Leaders of Learning: How District, School, and Classroom Leaders Improve Student Achievement
A colleague–@4sergiovanni–prevailed upon me to buy a copy of Leaders of Learning by DuFour and Marzano, and I decided to buy it for Kindle rather than the usual Barnes and Noble or print copy. I’m amazed at how easy it is to highlight and share content from the book to Twitter and/or Facebook. You can see my shares, along with what others are discussing online by searching Twitter for the hashtag #leadersoflearning.
Below are my take-aways as I work through the book, in reverse order (most recent ones first). I’ll be adding more over time.
In their meta-analysis of sixty-nine studies conducted from 1978 to 2001, Marzano et al. (2005) found that the average correlation in studies conducted in the United States indicates that principal leadership has a significant and positive relationship with student achievement. Since then other studies have arrived at this same conclusion (see Robinson, 2007). In short, a justifiable conclusion one can glean from the research is that the more skilled the building principal, the more learning can be expected among students.
- A Communications Audit for the Central Office
- What systems have been put in place in our district to ensure priorities are addressed in each school?
- Do we have systems for clarifying what students must learn?
- Do we have systems for monitoring student learning?
- Do we have systems for responding when students have difficulty?
- Do we have systems for enriching and extending learning for students who are proficient? Do we have systems for monitoring and supporting teams?
- Do we have systems for providing each teacher and team with the timely information essential to continuous…
“communication pathways are the veins and arteries of new ideas” (Kouzes & Posner, 1987, p. 56). Effective district leaders engage with stakeholders (Mourshed et al., 2010). They are eager to initiate dialogue, and they develop formal and informal strategies for soliciting the perspectives of others. They are hungry for feedback so they can make adjustments and course corrections.
educators throughout North America are suffering from what Doug Reeves (2011) has called “initiative fatigue” as they grapple with the multitude of fragmented, disconnected, short-term projects that sap their energy.
One of the biggest impediments to improving schools is the unmanageable number of initiatives pursued by the central office and the total lack of coherence among those initiatives (Olson, 2007).
prior to asking teams to establish a SMART goal, a principals’ meeting would be devoted to helping principals articulate a rationale for SMART goals; gather the tools, templates, and resources they could use to help their teams complete this task; and rehearse a crucial conversation with a team that balks at establishing SMART goals.
effective SMART goals for teams will focus on concrete evidence of student learning.
Electronic teams use technology to create powerful partnerships with colleagues across the district, the state, or the world.
fundamental questions that drive the work of a PLC (DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, & Many, 2010): •
What is it we want our students to know?
How will we know if they are learning?
How will we respond when individual students do not learn?
How will we enrich and extend the learning for students who are proficient?
A collaborative team in a PLC is a group of people working interdependently to achieve a common goal for which members are mutually accountable. In the absence of interdependence, one or more common goals, and mutual accountability, a group cannot be a team.
effective professional development for individual educators will ultimately “be judged by its capacity for building (and building on) professional community” (Little, 2006
“isolation is the enemy of improvement” (Elmore, 2003)
the most powerful form of teacher accountability according to the study “came from peers through collaborative practice. By developing a shared concept of what good practice looks like, and basing it on a fact-based inquiry into what works best to help students learn, teachers hold each other accountable”
the time principals devote to building the capacity of teachers to work in collaborative teams is more effective than time spent attempting to supervise individual teachers into better performance through the traditional classroom observation and evaluation process (DuFour & Marzano, 2009).
The design of work in schools is fundamentally incompatible with the practice of improvement. Teachers spend most of their time working in isolation from each other in self-contained classrooms. . . . The problem with this design is that it provides almost no opportunity for teachers to engage in continuous and sustained learning about their practice in the setting in which they actually work. . . . This disconnect between the requirements of learning to teach well and the structure of teachers’ work life is fatal to any sustained process of instructional improvement.
If district leaders are to succeed in building a common language, they should identify the key terms people throughout the organization must understand in order to move forward; directly teach those terms through description, explanation, and examples; engage staff in discussions of the terms; and periodically assess levels of understanding.
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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure