Jim Knight discusses the importance of creating an instructional playbook with Edthena CEO, Adam Geller. Jim states that instructional coaches can use an instructional playbook to identify the teaching practices that they should focus on with their teachers.

Part 1 of our PLTogether Lounge Talk conversation with Jim Knight.

Here is the transcript.

– Welcome to PLtogether lounge talks, I’m Adam Geller, founder and CEO of Edthena, the video coaching platform. Today we’re talking with Jim Knight. He’s a research associate at the University of Kansas and also the author of multiple books about instructional coaching. Jim, thanks so much for joining us to be part of PLtogether.

– My pleasure to be here.

– Well, let’s start out with some good news, there’s a lot going on in the world, what is a kind of a story of an educator or a coach that you’ve interacted with recently that’s really giving you energy as we kind of prepare for the next phase of teaching during Coronavirus.

– Well, a couple things, one is sometime in, I think it was like April 6, we had a chat group on Twitter talking about coaching and I said, “has anybody created an instructional playbook for distance learning?” And a whole bunch of people said “no, but we’d like to do it.” And so a few people, Courtney Teague, Kathy Perret, Joy Lunsford, came together and they organize this group and about 70 people came together. And every week, they got together at 7.30 on Thursdays, and they’re supposed to work from 7.30 to 8.30, but many of them started smaller groups. And they did it all for free, just so teachers would have access and coaches would have access to distance learning tools. And they created this distance learning playbook, which you can get, you can print it, you can copy it, you can share it, it’s free. But the thing that struck me was, here are all these people who have a lot going on in their lives 70 or more, and yet they’re willing to come together for nothing other than to make a difference and it just struck that, that’s what teachers are all about. Teachers are all about, I’ll do whatever it takes, I don’t want to waste my time on something, but if there’s something productive I can do, if I can move the ball forward for kids a little bit, I’m all in. So those people continue to energize and inspire me. The other thing I would just say is, I was really impressed by the Indiana State Department of Education, who said that their teacher of the year was every teacher in Indiana, in the state. And I think that’s a good way to think that teachers have done amazing work, coaches have done amazing work in this incredibly complex time, but they’re like, okay, bring it on, we’ll solve it. And so I’m inspired by teachers across the world and inspired by the people who came together to create that playbook.

– Well, we were going to talk about instructional playbooks later but maybe we should talk about those first. For those that haven’t read “The Impact Cycle” or seen “The Instructional Playbook” book. Can you give us just kind of the high level, what is an instructional playbook? so people know what you’re talking about.

– Well, I was on a plane flying somewhere back when we used to do that, and I sat beside this person and we started talking, she worked at a major computer company and computer software company. And she said, “well, what I do is I help people understand how to do the things that are related to the software on-site, I train them to be trainers of trainers.” I said, “well, how do you do that?” And she said, “we create playbooks, and we give people playbooks, and those playbooks tell people what to do.” And so that idea of a playbook kind of started that day with me. And then in ‘The Impact Cycle”, and now we have a book called “The Instructional Playbook”. The idea is really simple that you identify your go-to highest-impact teaching practices that you know as a coach, you’re gonna be sharing with teachers to help them hit their goals. Then you create a one-page document that summarizes what the research says, why this is important. And then you create checklists, not so you can follow up and make sure the teacher does it the right way, ’cause the teacher is gonna do it the way they wanna do it. But the checklists are there so you can be precise, so you can be really clear in your explanations and also that you can have a depth of knowledge. So that “The Playbook” kind of accomplishes two goals at least. One of them is it’s a communication tool, once you’ve got these one-pagers and checklists created, you can communicate those things. The second thing is it compels you to have depth of knowledge. So I talked to a lot of instructional coaches, and often they can’t really say what are the teaching strategies they share, even though their job is to help people learn teaching strategies to hit goals. It’s not their fault, it’s a systemic issue, and I’m the same way if you asked me when we were starting. And then secondly, even if they know what their strategies are their explanations aren’t that clear. And so “The Playbook” helps them have the depth of knowledge they need to be clear and gives them tools to increase their clarity so then when teachers implement practices they could do them well. So that’s an instructional playbook.

