Thursday, February 28, 2008

Paired Teachers (K-8)

Agile in the Classroom
Being involved in the community, I was at a school board meeting last night (for way too long, but that is another story). There was an interesting presentation. The school last year started a program referred to as "Teacher Leaders". It was a great presentation detailing the outcome of this program which is essentially highly skilled teachers which "pair" (my word not theirs) with other teachers on specific subjects to meet 2 objectives:
  1. Increase student learning
  2. Increase teacher teaching capability
Results of Agile in the Classroom
The results of the presentation were amazing and the whole room seem to get it. It was great that they brought empirical evidence to the table. They defined 4 levels of support for coaching a teacher on a new program, which are:
  1. Theory
  2. Demonstration
  3. Practice
  4. Peered Coaching
They took 2 teachers; Teacher A went through levels 1-3 which is the standard approach, while teacher B had all 4 levels, which included in classroom pair teacher sessions through peer coaching. What was great was the measuring stick... it wasn't the teachers it was the students. In classrooms with teacher A, students had a 35% proficiency on the subject matter. In classrooms with teacher B, students had a 95% proficiency rating. This was consistent with other studies in the field, but they wanted to test it themselves. Additional benefits included an increase in motivation and spirit of the teachers. There was an obvious excitement in the air when several teachers involved in the program shared their experiences.

Agile Converts
Members of the board shared their reluctance in approving the program, which mirrored that of software stakeholders hedging on paired programming. One board member was significantly against it. Now she is a total convert and is looking to see how to expand the program. The reason... The quality of the result. It turns out that pairing produces higher quality.

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