Showing posts with label Growth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Growth. Show all posts

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Ensuring Continued Growth: Greenwood's Expert Teacher Program

Expert teachers Tony Costa (pictured left with teacher Alex Hurley) and Amanda Lester
provide conversational coaching to teachers who have been at Greenwood for 4+ years.

How does Greenwood stay on the leading edge of customized learning? Ongoing professional development is a big piece of the puzzle. Expert teachers Tony Costa and Amanda Lester work with experienced Greenwood teachers to ensure their continued growth.

What is the Expert Teacher Program?

Working out of the Greenwood Centre for Teaching and Learning, Tony and Amanda - both accomplished Greenwood teachers - work with colleagues who have been at the school for four or more years. In addition to providing conversational coaching to these teachers, Tony and Amanda are a professional development resource for all teachers. They also meet weekly with Mary Gauthier, Executive Director of the Greenwood Centre for Teaching and Learning, which supports their growth as expert teachers.

Why become an expert teacher?

For Amanda, the expert teacher role seemed like a natural next step. “I had already been a subject team leader and a mentor for newer teachers,” she says. “I really enjoyed collaborating with teachers, so this opportunity really excited me.”

In Tony’s case, he saw the potential of the role and wanted to be a part of shaping it. “I felt it was so important that this position was conversation-based, and that it was a two-way exchange of information,” he says. “Amanda and I are always learning, too.”

Supporting Professional Growth for 4+ Teachers

In keeping with Greenwood’s customized approach to learning, the coaching Tony and Amanda provide is tailored to each teacher’s specific needs. “Depending on where people are in their careers, they may have very different goals,” Amanda says. “We work with teachers to mutually identify areas where there is opportunity for growth.”

Some examples include:

  • Refining the use of our Learning Communities
  • Using assessment to drive learning 
  • Finding new ways to incorporate technology in the classroom

After goals have been set, Tony and Amanda observe teachers as they teach; based on these observations, they provide suggestions on how teachers can incorporate new ideas and approaches into their lessons. It’s important to note that teachers are not “assigned” to one expert teacher; they can choose to meet with either Tony or Amanda, and have either expert observe their lesson. “Having two people involved adds richness to the conversation,” Tony says. “Amanda and I have different perspectives and see different things.”

Amanda and Tony observe teachers in the classroom several times throughout the year. At the end of the year, teachers will reflect on their growth and set goals accordingly for next year.

Celebrating great teaching is also key to the expert teacher role. “So many teachers here are doing amazing things,” Amanda says. “We want to ensure that their work is supported and celebrated.”

Providing & Developing Resources

Our expert teachers act as a resource for all teachers, no matter how long they’ve been at Greenwood. If they’re looking for an outside perspective on a lesson or wondering about a new classroom management technique, Tony and Amanda are there to help. They also contribute to Greenwood’s Wednesday morning professional development program - for example, they most recently ran a session on relational teaching. In delivering these PD sessions, they consistently model effective teaching practices.

In addition, Tony and Amanda regularly send teachers resources - including articles, videos and podcasts - that are targeted to their specific goals. “We don’t want to inundate people with information,” Tony says. “We want to send them resources that we know are going to be useful.”

Thursday, 2 June 2016

More Oral Communication in the Flex Classroom

With the new French curriculum, there is a significant  emphasis on the authentic use of oral communication. With the two teachers in the flex classroom, we have been able to provide considerably  more opportunity for teacher observed peer-to-peer conversation and student-teacher conversation.

The flexible space allows for a variety of groupings.  A strategy we have found most effective is to have ‘home groups’ where students start (and often end) each class.  These home groups are given a name according the the theme of the unit in order to build group identity (for example, this unit each group is named after a French invention) so we can boost opportunities for collaboration and meaningful teamwork in the target language. Often a warm-up will include questions that the students need to discuss and explore aloud with their home group. As the class progresses, students can move easily between individual activities, pair-groupings, or small teacher-led groups depending on need and interest.

Learning Through Instant Feedback

Because there are two teachers in the room, we have been able to significantly increase the amount of feedback students receive on their oral communication. We will frequently have students work with a partner to practice a spontaneous dialogue (for example, how to navigate an incorrect order at Starbucks). When students feel they have met the learning goal and are ready, they can present the dialogue to a teacher, receiving instant specific feedback about their task and discuss ‘next steps’ to improve for the assessment of learning.  Since there is always at least one teacher available for individual and small-group feedback, the students learn and grow notably from one class to the next.

Heather Maxted
French Subject Team Leader

Emma Pickard
French Teacher