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Teacher Time-Out: A Way to Support the Collective Learning of Educators

Sun, April 19, 8:15 to 9:45am, Marriott, Floor: Fifth Level, Los Angeles/Miami


In this paper, we present an analysis of an organizational routine that transformed the interactions between coaches and elementary teachers by allowing for in-the-moment co-problem solving.

Teachers need substantial support to reorganize their practices so that they build on what students do as they attempt to solve challenging tasks towards specific learning goals. In this analysis, we examined a school-university partnership that has successfully supported instructional leaders to assist teachers in developing ambitious instructional practices in elementary mathematics, resulting in greater learning gains for students based on locally created assessments and state assessments. Specifically, the session will examine an organizational routine—the Teacher Time Out (TTO)—that was organically established as coaches co-created a learning culture where classroom instructional practices are co-developed and revised.
The TTO is the mechanism by which educators can signal that they wish to pause the instruction. Similar to how a referee might signal “time out” in a football game, the teachers put their hands together to form a ‘T’ to signal a desire to pause the instruction—with students present—and talk to other teachers and coaches about what to do next. This paper examines how the routine of TTO supported teachers’ collective learning and the development of school-wide community.

Methods and Data Sources
In order to understand what teachers have opportunities to learn and do during the organizational routine, we analyzed TTO interactions through examining video of TTOs episodes, field notes capturing teachers’ reflections of TTO interactions, and interviews with a sample of teachers and the instructional leaders. We devised an analytic plan to capture the interactional nature of the work, looking for how the teachers collectively examined skills, knowledge, and judgment and how to use them interactively.

We found that TTO gave opportunities for teachers and school leaders to collaboratively practice teaching alongside each other, creating time and space to co-problem solve about instruction, in-the-moment. TTOs were taken when teachers wanted to discuss possible instructional moves to use (e.g., when to ask students to discuss their reasoning with their peers) or consider mathematical ideas or specific representations (e.g., when or how to notate a child’s reasoning on the board for all students to see). The TTO provided opportunities for teachers to develop their mathematical content knowledge, mathematical knowledge for teaching, knowledge of student reasoning across mathematical domains, knowledge of curriculum, and opportunities to develop the pedagogical skills to enact rich learning opportunities for students. Additionally, teachers and instructional leaders had opportunities to create a shared vision for ambitious instruction.

Significance of the study or work
The TTO was adopted as a norm in this school, creating the opportunities for all educators involved to co-problem solve about matters of teaching and learning, further refining their understanding of students’ reasoning and pedagogical techniques that support students’ learning. While this analysis examined the use of TTO in an inservice setting, we speculate how teacher educators could use a similar organizational routine to coach preservice teachers in the moment as they enact instruction.


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