An article for school administrators and aspiring administrators

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Dear educator, before you begin reading this article, we’re going to ask you to stop for a moment and think about the perfect school. This could be the school you had in mind when you decided to go into administration. This could be the school you’ve heard about but have never seen in action. This could be the dream school you are building right now.

Take a Moment and Dream Big

At this school, what are the students saying and doing? What are the teachers saying and doing? What are you saying and doing?

We bet it probably looked and sounded something like this…

Blur abstract background teacher with parent in classroom for parent teacher conference day. Blurry teachers with translators meet parents in international school.

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If we popped into a classroom, we’d hear students explaining what they were learning, why they are learning it, and what ultimate success looks like. We’d see students working in groups and helping their classmates understand the work. We’d read individual reflections about how they learn and what they do when they struggle.

If we dropped into a different classroom, we’d hear the teacher clearly articulating the skill that the students would be learning that day, what mastery looked like, and when students could expect it to occur. We’d see the teacher offering feedback to students, modeling how to support each other in groups, and how to take academic risks.

If we spoke with students, they’d be able to tell us how they will use their learning in the future. We’d see kids who love learning and are achieving higher and higher year by year.

Blur abstract background teacher with parent in classroom for parent teacher conference day international school.

© Shutterstock/BlurryMe

If we spoke with teachers, they’d be able to tell us the school-wide initiative to increase achievement and their specific role in that.

If we attended a meeting, we’d see educators working with their colleagues to clarify their understanding of the initiative and we’d hear them ask the principal for help and support. We’d see teachers who own their role as the professional decision-maker whose job is to ensure student success.

And what are you doing in this perfect school?

If we visited the front office, we’d meet a principal who sees the teachers as individual learners.

If we asked, we’d hear the principal explaining the long-term goal for increasing student achievement, the current initiative to support this goal, and the criteria of successful implementation.

If we looked at the professional development calendar, we’d see the plan of support for the teachers, including learning opportunities and monitoring.

If we sat in a classroom observation debrief, we’d hear the principal asking the teacher a series of questions to fully understand their decision-making. We’d see a principal that supports and respects the decision-making abilities of their teachers.

In this dream school, we’d be seeing and hearing an example of support for all stakeholders. We’d be seeing and hearing the actions of instructional leadership.

Make Your Dream a Reality

Now, back to reality. How close is your current school to your dream school? Is your dream a pipe dream? And in this time of uncertainty, do you even believe you can build your dream school?

We do.

We do because we know that you are the key to whatever school you want to have.

Now, we aren’t saying this is something you can do overnight, but the research bears out that you have the power to turn your school into your dream school. According to Edutopia’s “Teacher Development Research Review,”

“Leadership is second only to teaching among school-related factors that can improve student achievement, and it tends to show greatest impact in traditionally underserved schools.”

Of all the skills a principal needs to succeed, the most vital, in terms of increasing academic achievement, is that of instructional leadership. And the skill of instructional leadership is made up of actions that can be seen and heard. We believe that the actions of instructional leadership can be developed.

You believe this, too, otherwise you would not have clicked on this article.

And we want to support you in building your dream school. We know that you are planning now for next year. We know that you are building your dream school under new challenges. We know that these challenges will bring about new opportunities. That’s why this article is the first in a series of articles that will show current principals, assistant principals, and future administrators how to take this opportunity to turn your dream into your reality.

You will find on our website resources that articulate the research-based practices you need to incorporate into your leadership style to build your dream school.

We provide you with support in learning how to:

  • Utilize the four actions of instructional leadership to effectively lead an initiative with the performance outcome of increased academic achievement for each and every student in their sites and districts.
  • Recognize your leadership style as you differentiate between instructional leadership and management.
  • Support teachers in developing ownership of their own role in student learning by building the authority, capacity, and responsibility of your staff.

You have the dream. We’ll show you how to make it a reality.

The Learning Brief

In this article you learned…
  • What your dream school could look like and sound like.
  • Instructional leadership is a skill that administrators can develop and is critical to elevating student achievement.
  • Where to find additional support for developing instructional leadership (www.elevatedachievement.com).
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Can you imagine building an environment full of motivated, engaged, and eager students who own their learning?
We can.

Let us show you how

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