6 Ways School Leaders Can Transform Teaching

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A new report by the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF) offers insight and key recommendations to help bring about a ‘new vision’ for teaching and learning.  The Commission issued a call to action to mobilize policymakers, teachers, parents, students, and the broader community around this new vision.

By documenting systematic issues, such as teacher turnover and a burgeoning student achievement gap, the Commission points out that there is new knowledge and research that supports developing a system that is more flexible, innovative, and customized.

Key Conditions

The Commission has identified key conditions at both the school and systemic level that are required for great teaching to flourish.

  • New Teaching Dynamics

Skillful, effective teaching requires that teachers have content and pedagogical knowledge; social-emotional competencies to build caring, respectful relationships in their classrooms; and a commitment to improving their own practice and to professional collaboration that leads to improved learning by both teachers and students.

  • A Commitment to Collaboration and Growth

Teachers must be in a system that supports continuous development and growth. If we want students to develop the deeper learning skills of critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creative problem solving, then this must be the type of professional learning that teachers experience too. We can’t expect teachers to teach in ways that they themselves may never have experienced. It’s important to note that systems for instructional improvement (such as coaching, mentoring, and peer assistance) should be separate from the mechanisms for formal evaluation and teacher accountability.

  • Modern Roles and Structures

As teachers develop into expert educators, it is incumbent upon school leaders to have structures that allow teachers to contribute to the classroom as well as their colleagues. Well-designed, flexible roles allow expert teachers to meet their own needs for new challenges and career advancement while also addressing critical school and district needs. As roles and responsibilities shift, structures must respond and support accordingly. Distributed leadership is an emerging model. This involves teachers, teacher leaders, and principals sharing responsibility for many aspects of the school’s operation including budgeting, hiring, scheduling, leading meetings, and organizing professional learning.

Recommendations

In order to move schools towards a new system of teaching and learning the Commission laid out six recommendations to achieve this vision.

  1. Policymakers should establish and broadly communicate a new compact with teachers.
  2. Every state should establish a Commission on Teaching, Learning, and the State’s Future.
  3. States and districts should codify and track whether all schools are “organized for success.”
  4. Teacher preparation should be more relevant and clinically based.
  5. States should support all new teachers with multi-year induction and high-quality mentoring.
  6. Education leaders should evaluate ALL professional learning for responsiveness and effectiveness.

To support local, state, and national implementation of these system changes, the Commission also has developed a comprehensive companion guide that offers data, examples of implementations, and recommended reading and resources to put these changes in place.

Source: eSchool News

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