Templates to Deepen Instructional Practice
Teacher effectiveness is crucial for every district. The degree to which students feel respected and welcome by their teachers plays a critical role in that student’s success and engagement.
Teaching is a practice, and as with any practice, it deepens with time. We deepen our practice not only in trial by fire each day in the classroom, but by learning with peers, by trying new techniques, by reading and listening to masters with their sage wisdom—and newbies with their fresh perspectives.
When we spend time together as professionals, we want the opportunity to deepen our practice. But often, our end-of-year and summer PD times are necessarily filled with nuts and bolts: new policies, changes in schedule, new software to learn. When you’ve got so many things to cover that you don’t have time for pedagogical exploration and discussion, we recommend modeling. No matter what you have to cover, you can model great instruction for your faculty. When you model the type of engaging instruction you want to see in the classroom, you are building it into the school culture.
Get to know your faculty
Just as we want teachers to learn about their students as whole human beings, we can model this for our staff. This template gives faculty a chance to reflect on the year. By giving space for this reflection, you not only give them a chance to process personal lessons they haven’t had time to consider; you also show them you care about them as individuals.
Engage their prior knowledge
Now, let’s say you have to introduce a new policy. My gosh, I can almost hear the groans from here. New policies aren’t exciting, and it’s pretty hard to jazz them up. But this a problem teachers face regularly, and once again, we can model ways of engaging students even through necessary but boring content.
Before launching into the details of the new policy, tap into your faculty’s knowledge. By prompting them to think about the intention behind a change, you engage their minds. Instead of zoning out while you explain, they are engaged in the problem and thinking more thoughtfully about the purpose of the new policy.
Learn by doing
Let’s say you need to go over some emergency protocols, like an evacuation plan. You don’t necessarily have time to do a full reenactment, but just showing an evacuation map doesn’t mean your faculty absorbed the information.
We know our students learn better when they don’t just hear information, but get to process it, synthesize it, and apply it. So let’s model it!
In this template, teachers can draw in the fire escape route from their own classroom. Display a few responses on the screen to discuss incorrect routes, exceptions to the rule, and exemplars.
Invite their input
When establishing a classroom culture at the beginning of the year, an effective strategy for helping students feel welcomed and valued is to include them in the construction of class rules and norms. Now take that back a step. We similarly want teachers to feel that they are valued members of the school community, and that their voices matter when it comes to creating a caring and supportive learning community.
As you wrap up the year, or when you come back in the fall, invite teachers to describe the school’s culture and to describe what they’d like to see change. Inviting each voice into a rich discussion about what you all want the school’s culture to be will foster alignment and intention in creating a vibrant community.
While you may have enormous amounts of material to cover in your PD days without enough time to dive into discussions that deepen instructional practices, you can always build excellent instruction into your school culture by modeling it every chance you get.