Case Study

Supporting highly effective teachers to continue their growth

Reinvigorating practice to achieve more differentiation for advanced students, not just intensive students - Annamarie's story

In many ways Annamarie is the star teacher of the school, her personality and skills are a great match for the students she works with and she has over ten years of experience to rely on for both social emotional and academic learning of kindergarten students. In her ELO observation nearly all students were learning at a high level, all except one, Jaiye, who was quietly coloring in his alphabet workbook and had written his upper and lower case Es, drawn elephants, eggs, and envelopes and was ready to move on. He quietly told our team he knew the whole alphabet and how to write, pronounce, and identify all the words within his alphabet book – a claim he quickly proved was true. In the feedback session we shared this data with Annamarie and she only needed a moment to reflect before saying – “You’re absolutely right, I know Jaiye already knows all that.” She then reflected that she was almost too familiar with the curriculum and that at that comfortable place in her career, she needed additional support to identify those students and match them with relevant learning tasks. She wanted quick support – before they moved into the letter F so that Jaiye didn’t have to sit through 21 more letter lessons that he didn’t need.

Annamarie partnered with Class Measures coach, Amy, a language specialist, to begin designing activities that leveraged students’ current language skills to challenge them to the next level of mastery. Amy was also attentive to the students’ cognitive and social development and worked with Annamarie to ensure the tasks they designed were both rigorous and age-appropriate. Recognizing that language is most authentically learned through social interaction, they were careful to group students. Though data shows Jaiye was indeed the highest performing language student, Annamarie and Amy were mindful of his need for a thought partner and paired him with a student at a similarly high level. The data also revealed that four additional students were above grade level in writing and letter recognition (though not reading) so they designed an additional group that leveraged their writing skills during the “letter of the day” portion of the lesson.

After two coaching sessions between Annamarie and Amy we returned to see Jaiye and another high capacity student authoring their own alphabet book of alliterative poems and another group of four students working on illustrated alphabet sentences within their books. Annamarie’s practice was reinvigorated as she saw students excited, challenged, and working in data-driven groups. She reflected that it had been years since she received professional development that moved her practice in such a significant way.

Individualized coaching helped me target the need for more differentiation for my advanced students, not just my intensive students. It also helped me be more mindful of identifying what my ultimate goals were in each lesson, because student learning, not just reading the curriculum guide, should be the purpose. Thinking about questions like; what did I really WANT students to learn and was I planning the best activities to support that?”

Annamarie Volz, Teacher and Instructional Lead

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