Author: Lynne Guidry
Every educational leader wants to improve student achievement. However, we all understand that there is no magic formula or “one size fits all” plan that can be successfully used for every campus. If that were the case, we would all already be using that plan! Fortunately, there are several best practices and strategies that school administrators and teachers can adapt to best suit their campus or school district needs.
The primary tools for improving student learning are the effective use of campus assessment data and best teaching practices. School districts across the country are currently reviewing their student assessment data and developing action plans to target ways to increase student achievement. Two of the most important factors in determining whether these schools will be successful are the action plan’s focus and the team’s implementation process. Some schools miss identifying what the student truly needs to succeed when using the available data to develop a plan for school improvement. Others will come up with a phenomenal plan, but fail to execute it properly. Before implementing the action plan, ensure that it is solid and realistic with achievable goals in place and has a competent team dedicated to seeing it through to fruition. This will help make sure your campus isn’t among those who fall short.
Educational leaders should work to identify and target areas with the most impact on student learning. When you review campus data, it is your job as an instructional leader to acknowledge the importance of quality classroom instruction. Place your emphasis on best practices that will give you the most instructional bang for your buck.
Remember students’ have different needs and you are responsible for teaching all students. Therefore, your campus or school district plans must meet the needs of diverse learners. The best instructional model to meet these needs is Differentiated Instruction. Differentiated instruction brings out the best in everyone. It improves the teacher’s ability to provide quality instruction and addresses each student’s instructional needs. Sadly, many educational leaders are familiar with the name of this model, but don’t know enough about DI to understand its importance in the learning process. If you are interested in learning more about Differentiated instruction, consider taking the Stetson & Associates Online Differentiated Instruction course found here.
My final piece of advice is to encourage everyone on your campuses to be involved in promoting student learning. That includes the custodians, paraprofessionals, and diagnosticians. Some of you may be old enough to remember the “Space Race”. During this time in history, America was determined to have the first man on the moon. With that determination came a national push to accomplish this goal. In some of the meetings at NASA, all staff members were present including the custodians. They were all encouraged to do their part in helping America put a man on the move. As the story goes, a visitor to NASA admired how clean the buildings were and commented about it to a custodian he saw doing an extra special job of mopping the floor. The visitor told the custodian how impressed he was that the building was so clean and how well the man mopped the floor. The custodian stopped for a minute and looked at the visitor with pride and said. “We’re putting a man on the moon and we all have to do our part. You can’t do something like that in a dirty building”. Let everyone on your campus know how important he or she is in improving student achievement. Employee pride and purpose can make a huge difference when it comes to achieving your goals.