November 2017 Instructional Leadership Must-Reads

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With the Holiday season upon us, there is a lot to be thankful for—family, friends, even must-reads! Induldge in some refreshing articles on personalizing PD, principles for outstanding classroom management, having difficult coaching conversations, the hidden secret to success with instructional coaching, boosting teacher morale, and more. Enjoy!

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Personalizing PD: Moving Beyond "Sit and Get", via The LaunchPad

Dr. Kristin Schulze, instructional coach from Greenville School District in South Carolina, shares shares six of her tips for personalizing professional development to more effectively develop teachers and gain buy-in beyond compliance.

"Much like the students at our schools that learn most effectively when we differentiate our instruction to meet their needs, teachers learn best when we personalize our professional development to meet their needs as well."

5 Principles of Outstanding Classroom Management, via Edutopia

Instructional leaders, coaches, principals, and teachers all have their own methods for successful classroom management. After hearing more than 700 techniques, a roundup of 5 principles was created.

" Effective classroom management requires awareness, patience, good timing, boundaries, and instinct. There’s nothing easy about shepherding a large group of easily distractible young people with different skills and temperaments along a meaningful learning journey. So how do master teachers do it?"

Having Difficult Coaching Conversations, via The LaunchPad

Ellen Eisenberg, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Institute for Instructional Coaching (PIIC), shares her acquired skills for having difficult conversations as a coach and tips for a successful debrief with teachers.

"Using feedback appropriately, i.e., language that is specific, descriptive, non-evaluative and timely, is what makes a difference in changing practice. Coaches can neither skirt issues nor focus only on areas of need without encouragement. And, every situation is different."

Teacher Evaluation Study Shows Need for Continuous Professional Development, via Center for Educational Leadership

A recent study shines light on the common theme of continuous, personalized professional development for teachers and instructional leaders from all sizes of schools, districts and networks—both urban and rural.

"Educators in case study districts and across the state generally agree that areas of strength with teacher evaluation include the instructional framework, the conversations about instructional practice, and the focus on growth. The focus on growth of teaching practice distinguishes this work from the “fire the bad teachers” evaluation initiatives that occurred in some states. [...] The success of implementation of teacher evaluation that results in growth of teaching practice is a reflection of the organization’s leadership capacity and belief systems."

Tailored Professional Development Through Technology, via The LaunchPad

Personalizing PD to fit each individual staff member's needs will help to show that their growth truely matters. One way to achieve this is to use data collected over the year that's easily accessible (via technology) that identifies both strengths, and weaknesses—aka "areas for improvement".

"Teachers are lifelong learnerspersonalizing your feedback and advice gives your teachers the ability to explore their strengths, face new challenges and address areas for growth, specific to their own skills and interests. Essentially, professional development feedback should allow teachers the time and space to work on expanding their subject knowledge and honing their pedagogical skill set."

When Coaching Teachers Has Curiousity As Its Primary Goal, via MindShift

Dr. Neil Hopkin, Principal, and Victoria Solway, Director of Teaching and Learning, of British International School in Shanghai reflect on their coaching model they devised that drives curiosity and voids judgement.

"The two leaders wanted coaching sessions to be positive and supportive, personalized and teacher-centered, challenging and reflective, non-evaluative and retrievable. But they also knew many teachers had not experienced that type of coaching before and were wary of anything that seemed like an evaluation."

The Hidden Secret to Success with Instructional Coaching, via The Educators Room

Relationships are the key to any successful partnership and the same holds true between a coach and teacher. Instructional coach, Terri Froiland, reveals 6 ways to build relationships as a coach.

"As I have been trained in various models, I have worked hard to adapt and learn the new lingo. However, regardless of the model, one secret to coaching success never changes: It all starts with building relationships. In order for educators to truly benefit from working with an instructional coach, they need to trust that they are actually there to support them."

How to Make the Most of Your Time as a Principal, via Education Week

Principals are not only skilled educational leaders, but also of time management. Here are some tips for principals to help manage time more efficiently around: faculty meetings, parent volunteers, and more.

"We have to balance the proactive (planning, vision and mission, improvement, innovation efforts) with the reactive (the unexpected fire drill, classroom-management issues, a surprise visitor) without a moment's notice—all the while ensuring that students and staff are empowered to succeed. We must model effective use of time in the way we plan, collaborate, innovate, share, empower, and celebrate."

A Weekly Morale Boost for Teachers, via Edutopia

In a profession where turnover is high kind words of encouragement, praise, and appreciation go a long way. Mary Davenport, Teacher, shares her "Hump Day Bump" emails successes with increasing morale amongst her peers.

"Hearing affirmation for what part of our pedagogy and professionalism is effective boosts teacher efficacy, another critical component of both the happiness of teachers and the achievement of students. [...] Teachers who feel valued for their contributions are more likely to stick around. I know I am."

VR Gives Student-Teachers a Taste of the Classroom, via EdTech

Researchers at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, use virtual reality to assist with aspiring teachers need for more classroom experience prior to entering the field.

"While Lamb is clear that VR training shouldn’t replace actual classroom experience, he says it’s a great way to build confidence in pre-service teachers by preparing them for realistic classroom situations. [...] He says teachers experience tension, tightness in their stomach and increased heart rate in these scenarios, just as they would in a real classroom."

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