I've been interviewing principals, leadership team members, and teachers about their work to build a culture of learning, possibility, and personal best for the entire school community. From the interviews come stories of inspiration and perseverance. But not just that. The stories become play books and professional development, giving us ideas and examples of actions that work--the actual things these educators do day in and day out to make their schools a place where teachers love to be, where children know they belong, where individual progress toward learning and mastery are the standards to which all behaviors and practices are measured and, when needed, changed or adjusted. They are stories of struggle and triumph. They are stories of belief. The stories also, as my colleague Mark Williams observed, provide a language for every educator to talk about what they are trying to do and why.

I will begin to share the stories here on IndistarConnect each week, with some discussion + reflection prompts for you to use with your colleagues in leadership team, instructional team, or whole-school faculty meetings. There is so much we can learn from each other. We are all in this together. 

Common throughout all of the stories is the involvement of the principal in supporting teachers to improve their instruction. They have different styles and varying levels of instructional experience--but in all cases, they find the way to be involved with teachers, to connect them, to make it easy for them to get better.

Amanda Smillie, one of the principal that I interviewed, had this to say about her involvement in instructional matters:

I call offices black holes. If I stay in my office too long, I know I will get sucked into the day-to-day operations. I make it a priority to spend at least two hours per day in classrooms. I conduct daily classroom observations and attend professional learning communities (PLCs); I hold data meetings with teachers where to look at achievement data, formative assessment data, and behavioral data. I pull small groups of students for instruction—this year the lowest achieving groups in fourth and fifth grade to build up their weaknesses. I don’t ask my teachers to do anything that I am not doing myself, including delivering great instruction.

One of the indicators of effective practice identified as having great impact on elevating performance and outcomes is the principal spending at least 50 percent of his/her time working directly with teachers to improve instruction. 

Recently, Larry Kugler sat down with Andrew Davis, the principal of Round Hill Elementary School in Virginia to talk about how he manages his time to ensure at least half of it is spent working directly with teachers to improve instruction. Larry recorded the interview on video, which I extracted to create an interactive learning experience using Zaption, a free (upgrades for a fee) web-based tool that I was really excited to find. A new trick up my sleeve. Watch and interact with the video here and then create your own.

Note:  The width limitation of Ning does impact full visibility of this video but you can manipulate its placement with your cursor. You can also access the video in a separate window with this link: http://zapt.io/tkhd67cu

Call to Action:

Tell us how you or your principal are making time to work directly with teachers to improve instruction and what kind of impact that has had on your learning culture.

Additional Reading:

How Can I Dedicate 50 Percent of My Time Working Directly with Teachers?

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For You.

You are busy, the world is big, and the amount of information in it is bigger. So we thought we would create a place where you can find useful, relevant, and interesting information that is also relevant to your work and the indicators of effective practice you have come to know and love. One place.

Use the information for your own personal development, even better, use it with your team! 

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