Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Coalinga Schools Visit

I had the distinct pleasure and opportunity to visit classrooms in the Coalinga Huron Unified School District on Wednesday February 27 along with close to other 30 other school leaders from various parts of the Valley, (part of the Central Valley Rural Network).

I became both inspired and much more learned in what a moral imperative and an instructional focus can do to elevate student engagement and learning.  Teachers engaged students with direct instruction including think-pair-share with consistent accountability and encouragement for students to use complete sentences using academic language!

The District embarked on a focus on English Learners and English Learner instruction that is embedded from kindergarten through 12th grade.  It was impressive to see teachers who did a great deal of preparation in posting word walls, sentence frames and other visible resources for students to refer to and use in enhancing their oral and written language communication.  The ELD instructional initiative combines excellent first teaching along with ELD strategies.  In my experience, these have many times been taught and viewed separately and distinct from each other.  Everyone who visited classrooms came away with similar descriptive acclaims of students speaking in full sentences using academic language while teachers showed a genuine automatic practice of using effective strategies with purpose.

I was able to glean how some of the practices in our District can be more effective, and I came away with two words:  coherence and fidelity.  We need to keep building on a coherent practice K-12 on checking for understanding with effective feedback and with a fidelity to direct instruction and good first teaching.  This includes our focus on building those communication skills of speaking academic language to be proficient writers.

Many thanks and compliments to Superintendent Roger Campbell for being an inspirational leader, and to the foresight of the Coalinga administrative staff.  Special appreciation and thanks go to the many talented and hard working teachers!

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