This morning my cellular phone alarm went off so I rolled over and checked my schedule (on said cellular phone) to see when my first meeting began. Once I saw that I had a good bit of time until that meeting; I sent out a Tweet, outlined this blog, and read an article on the power of Skype in the classroom. I did all this while lying in my bed. For some of readers this sounds like a typical morning, but for some of your staff members this sounds like a science-fiction movie.
Best practices are changing as research continues -- in all professions. Think of the way ‘we’ used to do things. In the late 1990’s coaches were still depriving students of water during practice – to make them tough. Kids in high school a decade earlier were not only water deprived, but also fed salt tablets. In medicine the rate of infection after surgery dramatically declined after research indicated that doctors needed to ‘scrub in’ prior to surgery. That means previously doctors did not think it of importance to wash their hands thoroughly before invasive surgery!!! Asbestos used to be commonly used to insulate buildings. These practices seem archaic, even dangerous in nature when thought about now. The scary thing is, so do some of our instructional practices.
There is now a better understanding of how to do almost anything as a result of the ‘data movement.’ SuperCrunchers is a must read to better understand how data impact every aspect of our lives. There is now more than just a general understanding of how the brain works. The research extends pinpointing what aspects of learning are impacted by being poor. There have been meta-analyses of meta-analyses to identify high-yield strategies. Instructional practices have been broken into frameworks that almost anybody can understand. The information exists for the dramatic transformation in professional practice to occur – but it still isn’t happening.
Dramatic change is not occurring because all of the information provided by the resources above means nothing the teacher that just graduated and was barely awake through their undergraduate experience. This means even less to the teacher who has been in the classroom with excellent evaluations for the past twenty years because he was the principal’s golfing buddy. This means nothing to these teachers, and hundreds of thousands more throughout the country, because they simply do not know what they do not know. This failure to communicate the research, explain why it is vital to implement in the classroom, and hold teachers accountable for those standards is a blatant failure of leadership to support the professional growth of their faculty.
During an #edchat on Twitter yesterday somebody Tweeted, “As professionals, teachers should want to improve their practice on their own.” I agree with the sentiment, but the operative word in the above Tweet is should. For those who do not, it is the responsibility of leadership to engage that person in their own professional development. To truly support teacher growth, a leader must take each person from where they currently are at in terms of professional maturity and competency and move them forward. This means that difficult conversations measuring candor and care may need to take place. The results moving forward from such conversations determine the effectiveness of a leader, and ultimately the organization. Begin leading change today.