Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A new and necessary support . . .

I used the slide above in a post earlier this month when I was sharing about the need for coherence and what we are learning from a research study done by CEL, Leading for Effective Teaching. The slide shows the important role that each layer plays in support of student learning.  I used the following words to describe what I am learning are critical system functions necessary to support instructional practices that influence student achievement.

Teachers facilitate student learning, principals facilitate teacher learning, and central office staff facilitate principal learning.

This week we once again have the opportunity to support principal learning and the teacher leaders that support them in their work.  For these sessions I have added a critical structure to the support model, teacher leaders.  We are learning from the same study that in systems experiencing success, central office staff are supporting principals in developing highly skilled leadership teams.

First, school systems are helping principals strategically expand instructional leadership
capacity in their buildings by sharing such responsibilities among multiple leaders. Research
has consistently shown that when more staff members share instructional leadership responsibility with principals, classroom teaching and student learning improve more rapidly. As
a result, school systems are placing greater emphasis on principals’ capacity to build and
manage strong instructional leadership teams in their schools. Such teams often include
expert teachers, instructional coaches, other administrators, and department heads. Under
such a scenario, principals become “leaders of instructional leaders” in their schools. The
contributions of other instructional leaders support rather than supplant a principal’s own
responsibility and authority to lead learning, extending a principal’s instructional leadership
reach in his or her school building.

Success on our Classroom 10 journey is not possible without highly skilled teacher leaders working collaboratively with principals to support their colleagues.  As we slow down to redesign the vision for our journey by embedding 5D+ language and indicators, we need teacher leaders with deep knowledge of the revised model to facilitate the learning process with other teachers in their grade levels and departments.  Our work this week is an example of central office staff supporting the learning of principal/teacher leadership teams by clarifying the vision, developing their understanding of the model, and enabling them by identifying and implementing structures to support the learning of others in the system.

This work and my learning walks with principals are two structures that are energizing for me and that provide me with continuous learning opportunities.  I believe that the support model identified in the slide above will support us in identifying the structures that we must retain, those that need revision, and those that we have not yet discovered.  We have much to be proud of on our journey and much more to learn.  This is exciting and important work and I am so very fortunate to be a part of it with this great community of support.

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