Calling All Coaches blogs away about being better at coaching–coaching teachers who are teaching students any core subject, but especially those in English Language Arts–with the hopes of becoming better through other coaches’ and teacher’ comments, suggestions and ideas.  With coaching to independence their Coaching Round Teachers as the primary goal of all coaches, I have written the following:


Gradual Release of Responsibility: A Quick Write




For educators who have honed in on their teaching practices and who are consistently demonstrating self-reflection and a willingness to be an active learner as teacher, taking on the role of facilitator to nurture independence is rewarding, but not without intentional preparation. In the book, Better Learning Through Structured Teaching, by Fisher and Frey, the statement is made that the key to effective guided instruction is planning.

There are many considerations—fitting in large group to model and think aloud in problem solving; trying out the new learning among the large group while monitoring for depth of understanding; breaking into teams or small groups to talk about students’ notices and understanding thus far, then trying it out in the small group; pairing off to practice and problem solve the new learning even more in depth, and finally, to be able to independently use the new learning in a new setting successfully—all done within short spurts of time in the school day.

Some of the details of getting to independence include peer support, feedback given teacher-to-student and student-to-student, practicing many times in going from novice to expert after the initial success, and the realization that every new learning will take up differing amounts of time, dependent upon its’ nature. In Fisher and Frey’s book, the authors make the statement that effective instruction mainly follows a progression in which teachers gradually do less of the work and students gradually assume responsibility for doing most of the work in the learning.

A student who has become independent will come to understand the purpose for the new learning; be intentional about the new learning and his interactions with others during the new learning; exhibit confidence in taking on new learning; ask questions about the new learning to problem solve; collaborate willingly with small group members or in a pair to problem solve through active discussion; support members in his group; practice over and over again the new learning until it becomes automatic, and talk fluently about the learning, using problem solving methods and techniques as verbal examples. Fisher and Frey report that the main goal of instruction is that students be able to independently apply information, ideas, content, skills, and strategies across unique scenarios. We want to facilitate independence so students won’t depend on each other.




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