Coaching Teachers Through Implementing LSI Standards-Driven Units

By Amanda Funk

Coming off our first round of working with LSI to create standards-driven units, I found myself reflecting on the entire process. We had been immersed for two days in standards, text complexity, close reading, vocabulary, text-dependent questions, etc. Then we spent three full days immersed in learning targets, success criteria, and the planning of our units.

I sat in awe of the grade-level team I worked with. Eighth-grade teachers from all over our district were working together to analyze text complexity, pair up learning targets and success criteria, and have meaningful, thought-provoking conversations around instruction and standards. They were excited and passionate, and you could just feel the energy! We all returned to our respective schools feeling recharged and ready to teach these amazing units.

Then Life Set In.

Snow days, two-hour delays, discipline, testing schedules, illnesses, holidays, high school visits, and other interruptions came pouring in on top of the frustrations of lessons not going as planned, and momentum was lost. 

In hindsight, I now see that where I, as the building instructional coach, could have done more to support my teachers. 

At our last LSI training, I took this picture to keep as a reminder of coaching focus areas:
Plan, Collaborate, Analyze, Discuss, and Develop:

Each bullet point represented under each area provides a coaching task to complete, as well as a way to track the work a coach does with each teacher.


The Before, During, After Coaching Model

I believe that coaches play an integral part in keeping up momentum and motivation during unit implementation. There are specific things we can do to help empower and encourage teachers, ensuring successful implementation, including the use of a Before, During, and After model of coaching. But as I tell my teachers: This is a process and we all have room to grow. 

Going forward, I plan to implement the following success criteria:

BEFORE

  • Coaches can go between all grade levels during the planning of the units to get an idea of content, thought processes, etc. in order to support throughout implementation.

 DURING

  • Coaches can set up times with each of their teachers where they can use the coach as a co-teacher or as another set of eyes while they are teaching a lesson.
  • Coaches can use the coaching tool several times throughout the unit, inviting the district coordinator and building admin to join in at least once.

 AFTER

  • Coaches can set up times weekly with each teacher to reflect on the instruction, the flow of the unit, etc.
  • Coaches can build in time for LSI pilot teachers to collaborate/reflect together during their building professional development time.

Coaching Promotes Change

"This is where a Standards-Driven Curriculum begins." Carla Moore in Lancaster, PA
“This is where a Standards-Driven Curriculum begins.” — Carla Moore in Lancaster, PA

 

It takes a village to effect successful, long-standing change. This village needs to involve LSI coaches, district coordinators, building administrators, building coaches, and teachers helping one another.

We don’t just introduce a new way of doing things and then say, “GO!”

Teachers need scaffolding and encouragement to learn and implement new things. They need to know they’re not alone, and that they’re being supported in their endeavors to implement this new and exciting work that will help them grow and help their students succeed.

 


The progress in Lancaster is inspiring. I’m constantly impressed by the dedication and commitment of these educators, and honored to be working with them. — Beth Carr

As an instructional coach in the School District of Lancaster, Amanda Funk’s primary job is to model best practices for teachers to best support the whole child. She earned her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from Millersville University and her Masters in Educational Leadership and Administration with Principal Certification from Alvernia University. Amanda prides herself on a having a diverse educational background including elementary teacher, Dean of Students, and program coordinator for a non-profit organization, teaching and mentoring women transitioning out of prison. In this work, she has researched wellness in schools and has presented such topics as coaching teacher self-care and mindfulness best practices along with instructional best practices. Amanda is currently participating in creating standards-driven units with the guidance of Learning Sciences International coaches. All of these experiences have shaped her mindset that addressing social/emotional instruction alongside academic instruction is a necessity for our students and teachers to succeed.