In education, the further away you get from students, the harder it is to help them succeed. Because teachers work directly with students day-to-day, they often carry primary responsibility for supporting learning.
While it may be challenging to support students whom you do not work with directly, there are steps administrators can take. Of the numerous roles school administrators play, the most import is instructional leader and teacher coach. As an administrator, you design and manage daily school operations; therefore, you have the power to influence three fundamental structures that create the conditions for teachers and students to succeed.
Foster a student-centered school culture.
Supporting learning starts with the culture in your front office, hallways and classrooms. Create a culture where adults ask themselves “Does choosing this method make it easy for adults, or is this the best method for supporting students?” In the early days of teacher evaluation, classroom observations centered around instruction and classroom management — administrator focus was almost entirely on the teacher. To support a student-centered learning culture, focus the majority of your attention on students. Are they engaged? Are they learning? Are they demonstrating content mastery? If not, meet with teachers to discuss lesson planning, instruction and other factors that support learning.
Provide time in the master schedule for differentiation.
Design your master schedule to provide students with increased access to personalized learning opportunities during the school day. Evaluate the schedule to identify time specifically devoted to differentiated instruction where teachers can provide intervention to address learning gaps and provide extension opportunities for students who demonstrate mastery. Consider leveraging a standards-based assessment tool with concept mastery visualization to guide the instructional decisions of staff who work with students during this period.
Provide time and support for Professional Learning Communities.
As you design your master schedule, create time for teachers to work together to analyze and improve their classroom practice to achieve better results for the students they serve. Professional Learning Communities (PLC) seek to ensure that students are not simply taught, but that they learn. Create common planning periods to ensure that teachers within similar subject areas meet to analyze student learning.
Facilitate conversations by asking Richard DuFour’s essential questions:
- What do we want each student to learn?
- How will we know when each student has learned it?
- How will we respond when a student experiences difficulty in learning?
In a PLC, teachers are out of isolation and have the opportunity to understand an individual student’s performance on each skill in comparison to other students. Teachers can call on their colleagues to help them reflect on areas of concern, and each teacher has access to the ideas, materials, strategies, and talents of the entire team.
Support Learning for All Students with Digital Curriculum
In addition to fostering a student-centered culture, providing time in the master schedule for differentiation and designating time for professional learning, implementing digital curriculum will provide teachers with the assessment tools and the standards-based curricular support they need to ensure all students are learning.
We know students come to class with a wide range of prerequisite skill-mastery. Providing personalized learning opportunities for each student can be difficult without the right tools.
Select digital curriculum that contains:
- Rigorous instruction designed from your standards
- Supports and scaffolds to make learning accessible
- Relevant examples to keep students engaged and motivated
- Adaptive assessment to identify individual and classroom concept mastery
- Visualization of learning that can be leveraged to make instructional decisions
Explore our website to learn more about how you can incorporate Apex Learning’s digital curriculum into your school structure to support all students.