I’ve been reflecting quite a bit lately on what it takes to have a successful school. A successful school is when the students in the building are successful at learning. In order for students to be successful, all of the following ingredients must be present.
Campus leadership must be strong. The principal must be able to function as an Instructional Leader. He/she doesn’t need to be an expert in every content area, but they must know what good instruction looks like. When they look at data, they must be able to identify the areas of weakness and create a plan to improve student achievement. When they visit classrooms, they must be able to determine whether students are learning. When they are walking around the building, they must be able to feel the pulse of the building to know if the culture is strong and conducive to learning.
The curriculum must align with state standards and include a high level of rigor. The curriculum must have a strong scope and sequence that makes sense. Depending on the district and the strength of the campus, district curriculum must extend from the scope and sequence to weekly and daily instruction. If it is a district/campus in need of improvement, the district curriculum department cannot assume that the campus level staff knows how to break the scope and sequence down to weekly and daily lessons. District C & I should provide the support until you have taught them to write sound lesson plans.
Teachers must be taught how to deliver effective instruction. First and foremost, teachers must know the content themselves. Secondly, teachers must know how to deliver the content in a simplified, yet rigorous and engaging manner.
How do you ensure you have each of these ingredients on your campus?
Paula Patterson is a Superintendent of Schools who shares practical points on leadership.