Leaders Hold the Keys to Teacher Improvement

Let’s get going, Leaders — your teachers’ growth and success is in large part dependent on you! It’s so important for Pre-K teachers to have some time regularly (outside the classroom) to collaborate: share practices, share lesson planning, and learn from and with each other. But this requires the commitment of system leaders and the work of a skilled Instructional Leader, who does the recruiting and hiring, manages schedules and budgets, prioritizes and protects the time teachers need. Teachers can’t improve and sustain improvements without System-Level changes!

The EdWeek article highlighted in the Facebook feed presented some common characteristics of programs who were successful in carving out time for teacher collaborations–developments which may take time but are intentional and feasible.

  1. Putting the focus right where it should be–student learning–and creating a culture of learning that includes ALL staff–everyone’s learning is important;
  2. Hiring the right staff – as new teachers are brought on, they must be committed to a philosophy of ongoing change and improvement. They must be able to acknowledge that they still have plenty to learn, and be willing to take part in the learning of their coworkers.
  3. Flexibility in scheduling – the programs continually modify schedules to maximize learning for both students and teachers. Ideas include changing arrival and dismissal times, designating one day per month (or even per week) as ‘early dismissal’ day; and carving out after-school hours for teams to meet;
  4. Creating multiple and flexible staffing roles: utilizing teacher aides for more than just one-on-one student attention and covering breaks, appointing teachers to various roles such as ‘new teacher mentor’ or ‘PLC facilitator’. Utilizing subs, volunteers and other in-house personnel to help cover classrooms so that teachers can leave the room for scheduled peer learning opportunities.

Leaders who are successful in creating this culture of learning within their staff, are generally supportive, hands-on and very visible in classrooms, inclusive, ‘strengths-based’, and collaborative, not ‘top-down’ in their leadership style. They allow teachers to have a voice, and know how to build strong teams, where everyone is accountable to the mission of the school, and energized by the vision of the leader.  What kind of leader are you?

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