Professional Development: What Works: Volume 1


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Although there are points of convergence in these actions, it is helpful to divide them into three categories: instructional focus, instructional evaluation, and monitoring of student progress. Instructional focus behaviors demonstrated by effective principals include support of teachers' instructional methods and their modifications to the approach or materials to meet students' needs, allocation of resources and materials, and frequent visits to classrooms.

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Instructional evaluative actions of principals include making frequent visits to classrooms as well as soliciting and providing feedback on instructional methods and materials. They also include using data to focus attention on ways to improve curriculum and instructional approaches and to determine staff development activities that strengthen teachers' instructional skills.

When monitoring progress, effective principals focus on students' outcomes by leading faculty members to analyze student data, to evaluate curriculum and instructional approaches, and to determine appropriate staff development activities.

The following paragraphs examine in more detail the specific behaviors of principals in schools where at-risk students are achieving academic success. Just as programs such as bilingual education validate language minority students' native language strengths and thus diminish risk, principals validate teachers' strengths and experiences by supporting their instructional efforts. How do principals do this for teachers?

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Principals assume a proactive role in supporting teachers' instructional efforts. They communicate directly and frequently with teachers about instruction and student needs. An example of frequent interaction with teachers is principals making a "conscious effort to interact in a positive manner with every teacher on a daily basis" Reitzug, , p. They interact directly with teachers on instructional issues. Reitzug's analysis of teacher and principal interactions revealed that in the school where students were achieving there were more interactions dealing with instructional matters.

Furthermore, a greater amount of time was spent during those interactions than the time span of conversations of a non-academic nature. Instructional leaders focusing their interactions on primarily instructional topics were also documented by Greenfield Cuban found that such principals were flexible and supportive with teachers' efforts to adapt, modify, or adjust instructional approaches to meet the needs of students.

Sizemore, Brossard, and Harrigan reported that in a high achieving, predominantly African-American elementary school, teaching assignments were matched with teachers' expertise for meeting the needs of students. Support for the teachers' instructional efforts occurs because these instructional leaders are cognizant of what the teachers are doing. They are aware because they are involved. Teachers address students' basic needs when they provide pencils and paper to students. Likewise, principals provide a service to teachers' basic instructional needs by allocating resources and materials.

When instructional leaders know what is happening in classrooms, they are better able and willing to provide resources and materials that support teachers' instructional efforts. Andrews, Soder, and Jacoby called this "mobilizing resources" p. Heck, Larsen, and Marcoulides reported that one of the variables determining high achieving schools was the principal's assistance to teachers in acquiring needed instructional resources. Attending to the materials needed, the "utilization of instructional resources to achieve maximal student outcomes" was a characteristic identified by Venezky and Winfield , p.

Continuing Professional Development

Providing the "assured availability" of materials by designating personnel to provide the necessary materials to individual teachers was a leadership behavior reported by Levine and Stark School practices of regular communication with parents promote attention to students' progress. Similarly when principals frequently visit classrooms, they provide attention to teachers' efforts and progress in instructional matters.


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To gain knowledge of what is occurring in classrooms and the materials being used, effective principals frequently observe teachers' instructional methods. Sizemore, Brossard, and Harrigan used the label of "rigorous supervision" p.

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Heck, Larsen, and Marcoulides reported that one of the leadership behaviors common in high achieving schools was the principals' direct supervision of instructional strategies. Andrews, Soder, and Jacoby described the principals as "a visible presence" p. When principals interact with teachers about classroom efforts, they are communicating with teachers about the instructional process just as teachers interact with students about their progress.

Such two way communication is critical in establishing a climate of collaboration. Opportunities to interact with teachers on instructional issues increase as principals become a frequent visitor in the classroom. Reitzug's analysis of teacher and principal interactions demonstrated that teachers in schools with improved student performance more frequently requested the principal's help on instructional matters than the teachers in low performing schools.

Providing follow-up comments to assist teachers' improvement was one of the variables characterizing high achieving schools reported by Heck, Larsen, and Marcoulides In addition to gaining first-hand knowledge of the instructional approaches being used by the staff, principals who are frequent classroom visitors become more aware of the daily challenges and constraints that teachers encounter Greenfield, This information enhances the principals' ability to practice instructional leadership that leads to student academic gains.

At-risk students greatly benefit from using computer-assisted-instruction programs that provide data-based feedback and maintain individual student records of performance. Similarly, when principals use data about trends in students' performance to adjust the curriculum or instructional practices being used, instruction is maximized. In schools where at-risk students are achieving at high levels, principals structure time to evaluate and monitor students' progress, and lead staff efforts in designing focused instructional approaches to meet the special and specific needs of students.

