Profound professional learning that translates into student achievement is our goal. We immerse ourselves and our clients in rich research-based practices designed to unleash the learning potential in every practitioner. Teachers, coaches and administrators can transform mediocre performance into extraordinary success when they learn how to learn together.
Our profession needs to be more sophisticated than it once was. Educators need to be learners and knowledge creators in order to meet the greater demands of the public, the government and the changing world order. The capacity to learn, unlearn and relearn has been identified by many highly respected authors and researchers as the number one characteristic for success in the 21st century. The stakes are higher, and the challenges before us more demanding. The world is more complex, there is a great deal more to learn. Educators must embody a learning stance in order to instill one in their students.
We believe teachers need to be empowered to take a learning-based approach to their work. Teachers need to examine curricular materials through a more sophisticated lens, increase their knowledge of subject material, and develop more rigorous habits of planning and teaching. This requires a learning stance on the part of the teachers themselves.
Educators must also emphasize fidelity to student learning of essential concepts and skills by using curriculum materials, pacing guides and other resources more mindfully, not mechanically. This is a distinct departure from current and historic trends in American education in which curriculum materials and programs are followed in a lock-step manner. This trend leads to mediocrity and extinguishes the innate human desire to learn.
There are many more students of differing experience and ability within the classroom requiring more nuanced and thoughtful teaching approaches. Improved learning requires improved instruction. To improve instruction, we focus on four pivotal principles of learning, as articulated by Lauren Resnick and further developed at the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute for Learning.
Clarifying learning goals and behaviors is critical. Teachers need to communicate to students clear, high expectations about acceptable standards of achievement and the specific criteria that verify student success. Students need to receive regular, timely, and useful feedback and opportunities to improve their work in order to meet expectations.
To begin to set clear expectations, our Master Coaches engage teachers in setting individualized professional learning goals and naming action steps to achieve them. We then translate this process into student learning goals and achievement
Academic Rigor in a Thinking Curriculum
Knowledge and thinking are intimately joined. Hence, the curriculum must be organized around major, relevant, and meaningful concepts; the “big ideas” or “essential questions” students are expected to engage with deeply. To achieve this, teaching needs to engage students in active reasoning about these fundamental concepts.
To increase teacher’s content knowledge, we use Content-Focused Coaching. We engage teachers in re-examining their understanding of the content they are expected to teach from a “big ideas” perspective and examine closely how people learn the content.
We learn through conversation as we talk our way into meaning. Most of us need to talk about ideas before we can write about them or apply them. For classroom talk to promote learning it must be accountable—to the learning community, to the content, and to the type of reasoning associated with that academic domain. Through engaged, rigorous conversation in which students are encouraged to become more accurate, precise and articulate about their ideas—and the reasoning behind them—students learn to communicate with others intelligently, flexibly and compassionately, using intuition alongside intellect.
To generate robust, frank, non-defensive professional discourse, we immerse educators in rigorous conversations through Communities of Practice as we dive deep into an investigation of teaching and its impact on learning.
Self-Management of Learning
Self-Management of Learning involves students and teachers taking responsibility for their own learning by monitoring and regulating their own cognitive processes with increasing spontaneity and sophistication. Habits of mind, such as reflection, self-verbalization, knowing when to ask for assistance and when to persevere on one’s own, can be learned and are closely correlated with success. Learning to learn is critical and supersedes any body of knowledge worth learning.
To develop the “habits of mind” of learning, we engage educators in reflective processes that uncover the metacognitive strategies they use to succeed and provide tools that help them name these strategies. Teachers can then make these strategies explicit to students and weave them into their lesson designs.
Find out how Master Coaches move an entire school or district to perform at higher and more satisfying levels of professionalism and significantly raise student achievement.