A Reader Writes… (Instructional Leadership)

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In response to the post, “Instructional Leadership in Action,” a reader (and Brown Guy) writes:

“I have an alternate system that produced some fairly impressive gains in the success rate of students who were expected to fail (i.e. bubble kids). Our campus had experience with the round robin rotation method. We used it year after year without noticeable results (as a side note, we did not know how to use data, hyper-monitoring, or the foundation trinity, so of course it did not work). Anyway, I refused to allow my math and science teachers to continue with the same tried and true, unsuccessful plan (they were not happy with me).

I challenged them to develop an alternate plan and they just could not think of one. Given the absence of their alternate suggestion, we identified those students who might have a chance of passing, if they were given the proper support. Once we had those students identified (based on common assessment data), each teacher was assigned 6 students at random as their personal charge. As principal, I gave them complete freedom to work whenever they could with their students (before school, during lunch, after school, at night, on Saturdays, between classes, during electives). It was their task and challenge to figure it out how to make it work. I monitored the teachers to make sure huge complicated plans did not develop, we focused on simple and workable. In short, my charge to the teachers sounded something like this, “Bob, here are your 6 students, they must pass.”

No matter what they asked me after that, my only response was, “I understand, so, go figure it out.”

Understand, we had great teachers who really cared for the kids, and had always given 100%, but this method forced them to look at specific learning gaps for individual children, not collective masses of faceless students. They were responsible for flesh and blood children whose future hinged on their ability as a teacher to save them. I loved it, they grumbled and fussed a little, and then really went to work. It was amazing. The results were that 2 out of every 3 coached students passed the test 4 weeks later.

For many, it was the first time they had ever passed the math or science TAKS. As leaders, we sometimes sell our people short by insulting them by micromanaging. In this case, it certainly was not micromanaged.

Given what we have learned about common assessment data, and hyper-monitoring, with hindsight I wish we had used both systems, we just might have gotten that other 1/3 to pass. My suggestion: blend both methods. Your students will benefit.”

SC Response
What is key to this comment and my post is that re-teaching has to be different from original teaching. Just doing the same thing louder, watered down, or less interestingly won’t reach the students who need the most support.

Think. Work. Achieve.

Your turn…

Great Advice – An Unknown High School Principal
A Reader Writes…

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