Improving Novice Teacher Practice Through Coaching

ARISE High School is located in the heart of the Fruitvale District in Oakland, California. Given that the student population is primarily Latino at 92% and that nationally only 21% of Hispanics are performing at or above the level of proficient in mathematics, it is imperative that ARISE teachers are able to effectively implement formative assessment practices that are known to improve achievement, in particular with the lowest achieving students. Through my observations as a mathematics instructional coach I have seen a pattern of novice teachers asking few probing questions, questions that may not be aligned to the stated learning objective, generally asking students questions that don’t require critical thinking, and that are not pre-planned. In order to understand what is needed to support teachers to adopt new practices my literature review focused on the achievement gap, high teacher turnover, novice teacher learning needs, formative assessment, and coaching. What emerged was the effective use of formative assessment practices that are learned collaboratively, context embedded, and sustained through coaching cycles support novice teachers in implementing new strategies. Through this action research project my goal was to use coaching cycles to engage novice teachers to examine their own practice in order to help them improve their use of formative assessment practices, in particular questioning. For each coaching cycle I observed a lesson to collect data on their patterns of questioning, we then held a debrief meeting where we reflected on their use of questioning, and followed up with a co-planning session. Throughout the action research project I collected video of lessons, coaching conferences, co-planning sessions, and post-intervention interviews. I also collected data from surveys, co-planned, and non co-planned lessons from teachers. All three participants showed growth in ability to analyze their practice with regard to questioning, and two teachers showed growth in creating daily lesson plans that reflected pre-planned questions that were aligned to the days’ lesson objective. And finally all three showed growth in their use of formative assessment strategies.

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