Hosting a Teacher Conference: Part Four of the “Next Steps in Instructional Coaching” Series
This might not seem like an intuitive goal of an instructional coach, but if the purpose of a coach is to support long-term growth on your campus, then that definitely involves helping teachers reach their full potential.
This is a challenging goal, because teachers have to want to become leaders. You can’t simply “make” someone into a leader in their grade level or at their school. But you can certainly provide opportunities for teachers to step into those leadership roles and take an active role in leading the school.
To support our teachers in sharing their knowledge, we took a half-day from our inservice week at the beginning of school and created a Teacher Conference.
1. Identify some likely suspects
Which teachers are comfortable sharing in front of their colleagues, would prepare for a presentation, and have some valuable insights to share that their colleagues would be able to implement right away? We came up with a good, solid list of teachers and identified the best practices we thought other teachers would like to see.
The mode of delivery was their choice, but the topics were pre-selected by us. This was for a couple of reasons. One, we had visited classrooms across the campus and could identify what strengths teachers were demonstrating daily in their classrooms. Two, we had visited classrooms across the campus and could see what needs other teachers had. We tried to choose teachers and topics that would benefit many other teachers on our campus.
We chose from a variety of grade levels and focused our efforts on our main areas of need: reading, writing, and math. Our topics included a variety of instructional strategies and methods: math stations, mentor sentences, expository writing, interactive notebooks, problem solving, and language stations for ELLS, among others.
2. Pop the question
After we figured out our list of teachers and practices, I approached each teacher and asked if they would consider putting together a 40-minute presentation for their colleagues. The only requirement was that they provided a handout to participants. Beyond that, it could include modeling, reading, a video, or any other method they chose to employ.
Most teachers were honored and began thinking about their presentations. We told them towards the end of the school year, so if they had work samples they’d like to save to use in their presentation, they could do so before they threw out everything from the school year. This gave them some time to let their ideas percolate over the summer before they had to present in the fall.
3. Build a schedule
Our schedule included four forty-minute sessions. For each round of sessions, there were four
choices. I had several teachers present twice in one day, because I thought their session would be especially popular, and I wanted people to have more than one opportunity to see it. We capped the sessions at 7 participants in order to keep them small and personal.
4. Sign Up!
I emailed each teacher with descriptions of the sessions so they’d know which ones they’d like to participate in. Then I posted a blank schedule on the wall in the library (a common meeting place for us) and I left little slips of paper next to it so people would remember which sessions they’d signed up for. Teachers signed up for the sessions they wanted and recorded their “note to self” on the little slip. That way they’d remember their schedule for the day!
Overall, we received great feedback for the teacher conferences. Our teachers were well-planned and presented professionally to their colleagues. The participants enjoyed the sessions and loved learning from their colleagues. And their colleagues were acknowledged as teacher experts. All around, it’s a great way to develop communication across your campus and grow teachers as leaders.
Saturday, August 5: Facilitating a Data PLC: How to get people thinking
Tuesday, August 8: Growing Leadership in Teachers: teacher modeling
Saturday, August 12: Hosting a Teacher Conference
Love this idea! Thanks for sharing all of these awesome ideas!