Urban Teachers believes that excellent teachers develop over time through engagement in quality coaching. The three-year coaching program at Urban Teachers provides repeated opportunities for participants to:
- Continuously improve their teaching practice,
- Demonstrate responsiveness to feedback for growth,
- Engage in goal-setting and reflective practices,
- Articulate the specific ways in which their relationships with PreK-12 students impact the life outcomes of the children that they serve,
- Intentionally cultivate the asset-based, bias-free mindset necessary for implementing inclusive, culturally relevant teaching, and
- Develop the professional habits and productive dispositions which are befitting the profession.
The Urban Teachers coaching program is designed to support participants’ ability to become effective urban educators. This requires considerable intentionality on the part of the coach and the participant. Coaching is not an act done to someone but one that is done with someone.
Since mastering these classroom skills and abilities is necessary to becoming a highly skilled classroom teacher, Urban Teachers evaluates the demonstrated teaching practice performance of all participants across the first three program years. Participants are accountable for meeting an averaged teaching practice score at the end of each year, called an end-of-year expectation. Failure to meet the end-of-year teaching practice expectation may result in dismissal from the program. (Refer to the Program Requirements and Expectations Overview for the end-of-year teaching practice expectation for each program year.)
OBSERVING, EVALUATING, & GIVING FEEDBACK
Urban Teachers coaches are skilled at teacher support, development, and evaluation. The work that is common to both coaching support and evaluation falls into three main activities:
Coaching Component Parts
Observation is the act of carefully noticing something or someone in order to gain information. Excellent coaches carefully attend to the participant and the context surrounding the participant. Every coaching interaction with a participant is an opportunity to learn more about them through careful observation.
Evaluation is the act of considering information and making a judgement about that information. Excellent coaches take all the information that they have gathered from an observation and use the Teacher Practice Rubric to assess the quality, frequency, or effectiveness of the participant’s teaching practice. Effective evaluation is influenced by the coach’s ability to carefully observe and their depth of knowledge about the teaching practices of the Teacher Practice Rubric.
The third essential act is giving the participant effective verbal or written feedback. Careful observation, deep knowledge of the teaching practices, and effective evaluation are all pre-requisites for the type of feedback that coaches provide to participants in order to:
- Increase the participants’ awareness of their current level of teaching practice, and
- Increase the participants’ ability to demonstrate the desired level of teaching practice.
The Urban Teachers feedback protocol typically includes engaging the participant with their areas of Glows, Grows, and Next Steps.
PROMPTING REHEARSAL, REFLECTION, & RELATIONSHIPS
To improve teacher practice and student achievement, our coaches push for high-quality teaching practice and promote educational equity. They leverage the feedback process to develop or enhance participant teaching practice through the use of reflection and rehearsal. Excellent coaches also recognize that feedback is most efficacious if provided at the right time, and within the boundaries of a productive relationship.
Learning happens when we negotiate ideas with peers, texts or other cultural artifacts, and those more expert than ourselves. Adult learning – like student learning – occurs through social negotiation. Rehearsals provide practice opportunities for aspiring teachers to perform an instructional practice before enacting with PreK-12 students. It also allows time to receive specific and strategic feedback from a coach, ultimately unpacking and refining teacher moves in an effort to become more effective educators.
Reflection cultivates self-analysis and taking responsibility for one’s own growth. Coaches prompt these reflective experiences for participants by posing questions, sharing evidence or artifacts, and actively listening.
Coaching takes place in intense and variable contexts. As such, Urban Teachers coaches work to establish trust, engender respect, and communicate respectfully and clearly with participants in order to establish productive, bias-free relationships where diversity of person and perception are embraced.
Whetstone is the online platform that Urban Teachers uses to manage the data derived from coaching and evaluative cycles. Coaches and participants log in to personal accounts to:
- Set appointments for pre-conferences, classroom observations, and post-conferences.
- Upload lesson plans and supporting documentation.
- Tie lessons and feedback to specific strands of the Teacher Practice Rubric.
- Provide ratings on the Accountable Teaching Practices (ATPs) for every Observation and feedback to improve practice.
Participants are expected to:
- Receive and acknowledge Whetstone calendar invites (scheduling coaching visits).
- Access Whetstone to review coaching data (e.g., anecdotal data, TPR ratings, next steps)
- Upload lesson plans and student work (for comprehensive coaching cycles and independent observations).
- Share data with their assigned coach.