In fall 2018, when Kara Stimpson took over as Principal at Jean Childs Young Middle School in Atlanta, Georgia, she had her work cut out for her. The school had been underperforming for several years, and in addition to poor academic performance, student behavior and discipline issues were a constant struggle. Principal Stimpson was determined to turnaround Young Middle School and build a culture of success with students, teachers, and leaders instructional capacity among teachers.
So in the 2018-19 school year, they began doing classroom observations and giving teachers feedback on a regular basis. “We used a Google doc I built, and did glows and grows and next steps with teachers, and we kept that running all year,” said Stimpson. “But I have a large leadership team, which means a lot of people giving feedback to a lot of teachers, and I quickly realized we needed something to help us better manage that.”
Coaching Touchpoints to Date
Action Steps Marked as Mastered Since 2020
In September 2019, Young Middle School began using Whetstone. They were very intentional with how they rolled out the platform, beginning with only giving month. After that, coaches began giving bite-sized pieces of feedback that teachers could quickly and easily implement, and started using action steps to encourage progress and continual improvement. In addition to observations and feedback, Young Middle School also used Whetstone for meeting planning and recording minutes in Weekly Data Meetings and PLCs. “We wanted to get everyone on board from the beginning and to do that, we had to build trust in each other and the platform and make feedback non-threatening,” said Stimpson. “I’m encouraged by the results we’re already seeing already. Instructionally speaking, we are in the best place we’ve been in several years. Teachers who struggled with instruction have built their instructional capacity… Our feedback process is resulting in improved instruction.”
This year, Stimpson started using Whetstone with her leadership team to support and strengthen capacity. “Whetstone allows me to be as purposeful and intentional with feedback to my leaders as my leaders are in their feedback to teachers,” she said. “We are building a culture of success grounded in feedback, and that kind of culture transfers well to any learning environment. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made thus far.”
In summer 2019, Stimpson and her leadership team attended Relay GSE Whetstone, an instructional coaching platform. And after several product demos, team discussions, and visiting another school in her district to see how they used the platform, Young Middle chose Whetstone to support the teacher observation and feedback work they were doing.