We implement several proven strategies ranging from coaching sessions with varying levels of intensity and areas of focus to help our teachers build more effective lessons. Teachers who know what effective teaching and learning look like are, in turn, able to coach their colleagues and be critically reflective of their own teaching practice.
Our coaches organize at least two hour-long sessions with each teacher every month following our facilitative coaching model. This allows them to work 1-on-1 with their teachers to address the various aspects of their teaching practice, lesson plans, and any other difficulties they may be facing. We have adapted to COVID by moving our in-person coaching sessions to completely online since March 2020.
All too often, what is taught in the classroom is reported to be disjointed from real-world scenarios and expectations. Our field trips address this by demonstrating the actual skills that are used in careers in the local industries. In doing so, we also foster interactions between the schools and industries so that there is less of a communication gap between the classroom and the workplace.
Regularly encouraging our teachers to critically analyze classroom and teaching videos helps improve their own practice. Teachers are then able to evaluate the effectiveness of their own questioning strategies in the classroom. We also work with teachers to develop different lenses (e.g., teacher and student lenses) through which videos can be viewed to understand and learn from different perspectives
We organize two day-long follow-up professional development sessions per semester wherein teachers have the opportunity to collaborate with their colleagues across the state. Each semester, we focus on working towards a few specific grant goals. This targeted practice helps teachers effectively learn useful strategies and get the help and support they need to design better lessons. The teachers can then take what they create in these sessions and use it in their classroom.
Summer bootcamps are 40-hour/week intensive professional development sessions that we conduct during the summer break. These help teachers get a head-start on their lesson plans for the semester ahead. Allowing teachers the time and space to workshop various ideas and strategies for their teaching practice outside the school year itself prepares them better for various facets of their lesson plans. In addition, teachers also have the opportunity to spend time 1-on-1 with multiple coaches with varying specialties.
Our train-the-trainer model enables and encourages intervention teachers to give professional development training to control teachers. Teachers developing and implementing their own professional development not only helps them understand the purpose of such training and what effective teaching looks like, but also prepares them better for leadership opportunities.