District Administration - May 2008 - (Page 64)

SUPERVISOR’S OPINION • Eamonn O’Donovan What Are Your Staff Beliefs About Student Learning? Establish ground rules about best practices to promote student achievement. I F WE BELIEVE THAT reading is fundamental to school success, how do we get students to read more during the school day? This is a challenging question. Many school leaders are posing questions like this to their learning communities to determine what they believe about learning and how this influences practice. Andy Greene is a middle Every school has its school principal in Half Hollow Hills Central School District in Long Isskeptics, fence-sitters and land, N.Y. Greene challenges his staff to other teachers who hunker examine core beliefs about student learndown to resist change. ing. Like all great leaders, he asks fundamental questions about the mission, vision and values of his learning community. For example, he began one of the first conver- “Students need user-friendly and timely sations he had with staff when he arrived feedback to evaluate their progress on imat Candlewood, a middle school of 1,100 portant and meaningful learning tasks.” Greene challenged his staff with students in Dix Hills, N.Y., with “How do you think students learn?” Greene follow-up questions: “If we believe that provided background reading about learning principles to guide the discussion and RESOURCES build consensus. This background knowlAssociation for Supervision and Curriculum edge was essential in order to guide the Development (includes extracts from learning community in the right direction. Powerful Learning by Ron Brandt) Greene presented his staff with articles www.ascd.org by Ron Brandt that describe the conditions “Examining the Teaching Life” for powerful learning, and others by Grant by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe Wiggins and Jay McTighe, writers who www.ascd.org www.stenhouse.com/rdteachinglife.htm outline a set of learning principles as part of the Understanding by Design protocols. Jay McTighe and Associates Understanding by Design related Web sites The goal was to establish some touchstone www.jaymctighe.com/ubdweblinks.html values that a united and focused staff could use to form an action plan for improving Solution Tree A central resource for information about learning and applying best instructional professional learning communities practices. During this process, staff mulled www.solution-tree.com over basic ideas about learning, such as 64 May 2008 timely feedback is key to learning, what would this look like in your classroom? What would students be doing? What would teachers be doing?” Subsequent questions prompted staff to identify gaps between key values and current reality. Action plans to plug gaps were put in place. A truly collaborative, goal-oriented culture was established, based on standards for instruction against which practices are evaluated. Of course, teachers don’t always move in the desired direction at the same time. Every school has its skeptics, fence-sitters, and other teachers who hunker down to resist change. Greene knows that the power of a simple statement can help to move these teachers along. After the faculty had agreed on the key mission and vision statements, he borrowed a term from Wiggins and McTighe to diffuse the natural defensive posture that teachers adopt when they are questioned about favorite lesson plans that nevertheless should be shelved: “It’s nothing personal, but …” He reminds teachers of the key beliefs about learning and teaching that they developed with their colleagues, and challenges them to evaluate their questionable practices in light of these values. In this way, he can coach, prompt, or push teachers to abandon ineffective approaches in favor of those that are acceptable to the learning community. In “Examining the Teaching Life,” published in Educational Leadership in March 2006, Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe describe a Learning Bill of Rights. This examination of core beliefs can help teachers and administrators to evaluate instruction District Administration http://www.ascd.org http://www.ascd.org http://www.stenhouse.com/rdteachinglife.htm http://www.jaymctighe.com/ubdweblinks.html http://www.solution-tree.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration - May 2008

District Administration - May 2008
Contents
Editor’s Letter
Letters
News Update
Security Update
Curriculum Update
Inside the Law
District Profile
Administrator Profile
Book Excerpt
Addressing Food Allergies
Algebra: Changing the Equation
Stopping MRSA
Resources to Support Disabled Learners
Web Tools: The Second Generation
How Well Does This Web Site Work?
New Products
Speaking Out
Supervisor’s Opinion
Professional Opinion
Leadership Books
Research Center
Calendar of Events
Products Showcase
Understanding the Times

District Administration - May 2008

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