They work in concert with the teachers to review, modify, and adjust their instructional efforts. Sizemore, Brossard, and Harrigan discussed the positive impact on students' performance when "consistent monitoring of students' skill" p. Venezky and Winfield reported that in successful schools "careful monitoring of student progress" took place p.

Archived Educational Leadership

The comprehensive school improvement efforts of Prince George County began with the careful analysis of student data Murphy, Effective teachers determine the academic needs of students with the use of data such as reading inventories. Similarly, effective principals use data to determine areas of need for staff development activities.


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In schools where at-risk students are achieving, principals provide and promote professional development opportunities to improve teachers' instructional skills. Decisions about staff development are made based on students' progress data as well as on teachers' discussions, input, and needs. Sizemore, Brossard, and Harrigan reported the "prompt evaluation of teacher and staff performance and the provision of assistance, help and in-service where necessary" p. When describing the activities reported by the principal of a high achieving rural school, "a heavy emphasis on staff development" was found to improve teachers' skills Venezky and Winfield, , p.

This Issues A review of the literature revealed that in schools where at-risk students were making academic progress, principals take a proactive role in the instructional process. They address teachers' basic, professional, and individual instructional needs when they:. Principals can incorporate these behaviors into their role as the instructional leaders. Furthermore, these actions have a direct impact on the instructional program provided to at-risk students.

To make a difference in the academic progress of at-risk students, effective principals do for teachers what effective teachers do for students. Department of Education under grant number RP The content herein does not necessarily reflect the views of the department or any other agency of the U.

Available in alternative formats. What Works with At-Risk Students We know how to meet the basic, academic, and affective needs of at-risk students.

Leading for impact

Instructional Leadership Instructional leadership is a significant factor in facilitating, improving, and promoting the academic progress of students. Instructional Leaders of At-Risk Students Principals become servants to their vision of success for all students. Principals support teachers' instructional methods and their modifications of instructional approaches and materials. Principals allocate resources and materials. Principals frequently visit classrooms for instructional purposes.

Principals solicit and provide feedback on instructional methods and techniques. Principals use data to focus attention on improving the curriculum or instructional approach to maximize student achievement. Principals use data and faculty input to determine staff development activities that strengthen teachers' instructional skills. Implications for Change This Issues They address teachers' basic, professional, and individual instructional needs when they: support teachers' instructional methods, allocate resources and materials, visit classrooms frequently, provide feedback on instructional methods and techniques, use data to focus attention on improving the curriculum or instruction, and use data and faculty input to determine staff development.

References Andrews, R. Bennis, W. On becoming a leader. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley. Managing the dream: Leadership in the 21st century. Volume 3: The Learning-Focused School , explores how learning in classrooms is more effective if it takes place within a learning-focused school.

It provides a clear description of what makes a learning-focused school and provides the tools necessary to analyse how learning-focused a school is and how to build upon that. Volume 4: Leading and Managing a Learning-Focused School , provides practical, accessible, jargon-free suggestions for leading and managing a learning-focused school. Looking for Learning is absolutely significant for helping you to understand how much learning is going on.

If the learning is good in the classroom then the SATs results will be good. Asset 1 arrow floaty-apple floaty-atom floaty-ball floaty-clip floaty-dna floaty-flask floaty-globe Asset 8 Asset 16 floaty-magnify floaty-micro floaty-note floaty-paint Asset 12 floaty-planet floaty-rocket Asset 15 hero-mask Asset 1 Asset 1 Asset 2 Asset 2 icon-star Asset 1 Asset 4 Asset 3 login-tall brand-login Asset 1 Asset 1 Asset 1 Asset 1. Looking for Learning. Looking For Learning is a unique toolkit of resources for schools who wish to improve learning.

Professional Development: What Works: Volume 1 Professional Development: What Works: Volume 1
Professional Development: What Works: Volume 1 Professional Development: What Works: Volume 1
Professional Development: What Works: Volume 1 Professional Development: What Works: Volume 1
Professional Development: What Works: Volume 1 Professional Development: What Works: Volume 1
Professional Development: What Works: Volume 1 Professional Development: What Works: Volume 1
Professional Development: What Works: Volume 1 Professional Development: What Works: Volume 1
Professional Development: What Works: Volume 1 Professional Development: What Works: Volume 1

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