"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Growing Influence of Jounce Partners

by Lisa Haver and Lynda Rubin
Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools
November 24, 2017
It would be safe to say that no public school teacher in Philadelphia has seen or heard any colleague forcing a student to face the wall and repeat the same phrase 25 or 30 times. Any principal who witnessed such an occurrence would be within his or her rights to formally reprimand that teacher.
Wall Practice: 
1. After giving feedback and monitoring to the point of automaticity, have teacher(s) turn toward a wall in the room to practice the skill 10-20 more times (primarily used for multi-teacher PD sessions).
2. Frame as optimal practice because greatest number of reps can be achieved this way. 
3. Emphasize the importance of every rep being executed perfectly and with exaggeration of nuances.
Incredibly, that is precisely what teachers in some district schools are being forced to do. It is but one of the tactics developed by Jounce Partners as part of its intensive coaching and professional development plan, already in use at McDaniel Elementary, one of the eleven schools designated last year as "Priority Schools". The district has approved Jounce as a partner for principal and teacher training in schools that have been included in its "System of Great Schools".
The district hired Cambridge Education to conduct surveys of the parents, teachers, students and community members at last year's "Priority schools". APPS members heard these stakeholders ask for more staff, return of NTAs and librarians, more counselors, smaller class size, less standardized testing and more after-school activities. We did not hear any member of any the eleven school communities ask for the removal of teachers and principals or more training for teachers. Nevertheless, the SRC approved a resolution to enter into a $70,000 contract with Jounce Partners for "Implementation of High-frequency teacher Coaching for School Transformation" at McDaniel Elementary. That resolution, one of 142 approved by the SRC at its June 2017 Action Meeting, stated:
Through this partnership, Jounce will intensively train the school leader and coaching team to implement the high frequency coaching model described above. Jounce personnel will function as on- site instructional coaches, coaching teachers daily to kickstart implementation of the high-frequency coaching model. Jounce will also co-plan and co-facilitate a summer coaching institute, will participate in regular classroom visits, will co-facilitate monthly coaching step back meetings, and will work with school leaders and teachers to establish and codify weekly co-teaching and coaching practices. The partnership will provide an on-site Jounce coach for 5 half days each week, who will directly coach teachers in addition to working with the leadership team.
There was no deliberation or discussion among SRC members before the vote, no explanation of the program by Dr. Hite in his remarks, and no staff presentation on the subject. The McDaniel faculty was told just months before the resolution passed that they had to reapply for their jobs; future employment at the school was contingent on their agreement to participate in the Jounce training. A ten-day summer "training institute"" was mandatory.
The district has contracted with Jounce to work at other district schools including Vare-Washington in previous years. In Spring 2017, the SRC approved a new charter application for Deep Roots Charter, to be operated by Jounce staffers.
One teacher subjected to the training program in a Philadelphia charter school for three years 1has described it as "dehumanizing". The Jounce program breaks down both teaching and learning into isolated skills:

High-repetition practice: In a coaching session, a teacher may repeat the same specific skill twenty times, thirty times, or even more, allowing her to build automaticity, which leads to a) excellent execution every time, and b) freed up cognitive energy for teaching tasks.

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