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A monthly eblast highlighting school-based successful practices, tools, and resources that support teaching and learning.
April 2018

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It’s early to start planning for the end of this school year, but certainly not too early to think about what needs to be started now to ensure next year’s success. One area to consider is the make-up of the Leadership Team (LT).  The composition of the team is a factor that will impact its effectiveness. Who should be a part of the LT? What skills and background should each member possess to build a strong team? Should all members have the same educational philosophy, teaching styles, and perspectives on the issues the LT will need to discuss?
These are important questions to consider as the principal invites staff members to join or exit the LT. Bringing new members onboard can bring renewed energy and different perspectives to the work of the LT. Another by-product can be injecting a questioning attitude into both the process and some of the previous decisions. This new infusion can be viewed positively or negatively.
The decisions of our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, can be most instructive when constructing the LT.  The title of a Lincoln biography, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, provides a hint about Lincoln’s attitude about leadership. Lincoln saw the value in a team that didn't always agree on every issue; to the contrary, he selected a cabinet of individuals who ran against him in the election and had quite disparate views on the critical issues of the day. We invite you to read and consider the IndistarConnect blog, What Can Abraham Lincoln Teach Us About Leadership? And for further reading, the blog links to a great interview with Doris Kearns Goodwin, the acclaimed author of Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.
Is your Leadership Team performing at the level you want? Is your LT meeting twice a month? Are Wise Ways® (research briefs) being used to guide your assessment of indicators of effective practices and the development of actions? Are there adjustments or changes you can make now to improve how your team functions next year? 
This Leadership Team Self-Assessment Rubric may help you.  The rubric breaks down the formation of a Leadership Team as well as the functions of a LT into four broad categories:
  • Establishing the Leadership Team and How It Functions
  • Assessing Indicators
  • Creating Actions
  • Monitoring Progress
Each category is then broken down into its component parts. Your LT can easily assess its current practices using the four-point scale and make plans for improving. It’s not too early to establish the schedule of twice-monthly meetings to increase the odds of full participation in the fall.   What else can you do now?

Building a strong Leadership Team is a key factor in a school’s improvement effort. In addition, there are many ways each classroom teacher can have a positive impact on learning. Being knowledgeable about content and curriculum; developing and knowing how and when to use effective teaching techniques are among the obvious starting points. Yet, another area that is sometimes taken for granted or not given significant attention is developing a personal relationship with each student.
 
To illustrate this point, John Hattie, in Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement, reports, “When students, parents, principals, and teachers were asked what influences students’ achievement, all but the teachers emphasized the relationship between the teachers and students” (p.118). Does this result surprise you? Meta-analyses confirm that the teacher’s relationships with students is among the highest factors impacting student achievement, ranking 11th of 138 factors cited by Hattie.

So in preparation for what’s remaining this year and building toward a more successful next year, examine the Wise Ways for additional background and suggestions for the indicator: All teachers interact socially with students (noticing and attending to an ill student, asking about the weekend, inquiring about the family).
 
Also, watch real teachers interact with students and share their thoughts about the importance of building relationships. Check out clips 17-23 in Indicators in Action - Interacting Socially.
The Center on Innovations in Learning (CIL) provides a variety of school improvement supports for states, districts, schools, Leadership and Instructional Teams, principals. A series of recorded webinars is available that highlights helpful resources and interviews practitioners to share best practices.
In preparation for planning for next school year, we highlight a recorded webinar, Instructional Teaming Builds Student Success. Two features of this webinar will assist schools as they prepare for next school year:
  1. Video of an Instructional Team meeting during which the team analyzes preassessment data, identifies grade level student instructional needs, and shares successful teaching techniques and materials to best address those needs. 
  2. Feedback from a school team from Sabattus Primary School in Maine about the Instructional Team video and sharing their successful student data practices.
We believe there is a wealth of information in this webinar that will raise issues and provide excellent guidance to consider as you plan for next year.
Did you know you can use your phone to record science experiments because of its built-in sensors? It’s true. With the free app, Science Journal, you can record light, sound, and motion and record your results.  You can even “connect to external sensors via bluetooth to conduct experiments on the world around you.”  Imagine the data you can collect to support your students’ science experiments.
Copyright © 2018 Academic Development Institute, All rights reserved.


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