Yesterday was the second day of training on Formative Assessments for Instructional Coaches.
One idea that was brought up that I felt very strongly against was the topic of taking notes during 1 on 1 meetings with teachers. During this training we have been exposed to a form to use to take notes with the other teacher. I liked the form and am not against learning how to talk and form a conversation that actually goes somewhere. I think a hot ticket item in education is the amount of meetings we have and how useless they are, but I digress from the topic at hand.
It was suggested that we during our meetings with teachers we fill out this form. We are to write either by hand or on our computer key things that they person is sharing. As we practiced this many realized how difficult it is to do two things at once.
The reason that it is hard to do is because multitasking is a lie and you cannot do it.
It was brought up in discussion how difficult it was to take notes and engage in conversation where we are asking questions to help the teacher find answers to their questions. I want to take it step further to a much more important issue that happens when you spend your whole time taking notes.
It is just plain rude.
Instead of looking at your screen the whole time and typing, try something called respect. Stop what you are doing. Look them in eyes and LISTEN. Don’t sit there and worry about what you are going to say next. Don’t sit there and wait to share your infinite wisdom.
Teachers already feel like their voices are not heard. Teachers also are some of the worst listeners because they just want to share what they know and don’t really listen to what others are saying. If I am in a one on one session with another educator and I take time to just write/type the whole time am I really listening? It is rude. Where is the eye contact? We don’t go to coffeeshops and take notes on our conversations. I disagree with this immediate note system.
I am not suggesting that you don’t down any notes. I think there are times it must be done. I believe that we should take short notes and afterwards type up a nice document. During the conversation I will have my notepad and jot down some key ideas/questions, but that will be to make sure I follow up properly. 95% of the time I want to be in the moment with the other person.
During this truing we fill out this form and it is shared between the coach and the teacher and nobody else. If I am just sharing it with the teacher they are not going to go back to their rooms and read it right away. They will be in teaching mode and most likely have a class since our meetings will take place during their prep periods. One of the ideas behind taking all these notes was that they teachers should have that info immediately. Why? Is it that necessary to have it in their inbox within minutes? I think it would be more wise to have a deeper conversation and then I could follow up with notes for them to check out by the end of the day.
Taking notes on a computer or paper is great, but not at the expense of being a poor listener and making educators feel like they are on the hot seat for answers. It will just be a rote exercise that really goes nowhere because of fear. It will not be real and honest because we are too busy typing. I could see educators not wanting to really open up completely if I spend the whole time typing. How am showing interest? How am I able to develop high quality responses and actively listen? I don’t think it can be done.