A Christmas present for pedagogical leaders

Saturday 16 December 2017

What does it mean to be a pedagogical leader?

The IB expects us to be pedagogical leaders - but what does this mean, and what power does this concept have to transform the learning of our students AND our staff?

It is rare that I come across a book that has such an impact on me as Paul Bambrick-Santoyo's Leverage Leadership: A practical guide to building exceptional schools. If you want to know what it truly means to be a school leader who is a pedagogical leader this is the book to read. It does what it says on the cover - it provides a practical guide on how to model pedagogical (he calls it instructional) leadership and create exceptional learning environments. The book also contains a DVD with practical tools to make the shift happen in all of our schools.

For me there were two over riding messages:

  • Focus on pedagogy every day, every week - coach teachers and other instructional leaders weekly.
  • Plan every routine and systematize what you wish to achieve to achieve high levels of consistency.

The Main Message

Exceptional school leaders CHOOSE to spend their time on leading pedagogy and learning. This makes all the difference both to student achievement and teaching quality.

This book is based on the work Paul (an ex-Principal himself) has done with thousands of school leaders and observed how exceptional leaders have moved their schools ones producing mediocre achievement to exceptional achievement for their pupils. You can witness the achievement of these schools by visiting their website Uncommon Schools by clicking HERE.

The book identifies the following seven levers of school leadership that dramatically improve student learning:

Instructional Levers

  1. Shift the focus from 'did we teach it?' to 'did the students learn it?' Pedagogical leaders hold weekly 30-minute data-driven meetings with each member of staff to analyze what students are learning and where and why gaps remain in their learning. Teachers then implement new teaching plans in response to this analysis in order to directly impact student learning.
  2. Coach teachers through weekly observation and feedback. these pedagogical leaders observe teachers and give them feedback every single week. Through this teachers can develop as much in one year as many do in twenty years. For this to happen it is necessary to change the focus of your teacher observations away from any form of judgment or grading to one of on-going coaching in order to improve student learning.
  3. Adopt a systematic approach to curricular planning. It is important that clear choices are made about what to teach and how to teach it in order to maximize student learning. Planning is not something teachers do on their own but they do it with the coaching of their instructional (pedagogical) leader. Teachers meet well before the year begins to plan the year ahead as well as during rheir weekly feedback meetings.
  4. Teacher professional development is based on teachers' needs. It starts with the question 'what do teachers need to improve student learning?' You need to ensure that teacher professional development translates into real improvements in student learning. The aim of professional development is to get teachers to do the majority of the thinking and talking.

Cultural Levers

  1. Student culture is about helping students develop the habits that will allow their learning to shine. Highly planned and practiced systems are designed to ensure the highest levels of consistency in terms of routines, expectations and consequences from class to class. Pedagogical leaders continually monitor and maintain these systems throughout the school year.
  2. Staff culture is carefully developed, articulated (and re-articulated) monitored and maintained throughout the school year. It is a high priority for any pedagogical leader.
  3. Coaching instructional leaders to become even better leaders.

Tags: pedagogical leadership


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