October 10, 2006



It used to be everyone was touting the R’s—reading, writing, and arithmetic. It seems the wind has changed and the three R’s are now rigor, relevance, and relationships. In and out of the classroom these three words can be good advice to follow. I work to create good relationships with my students and my colleagues. Notice the verb used—work. Relationships do not just happen, they are nurtured.


A Critical Friends Group does not just become a learning community because they are mandated to meet or because they have been teaching together. A group becomes a learning community when they commit to building a safe and trusting space where risk

taking is the norm. The only way to do this is by taking the

time to build the foundation. The foundation is built one

team builder, one ice breaker, one connections, one text-

based protocol at a time.


Don’t forget your basics when building a Critical Friends

Group. Use your CFG binder to find the tools to create

powerful learning relationships.




The Three R’s

“Work by Schön and Kolb has given reflective practice currency in recent years, using and applying a basic principle of reflecting on experience to improve action and professional practice. However, this is not a new or original idea; it has been developed by education such as Dewey and Lewin and can be traced back to the work of Socrates and a form of learning through questioning and feedback. It forces us to question what it is that we know and how we come to know it.” (http://www.ukcle.ac.uk/resources/reflection/what.html)


Pick up a journal today and start writing. The process can be cathartic and empowering. An unintended outcome is that the journal provides you a great map to recreate and document your journey.


Coaching Facilitates Greatness is a weekly support newsletter from The Houston A+ Challenge for new CFG coaches. Questions and comments are welcome at tmartindell@houstonaplus.org. 

Text Box: The 4th “R”— Reflection

Some of the members of my Critical Friends Group.

The pivotal piece in the reform process of both my classroom practice and my work with adult learning was maintaining a reflective journal. The journal became my place to work out ideas, connect the theoretical learning I was participating in and the practical application in my teaching and critical friends group work.


Reflection has become a cornerstone to my work as a critical friends coach and NSRF national facilitator. This piece was first introduced to me by Dr. Cheryl Craig, UH professor, when she was the Planning and Evaluator for the school’s Houston Annenberg Challenge (now the Houston A+ Challenge) Beacon school grant. The class I attended focused on the book Reflective Practice, by Donald Schon.


















Save the Date


New Coach Follow-up Session #2

Saturday, October 28,2006

8:00 a.m.—12:00 noon

UH Hilton

Continental breakfast and parking provided