Baldwin County principal Dr. Robbie Smith pays tribute to the work of ABPC’s Cathy Gassenheimer and senior consultant Jackie Walsh during 20+ years of designing and facilitating professional learning for the Powerful Conversations Network, the Key Leaders Network and the Instructional Partners Network. The retiring pair have often worked in the shadows, writes Smith, “but their influence on instruction in Alabama is beyond compare.”
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When Tuscaloosa County sent their secondary coaches to our Instructional Partners Network retreats this year, they took part in an important discussion: How do we convince teachers to video their own teaching as a way to strengthen instructional practices? In this helpful article, five TCSS school-based partners describe their individual video coaching strategies – all rooted in Jim Knight’s Impact Cycle.
What promises do we need to make and keep so that our young adolescents will truly believe they belong in our classrooms and will be safe and cared for there? Education leaders Dr. Laurie Barron and Patti Kinney (authors of the anchor book for our new middle grades PD pilot) break down the promises they believe will have the most impact: Relationships, Safety, Consistency, and Instruction.
Teachers at Etowah High School are used to having visitors in their classrooms. In fact, writes Principal Nate Ayers, they like it when school colleagues and visiting educators come to observe effective practices and talk freely with students. This school norm, long in the making, “has now begun to help us in a different way as we make the shift to the Alabama Teacher Observation Tool,” Ayers says.
What school counselor Cortney McKinney learned during her year in the Powerful Conversations Network exploring relationship, responsibility and regulation “was a wake-up call for me,” she writes. The professional learning experience was “a call to action and a vessel in which I was able to navigate uncharted waters by talking to teachers about trauma-informed education.” Learn what her school is doing now.
Dr. Robbie Smith, Principal of Orange Beach Middle/High School in Baldwin County, shares a decade-long perspective on the work of Alabama’s Instructional Partners Network. IPN, she says, “is the type of training you want all your coaches and teacher leaders to experience. The networking and conversations that happen here do not happen anywhere else. It is an opportunity with one focus and one outcome – improvement.”
Enterprise (AL) assistant principal and former instructional coach DeAnna Miller remembers the geometry class of her teens as an unwelcoming place with low expectations for most students. She agrees with Stanford’s Jo Boaler that math can be a more vital and engaging subject when teachers help students adopt growth mindsets.
When administrators use instructional coaches properly and effectively, writes Enterprise City assistant principal DeAnna Miller, they can watch the culture in their buildings shift to one of positivity and engagement. When they don’t, it can break down the culture, causing mistrust and poor morale among the teachers, coaches, administration and even our students.
In 2020 Jeremy VanEgmond began promoting a cause close to his heart – the need to “overestimate” what kids can do by encouraging them to pursue their passionate interests and make a difference in the world. The Pike Road Elementary assistant principal, who first wrote about his #OverestimateKids campaign for us last year, follows up with specific actions educators and parents can take to help create “shining moments where kids make connections we never gave them a chance to make before.”
With her students facing so many pandemic challenges, Michelle Russell decided to say ‘yes’ to as many requests as possible, whether it was late papers, school supplies, or a quick review minutes before a test. Here’s what the Florence High School math teacher discovered about the value of answering YES.