4 Steps to Instructional Excellence
What is a culture of instructional excellence? It’s a place where teachers and administrators focus on providing excellent instruction for students. It’s a place where everyone knows what excellence looks and feels like, and the whole team supports the goal of obtaining it.
Dr. Edwin Feulner, president of The Heritage Foundation wrote, “Good schools don’t become beacons of instructional excellence by accident. The principals who run such schools simply refuse to tolerate failure. And they don’t consider themselves magicians; they simply encourage procedures that focus on what’s best for the students.”
This plan sounds easy enough, but in reality instructional excellence requires many different synchronized cogs in near perfect working order. So how do you create this culture of instructional excellence at your site?
You do it by providing a common language, common resources, and a common teaching methodology. Teachers will buy into this culture of instructional excellence if they see that the focus is on student success and the techniques are based on classroom-tested research.
Here are four steps DataWORKS uses when helping to develop a culture of instructional excellence at schools across the US:
- Professional Development – Teachers are professionals; You must invest in their professional development and help them expand their skills. This involves more than just sending them to one-day seminars and buying them a bunch of resources. They need research-based teaching support. They need quality resources. And they need to have accountability for implementation of professional development.
- Common Language – When discussing instruction, curriculum, or any topic at your school, is everyone speaking the same language? Do they know what that Acronym CFU means? Do they understand the coaching you provide to them? Do they know what it means when you tell them their assessments need to include Constructed Responses and Multiple Selected Responses? Speaking the same language is vital to your academic culture.
- Development Center – Do you have a dedicated room in your school that allows for the sharing of materials, training, and collaboration? Do teachers who attend seminars come back and share their newly gained knowledge with their colleagues? Instructional excellence means not just keeping those new techniques to yourself, but sharing the wealth! A great way for this sharing to take place is to allow teachers to observe other teachers at your site. We often hear that the best tips and techniques were learned when watching a colleague.
- Follow-Through – Instructional excellence is not something that you achieve and then move on. It needs constant monitoring and nurturing. This means regularly evaluating whether your team’s goals were met, setting new goals, and looking for new solutions when a issue arises.
One last tip – Involve EVERYONE. Teachers, coaches, instructional aides, office staff, cafeteria employees, yard-duty aides, the custodial staff. Get everyone on board and working towards the same goal!
If you want to sharpen the focus of your school on instructional excellence, then you need to bring a common language, common resources, and common teaching strategies to your staff. The first step is to get a detailed vision of what instructional excellence looks like — and you can do that at our Instructional Leadership Workshop. Schedule a webinar today using our form.