3 Critical Things a Principal can do to Accelerate Growth

If you were to take a minute and list 3 things you're doing in your school or could do this year to accelerate growth in your students, what would you list?  These three things you list are geared to not only accelerating growth but also ensures every child is learning.

Here are the 3 top items I would have on my list:

1.  Collaboration is key to a strong and successful school.  There must be dedicated time for teachers to work together, meet and discuss instruction.  Amazing results will happen will teachers are given the opportunity to discuss and plan together.  Collaboration builds a stronger team.  Teachers need less isolation.   They need to feel the support of one another.  Focused, meaningful collaboration leads to increased  student achievement.  Studies have shown that there is a connection between student achievement and teacher collaboration.  

What you will see in this video:  Leadership teams have power.  The events and discussion that happens in the meetings will trickle down into the classroom.  Classroom instruction improves and therefore student achievement will increase.
Credits: Teaching Channel Video

What administrators can do:
1.  Provide time for teachers to plan together and share resources.  
2.  Teachers need to collaborate on students' progress so that all the teachers who serve the student share ownership of the child's education.  Make time for teachers to work together.  

2.  Dedicated Instructional Time is critical.  Every minute counts.  When I say "dedicated instructional time," I'm referring to the time teachers are actively teaching.   If you read research on this topic, you will find many mixed reviews.  It's my opinion that academic learning time is one of the most important correlates of student achievement.  However, to increase true academic learning, the teaching must be engaging and interactive.  This will produce the greatest achievement and yield better performance from the students.  We want high quality instruction.  We need teachers using research-based instructional approaches.  We need more students actively participating in the lesson.  

3.  Data Analysis is a must in every school.  We can't just use our heart to make decisions.  Dig deep into data and search for the root cause of the weaknesses.  If data analysis is not your strength, there are tons of resources to guide you along in this process.  I have several on Teachers Pay Teachers.  One area of data analysis that I have improved over the years is asking deeper questions.  Go beyond the "what are the areas of weaknesses" type questions when reviewing data.   Use your data to gain an understanding of how students are learning.  Analyze your curriculum resources.  Are the resources the best tools to use?  Are they fully aligned to the state standards?  Create data walls and track student progress.  Data analysis encompasses many areas- RTI, progress monitoring, growth measures, curriculum tools, etc...

How do these all play a critical role in the growth of your students?
They all three go hand-in-hand.  The list of critical success factors could be endless.  We should at least start with three areas to focus.   Maybe these aren't your top three for your campus.  We all have different needs.  Data analysis, Collaboration among teachers and Dedicated Instructional Time are my top 3.  I see this as a cycle.  Teachers talk and collaborate about the best instructional practices.  They use instructional time effectively.  Lessons are engaging and developed based on the data.  The cycle continues again.  When this happens, students will be successful.  It's a win-win.

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