Thursday, May 9, 2013

Principals and School Improvement

Schools are being held to higher levels of accountability for student learning. That's not a bad thing. We should accept responsibility for the learning of our students. But what's emerged is a trend to micromanage teachers and their work. That's not such a good thing. One example is the nationwide trend toward more intense supervision and more complex evaluation systems. Again, evaluation is not bad, but it should be part of a system that promotes growth and engages teachers in thoughtful analysis of their work and implementation of strategies to continue strengthening their performance.

There's lot of evidence that simply telling people what to do doesn't get the required results. You may get short-term compliance. But rarely do you get long-term change. While many of the mandates may be well-intentioned, they are often imposed on educators without engaging those affected in a discussion of the problem and possible solutions.

A recent article by Rick DeFour and Mike Mattos discussed this paradox. They suggest some common-sense strategies that principals can use to positively impact student learning in their school. They also share the results from a comprehensive study of school reform that found an increase in student learning when teachers participated in professional learning communities (Vescio, Ross, & Adams, 2008).

I'd enjoy hearing from you about your experience with PLC's and their impact on student learning.

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