My second coaching session was what I would call a success. Not only did our lesson go smoothly and the students were hitting their target objectives, but for the most part our class was engaged and really responded well to being able to use manipulatives and work in pairs. However, I did see some areas for improvement. I had asked John to track engagement levels for me during class. He came up with a really neat classroom seating chart and periodically (every 5-10 minutes) would simply mark down if students were engaged or not. His blog post about this can be found here. This was a great tool for me to see where engagement levels dropped off and where they were at their highest.
The significance of the seating chart has had a pretty positive effect on my teaching. From the seating chart, I found what areas of my teaching and different areas of the classroom are less engaging than others. This has changed my teaching strategy. For example, during lectures or when reviewing solutions, I tend to ask more questions to students in the less-engaged areas. This addresses both time and location of engagement. I also know what students to walk through to ensure they stay on task during group and pair work. But this addresses and even broader aspect of my teaching: that I, too, must maintain my ability to be a learner. I need to be able to adapt to different settings and change from class to class to ensure my students are getting the most out of me, and to ensure that I am getting the most out of my students. I need to learn from my students just as they learn from me.
I will now use what I know about classroom engagement to pay a little bit closer attention as to who is engaged and who may be drifting during class. I will also try to incorporate different strategies to “pull students back in” so to speak. Another question that was brought to my attention was “What do I focus on while teaching and what do I miss?” I also intent to look more in depth at this question. Am I just seeing and hearing answers from the smarter kids? Am I missing some tell-tale signs that students are not understanding the material? Aspects of my teaching such as these will also be a focal point of mine going forward. Making sure all students are involved and included in the classroom is essential to optimize learning.