Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Classroom of Teachers

I have been an ostrich long enough!  Quite frankly, it is time that I pull my head from the deepest depths of the sand and prepare my leadership to meet the needs of the life a teacher must face each and every day. It definitely seems that education is changing, and will continue to change at an exponential rate, I'm starting to realize I better start to actually prepare myself for this!

It is not possible anymore for a teacher to graduate college, receive a teaching certificate, and use those skills to teach for the rest of their life.  WHAT IS EXPECTED OF TEACHERS RIGHT NOW IS HUGE....THEY HAVE SUCH A BIG ROLE! I can't express my appreciation for the many great people that choose to teach despite the constant changes they know they will face, the high expectations, and the continuous improvement necessary. Therefore, out of the respect I have for teachers, I better be able to be a support to them!

So, I really started to sit down and analyze how this MUST affect my leadership. How do I need to shift my leadership to help assist teachers through this huge shift in teaching practice.  The following are things that I have honed in on that I believe I must do to help support my entire staff as we start to take steps to becoming a 21st century staff focused on quality teaching for kids: (Note: your focus may be different based on the needs and abilities of where your staff is at)

1.) Create an environment of learners:  As mentioned above, we no longer can receive a set of skills in college and expect that to get us through for many years without diving into new learning.  I have used an analogy with my staff that they need to think of themselves as students in a class.  Some students are high flyers, some middle of the road, and some in need of some intensive services.  It is fine that they are at all different levels, just as it is fine that our kids are at all levels.  These are the things that aren't alright:

  • If the teacher (myself in this case) doesn't give their students every opportunity to learn and succeed.
  • If a student doesn't dive into their own learning and give their best effort.  
2.) Understand the staff and continue evaluation: I will definitely need to start to make a note of which teachers need that intensive support and actually devote time to meeting those needs.  We expect our teachers to do this to kids, why don't we do this to support teachers? 

3.) This is about Quality teaching....not technology:  In Iowa, where I am located, my plan is to use the 5 characteristics of effective instruction to guide our learning and focus:
  • Teaching for Understanding
  • Assessment For Learning
  • Rigorous and Relevant Curriculum
  • Teaching for Learner Differences
  • Student-Centered Classrooms
4.) Hiring people that are lifelong learners: I might redesign some questions to ensure a future teacher will be a continual learner.

Despite what seems to be a common thought with non-educators, our teachers are doing amazing things. But, complacency isn't an option, we must continue to push ourselves a little bit more each year.

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