Teachers have coaches in their ears

Published: Sep. 9, 2016 at 11:09 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 10, 2016 at 12:35 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Project L.I.F.T. schools within the Charlotte - Mecklenburg School (CMS) District have a new way to train teachers to make academic success happen in the classrooms. Project L.I.F.T. schools are the some of the lowest performing schools in the district.

Teachers use earpieces in the classroom to get directions from coaches. This has been happening for the past few years. Courtney Derrick is a coach. She has been a certified coach for about four years. She goes to classrooms at Ashley Park PreK-8 school and gives instructions to teachers in their ears, by way of walkie-talkie.

Friday she went to Barry White Jr.'s 5th grade classroom.

"I told him to go check in with a scholar. That I knew might need a little bit of extra help during silent thinking time," Derrick said.

White tells WBTV it didn't take long for him to get used to someone talking in his ear. He believes it benefits him.

"I really enjoy the immediate feedback that I get in the moment because it allows me to build my muscle memory. I can see the effects it has on my students' performance," White said.

This method is called Real Time Teaching. All teachers at Ashley Park PreK - 8 school get the training.  Administrators say there's no pushback. Teachers have to be coachable to work at the school.

"Are you willing to come here for this, to get better for our kids? There are places where you can go and shut your door, but this is not the kind of building we have here," Derrick said.

The Center for Transformative Teacher Training known as CT3 created this method. The company says students have lots of distractions and having a coach in the classroom giving real-time help to the teacher makes a difference. CT3 works with other urban school districts where students are underserved. The company has worked with school districts in Tulsa, Memphis, and Cleveland.

CT3 Representative Nataki Gregory said, "In all our urban districts where we work, we see an immediate change in culture management of classrooms. Teachers can teach more because every student in the classroom is with them."

CT3 was created in 2009. The coaching method has been tweaked. The coach and teacher go over the lesson plan first. After the 20 minute coaching session ends in the classroom, there is another meeting to talk to the teacher to go over what went right and what went wrong. This whole process now takes about an hour.

"We've shortened it because we found it more effective when we shortened it and we can get the same results," Gregory said.

Last year Ashley Park experienced academic growth. The school met growth in reading and exceeded growth in math.  Teachers attribute part of that success to teachers having a bug in their ear.

"Last year I did see steady growth from my formatives throughout the year and next year hoping to push them even further," White said.

Other CMS schools are now interested in this coaching method. The training to be a coach cost about .75 cents per student.

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