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What's next?

The situation

In the previous episode, Cara and Judy used up the last of their thirty minutes working together analyzing Cara's discussion with her students. Now, briefly, they talk about what they will do next.

Judy and Cara talk

JUDY: Well, what do you think you'd like to work on in the coming week?

CARA: I want to stick with leading discussions for a while. This week I'll videotape a discussion and make a Discussion Sketch of the parts that I'm most interested in. We can analyze that...

JUDY: OK. You know, in the website there is a set of discussion samples. Each one includes a transcript or a description of a classroom discussion. They're all short; won't take you long to look at them. They could give you some ideas about your discussions. I'll look at them, too. [Discussion samples]

CARA. All right; if I can find the time. See you next week.

The partnership

Notice that Cara and Judy have made a commitment to do something each week. That is a large commitment. Like many other beginning and mentor teachers, Cara and Judy have to fight for time to observe each other or talk together. It is therefore crucial that they use that time productively; if they don't, their project is likely to come to an end.

Cara made things easier for Judy, and perhaps for herself, by proposing to videotape a discussion and fill out a Discussion Sketch on the parts that she's most interested in. That way, she draws Judy to the points where she feels she needs the most help, and Judy is saved the problems of finding the time to observe Cara's class and of deciding what to write down in the notes.

Other tools available

In the preceding episodes, Cara and Judy worked with the Discussion Sketch and two of about seven related tools for analyzing sketches. [Discussion analysis] Three other tools might be useful to them at some point:

  • Critical incident method . Judy might have chosen this because it starts with teachers' natural storytelling and cultivates it to achieve greater insight and usefulness.
  • Leading discussions. This inventory would provide a quicker, broader, look at a discussion, focusing on questioning, wait time, encouragement and paraphrasing.
  • Recording classroom interactions is another quick survey that examines the quality of interactions, pacing, speaking and rapport.