To improve academic achievement, districts must focus on teacher, principal PD
- While a multitude of school programs and initiatives come and go with little or no success, the best investment schools can make toward improving student academic success is providing proper supports, development and networking for teachers and school leaders, eSchool News suggests.
- The three main levers for investing in educational leaders and teachers are creating and developing instructional leadership teams, providing an effective coaching structure for educators at every level, and developing and maintaining effective professional learning communities.
- The effectiveness of this strategy can be improved by making the school district a part of a networked improvement community that allows school staff to collaborate with a broader pool of peers in different school districts and locations.
Innovative programs and initiatives are worth examining and some have impact on school improvement, but others simply drain financial resources and valuable time in their implementation and tracking data. School districts may be better off dumping some of these programs and focusing on the most important factor in student achievement: hiring, developing and supporting effective teachers.
Effective teachers don’t become effective by chance. True, there is some native talent and great instruction involved, but truly effective teachers are always looking for ways to improve their craft through connecting with their peers, developing professionally, and innovating in the classroom. The creation of professional learning communities can help accomplish that. Creating instructional leadership teams and providing coaching at every level can also help. If coaching and instruction opportunities are wide-spread in the school community, beginning and struggling teachers will feel supported rather than singled out. These structures also will provide effective teachers with a way up the ladder of educational success.
The larger networking opportunities provided by networked improvement communities also allows for outside-the-district thinking that can lead to innovation. Through the use of technology and social media, these interactions are easier to accomplish than ever. School administrators should work at creating these structures to enhance the school district's most valuable resources: its teachers. As Harry K. Wong said in “There Is Only One Way To Improve Student Achievement,”: “The bottom line is that there is no way to create good schools without good teachers. It is the administrator who creates a good school. And it is the teacher who creates a good classroom.”
- eSchool News 3 key levers for school improvement