Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Alignment of Competence

When you think about alignment in schools, what do you think of?  Most people think of curriculum. Now while curriculum alignment is important, I would strongly contend that it's not necessarily the most important. The reason why is quite simple.

Teachers deserve to work in schools where clarity is not only valued but developed with passion. And that makes sense. When teachers work in schools where clarity is defined and continuously refined, teachers thrive and students excel in learning.

How do We get Clarity?
The only pathway to clarity is alignment. In fact when leaders focus on systemic alignment of understanding from teacher to teacher and department to department, schools increase in effectiveness. Aligned understanding is the purest definition of clarity. 

What should Schools Align?
Schools must align everything that teachers have in common. To get started, here are just a few things that leaders should ask teams of teachers to align in order to create the most effective school for all kids. 

  • Knowledge in the Use of School Resources
  • Expectations for Learning and Behavior
  • Responses to Appropriate and Inappropriate Behavior
  • Common Language for Instruction and Expectations
  • Relationship Building Strategies
  • Engagement Strategies for Active Student Learning
  • Rigorous Questioning 
  • Response to Student Failure
  • Celebration of Success

If leaders provide teams of teachers the time and the structure to collaborate about the universal topics and actions essential to student success, there is a strong chance that all students and teachers will grow closer toward excellence. In the absence of a regular opportunity to collaborate around the actions that lead to systemic excellence, leader muddy the water with the ambiguous rhetoric of "high expectations" and ultimately frustrate teachers with inconsistent actions and structures.

Kids Deserve an Alignment of Excellence
Students deserve a classroom where competence is universal, and teachers deserve a school where clarity is valued and sought so that systemic competence is attained. Alignment and the time to align are the most powerful priorities for schools, and leaders will create a highly consistent as well as high performing school that will ultimately guarantee excellence for every child from every teacher in every classroom every day in every way. 

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