“Know thy impact:” It’s an essential mantra for classroom, school and system wide change. All adults involved in student learning must pay close attention and seek evidence of the impact their interventions have on students . It’s important at the system-wide level, an instructional leadership level, and also at the classroom level. But when it comes to the subjects they teach, few teachers are given the opportunity to reflect on its essential ideas and modes of inquiry.
General policies and broad guidelines are not specific enough to help teachers design curriculum, plan educational activities and assess student work. Before they can teach for understanding, teachers need answers to the following questions:
- What topics are worth understanding?
- What about them must students understand,
- How can we foster understanding, and
- How can we tell what our students understand?
Educational leaders can help teachers do the following:
Identify students’ learning needs:
- Assists teachers to use evidence to investigate what students know and need to learn.
Identifying teachers’ learning needs:
- Use evidence to judge current teaching practice
- Unpack links between personal theories and current teaching practices
- Close gaps between teaching and student learning
- Relate the specifics of practice to conceptual frameworks
- Co-construct a plan to address teachers’ learning needs
- Link sites of learning to deepen knowledge and to aid transfer to different contexts
- Understand purpose and rationale of facilitator actions.
Identifying leaders’ learning needs:
- Scaffold leaders to set up processes to support teacher learning.
- Co-construct a plan to address leaders’ learning needs by identifying their responsibilities to lead the learning in their schools.
Assist teachers and leaders to use evidence:
- Of teaching practice to understand changes for students
- Of student learning to monitor progress
- Of both the above to guide decisions about future actions.