How do you incorporate formative assessment strategies to improve student achievement and what guidance do you have for your colleagues regarding effective use of the formative assessment strategies?”

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Holly Wood, from Washington County High School, shared her response to last month’s question: “How is the instructional coach role used in your school and how do you see this impact in your classroom?”

“Instructional coaches are used to challenge and support teachers as they invest in their students. As an instructional coach, I found ways to ask probing questions around curriculum and student data. It was my intention to get teachers to think about curriculum, instruction and assessment through an analytical lens, and not just a big picture moment that seemed as a daydream.

“The most successful coaching sessions I had were when I could take a teacher from a micro-viewpoint (This one kid is distracting everyone else, they don’t do their homework, they don’t care.) and shift it to systemic thinking about the instruction (Where do I want students to go and how am I going to get them there? What systems do I have in place to support student growth? How will I know when my students are growing? What does that look like? What will I be doing? What will students be doing? What needs to change in my classroom so I can insure those opportunities are available?).

“Once we can answer those questions, we can approach the micro-view again, but through a different lens. (Joe doesn’t understand how to factor. I wonder how well he knows his multiplication facts?) This change in mindset for teachers makes them elbow partners – with their students on one elbow and the coach on the other – all working together towards a common goal, rather than a judge-and-jury simulation.

“In classrooms, you see teachers, coaches and students working alongside one another, happy to grow together. Students own their learning, teachers facilitate a growth mindset because their coach models and creates a safe environment for them to create, evaluate and analyze themselves. Everyone wins!”