July is a month that is typically part of summer vacation, but not for the students of Promise Academy II. Their 11 month school year is designed to prevent the “summer slide,” which describes what happens when young minds are idle for two months of summer vacation.

Before arriving in Harlem, we had just finished a month of building and prototyping our new coaching model in the charter schools of New Orleans, and we were eager to see how things unfolded in active classrooms. Here are some of the key insights we gained.

– Messages > Strategies

– Instruction, Assessment, Behavior

– Students want to do well

The first major insight was about how we coached. We started off by giving teachers specific growth mindset strategies that paired with their lesson plans, but soon discovered that starting with the overall message was more useful for teachers by allowing them to be more adaptive with the strategies and build more cohesion between the lesson goals and growth mindset goals.

The next insight was about the content of our coaching. We quickly learned that growth minded instruction was only part of the solution. Besides classroom instruction, students receive messages related to their learning through the way they’re graded and the way they’re rewarded and punished. Because of this insight, we’re building out growth minded coaching components for assessment and behavior management.

The most important insight wasn’t really even an insight at all and more of an ideal that is easy to forget in the heat of the moment: students want to do well. Through our time in at Promise Academy II, we truly believe that if given the skills and the option to succeed, students will do so. Because of this simple truth, we’re moving forward with strategies that are intended to reframe instruction, assessment and behavior management as processes that happen with the student instead of to them.

If you agree with our insights and want to collaborate with us as a teacher or a whole school, please reach out to hello@pomegranatelab.com and we can set something up!

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