One of the [many, many] perks of a Teaching Residency with The Martin Institute is the support – the professional development, the learning seminars, the conferences, the New Teacher Network, the field experiences, and the firsthand exposure to impactful teaching across the city. Even more, a wonderful part of this support is its personal nature, its attention to Bailey and I as individuals with different strengths and weaknesses, comfort zones and fears, and pools of experience from which we are growing as practitioners.
So how does our director, our great-advice-giver, our motivator, our guiding compass, our beacon light, our . . .
(Okay, so you see? Laura is a hugely supportive driving force in our Teaching Residency experience.)
How does Laura give us such relevant, personalized, and constructive support in developing our instruction? It’s paparazzi. iPad paparazzi. Yes, like that proud soccer mom that you see in your carpool line each morning or that first-time grandparent at your school’s SK graduation last May. Laura’s video skills are way more covert, though; can you say “stealth?” I think we’ve found her second career. It’s awesome.
With iPad in hand, she observes us teaching in our placements across the city, takes notes on our instruction, videos our lessons, and meets with us for a debriefing. For now, this conversation is guided by a simple feedback template that highlights the aspects of the lesson that worked well and things to think about revising for our next teaching time. Soon enough, these meetings will begin to center around the state’s TEAM (Tennessee Educator Acceleration Model) evaluation rubric, which is what we will very likely be observed against when we have our own classrooms next year. Because of this reality, we have been studying this TEAM model’s focuses in recent learning seminars and discussing practical ways in which instruction on the rubric’s most efficient level might manifest. We long to be “Level 5’s.”
As Bailey and I prepare to transition from a three-week placement at St. George’s Independent School’s Memphis Campus to a two-week placement at Germantown’s Dogwood Elementary, we are looking, yet again, at our instruction. We’re sitting down to meet one-on-one with Laura, we’re watching ourselves teach, [we’re thinking about how bad our hair looked that day], and we’re evaluating ourselves. How could I have pushed that child’s response to a higher level of thinking? How could I have better handled the transitions into and out of that lesson? How might I have more effectively addressed that disruptive child? Why was that child disruptive in the first place? How could I have used a Visible Thinking routine in this lesson?
We marinade with it, we reflect, and we make a game plan to improve. Teachers watch game tape, too.