Benefits of Coaching for Both a New Coach and a Teacher

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Pam Chavez, Colorado Springs, CO

Pssst…Can I share a little thought with you? At this time of the year, the best three things about working in education just may be June, July and August! Joking aside, as I finish my first year as a math coach, I would like to reflect on my transition from being a teacher to a support person, and how investing in coaching has been a benefit for me personally and for the teachers I have had the opportunity to partner with this year.

I want to state emphatically that I loved being a math teacher! First, I loved working with kids. Second, I welcomed each opportunity to try to make a difference in the life of even just one of my students. Third, I cherished the chance to grow alongside my students and my colleagues. Now, as I embark on this new career where my life still revolves around a school calendar rather than the conventional calendar, I find that being a coach offers the same benefits as being a teacher, but with a change in my perspective of the classroom and its players. I find that I am definitely growing as a coach with each teacher I am fortunate to work alongside, and I am seeing growth in the teachers as well. I still get to make a difference at the schools where I am assigned, by impacting teachers, and I still get to work with kids.

During my first assignment as a support person, I was worried that my coaching toolkit was a little too sparse. I thought I would need more tools to help the teachers build upon their lessons. Instead I have begun to realize I just need to share the tools I have gathered from teaching the CPM curriculum, attending the Summer Leadership Institutes and Coaching Clinics, and from those I have been blessed to coach with. I simply offer what I might have done in a given situation or what I did when teaching that particular lesson. I now know there is no magic tool needed!

I have been fortunate to collaborate with the coaching cadre members this year who share their insights into how a coach might support teachers to build good lessons. Much of the focus this year has been on the importance of intentionally planning lessons. As coaches, we have discussed the key is to ask guiding questions such as:

  • What mathematics is being learned?
  • Why is it important?
  • How does it relate to what has already been learned?
  • Where are these mathematical ideas going?

With this type of intentional planning, I witnessed first hand how the teachers I worked with were: able to link prior academic learning with the new learning more effectively, empowered to teach the CPM curriculum with more fidelity, and better able to make more informed, real-time adjustments while teaching the lesson.

You might be asking why I wanted to become a CPM coach. I had to weigh the pros and cons, and decided this was a chance to give back to a profession that I love and care about. I have a chance to meet many incredible colleagues who just want the best for their students. A few other points I considered when first entertaining thoughts of becoming a coach were that I will not have to deal with parents, grade papers, or stress during state testing time.

More importantly, towards the end of the coaching cycles, the teachers I was coaching conveyed that they felt our time spent together was both productive and meaningful. They were grateful for all of the benefits that being a CPM teacher affords them (workshops, conferences, coaching, etc.). It was exciting to know I had a part in each teacher’s professional growth, and knowing that each teacher I helped, then improved the lives of many, many students. We were sad to see that our time working together had come to an end. I know that these teachers will continue to learn and improve and I am ready to work with new teachers next year. I loved being a math teacher, but I think I will love being a math coach just as much.

Pssst, can I share one final thought? I still get to celebrate snow days!

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Algebra Tiles Session

  • Used throughout CPM middle and high school courses
  • Concrete, geometric representation of algebraic concepts.
  • Two-hour virtual session,
  •  Learn how students build their conceptual understanding of simplifying algebraic expressions
  • Solving equations using these tools.  
  • Determining perimeter,
  • Combining like terms,
  • Comparing expressions,
  • Solving equations
  • Use an area model to multiply polynomials,
  • Factor quadratics and other polynomials, and
  • Complete the square.
  • Support the transition from a concrete (manipulative) representation to an abstract model of mathematics..

Foundations for Implementation

This professional learning is designed for teachers as they begin their implementation of CPM. This series contains multiple components and is grounded in multiple active experiences delivered over the first year. This learning experience will encourage teachers to adjust their instructional practices, expand their content knowledge, and challenge their beliefs about teaching and learning. Teachers and leaders will gain first-hand experience with CPM with emphasis on what they will be teaching. Throughout this series educators will experience the mathematics, consider instructional practices, and learn about the classroom environment necessary for a successful implementation of CPM curriculum resources.

Page 2 of the Professional Learning Progression (PDF) describes all of the components of this learning event and the additional support available. Teachers new to a course, but have previously attended Foundations for Implementation, can choose to engage in the course Content Modules in the Professional Learning Portal rather than attending the entire series of learning events again.

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Building on Instructional Practice Series

The Building on Instructional Practice Series consists of three different events – Building on Discourse, Building on Assessment, Building on Equity – that are designed for teachers with a minimum of one year of experience teaching with CPM instructional materials and who have completed the Foundations for Implementation Series.

Building on Equity

In Building on Equity, participants will learn how to include equitable practices in their classroom and support traditionally underserved students in becoming leaders of their own learning. Essential questions include: How do I shift dependent learners into independent learners? How does my own math identity and cultural background impact my classroom? The focus of day one is equitable classroom culture. Participants will reflect on how their math identity and mindsets impact student learning. They will begin working on a plan for Chapter 1 that creates an equitable classroom culture. The focus of day two and three is implementing equitable tasks. Participants will develop their use of the 5 Practices for Orchestrating Meaningful Mathematical Discussions and curate strategies for supporting all students in becoming leaders of their own learning. Participants will use an equity lens to reflect on and revise their Chapter 1 lesson plans.

Building on Assessment

In Building on Assessment, participants will apply assessment research and develop methods to provide feedback to students and inform equitable assessment decisions. On day one, participants will align assessment practices with learning progressions and the principle of mastery over time as well as write assessment items. During day two, participants will develop rubrics, explore alternate types of assessment, and plan for implementation that supports student ownership. On the third day, participants will develop strategies to monitor progress and provide evidence of proficiency with identified mathematics content and practices. Participants will develop assessment action plans that will encourage continued collaboration within their learning community.

Building on Discourse

In Building on Discourse, participants will improve their ability to facilitate meaningful mathematical discourse. This learning experience will encourage participants to adjust their instructional practices in the areas of sharing math authority, developing independent learners, and the creation of equitable classroom environments. Participants will plan for student learning by using teaching practices such as posing purposeful questioning, supporting productive struggle, and facilitating meaningful mathematical discourse. In doing so, participants learn to support students collaboratively engaged with rich tasks with all elements of the Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices incorporated through intentional and reflective planning.