Teamwork is evident at Benton Community each day. The volleyball team jumps, sets, and spikes the ball to score a point. A huddle of football helmets whisper plays to out maneuver the opposing team. Elementary students organize elaborate games at recess. Band students march together to create a dazzling display of music and motion. All of these examples take place amongst our students. Each example highlights how our students work together; however, it may not be as noticeable how many people work together to create a positive learning environment in our buildings.
Adults collaborate and work together each day, but we may not always view our group as a team. Yet, that is exactly what we are. A team working together to create positive experiences and maximize the learning potential for all students. One team that teachers may be a part of is their building team. Each school building in our district is distinct. A few district employees have the advantage of working in each of the buildings in our district; those who travel to different buildings will find that no building is exactly the same. Each staff group is their own team. Within each building, there are a number of data teams. These teams, either grade specific or content specific, work to evaluate student data and brainstorm ways to meet the needs of each student. These building level teams work together to problem solve and build relationships with everyone in their building.
Each building group works together to form the district team. As a district, teachers work together to learn and create positive learning environments for all students. There are a few times throughout the year when the public can see all of the teachers and students in one place; Homecoming and Veteran’s Day are the most visible. However, all of the teachers in the district meet to learn collaboratively at several points throughout the year. These days allow staff to work toward district goals while learning from each other.
Parents and teachers make up one of the most important teams in students’ lives. When parents and teachers communicate, it has a positive effect on student achievement. Parents and teachers can work together as a team to create the best possible learning environment for students. There are several ways teachers communicate home to let parents know what is happening in the classroom. Some teachers have websites, or apps that communicate home to parents such as Seesaw or Remind. Parents can email parents or set up time to talk about their child. Sharing what is happening at home and in the classroom helps teachers and parents to work together to create a shared vision of student learning.
So just as the show choir members line up in anticipation to take the stage or the stars of the musical wait anxiously in the wings for the curtain to rise, Benton’s teachers prepare and work for each day to provide the best experience possible for our Bobcat community of learners.
What does “continuous growth” actually mean? To some it may mean taking a class to learn something new, observing someone else at their trade in order to gain new ideas or insight, or even thinking about something in a different way based on reflective conversation. To others, it could be refining a skill they have already acquired or practicing to get faster or more efficient.
Maybe to you it means these things or even something more.
Coaching cycles are one way that teachers at Benton Community model continuous growth. Our coaching cycles at Benton Community are framed around the needs of our teachers and students. This means that a teacher can choose to use a coach for instructional supports or engage in a cycle driven more by student data or needs. Teachers may choose to choose work in either an individual or team cycle when engaging in this process.
Instructional supports could be any of the following:
Teachers receiving instructional supports from a coach may determine this based on a goal they have set for either themselves or their students. As coaches, this may look very different based on teacher or student need, timeliness, school or district goals, or an area the teacher would like to improve upon or refine.
A student-centered coaching cycle means just that. The data, goals, action steps, instruction, and assessments are centered on the students. Whether this happens with an individual teacher or with a team, student data and evidence of student growth are at the core of all decision-making in this framework.
When a teacher is looking for support around strategy implementation, feedback on their practice, or working with a reflective partner, he/she would be taking part in a teacher focused cycle. The goal setting, action steps, and meeting design would be centered on an “Identify. Learn. Improve” structure to allow the teacher to refine and grow in their desired area.
Coaching cycles can also look different depending on both the coach and the teacher. Just like teachers in the classroom, coaches bring their individual personalities and passions when working with teachers . They must differentiate their instruction and practices based on the needs of the teachers and students they’re serving Coaches have built a framework for our practice around a variety of models. This means we are able to meet the needs of our teachers using multiple methods and tools, just like they do when teaching students.
Regardless of the direction the teacher decides to take their coaching cycle or what supports the teacher/students need, we know that at the heart of this work is the desire and push for continuous growth in order for our students to have access to a school experience that will foster characteristics of lifelong learners