrated because their class is having trouble with a certain math concept? (And take notes.*)
  • Check out this handy Data Collection Sheet

*When we say “observations” we don’t mean as an administrator.  We just mean take notes about what you saw, heard, or had a conversation about.  These notes are just for your reference.  When you go back to your office, review your notes and consider how you will support the teacher based on that data and then provide the support.  Remember to notate your support and follow-up, too!

The reason for this kind of data collection is three-fold:

  1. While you have your agenda about what teachers need to work on, teachers may perceive different needs and professional goals.  By talking to them about those goals and supporting them, you are not only helping them to become the best teachers they can be, you are also building a relationship with them.  Successful coaching is most built on positive relationships.
  2. You can reflect on these notes and identify what works, what doesn’t, and what else you can try.  It’s a paper trail of your coaching.  Strategies you’ve used and conversations you’ve had with teachers can help in working with other teachers and cohorts in the future.
  3. In addition, you are building your own toolbox of coaching strategies.  For example, if two teachers present with same problem, you may try a strategy that works with Teacher #1, but not Teacher #2.  A different strategy works with Teacher #2.  Tuck both strategies away.  Next year, when Teacher #3 presents with the same issue, you have two strategies from your toolbox from which to draw.

Remember it’s about sustaining change.  It’s not all going to happen at once or even in a semester or necessarily in a school year.  Give yourself the grace to realize that it’s about incremental shifts in the right direction.  Every step forward is a reason to celebrate.

Want to learn more about successful coaching?  Join us for our Lunch and Learn pilot program.  Click here to learn more and register today. 

From us to you, Happy Holidays and…

Happy Coaching!

By |2018-12-14T19:04:50+00:00December 14th, 2018|Inspired|0 Comments

NGSS & You: Addressing the Needs of Curriculum and Science Supervisors

Three dimensions…




The NGSS are performance expectations focused on the connection between the three dimensions of science learning. These dimensions are combined to form each standard—or performance expectation—and each dimension works with the other two to help students build a cohesive understanding of science over time.  The model is as follows:

Dimension 1: Practices

The practices describe behaviors that scientists engage in as they investigate and build models and theories about the natural world and the key set of engineering practices that engineers use as they design and build models and systems. The NRC uses the term practices instead of a term like “skills” to emphasize that engaging in scientific investigation requires not only skill but also knowledge that is specific to each practice. Part of the NRC’s intent is to better explain and extend what is meant by “inquiry” in science and the range of cognitive, social, and physical practices that it requires.  Although engineering design is similar to scientific inquiry, there are significant differences. For example, scientific inquiry involves the formulation of a question that can be answered through investigation, while engineering design involves the formulation of a problem that can be solved through design. Strengthening the engineering aspects of the Next Generation Science Standards will clarify for students the relevance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (the four STEM fields) to everyday life.

Dimension 2: Crosscutting Concepts

Crosscutting concepts have application across all domains of science. As such, they are a way of linking the different domains of science. They include: Patterns, similarity, and diversity; Cause and effect; Scale, proportion and quantity; Systems and system models; Energy and matter; Structure and function; Stability and change. The Framework emphasizes that these concepts need to be made explicit for students because they provide an organizational schema for interrelating knowledge from various science fields into a coherent and scientifically-based view of the world.

Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas

How to Start?

Disciplinary core ideas have the power to focus K–12 science curriculum, instruction and assessments on the most important aspects of science. To be considered core, the ideas should meet at least two of the following criteria and ideally all four:

Have broad importance across multiple sciences or engineering disciplines or be a key organizing concept of a single discipline;

Provide a key tool for understanding or investigating more complex ideas and solving problems;

Relate to the interests and life experiences of students or be connected to societal or personal concerns that require scientific or technological knowledge;

Be teachable and learnable over multiple grades at increasing levels of depth and sophistication.

The three dimensions should be used together, not separately; they collectively empower students to direct their learning.


Disciplinary ideas are grouped in four domains: the physical sciences; the life sciences; the earth and space sciences; and engineering, technology and applications of science.

Using all three dimensions is like cooking a meal:
  –  SEPs are the cooking utensils and tools
      –  DCIs are the basic ingredients
      –  CCCs are the spices/herbs that combine all 3 dimensions
      –  If any of these are missing, the meal does not taste good

Model Curriculum?


CCC:   Cross Cutting Concepts

DCI:   Disciplinary Core Idea

PE:   Performance Expectations

SEP:   Science and Engineering Practices

SLO:   Student Learning Objectives


By |2018-12-10T15:21:23+00:00December 11th, 2018|Inspired|0 Comments