“When you make an observation, you have an obligation.” – M.K. Asante
First, let me share that I have enjoyed my little summer project. I got to read a great book and share it with my friends….last time I checked the stats, the Learning Targets blog had been viewed over 6,000 times. I realize that may not be much in the virtual world, but I have to believe it is better than me reading it alone. So what happens next? Well, I guess the point of doing this to begin with was to help teachers plan better lessons so that students would understand what they are learning. That is the goal…to design dynamic learning experiences for students. However, as this last chapter suggests, teachers can’t do it alone. Effective schools call for effective leadership.
Principals and others placed in the role of observing in classrooms all enter with certain beliefs about what is important. As Moss and Brookhart share, principals use typical lists of “best practices” to create “look-fors” in the classroom. The danger in this is that too often these lists are only centered on what the teacher is doing. We focus on teacher actions, occasionally even scripting every question they ask, or strategy they use. Sometimes we look for “student engagement”, but how do you really determine if a student is engaged? No, the “jugular” question, as the authors put it, is “Engaged in what?”. Too often we have students working on well intend, but poorly designed lessons and they become meaningless in pushing students’ learning forward. Someone has to provide support to ensure this doesn’t happen.
|250+ of NISD's best!|
On page 151, perhaps my favorite quote of the whole book arrives:
“There are virtually no documented instances of turning a troubled school around without intervention from talented leaders. Although there are many factors….leadership is the catalyst.”
ost gains in a school with strong leadership over time.
So what type of leadership is important? The term “instructional leader” by the authors’ estimation has become a watered-down term with varied definitions and expectations. A few characteristics of an effective instructional leader that I took from the chapter:
· Instructional leaders create a common language about what they consider evidence of effective teaching and meaningful learning. These shared beliefs allow a campus to know what is working, what is not working, and do something about it.
· Instructional leaders engage in targeted professional development WITH teachers about improving what happens in the classroom.
· Instructional leaders ensure that strategic instructional practices that raise student achievement are embedded in each lesson.
· Instructional leaders conduct strategic observations, provide targeted feedback to teachers, and forge strong learning partnerships between teachers and students.
I hope those of you that have been reading along this summer have enjoyed the book as much as I have. I found a ton of helpful reminders about the importance of students being partners in their learning and it reinforced my belief on the value of good lesson planning as the key to high student achievement.
One final question:
· What does your campus leadership do to support the instructional culture of your building?