I attended a professional learning session last week given by Sean Cain. I’ve attended his leadership trainings for a full year in my previous district, so I am familiar with this philosophy of education. He made a statement at this training that has stuck with me all week. Sean Cain said, “I cannot protect you from the pain of best practices.”
I took his point to mean that if you are not already following best practices, it is going to be painful to implement them now. In the state of Texas, our appraisal system will soon include a student growth measure (SLO). Much of the SLO is based on best practices. If you are already following best practices, this addition to the appraisal system will be easy…. You are already doing what you should be doing. If you are not following best practices, implementation of the SLO is going to be quite painful, but oh so necessary.
What best practices should you be following? Here are a few:
Instruction doesn’t just happen. The most effective classroom instruction comes after thoughtful planning. Lessons should be aligned to your state standards. Lessons should be based on your district’s Scope & Sequence. Lessons should include activities that engage students.
Tracking Student Progress
Tracking student progress tells you whether your planned lesson and delivery of the lesson was effective. Campuses must have a way to track where their students began and their progress throughout the year (in small increments). We can no longer just give tests, assign a grade, and continue teaching. Tracking student progress is the number one indicator of the effectiveness of instruction.
After you have the data from tracking student progress, discussions must be had to figure out what worked and what did not work. Data discussions determine what gaps need to be filled. Data discussions tell us whether we are on the right track or not.
Reflection & Altering of Instructional Practices
After reviewing the data and having conversations about instruction, teachers must reflect on their performance. Teachers must identify what major or minor tweaks must be made in the classroom instruction to better reach the students.
How do you implement these best practices on your campus?
Paula Patterson is a former principal who shares practical points on the principalship.