No intervention can replace poor instruction.
Then if you agree that no intervention can replace poor instruction then raise your hand if you have an intervention system for students.
Now keep your hand up if you have an intervention system for your teachers that is as targeted and focused as it is for students.
This is what inspired me to write the book, A Leader's Guide to Excellence in Every Classroom. We have focused on supporting kids, but we, leaders, haven't put the same laser-like focus on helping our teachers reach excellence. The fact is this. If we want to have successful students, it starts with making teachers successful first.
The 4 Questions for Building an Excellence Support System
Everyone is familiar with the 4 questions of a Professional Learning Community at Work.
- What do we expect all kids to learn?
- How will we know if they learned it?
- How will we respond if they haven't learned it?
- How will we enrich them when they do learn it?
I essentially took those 4 powerful guiding questions and applied it to the components of a teacher of excellence.
- What components of highly effective teaching do we expect from teachers to guarantee learning for all students?
- How will we know when teachers are successful in ensuring learning for all students?
- How will we respond when a teacher fails to meet the learning needs of all students?
- How will we embrace teachers who are successful in meeting the learning needs of all kids?
The 4 Questions that Strengthens "The 4 Questions"
I know one thing. The 4 questions of a PLC at Work are powerful when and only when the focus is on adult learning and informing educators how they can improve at guaranteeing Learning for All. The 4 questions of an Excellence Support System drives leaders to anticipate when and how teachers struggle at meeting the needs of all kids and then these questions guide them to respond in a systematic way that involves 3 steps:
- Step 1 - School-wide Excellence System (Professional Learning): How can we provide on-going professional learning that is available to all educators at any time?
- Step 2 - Teacher Team Excellence Supports (Collaboration): How can we provide job-embedded collaboration for all teachers?
- Step 3 - Individualized Excellence Plan (Differentiated Leadership): How leaders develop meaningful relationships that are focused on helping teachers with their next steps in professional growth?
This systematic philosophy of teacher support is what teachers desire. More time to learn, more time to collaborate, and more time to reflect with their peers, administrators and instructional coaches. The Excellence in Every Classroom mindset is not about pushing every teacher to reach some utopian idea of instructional excellence. It's about creating the conditions that foster a deep-rooted belief that chasing continuous improvement is what makes all educators excellent.