Utilizing PLC and Coaching to Support Students in Purposeful Academic Conversations

Costano, a K-8 school located in East Palo Alto, serves a low –socio economic and ethnically diverse community, of which 65% are English-language learners. After conducting several rounds of classroom observations at Costano it became apparent that while teachers delivered instruction that was of high quality and mostly engaging, they were not providing enough meaningful and strategic opportunities for students to engage in conversation around content. Research supports the need for academic conversation to provide students with the opportunity to build academic language and conversation skills while providing teachers with a formative assessment to assess student content understanding and language ability. To build teacher instructional capacity we utilized a professional development model called a professional learning community (PLC). This model seeks to authentically engage participants in collaborative inquiry around a common problem of practice and build their learning community while refining their classroom practice. To support the implementation of new learning that came from the inquiry group, studies suggest the use of a peer or instructional coaching model. A group of eight participants, including both teachers and administrators, formed a professional learning community. Each community member paired up with a colleague for instructional coaching with the common goal of supporting students to hold academic conversations. Data collected through classroom observations, personal interviews, and feedback forms were analyzed along with researcher and meeting notes showing that all participants grew their understanding around academic conversations, all enjoyed the experience of being part of a Professional learning community that included coaching

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