Rigor is creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels,
each student is supported so he or she can learn at high levels,
and each student demonstrates learning at high levels (Blackburn, 2008).

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Leaders Who Believe

Yesterday, I talked about working with teachers in Wellston, Ohio. Today, let's turn our attention to what great leaders do.  So often, I only have the opportunity to work with teachers, but in this case, I stayed a second day and spent the morning with principals and district leadership.  They demonstrated several actions that I think are critical for school leaders:
  • Actively participating in the activities during the full-day workshop;
  • Talking with and asking questions of their teachers throughout the day to ensure I could make any needed adjustments or answer questions; and
  • Meeting briefly with their teachers at the end of they day to provide an opportunity for anonymous feedback using post-it notes (this allowed for more honest comments).
The benefits of customized, long-term professional development are clear.  In this case, rather than viewing the workshop as a "one-time show", we partnered together to design a day that would be worthwhile, and adjusted during the day as needed.

The next day, we brainstormed what they could do in their schools for follow-up.  Ultimately, it's not what you do during that day...it's what you do afterward.  As a group, they decided to meet with teachers to discuss their vision letters.  Next, I asked teachers to choose one idea from our session or from my new book, Rigor Made Easy, since they each received a copy.  I will be back at the end of the month, so they are going to try or adapt one idea and implement it with their students.  Then, they can discuss with grade levels, departments, etc. the positives of the activity, as well as the challenges.  Leaders will take a look at samples of the students' works, so they can see what is happening.  Finally, the schools are doing a book study, and are using some of the resources I'll be discussing later this week.

What was my most important takeaway as I worked with some great leaders?  They believe!  They believe their students can learn.  They believe their teachers can add to what they are already doing in the classroom.  And, most importantly, they believe they can help teachers and students move to higher levels.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your interest. Due to an increase in spam, all comments are now moderated by the site administrator.