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Coaching and Safe Practice Cycles for Teachers

Elevate students frequently collaborate as they grow daily as leaders.Elevate School, (San Diego, CA). Elevate School wants students and staff to grow and thrive. Teachers and staff members participate in multiple growth opportunities, including coaching cycles, safe practice cycles, peer coaching, and a yearly professional development (PD) focus that is data-driven and meets the needs of students.

An ongoing central responsibility of school leadership is to anchor professional learning for teachers and staff in two critical elements: Why and How. At the beginning of and repeatedly throughout the year, leadership ensures team members routinely return to their purpose for teaching and serving students. It is this sense of purpose that greatly impacts our students.

PD happens weekly throughout the school year and includes a whole teaching team training one week followed by a structured Professional Learning Community (PLC) meeting the next week. During PLC time, teachers collaborate on applying learning from PD to their classrooms.

Almost every teacher at Elevate participates annually in a coaching cycle. These last for six to eight weeks and teachers meet with the Director of Instruction to decide on an area of growth. This is followed by filming classroom lessons to provide an opportunity for self-assessment, conferencing, feedback, modeled lessons, and weekly observations. When reflecting on their Coaching Cycle experience, one teacher wrote, “The coaching cycle allowed me to work closely with the Director of Instruction to focus on one area of improvement for the year. This time was invaluable and provided ideas for growth to better help my students engage in their learning, as well as ways for me to reflect on my teaching practices.”

Teachers also participate in safe practice cycles, which are opportunities for teachers to observe each other and provide peer feedback to one another. By the end of these cycles, teachers are implementing strategies and ideas that they observed. This creates consistency across all grades within the school and a collaborative community. Even in this year of COVID-19 challenges, teachers participated in a safe practice cycle to learn from one another about teaching remotely.