Monday, March 9, 2015

3 Steps to the Next Level for Iowa's TLC

What are the next steps for the Iowa TLC in Sioux City? 
We've marveled at the impact of our teacher-leaders, as they have invested in teacher-initiated, classroom-embedded, professional development.  Recent conversations with coaches have identified three steps which we must take in order to climb to the next level with Iowa's TLC.
Step One: We need to train our coaches to light fires.   
With a partnership-approach, I believe teacher-leaders can go places with constructive feedback that will transcend the typical administrator interactions about classroom management or instruction style.  A coach can light a fire within a teacher, looking for the burning purpose rather than the burning platform.  There is a strong bond of trust among our classroom teachers and our teacher-leaders.  This trust opens the door for professional growth and healthy self-reflection.

Step Two: We need to act on insight rather than instinct.   
In a data-rich school culture, our best teacher-leaders are effectively utilizing real-time achievement data to immediately impact instruction.  We are increasingly seeing teacher-leaders rely on data-based insight rather than gut-level instinct to recommend changes in classroom instruction.  Achievement data is somehow “safer” in the hands of a trusted colleague…it isn’t evaluative, it’s informative.  Teacher-leaders can lean into the data and leverage it for positive change.

Step Three: We need to stop making everyone happy 
Our consulting teachers must develop strategies connected to both consensus building and team leadership in order to empower classroom teachers to raise the bar on curriculum, instruction and assessment.  Teachers don’t teach in isolation anymore—and teacher-leaders need to be able to knock on closed doors and pull up a chair at team meetings.  The district as a whole is experiencing an increase in communication and collaboration as a direct result of this work. Yet, coaching for consensus means that ideas must be examined, compromise must be shaped and practices must be altered.  At the end of the day, not everyone is happy; but we are all better, together.

Our teacher-leaders continue to exceed our performance expectations and anticipated outcomes for Year One of the implementation.  To climb to the next level, we need to ensure that our next steps include lighting fires, acting on insight and building great teams that will not settle for less than excellence.