Today was a superintendent’s conference day and our entire faculty focused on literacy. It was our privilege to welcome Melvina Phillips, who authored the book, Creating a Culture of Literacy, for the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) , as our teacher today.
We talked about literacy across the content areas and focused on literacy strategies that content area teachers can employ immediately. Melvina taught the strategies to us through modeling and practice. I walked away with several strategies I know will help our students in the classroom.
I gave every teacher an exit ticket out the door on which they could reflect on something they learned, something they needed to successfully implement, something that worries them or affects them from today’s learning, and anything else they needed us to know.
It was interesting how many of our teachers expressed concern about two major points. One, they worry that our administration won’t see it through and two, that their colleagues won’t participate.
I learned clearly today that it’s my role as the principal to help teach strategies by providing peer coaching time and staff development, to allow opportunities to practice, and then to encourage (read: require) all teachers to help our students by applying these literacy strategies in the classroom. Regularly. Melvina said that all students need the opportunity to read, listen, write, discuss, and investigate in every lesson. It’s my job to help teachers learn and practice, then expect it to be done, regularly and well.
The fact that so many teachers were worried about their colleagues didn’t really surprise me. But if I don’t move forward and set high expectations for all faculty because of those teachers who don’t want to learn, to change, to make things better for our students, then I’m just leading to the least common denominator. Just like teachers who expect little of themselves and their students because of those kids who aren’t motivated and won’t work.
I’m a better leader than that, I refuse to allow those teachers firmly entrenched in status quo to dictate what happens for our kids. I expect our teachers to do better than that and I expect more from myself. For all of the wonderful teachers in our building who were willing to LEARN what Melvina taught today, I won’t let you down.