Principal Leadership - May 2015 - (Page 58)

breaking ranks in practice Literacy: Every Student, Every Classroom, Every Day A schoolwide instructional framework is key to developing and implementing literacy initiatives Teresa L. McDaniel and Mel Riddile For the past five years, NASSP associate director for high school services Mel Riddile has worked with principal Eric Jones and assistant principal Teresa L. McDaniel in two high schools developing and implementing schoolwide literacy initiatives through the use of an instructional framework consisting of a set of defined practices used schoolwide by every teacher in every classroom. This article details the framework they have developed. O ver the years, we have noticed that with each increase in accountability, more and more school leaders want to focus on improving the literacy skills of their students. Increased accountability, new, more rigorous college and career ready standards, coupled with our moral and ethical responsibility to prepare all students to succeed in postsecondary education and training, have made improving the literacy skills of our students a must for virtually every school. Experience has taught us that if we want to raise overall student achievement, one of our areas of focus must be to improve the literacy skills of all students. This is particularly true in schools with large numbers of underresourced, lowincome students. Schoolwide literacy is about improving the reading, writing, and discussion skills of every student, not just struggling students. Literacy is not about rescuing our neediest students. In fact, we must continually seek to reduce the need for intensive interventions by continuously improving the quality of instruction in core classrooms. Interventions for struggling learners are an important part of a literacy initiative, but the key to success is 58 Principal Leadership | May 2015 what happens every day, in every classroom. Because literacy instruction and high-quality instruction are inseparable, raising literacy skills means improving classroom instruction schoolwide (Schmoker, 2011). Literacy is not a software application, a computer lab, an afterschool program, or a summer program. While a literacy initiative may contain all of the aforementioned elements, literacy begins and ends with high-quality instruction in every classroom. In other words, raising student achievement means improving student literacy skills, and improving student literacy skills requires us to improve instruction schoolwide by changing teaching practice. Changing teaching practice is a monumental task that requires considerable time and effort, but it's also one that needs our direct attention. Students do not become better readers and writers by listening to teachers talk. Yet, teacher talk continues to dominate most secondary classrooms. We need less teacher talk and more student work. For our schoolwide literacy initiative to gain traction we learned that we needed to develop a common language around teaching and learning by adopting a schoolwide instructional framework, which has five key indicators of teacher success (see page 61). While these steps may appear to be simple to understand, they are not easy to implement. In fact, principals have found this to be their greatest implementation challenge. Why? With the exclusion of our most skilled, veteran master teachers, we are changing the way teachers teach. In order to integrate literacy across all content areas and improve the quality of instruction, we must get all teachers in our school teaching like our master teachers have always taught. Experience has taught us that raising teacher capacity one teacher at a time will never get us to where we want or need to go. Instead, we had to build the collective capacity of our entire staff (Fullan, 2010). We have learned that in order to maximize instructional time and to fully engage students throughout a lesson our teachers needed a clearly defined set of instructional practices, also referred to as an instructional focus or instructional framework.

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

Sungard K-12 Education
From the Editor
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