There are three must haves for all schools, especially so if you are in "school improvement" status. This is Part 1 of a series called Move Your School out of School Improvement. Part 1 focuses on three strategies which must be in place starting now. The series of Move Your School out of School Improvement is aimed at giving you ways to move your school out of Requirement Improvement or Low Performing.
1. Strong Leadership- The leader of the campus is one of the most important individuals in the building. He/she is the captain of the ship. The leader steers the ship and maps out the voyage. The campus leader must be able to articulate their vision for the school year and then have the leadership skills necessary to accomplish the task. If you were hired to be the leader of the campus, then lead. There is nothing worse than having someone hired to lead a school who does not have the leadership skills to lead.
My Advice-Strong leadership drives every element of a successful school. As the leader of the campus,we must manage instruction, oversee campus operations, monitor student learning and build relationships. Be an ambitious achiever. Sweat the small stuff because every detail matters. Every minute matters.
2. A Consistent & Constant Focus on Instruction-
I guarantee you there are students who enter the classroom this year without well-developed academic skills. Many have severe academic gaps and have difficulty reaching basic or proficient levels of learning. In order to improve student achievement and move your school out of low performing status, you need to improve instruction. This means being constant and consistent in your efforts. We must be consistent and constant in looking at student, classroom and school-wide data to accurately identify areas of weakness. Establish data teams who not only looks at the data but creates assessments to assess students appropriately. Take the time to review your curriculum. This should align with state and local standards. Teaching should be engaging and aligned with state standards. Provide professional development throughout the year (not just at the beginning of the year). Professional development should be targeted to instructional needs. The goal of your professional development should be to make a direct impact on classroom instruction. The principal should monitor instruction and give feedback to teachers.
My Advice to Principals- be a role model for teachers by being actively involved in the improvement of instruction. Spend time in classrooms. Teach a lesson for a teacher, if needed. This kind of investment lets teachers know we are not only knowledgeable about teaching but we understand the challenges they are facing.
3. Committed Teachers, Parents and Administration- The strength of any profession depends upon the degree of commitment of its members. I guess I should really say, "committed to what." We all have commitments. But are we committed to what we believe, our goals, our mission, etc? A committed teacher, a committed parent and a committed administrator all have a desire to be successful, as well as, for their school to be successful. We must all be focused on making learning possible in the classroom and committed to making our instruction the best it can be. We should all be dedicated, enthusiastic in raising the standards and willing to provide our students with a high standard of education.
My Advice: If you want teachers and parents committed, then principals show your commitment. Shape a vision of academic success for all which is based on high standards. Create a campus climate that supports teachers to be creative. Create a campus where students and staff are recognized for their efforts. Create leadership in others.
You can do it!