Administrators On the Same Page?By Susan Fitzell
In my coaching work, the price the district pays for having teachers attend training without the benefit of having their principals or department leaders attending that same training becomes glaringly obvious. For example, I was doing some long-term coaching at a high school that had initiated co-teaching as a solution to meeting AYP with their subgroups. We were focused on differentiated instruction strategies and collaborative techniques. I presented initial trainings in the district that the teachers were required to attend. However, there were no administrators present. Nor were the departmental leaders present who were responsible for evaluating the teachers. After the initial training, I worked with the schools in-house by observing teachers in the classroom and supporting their efforts to reach all students by coaching them to take their teaching up a level.
Honestly, I was outraged that this teacher who was doing exactly what she should be doing, according to the latest brain research and studies on what increases student achievement, was being chastised and written up by an evaluator who had not attended my training and who obviously had little understanding of the latest educational research. I felt her pain and realized that I would not be able to make any gains in this district unless the administrators understood differentiated instruction, what to look for in a differentiated classroom and the latest research on how the brain learns. Consequently, I developed this training for administrators and strongly suggested that all school administrators and leadership working with me in the district attend this training.
Many school leaders know that they should be requiring rigor. However, the definition of rigor is often confusing. Rigor is the level of knowledge, or the high standard, to which we are holding our students. How we reach that rigor, the methodologies we use, and the brain-based research implemented in our classrooms is critical to the process. So, if a teacher is requiring students to understand high level content and use critical thinking, and is using methodologies that include nonlinguistic representation and cooperative learning, it may appear by an onlooker that fluff is happening in the classroom when in all actuality, what is happening is really terrific instruction.
In my experience working with schools as a consultant and coach for the past 14 years, it has become clear to me that when I work with a school where the principal, assistant principals, and if present, the departmental coordinators are on-board with the initiative there will be success. When everyone is on the same page and willing to do the work of coaching and supporting teachers to reach the next level, success is inevitable.
Copyright © 2000-2013 Susan Fitzell & Aim Hi Educational Programs, LLC
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About the Author
Susan Fitzell, M. Ed, CSP, is a nationally recognized presenter, author of nine books for teachers, trainers, and parents, an educational consultant, and CEO of Aim Hi Educational Programs, LLC. As an independent consultant and coach, Susan offers the personalization, continuity, and consistency necessary for true change in any organization. She works side by side with teachers, school administrators, and business leaders as a coach and trainer, employing Brain Power strategies that take learning to the next level.
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