Barbara Shreve and her coach Phil Tucher discuss the lesson outcomes. The coach facilitates the flow of the conversation. Initially it begins with both the coach and teacher listing highlights and questions they recall from the lesson. The discussion begins with the two taking turns sharing the highlights that they listed. The teacher is the first to share. The coach reinforces the highlight with specific examples he observed. The discussion continues with each sharing highlights, reflecting with regard to student learning and providing specific examples to corroborate the effect of the instruction. The coach suggests that they collectively examine student work to see how students were making sense of the mathematics. The act of looking at student work provokes further discussion. The teacher and coach share insight into student thinking, the progress they are making, and areas of struggle. The coach takes the opportunity to ask follow-up questions to help the teacher reflect about her practice and consider ext steps with the class.
PHIL TUCHER: And then I want to, I don't know how much you got to listen in today on the trio that I was...I spent the last 10-15 minutes even with the trio there in the back, just listening in. And then I checked their work and asked them a lot of questions. Um, it was Terrence, Ronald, and Robert. And what struck me about the way the three of them worked, they asked good questions to each other, they checked their work with each other mostly, but it's the safety that was so obvious. And I...almost the way they just very gently let each other be right at different times. They each had a different piece of the puzzle that they could share and it just really struck me that they needed each other, but they relied on each other in a really important way. And I know enough to know that don't just happen, not just getting the right three kids in the right seats. That's cultivating over a long period of time and letting them be okay with wrong answers and then challenge each other on wrong answers. They had lots of right answers, but it was where they were stuck and where they hadn't checked each other, it really came out the way they were able to work together and problem solve together. That's what struck me about their teamwork. Um, it was a real highlight just watching...there's a certain gentleness to the way these three young men were being right and being wrong together, and being okay with where they were in that process.
BARBARA SHREVE: I think they each in different points have been really good at creating that space to – “I'm okay with being wrong and I'm willing to put myself out there." And it doesn't always come together the way it did today but for whatever reason they were all in that space together, so, glad you got to see it.
PHIL TUCHER: Yeah, I did get to see it. There was a great moment where Robert and Ronald had the wrong answer and Terrence had the right one. It was on the matching exercise and it went all the way back. Terrence said...he went all the way back to his original comment to the whole class, which is "When you have an equation, something equal to zero," um, "You have to set something equal to zero in order to find the y-intercepts." You had asked the class and he said, "One of the reasons you do it that way is you set the y equal to zero to find your x-intercepts." All the way towards the end he was connecting that and saying, "This is what you guys didn't do." It was a good moment.
BARBARA SHREVE: Good for him.
PHIL TUCHER: Yeah. Let's do one more then let's switch over to our questions.
BARBARA SHREVE: Okay. I think I actually shared mine.
PHIL TUCHER: You shared good ones.
Phil begins the debrief with a very nice technique. He asks Barbara to take individual think time to write down some highlights and some questions. As Barbara makes her list. Phil also makes his two lists. Then Phil asks Barbara to start with her highlights. After Barbara finishes her first highlight, Phil reinforces how the lesson was successful by citing specific examples of how the students were engaged. Barbara also highlights how students persevered and were highly engaged in the lesson. She talks about how she hoped this would occur because the students were showing signs of acting more independent and improving their small group discussions, and this was new behavior that she hoped would continue to develop. Phil shares his highlights with Barbara about three boys that were working together in the back of the room. He discusses how the group really worked together problem solving in a safe environment. Phil points out that this collaboration was not an accident, implying the work that Barbara had done previously was bearing fruit. Sharing evidence and descriptions of students engaged or not engaged is a powerful technique a coach can use to surface issues and reinforce success. Barbara and Phil dialog about the successes of the group, then they shift to examining student work. Phil provides some topics that could be a lens for looking at student work (who’s right, access, right start, individual understanding, closure, graphic interpretations, and generalization statements). Barbara identifies a piece of work from a group to examine for individual understanding. The group work had limited evidence of erasures. Phil had observed the group and shares his thoughts. The act of sharing information about a set of students by both the teacher and coach can generate new insights, reinforce assumptions, or clarify issues that groups may be struggling with. These coaching conversations raise the level of awareness around issues of teaching and learning. Barbara realizes the sheets the students completed did not show enough of their thinking for her to do an adequate assessment of what they learned. She goes on to suggest that she should have stopped the class with a few minutes left in the period to do a journal write. This would have given her more information to assess their learning. Phil follows up on the idea and helps Barbara work through some journal sentence stems. Phil and Barbara also discuss closure ideas. Barbara reflects on where students were successful (factoring) and where they struggled (finding x-intercepts). She questions how she rolled out the lesson and wonders out loud whether, if she reverses the order the problems appear on the sheet, if that would have helped students see connections earlier. The last major topic of the coaching discussion moves to language issues in the lesson. The students in the class are often English learners and paying attention to language and vocabulary in the lesson is critical. Phil facilitates the discussion, poses some ideas and then lets Barbara discuss the ideas that make sense to her. In the final part of the debrief, the discussion circles back to the mathematics, and Phil asks Barbara to recall why she designed the lesson with a “who’s right” structure and a matching structure. Barbara reflects on the power of these structures. They allow students to work at a high cognitive level critiquing other students’ methods and procedures. They also promote multiple paths and multiple solutions for students to compare.