Bessie Goggins, Director of Teacher Residency for the ARISE Charter Network in New Orleans, shares her process for supporting Teacher Residents working toward Lead Teacher status. Working with 10 Teacher Residents and 10 Mentor Teachers at ARISE Schools can prove to be challenging, particularly when I observe and debrief Teacher Residents each week and need to keep their Mentor Teachers in the loop.
In our program across ARISE Academy and Mildred Osborne Charter School, we have 10 Teacher Residents housed in 10 Mentor Teachers’ classrooms, where they observe their Mentor Teacher’s instructional choices, content delivery, and behavior management. Mentor Teachers model these strategies and facilitate reflection conversations about these strategies with their Teacher Residents each week.
Teacher Residents, in turn, both lead teach several lessons within a week and pull a Targeted Teaching small group for more personalized feedback during guided practice and independent practice. I, as the Director of the Teacher Residency, pop in each week to observe these lessons and groups. I take a running record of the observation, and I analyze the teacher actions and student outcomes to determine the highest leverage, bite-sized goal for a Teacher Resident. I meet with the Teacher Resident to debrief the observation and practice his/her weekly goal. I enter all of this information on Whetstone, so the Teacher Residents can reference information throughout the week for precise praise, weekly goals, and other important information.
However, Teacher Residents are not the only ones who need to see their weekly goals. Mentor Teachers need access to Teacher Residents’ weekly goals as well! With knowledge of their Teacher Residents’ goals thanks to Whetstone, Mentor Teachers observe Teacher Residents’ lessons and groups, and they provide feedback as well as facilitate practice sessions directly related to the Teacher Residents’ weekly goal. Mentor Teachers use Whetstone to record notes about feedback and practice sessions, which I can then see.
By using Whetstone to document weekly goals and other important information that is constantly updated, we are able to stay connected about what each Teacher Resident needs and where s/he is growing. This tool allows us to streamline what the Teacher Resident is working on, which we consider highly important. As a new teacher, our Teacher Residents risk feeling overwhelmed with too many themes of feedback. Whetstone allows us all to stay in sync and avoid that potential pitfall.