Friday, April 21, 2017

Time Tracker Tool

Part of the problem with instructional coaching is just getting the opportunity to begin working with teachers.  Early on, at the suggestion of an administrator, I asked a team if I could visit each teacher's classroom for one full class period to observe and get a feel for the content, class structure, and instructional strategies being used.  

To let teachers know what to expect, I informed them in advance of when I would visit, that I would share a script of the lesson, and that I would be glad to have a follow-up feedback conversation with them afterward if they would like.  During these observations, I loosely scripted the lessons and recorded my thoughts and questions at the bottom of the script.  I told teachers at the conclusion of the lesson that I would send them the script only (not my feedback) and that I would be glad to follow up with them, per their request, to offer feedback.  Every teacher during that round of this work did engage in a feedback conversation with me.

I learned as I went along that if I were able to visit during their class just before planning or the end of the day, teachers were especially eager to have the feedback conversations.

This strategy worked well, but I knew I would be joining the team at their next PLC meeting, and I wanted some sort of compiled data to share with the team.  This is how the Time Tracker idea was born.  Because this particular team has placed high emphasis on collaboration, all classes consisted of the same openers, class notes, homework, etc.  

As I reviewed the scripts of all classroom visits, it was easy to determine appropriate categories for what I observed. Then I determined how many minutes each teacher spent on each category and represented it on a chart.  I also added pie chart to show the amounts of time spent on each category.

During the meeting, I displayed the group data (keeping teacher names/data anonymous by labeling Teacher #1).  I led discussion among the group to discuss their noticings and wonderings about the data as well as shared trends that were not displayed on the graph that I noticed among the classrooms.

The team's conversation revolved around interest in things like, "I notice that I spent twice as much time as other people on the homework. How are you keeping that time down in your classes?"

Overall, this was a good tool that I have used with other teams as well as vertically across different teams.  A difference that I've noticed with other teams, however, is that if they are less collaborative, it can take more thought to create categories.

Another thing I learned with the first team was that right away everyone really wanted to know what number they were on the graph.  So after that, I changed my protocol a bit so that now I email individual teachers the Time Tracker chart the day before the data conversation meeting, and I tell them what number they are on the graph.  This way, teachers can come in ready to discuss what they feel is the most pertinent information.

This process could also be valuable to administrators or teacher leaders.

If you are interested, you can purchase my Time Tracker from our TeachersPayTeachers store, available in Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel.