Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Getting It Done

Karin Chenoweth & Christina Theokas GETTING IT DONE —Leading Academic Success in Unexpected Schools

“Getting It Done” is the third book for Chenoweth on what leaders of successful high poverty and high-minority schools are doing to support and sustain student achievement. The first book, “It’s Being Done,” gives us examples of schools who are prioritizing student learning and consistently showing results.  The second book, “How It’s Being Done”, provides insights into the structures and systems needed for achievement.

So who are these “It’s Being Done” leaders? Chenoweth, with the help of Theokas, went out and found them, studied them, interviewed them, compared their practices, and discovered the following:They are not superheroes, but instructional lead learners. (?) Their knowledge of teaching and learning is extensive and they share what they know to develop teachers as instructional leaders.
  1. They are not superheroes, but instructional lead learners. Their knowledge of teaching and learning is extensive and they share what they know to develop teachers as instructional leaders.
  2. They are leaders who have a vision and a mission for students and never lose sight of that in the myriad of their other responsibilities. All children can learn and it’s our job to figure out how to teach then so they do.
  3. Day to day you will find them in the classrooms monitoring instruction, providing targeted feedback, and observing student learning. These principals are relentlessly respectful and respectfully relentless, with a “balance of pressure and support.”
  4. They are your organizers and conductors of the system. They collaborate in professional learning communities, actively engage shareholders, give 100% of their effort and never give up on student success.
  5. They are leading the way and Getting It Done by focusing on what we can do rather than what we can’t.
Getting it done principals are visible. Not through their office window, but in classrooms, hallways, data team meetings, professional learning sessions, and community events. They are Getting It Done with continued critical conversations to make student learning equitable and a priority. 

English Learners--The School Leader's Guide

Douglas Fisher & Nancy Frey ENGLISH LEARNERS —The School Leader’s Guide

What should principals know about English learners? Plenty! The English learner population is rapidly increasing in our schools, and while we have learned a lot in the last few years, there is still much to do!

Fisher & Frey organize their research into five important big ideas to support principals getting started.

1.    Learn More. English learners are a diverse group with a wide range of abilities and skills. Start with what they do know through a home language survey, assessment of their English proficiency, and be familiar with the language proficiency standards.
2.    Do More. “English learners are doubly challenged, as they must learn English while learning in English.” Provide a quality instructional program that allow them to listen, speak, read, write and view. Fisher and Frey’s Framework for the Gradual Release of Responsibility is an effective framework for all of our students and especially our English learners. I do. We do. Ya’ll do. You do.
3.    Assess More. Large scale and small scale assessments should be utilized to measure growth and determine an instructional focus. Consistently monitoring their understanding will give a better picture of the whole child and allow us to utilize their strengths for the next steps. A note of caution here. Students’ progress should be compared to their true peers, defined as those with “similar language proficiencies, culture, and experiential backgrounds” (Brown & Doolittle 2008).
4.    Teach More. If our English learners are not making progress in a strong instructional core, do not “wait for them to fail.” Response to Instruction and Intervention (RTI²) with English learners requires intensification of time, expertise, group size, assessment, and family involvement in a tiered approach. A principal’s job is to ensure they receive the level of support needed for progress. 
5.    Involve More. Students will need a greater understanding of what they should know and be able to do. Teachers and principals will need to continue to participate in professional development to learn more about current research and best practices. Instruction also improves when teachers are given frequent opportunities to collaborate with like colleagues and specialists. Finally, deepening relationships with families and “finding ways to make our schools more like home (Frey, 2010) helps each of us to have appreciation for each other and to build a sense of community and commitment.

Fisher and Frey commented, “Although the complexities of teaching English learners can be daunting, it is well worth the investment.” The critical conversations principals have with each of the shareholders to prompt thinking and support of best practices makes a difference. Education is essential for all of our English learners.