Earlier this week, I read an article by Jim Knight on the difference between professional development and professional learning. Now, I prefer the term professional learning because it’s not my job to develop teachers, it’s my honor to learn alongside them. But Knight’s value for BOTH professional development and professional learning really had me thinking.
I love planning professional learning for teachers. It is my absolute favorite part of coaching. Now, that wasn’t always the case, but once I started creating a coaching notebook for myself (the very blog you are reading!), I realized just how much of an art it really is.
Recently, I posted about thin-slicing data, particularly, thin-slicing student writing. Since then, some of you have requested additional ideas for reviewing assessment data, so this post is for you: Documentation Panels to Celebrate Growth.
This may be the easiest and most versatile idea I have tried to engage teachers in discussion, reflection and collaboration. I first learned of this idea from Julie Caroll, a fellow literacy coach from upstate New York. This incredibly simple activity requires no preparation, can be used in virtually any professional learning session, can be personalized to whatever content you are hoping to explore and is sure to spark thinking and discussion. Really. Here’s how it works:
If you are reading this post at the original date of publication, then you’re likely nearing the end-of-the-year stretch and might be in need of a few ideas to keep teacher morale, collaboration and learning strong. And if you’re not, then you’ll find today’s post is perfect for any time your teacher learning community needs a bit of a boost.
Early on in my career, I worked with an assessment coordinator who I respected a great deal. She showed me the value of working closely with student data and listening to what the data was telling me in addition to what I was seeing (and feeling!) in the classroom. She would jokingly say ‘Show me the data!’ mirrored after ‘Show me the money!’ in the Jerry McGuire movie. 

I am thankful that I learned to value the information student data showed me, rather than complain at how that data was collected and what kind of data it provided. That said, I prefer data that immediately impacts instruction: the kind that provides tangible information about students’ strengths and needs that can impact my teaching tomorrow. That is why I like the thin-slicing technique: it helps us sort through the data in meaningful ways to actually impact practice.
Let’s begin with a question: Did you ever have a magnetic poetry set on your refrigerator? You know, the hundreds of little magnets that you could arrange and rearrange to create poems, list, stories and more? Honestly, I never did, but when I earned my first classroom, that was one of the first things I purchased. I love words and I love playing with words. Arranging and rearranging those magnets on my filing cabinet to create messages was one of my favorite things to do for and with students. I would leave the students notes, would create poems in relation to the stories we were reading and even ask questions in hopes that a student responded...and they usually did.

I bring my love of magnetic poetry to my work with teachers as well. How? By creating spaces for teachers to tinker with words, create a vision to their day or simply share a window into their thinking. 
© The Coaching Sketchnote Book with Dr. Stephanie Affinito · THEME BY WATDESIGNEXPRESS