I love coaching as it provides a lens to see how teachers and administrators act on feedback to grow and improve. It also provides evidence that strategies aligned to research and sound instructional design are implemented in practical ways. Even though this year has been dramatically different as a result of the pandemic, I have found myself even more busy supporting districts through job-embedded and on-going professional learning. Whether face-to-face, hybrid or remote, the elements of learning and good teaching remain the same.
No matter where I am, one aspect of instructional design that I often identify as an area for growth is closure. I have written in the past how important including this strategy is, no matter the grade level of students or the content being addressed. Closure draws attention to the end of the lesson, helps students organize their learning, reinforces the significant aspects of the concepts explored, allows students to practice what was learned, and provides an opportunity for feedback, review, and reflective thinking. It is hard to determine the effectiveness of a lesson or whether learners understood the concepts presented without some form of closure.
While there are many strategies out there, the exit ticket is probably the one that is utilized the most. While learners can solve problems or answer specific questions related to the content or concepts addressed, more general prompts can also be used, such as:
- What exactly did I learn?
- Why did we learn this?
- How will I use what was learned today outside of school, and how does it connect to the real world?
A few weeks ago, I received an email from Dr. Nathan Hall, the Corinth Middle School principal in Mississippi. I have been coaching in the district for over two years now and have written extensively about how the schools' staff have been open to innovative change with the evidence to back it up. Below is a message that Lori Snyder, one of his 7/8th grade math teachers, sent him regarding using exit tickets for closure:
I had asked about a program for my exit tickets. I need something like Padlet that allows them to enter their answer anonymously but will not show everyone's answer until I am ready. I want to use it for real-time feedback. The trouble with Padlet is that they can see everyone's responses as they are posted, and some are copying others' answers instead of doing their own work. Mentimeter won't let them type in numbers. Canvas discussion is not anonymous. You had said something about asking Mr. Sheninger before he came for his next visit.
After thinking about it, I suggested GoSoapBox. Dr. Hall then passed this along to Ms. Snyder, and her feedback is below:
When they are online answering, the barometer at the top tells me if they need help. After seeing that some require the problem worked out, I add it to the exit ticket page.
It is always a great day when a teacher or administrator shoots me an email looking for ways to improve. Little did I know that I would see the GoSoapBox exit ticket in action a few weeks later. As I conducted my monthly coaching visit at Corinth Middle School, here is what I saw in Ms. Snyder's class:
- Students solved math problems on dry-erase desks and then submitted their answers.
- Their work was added to their notebook, which both they and the teacher could refer to see where issues were.
- The teacher was able to see where misconceptions were immediately.
- Names were removed from public view, so students weren't embarrassed.
- The teacher was able to address issues that the majority of the class was having right away by modeling or re-teaching.
- Individual students who had misconceptions were emailed after school to maximize class time.
I am so proud of this teacher for looking for ways to implement exit tickets using technology. From the bullets above, you can see the many positive outcomes one small, yet significant, change made. The key lesson here is that there are always elements of practice that can be tweaked, adapted, or changed in order to improve. Great educators never stop chasing growth.