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The ReVIEW Team

Key Lever Coaching: Five step plan to increasing instructional capacity

4 min read

Campy Downtube Shifter flickr photo by Allen McGregor shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Key Lever Coaching, a high impact professional development method, connects classroom practice to your school's chosen framework for effective teaching. By having evaluators focus on the key levers in a rubric you can implement a growth plan with the levels of fidelity and flexibility that staff development requires.

Rubrics contain many parts. You have criteria used to judge quality and the scales used to measure different level of quality in those criterion. Evaluators find the key levers, the phrases that a rating turns on, in the scale descriptors. Often words such as consistently to inconsistently, establishes to maintains, pr logical progression versus purposeful progression determine a teacher's rating.

While this can sound arbitrary and subjective (like any measurement tool a rubric is both) schools can use key levers as an easily reproducible method of professional development. These small words, in a climate that supports feedback and growth, can drive culture.

Knowledge flickr photo by UCFFool shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license


Step One: Know your Framework

Three elements drive a teacher's growth plan: personal goals, the school's vision, and your framework for effective teaching. 

This means more than using a rubric to conduct two informals and one formal every year or so. When used effectively a shared framework can help drive coaching conversations, identify professional development needs and help teachers grow.

Key lever coaching begins by ensuring administrators, evaluators, and teachers familiarize each other with your school's chosen framework for effective teaching.

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Step Two: Identify High Impact Practices

After the school has an understanding of your framework start to make connections to classroom practices that drive student achievement. 

What is the difference between a "logical and purposeful progression"?  Have your staff explore these questions. Begin at the criterion level. Have faculty brainstorm what they think effective questioning strategies look like in the classroom.

Then have your team categorize the examples using your quality scales (proficient, effective, exemplary, strong etc). Next return to your framework and apply the key levers as a lens. Where the questions, for example of low or high cognitive demands.

Then have groups of people describe two different classrooms using one of the earlier practices. Have them describe one class where the evidence would justify a lower rating and another where it would justify a higher rating.

anchor flickr photo by Scott Marley Photography shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license


Step Three: Anchor the Team

Now that your school, from the building lead to the newest teacher understand your framework you need to anchor your coaching team using some kind of calibration activity.

These can involve choosing specific indicators or domains watching videos together and then discussing the high impact practices using key levers.

You could also rely on a full video based calibration system that not only examines inter-rater reliability but judges your coaches abilities to use key levers in their observation reports. 

Got Feedback? flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license


Step Four: Deliver High Quality Feedback

Now comes the hard part. As a district you need to create a culture of coaching that goes far beyond required teacher evaluation plans. This takes buy-in from all stakeholders involved.

Frequent short observations focused on specific attributions and driven by key levers allow you to customize coaching to teacher goals. Scheduling walk throughs will allow you to see high impact practices occurring in the aggregate. Coaching your evaluators to deliver high quality written feedback using key levers holds the process together.

Compass flickr photo by Walt Stoneburner shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license


Step Five: Find Directions for Growth

While most key lever coaching happens informally or formally when debriefing lessons the summative written feedback provides valuable data in determining the direction for future professional development.

You can see areas where teachers may need greater support. You may notice for example that teachers struggle with  pacing of long term projects with enough scaffolds for knowledge growth. The questioning data could indicate a lack of student to student discourse in read alouds.

When you pull on the key levers you can help your faculty grow.

If you would like to learn how ReVIEW Talent Feedback can help your school grow using key levers please reach out. We have the systems and knowledge to guide teachers to greater instructional capacity.

Email [email protected] for more.