Principal Leadership - May 2015 - (Page 52)

instructional leader Feedback for Teacher Growth To ensure teacher growth and development, make sure you're having the right conversations Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey W e have written the Instructional Leader column for five years. Over the years, we have focused on a range of topics, from close reading to modeling to checking for understanding. In each column, we offered ideas about aspects of classroom instruction that can be used to improve student learning. In this final column, we focus our attention on the types of conversations that result in teacher growth and development. Before doing so, it's important to recognize that there are some teachers who simply endure the feedback sessions that they have experienced thus far in their careers. These conversations have not resulted in growth and development, but rather have been used to meet compliance requirements about evaluations. Other teachers report that they would love to receive honest feedback about their craft, and rarely get that. In fact, one of our teacher friends told us that she was at school during the summer to pick up some materials and happened on the principal, who said, "I'm so glad you're here. We didn't get a chance to review your evaluation. I know that you're a good teacher, so I didn't really need to observe you this year. Do you have a minute to sign your annual review?" 52 Principal Leadership | May 2015 Our friend deserves more, and teachers everywhere deserve more. They deserve honest, constructive feedback about their craft. In other words, they deserve formative reviews rather than only summative ones. To us, this starts with clear expectations that are agreed upon. Expectations for Performance Have you read your job description lately? Is it out of date? A good starting place for teacher growth and development is to consider the job that a teacher is hired to do. We tell superintendents all the time that they should revise their teacher job descriptions and then use those documents as the basis for review. During one conversation with a superintendent, following a tour of schools in this person's district, we recommended that the teacher job description be revised and that the first line on the job description say, "Make content interesting." As we discussed this, we noted the teachers in this district had strong lessons that were aligned with the content standards. They just were not relevant and students did not know why they were being asked to learn some of the content in their classes. If the job description indicated that teachers should make content relevant, then honest feedback could be provided on that criteria. Each year at our school, we spend time during the faculty work week reviewing the expectations for staff. We update and revise the expectations, making sure that everyone understands them and agrees to them. A copy of our expectations for the 2014-2015 school year is included in Figure 1. This is an important process for several reasons. First, it makes the roles and responsibilities clear. Second, it provides a basis for the conversations that we have about teaching and learning (as well as supervision and recordkeeping). And third, it allows people to clarify their thinking about the organization and make a commitment to be part of the team. Data Collection Once the expectations have been established, it's important to identify data collection procedures. It's easy to get caught up in the flow of work and not observe classroom instruction. There are several systems that effective leaders use to ensure that they are regularly present in the learning environment. For example, some of our colleagues write the names of teachers on index cards and note each informal visit to the classroom on the card. One of our friends has her assistant put one of the cards on her chair every

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Principal Leadership - May 2015

Sungard K-12 Education
From the Editor
ASCD
Bulletin Board
Cases in Point
eCampus Systems14
Healthy Schools, Healthy Students
2015 NASSP Digital Principal Award Winners
The New School Library
Salsbury Industries
Building Bridges, Making Connections
Leading a STEM Shift
Considering the Whole Student
Collaborative Common Planning to Meet Higher Standards
More Than a Building: Personalization and the Ninth-Grade Center Model
Discussion Guide: More Than a Building
Teaching for Tomorrow, Today
Instructional Leader
Breaking Ranks in Practice
Solution Tree
School Outfitters

Principal Leadership - May 2015

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