What will you guarantee every single student who steps foot inside your building? Equitable access to the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) or general education curriculum? Equitable access to high quality instruction provided by teachers skilled in core content knowledge AND instructional methods designed to engage and bring learning within the reach of every student? Access to individualized supports designed by student need versus traditional labels, places or categories?
Sounds good, right? However, how will you guarantee them?
Self-assessment and action planning are complex due to a multitude of human variables. School leaders must know their exact target and then work relentlessly toward that goal. This requires campus-based leadership that is nimble (the ability to see the forest and the trees) and committed to excellence for literally every single student. At times you may need a birds-eye view of the organization so you know exactly what to celebrate, what to question, and what to improve.
We have previously featured several self-assessment tools for refining the larger, systems-level particulars absolutely necessary for leading an inclusive school. Now, our focus shifts to the classroom level. Thanks to Linda Darling Hammond and many others, we know that in education, the single most important determinant of what students learn is what their teachers know. Teacher qualifications, knowledge, and skills make more difference for student learning than any other single factor.
The following facilitator guide and presentation materials allow you to lead your teachers through a self-assessment of the characteristics of effective teachers. This tool was adapted from Sonia Nieto’s Characteristics of Teachers of All Students (2005). You may use this process to discuss how your school will continue to work toward improved and equitable outcomes for all students.
The power is not in the tool itself – it’s in the process of continual self-assessment, goal setting and refinement. Confucius said it best: “When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.”
Skrla, L., McKenzie, K., Scheurich, J. (2009). Using Equity Audits to Create Equitable and Excellent Schools. Corwin Press, Thousand Oaks, CA.