8 Chapters
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Chapter 8

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CHAPTER 8

Leading for Excellence:

Teacher Leadership

The need for truly effective educational leadership is great. The time for improving our schools is short. The opportunity to lead is ours.

—Robert J. Marzano

At the pinnacle of his Hierarchy of Needs, Maslow (1943) placed the human need for self-actualization. Maslow (1943) describes this need as “the desire for selffulfillment . . . the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming” (p. 383). Fulfilling that need involves an ongoing process of discovery, creativity, and reflection on our roles in life and our effects on others.

In the Hierarchy of Instructional Excellence, teacher leadership is the area of professional growth parallel to Maslow’s pinnacle of self-actualization. In my experience and observation, when teachers have advanced to the highest levels of their professional skills and expertise, they don’t suddenly lose their desire (or capability) for professional growth. Instead, they seek out ways to share their knowledge with colleagues, work to improve processes and systems beyond their classrooms, and find new avenues and understandings to explore. This chapter examines how we, as leaders, can support teachers in that form of self-actualization as they work and grow to assume a leadership role.

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Chapter 1

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CHAPTER 1

Every Teacher Counts

Education is the key to success in life, and teachers make a lasting impact in the lives of their students.

—Solomon Ortiz

Teaching is maybe the noblest of all professions. No other career plays a more powerful role in shaping who we are, how we think, and what we are capable of doing as human beings. Teachers help their students become better thinkers, problem solvers, creators, and dreamers. Teachers also have the ability to help students turn their dreams into a robust reality, to inspire and equip young learners for the hard work of overcoming the many barriers they will confront in life. In short, teachers are the real game changers. If we believe that every student counts, we, as leaders, must believe that every teacher counts as well.

Today, teachers have to overcome some formidable barriers of their own. They are charged with doing more than they’ve ever done in the history of education, facing more challenging obstacles and higher standards than ever before. Many teachers are successfully adapting to the ever-changing environment of standards-based education and high-stakes testing as they ensure that students achieve. Others, however, are falling through the cracks. With an excellent teacher in the classroom, we know that most students have the best hope of making huge strides in their learning. But when a teacher struggles in his or her craft, we can expect many students to suffer gaps in their learning. Those gaps eventually fall to next year’s teacher to fill, diverting time and energy away from the curriculum. One year’s failed advancements, in other words, erode the next year’s achievements. In the introduction, I defined an excellent school as one whose mission is to guarantee that every student who walks through its doors will graduate with a firm foundation for future success at college or in a career.

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Chapter 3

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CHAPTER 3

Leading for Excellence:

Classroom Routines and Procedures

Students do not learn when they are disciplined. They learn when the classroom is organized for learning and success.

—Harry Wong

Students rarely learn at high levels in a poorly managed classroom. At the same time, they can’t maximize their learning in a classroom where the teacher micromanages them. The effective use of classroom routines and procedures can help educators avoid both of these problematic conditions for learning. Effective classroom management offers students a safe and secure learning environment where they know what to expect and what is expected of them.

What defines a well-managed classroom? According to Danielson (2013), “Hallmarks of a well-managed classroom are that instructional groups are used effectively, noninstructional tasks are completed efficiently, and transitions between activities and management of materials and supplies are skillfully done in order to maintain momentum and maximize instructional time” (p. 31). Organized classroom management results in smooth routines, little to no loss of instructional time, and high levels of student involvement and ownership of procedures. Ultimately, well-designed routines and procedures enable all students to know exactly what to do, how to do it, and when to do it, every time. In essence, highly effective routines and procedures work like a well-oiled machine.

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Chapter 6

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CHAPTER 6

Leading for Excellence:

Rigor and Mastery

If schools are to establish a truly guaranteed and viable curriculum, those who are called upon to deliver it must have both a common understanding of the curriculum and a commitment to teach it.

—Richard DuFour and Robert J. Marzano

When teachers have developed the fundamental skill sets of their profession—a command of learning resources and classroom routines and procedures and an ability to build strong learning relationships and high levels of student engagement—they can turn their focus to developing more complex and demanding skills. Among these is the ability to guide their students in rigorous learning and content mastery. In

Maslow’s (1943) Hierarchy of Needs, the need to know and understand represents the first level of a person’s growth needs. At this parallel level in the Hierarchy of

Instructional Excellence, teachers develop the skills necessary to fuel their students’ desire to go beyond surface knowledge to develop a deep understanding of the content they are learning.

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Chapter 4

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CHAPTER 4

Leading for Excellence:

Relationships for Learning

In the end it is going to be the basis of the relationship that allows the student to be vulnerable enough 2 engage in learning.

—Ben Johnson

A strong command of available resources for learning and an effectively managed system of classroom routines and procedures provide teachers and students with a sound structure for learning. In order to develop a culture that promotes active and engaged learning experiences, however, teachers must develop meaningful relationships with students. Without those kinds of relationships, students can feel disconnected from learning experiences.

This chapter explores the role of teacher-student relationships in promoting learning excellence; techniques, approaches, and tools teachers use to establish and maintain meaningful relationships with their students; and the many ways we can support teachers as they pursue this goal.

Maslow (1943) placed love and belongingness as the third level within his Hierarchy of Needs. When educators and staff throughout the school system establish strong working relationships with students, they demonstrate that they care for those students and consider them to be integral to the school community. As Mark Boynton and Christine Boynton (2005) write in The Educator’s Guide to Preventing and Solving

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