Principal - Wallace Supplement - May/June 2018 - 24

IMPROVING INSTRUCTION

Quality instruction begins
with teachers and their
level of mastery. How can
principals encourage growth
for their entire staffs, despite
teachers having different
approaches to instruction
and varying levels of
experience?
Connery: I strongly believe that it's my
job to create opportunities for continuous improvement in the classrooms. We
create opportunities for full-day plannings, and we schedule substitutes so all
teachers in grades K-5 can participate.
During this time, our grade-level teachers collaborate, and we analyze and
look at schoolwide data to determine
our impact in order to make instructional
adjustments if necessary. This reflection
time is critical in ensuring that every
staff member is able to make informed
decisions based upon student performance on common, district, and state
assessments.
Whether it be STEM opportunities
or guiding reading or math, we want to
make sure that pedagogy is strong and
we're here to work as a team. We only
succeed when everybody from kindergarten through fifth grade is successful.
Schmit: In a very complex world, and
in the very complex world of education,
I think it's important for the instructional
leader to keep it simple and focused.
The way we do that is to concentrate
on what's most important-teaching
and learning-because it's easy to
get caught up in what's urgent, what's
critical, or what needs to be done today,
versus what can wait until tomorrow.
I think teachers all have different
beliefs about pedagogy, and they have

24

heard different opinions about quality
instruction. So, I think it's important
for the principal and the administrative
team to say, "In our county and school,
we follow these research-based, quality
teaching strategies."
For teachers who are new to our
school system or to our school, it's
important to provide a mentor program.
New staff members are bringing good
ideas, but as a principal, if we don't keep
those instructional arrows pointing in the
same direction, we're going to be all over
the place, and our student achievement
is going to be all over the place. If we
concentrate and eliminate and direct
ourselves-with all our arrows going
in the same direction-we're going to
improve student achievement.
Wright: I think one of the most difficult
challenges as a principal is trying to
create equity in instruction among the
classrooms. At Craig, our instructional
expectations are grounded on our district's Quality-Plus Teaching Strategies.
We focus on the workshop model in
reading, writing, and mathematics. As
educators, we have to sift through all
the information that is coming out in
education and really ground ourselves on
what the research indicates are the best
approaches to teaching our students.
We begin every nine weeks with
unpacking our standards. Whether you
are a veteran or a brand new teacher, we
all have our interpretation of the standards. Once we have an understanding
of the standards, we then discuss how
we will formatively and summatively
assess the standards.
At times, our veteran teachers will
model different strategies to our new
teachers to ensure everyone has a clear

PRINCIPAL * Special Supplement - May/June 2018

understanding of the standards. These
conversations enable us to create a
common vocabulary and a common
approach to instruction that we utilize
with our students from kindergarten
through fifth grade-we are building
upon their knowledge every year.

What methods of professional
development have worked
well in your district?
Connery: As a new principal-this is
my second year in this role-Gwinnett
County has outstanding support measures in place. As a member of our
district's Aspiring Principal Program, I
was exposed to research-based case
studies on high-performing schools.
We also have "leader-mentors" who
provide individualized coaching sessions. We sit down one-on-one and talk
about the teaching and learning practices occurring in the building. We also
conduct paired observations in classrooms. All leader-mentors are former
principals, so they are highly skilled to
navigate situations that happen in a
school on a day-by-day basis.
I believe in developing teacher leaders.
We have in place what we call "live
lessons," where teacher grade-level
teams plan to address areas of growth
identified in our district assessments.
The actual lesson is modeled by our
coach and by one of the grade-level
teachers, who brings their classroom
into our live lesson room. That lesson
is streamed throughout all of those
grade-level classrooms. This instructional practice has shown an increase in
student achievement for three consecutive years-on our district as well as our
state assessments.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Principal - Wallace Supplement - May/June 2018

Principal - Wallace Supplement - May/June 2018 - Cover1
Principal - Wallace Supplement - May/June 2018 - Cover2
Principal - Wallace Supplement - May/June 2018 - 1
Principal - Wallace Supplement - May/June 2018 - 2
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Principal - Wallace Supplement - May/June 2018 - 4
Principal - Wallace Supplement - May/June 2018 - 5
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Principal - Wallace Supplement - May/June 2018 - 32
Principal - Wallace Supplement - May/June 2018 - Cover3
Principal - Wallace Supplement - May/June 2018 - Cover4
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