together to shaping a coherent improvement
model for Mathematics teaching & learning?
A model for system improvement--one that is multi-year, -faceted, invites reflection and is relevant--can begin by using a logic model for planning. In Fig. 2, below, a general logic model has been drafted to focus on the development of instructional leadership through principal inquiry. In a coincident manner, a multi-faceted planning model also takes into account the development of knowledge and skills in those who can support an education system's priorities. In this particular model, teachers, program leads and facilitators comprise a group, whose learning needs (met), can contribute greatly to overall program success.
Plans of this nature invite continuous reflection--both within the program (Efficiency; identify and recognize tangible results) and across the program and its anticipated outcomes (Effectiveness; observing and measuring change over time). Reflection and the flexibility of the plan then allow for continuous improvement to occur--that is, consistently adapting the plan-in-action, based on practice-based evidence collected in an ongoing manner, until the prioritized need is met.
For example, adapting the plan-in-action can involve changes to structures, learning processes and resources represented in a school's improvement plan (see Fig. 3, below), where the principal leads communication around such changes for moving forward with teachers and other staff to meeting their school's goals. Communicating such changes with the district planning team then helps to shape board improvement planning (informing how school districts can respond just-in-time to program changes in structures, learning processes and resources/supports) that supports both schools and district in meeting the shared, prioritized need.
Above all else, it's important for all leaders--district, school and those in informal leadership roles--to keep the following principles in mind to building and sustaining the success of a multi-year improvement plan (Leithwood, 2019):
When systems of education encourage internal accountability—i.e., by taking a developmental approach to evaluation—and are attending to communicating with all shareholders with rhythm and frequency about their learning, they are then better able provide the necessary resources, professional learning and support for monitoring the ongoing, collaborative work within and across schools. Basing future support on the outcomes of a particular year, with consideration to long-term goals, will go a long way to ensuring there is coherence between the system and its schools.
-Principal Learning Inquiry for Improving Mathematics Teaching & Learning-
What could such a program do (efficiency) and achieve (effectiveness)?
Based on your past experiences with whole-system improvement in Mathematics Education (relevance), and more recent conversations with school and system leadership, what might a program look like that meets such a need (Fig. 2)? And further to this, how might such a program work towards demonstrating its outcomes, year-over-year?
- 1-What effective mathematics instruction looks like;
- 2-How to encourage strong mathematics instruction when it is not yet present; and
- 3-How to create a culture of learning that supports all students developing and expressing mathematical identity and agency.
In Year 1, there could more of an emphasis on what to look for ('SAY') with less accountability around how to respond ('do'): It's hard to invite teachers to professional learning that deepens subject content knowledge and/or to explore different pedagogical practices when one doesn't necessarily have an understanding of how to develop mathematical content knowledge for teaching-MK4T (Ball, Thames & Phelps, 2008) nor has invested enough time into developing their own MK4T (See Fig. 7).
With a growing sense of confidence and efficacy to supporting educators' professional learning in Mathematics, Year 2 for the Principal Learning Inquiry Network would shift more to a say-DO model--i.e., less time building personal MK4T; more time spent supporting teacher, professional learning. A key aspect to this type of learning, and in relation to long-term commitment to building culture, school administrators cannot relinquish this role to others. Aside from the sizable effect that teachers can have on the success of their students' learning (effect size: 1.57; hinge point: 0.40), school administrators are next-in-line contributors, as they can greatly influence (effect size: 0.84) the quality of teaching in their schools (Robinson, 2007). Certainly, "When it comes to supporting educators as they learn and work to improve student achievement, nothing a principal does 'has a bigger payoff than learning visibly and publicly alongside staff in a school'" (Katz & Dack in Principal as Co-learners: Supporting the Promise of Collaborative Inquiry, 2014).
Following the growing success experienced in Years 1 and 2,--efficiency within and effectiveness across--Year 3+ continues to focus on building subject matter knowledge and to respond when mathematical teaching practices have not yet been optimized (i.e., say-DO)--altogether, the improvement model for school administrators' learning sustains its relevance by continuously sharpening its focus (precision) while remaining responsive to the group's needs (personalization).
From the outset, it's important to recognize that the most important outcome--student learning...as evidenced by changes seen at the 'student desk'--is typically the most distant outcome to a school administrator's learning and professional practice. As system improvement is multi-faceted (e.g., administrators and teachers both engaged in collaborative, professional learning inquiries), administrators need to determine how they can best engage in their own inquiries in co-relation to the professional learning of their staff. As referenced above:
learning visibly and publicly alongside
staff in a school.'"
I am more than happy to collaborate with you and make our learning visible, here. If at any time, you have questions or comments, please feel free to reach out to me at Flipping the Focus.
Chris Stewart, OCT
Educational Consultant at Flipping the Focus (c) 2020
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