By Josh Harrelson | Guest Blogger
Josh Harrelson is an Instructional Coach at Mission Achievement & Success Charter School in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His school has used Kickboard since the fall of 2016.
“She can be so negative with students sometimes. It is hard for her to point out the positives,” my fellow instructional coach described to me as we were collaborating on how to help one of our teachers with classroom management.
After brainstorming a little more, we realized that the teacher needed to change her mindset in order to improve her practice, and Kickboard was just the tool to help her do that.
Since we implemented the software in August of 2016, the most powerful part of it I have seen is that it is a tool that helps us leverage good teaching strategies. Our school had success before Kickboard for sure. However, with Kickboard we now have even greater success with classroom culture because it helps us accelerate our growth as teachers.
Two Very Different Classrooms
As a coach, part of my role is to visit classrooms and offer teachers feedback to help them continually improve instruction. Recently, I observed two Math classes. Here’s a glimpse into what I saw happening in each:
The student behavior and overall climate in these two classrooms is vastly different! The first teacher is building momentum in her class. There is evidence that students are complying with directions. Compliance and higher expectations are being normalized and encouraged. The second teacher is just the opposite. The classroom is spiraling downwards. It is becoming normal that students do not comply with the teacher’s requests. It’s time to support this teacher and Kickboard becomes a beneficial coaching tool. Let’s see how that might work.
How Kickboard Guides My Instructional Coaching
Explore data together.
When I support teachers in building a positive classroom culture, Kickboard is a great tool for both of us. We arrange a time to meet and sit down to debrief what I observed and the data I collected when I visited. We also pull up Kickboard Culture Analysis to study trends in that teacher’s Kickboard data.
Decide on a focus area.
From the data, we might notice a positive behavior that needs increasing, a negative behavior that’s on the rise, or even trends in overall positivity. Together, we decide on an instructional strategy that might help improve the behavior outcome we want to see change.
Determine the best instructional strategy to try and plan it out.
One classroom management strategy that our school has encouraged and had great success with is Positive Narration from Doug Lemov’s book Teach Like a Champion. In the case of Teacher B above, I’d likely encourage Positive Narration as the strategy to try out. I would help the teacher identify what specific, positive behaviors she wants to see increase, based on her knowledge of the class, my observation, and the Kickboard data. By creating a list of positive behaviors to narrate in advance, teachers become more aware of their expectations and in time, so will the students. Before our debrief ends, we would practice Positive Narration together, verbally narrating while reinforcing it in the moment in Kickboard.
Implement the strategy.
The teacher then returns to her day-to-day routine, trying out the strategy. She is likely much more aware of and on the look-out for these behaviors to positively narrate. The teacher also develops a better sense of teacher radar and consistency and is better able to prevent misbehavior because she is doing a better job looking for positive behaviors.
Repeat the cycle.
After an agreed-upon period of time, I will revisit the teacher’s classroom and capture evidence of our focus area. We will debrief again, study observational and Kickboard data, and decide if we need to make any adjustments to the strategy. Over time, we see the success of this teaching strategy, with improvements evident in Kickboard behavior data points as well as observed student behavior.
Kickboard is not magic but is a powerful coaching tool. It provides data to make us aware of the impact of good teaching and behavior management techniques, and encourages us all grow in our practice.