12 Ways to Lead Learning in Your School
Over the past few months, I have been impressed by the blog posts being written by Eric Sheninger (@E-Sheninger) If you have not had a chance to check out his website and blog, I would encourage you to do so. See, Eric is a prime example of someone who models what it means to be a learner, recognizing that we all have a responsibility as educators to continue learning and pushing ourselves to expand our knowledge and our craft. I am always impressed by the variety of posts he shares out each Sunday, which push my thinking and makes me want to be better. A blog he wrote last month, Learning Never Stops, inspired me to write this post below. I hope it helps serve as reminder for school leaders everywhere of the importance of leading the learning and providing meaningful professional learning in your school.
12 WAYS TO LEAD LEARNING IN YOUR SCHOOL
- Classroom Visits
Observe less and visit more with your teachers and students. Focus on building relationships. Spend the first part of year not only getting to know your staff on a more personal level, but also allowing them to get to know you.
- Engagement Q’s
Invest time asking students questions. These interactions demonstrate both your curiosity and your interest not only in their learning, but your own learning as well.
- Unified Expectations
Spend time talking to your teachers about their philosophy in order to unify your expectations when it comes to student learning, including curriculum, methodology, instruction, grading, assessment, and classroom management. Inquire about their approach to engaging, encouraging and promoting a positive classroom culture for all students to see if you are aligned with one another.
- Story Listener
It’s important that your students and staff know your story, but equally important is that you listen to their stories. Take a deeper dive to truly understand why students and staff believe certain things and behave in certain ways.
- Cover Classes
Be more intentional and consistent in offering class coverage for teachers so they can get release time to collaborate with their peers, attend a conference, or foster community partnerships that will cultivate long lasting relationships that benefit both student and teacher learning.
- Partner Planning
Connect with staff one on one (or teams) for planning purposes. Work collaboratively to identify core standards, learning targets, expected outcomes, and instructional practices that best serve students and inspire staff.
- Lead Reader
Leaders who read are leaders who lead.
- Partner Observations
Spend time with staff observing other staff. The more involved you are in the visits and discussions the more credibility you will garner. Conversations around instruction, student engagement and classroom management will reap tremendous benefits in improving the overall culture and climate of your school.
- Prep Walks
Spend time walking around visiting teachers during their prep times. It’s important that we not only visit teachers during instructional time, but during personal time as well. Think of these visits like wellness checks; check in to make sure that staff is feeling well and are in a good place and space so they can bring their best to kids and colleagues every day.
- Teacher Exchanges
Similar to student exchange programs, principals partner with other schools and do an overnight exchange. This allows staff to connect with teachers in another community, shadow, observe, attend meetings, plan and most importantly, talk with teachers and make new connections. An added bonus is that it minimizes cost by eliminating registration, flights, and hotel expenses.
Submit a proposal for you and a teacher(s) to present at a local, state, regional or national conference. What a great learning experience for both parties. The process alone is worth it, but if you are selected, it will strengthen your relationship. Besides, this will give you additional opportunities to grow your network and learn from one another.
- Model Learning
Never stop modeling what it means to learn. When we are reluctant to revisit old ways of doing things, hesitate to engage in new learnings, or not invest in teacher trainings by attending and being active participants alongside our staff, it sends a loud and clear message that we are not willing to do what we ask others to do.
Effective leaders know that relationships and leading learning were never meant to be delegated or outsourced to someone else. They invest in others, expecting excellence not only from their staff, but more importantly, from themselves. Rather than delegate others to lead instruction, they lead it by modeling it. By investing time in their students and staff, they not only invest in their own learning, but in building relationships…the bond that unites us so we can be our best for one another and most importantly, for our students.