– It’s funny you’re kind of description of the person in the software industry reminded me, I had a manager once, who said we had to kind of create, basically he called it the preflight checklist. But it looks like airline pilot pilots do this, of course, they know how to fly but it ensures that all the right things are in order, it helps them do their job. So your story there really reminded me of the value that it’s not to check up on someone it’s to help them be successful in executing the idea. So you kind of already mentioned that there’s a new playbook out that’s been created, I mean, I guess if I’m someone listening to this, and I had a playbook last year, should I be thinking well throw that one in the trash or is it more in an adapting thing? I mean, what how should I be thinking about the kind of the work to create the playbook for right now?

– Well, I would say the trouble with right now is you need to be ready for everything. And you’re gonna need to do, sometimes you’re gonna be a trainer, sometimes you’re gonna be a mentor, sometimes you’re gonna be a coach, and so I think you’re gonna be a really, you’re gonna learn an enormous amount on the next six months. And so I don’t know if I would throw it out, I think there are a lot of things that are a part of an instructional playbook. You created one last year that you could still do this year, particularly around planning and maybe when you have synchronous learning going on, but if you say the rule is 25% FaceTime, with students either synchronously or asynchronously and 75% time on their own to do their own thing during the school day, then you’re gonna need other tools to help with that. And we’re working on that, we’re creating this thing called Highrise which is High Impact Remote Instructional Strategies, which is a thing we’re gonna offer for teachers and coaches. And there are a lot of resources out there, “The Distance Learning Playbook” I mentioned, the one that we created, it’s free, you just have to, it’s on Google and you can dig around and find it. So I guess the answer to your question is yes and no, there’s are probably things in there that are really helpful, and we use a framework called the big four, planning, assessment, formative assessment, instructional practices and community building those things, that structure probably remains the same but and some of the things that are in there will remain the same, but other things will probably have to change.

– I think I hear you saying the types of outcomes and the types of things you were hoping to be true in classrooms that were important before, those things are probably still important now just how you might achieve them is going to look a little bit differently or the particular strategy, you might choose to kind of find that end goal with students might look different.

– Yeah, I think you’re gonna have a lot more project-based kind of outcomes, even if it’s a day-to-day, and you’re gonna say, here’s the thing read this, get this back to me. You’re probably gonna have the opportunity for more, one to one interactions with students, because you have more time. You have to have a lot of time for planning, which you’re probably gonna have to deliver content in different ways, maybe setting up a YouTube channel. And then things like achievement and engagement are gonna be different. I don’t wanna just assume it’s all gonna match, maybe engagement initially is students or just conduct, we would ordinarily see engagement is something we measure in the classroom, well, there isn’t a classroom and maybe the kids aren’t signing in, but like one person I talked to said they did an analysis and they said, the high school students this won’t be a shock, but they did most of their work between 5 p.m. and midnight. So that they’re not maybe showing up for the class, but they’re watching the class later, they’re doing it on their own time, if they get the work done, it’s not so much about them being there, it’s about the learning. So I do think there’s similar outcomes, but it’ll look different in this context, too.

– Can you give us something from that new playbook that stuck out to you as like, Oh, yeah, that’s really interesting, as a little bit of a teaser to encourage folks to go check it out. And we’ll tell them in a minute where to find it exactly.

– Yeah, I had to figure that out too, it’s just what we get is, we brought together all these people, and they listed off about 100 different kinds of technology tools you could use to do distance learning. And then we narrowed it down to 20, and 10 of them are Google-related tools and 10 of them are other technology tools that are for the most part are free. And then they created the one-pagers and the checklist for each of those devices. So let’s say you want to use Padlet, to give the kids the chance to respond in a way that use your formative assessment or just to build community. Well, you can find a one-pager for Padlet, you can find checklists on how to do it, and you just go there and explain. So people are gonna be on a really steep curve for learning, and this will shorten, should make it easier for them to learn the content.

– How to well, let everybody know your website, so that they know where to find this resource, as well as I know you guys have a ton of other resources.

– Right?

– So that website’s instructionalcoaching.com, and then folks would go to the resources tab at the top, right?

– So the easiest thing to do is probably just go to instructionalcoaching.com, poke around a little bit, there’s some tools right on the homepage, and then there’s a resources section where you can download things and go to the blog too there’s a lot of stuff on the blog, and then we’ve archived a bunch of interviews with experts that might be helpful as well.

– Great, well, Jim we’re gonna take a break, for those that are listening or watching this video somewhere out there on the internet, you can watch the rest of this conversation as well as others at pltogether.org. Jim, thanks so much for joining us and we’ll be right back.

– My pleasure.

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