Educators are often described as superheros; this includes instructional leaders. Here's our superhero-inspired,3 simple actions that instructional leaders can take in the next month to ensure that teachers and students marvel at their own growth this year. (See what we did there!)
Make Learning that defies “Time”
Educators are busy people. Every teachers’ time comes at a premium. So, learning experiences need to be a balance of bite-sized knowledge paired with action, such that educators can both see immediate impact and improve their craft over time.
Look for opportunities to right-size learning for the time teachers have. One good example of this is our learning courses; these provide job-embedded microlearning for instructional coaches and leaders with personalized feedback and ways to show impact. Your team can learn in this same way and apply the methodology we use to how you structure your professional learning throughout the year. (What would Dr. Strange have done?)
Chances are, your team just wrapped-up a lot of professional development in the past few weeks. Traditional school calendars often frontload professional learning, giving teachers time to learn and prepare at the beginning of the year. This learning often trails off until the next professional development day – as teachers focus on their students, teaching, building relationship, planning, grading, etc.!
Great instructional leaders often engage their spidey senses and ensure teachers have ongoing opportunities for differentiated support. Staying in sync with your individual teachers’ needs, can help you address their needs proactively.
Here are a few tactics you can try that encourage learning throughout the year:
Create a Learning Zone: In this physical space, provide teachers with books, resources and ideas that they can check out. We have seen some great learning zones in the corner of a teachers workroom.
Dedicate a bulletin board where teachers can write down and share new ideas or interesting articles… connect this to the Learning Zone!
Provide a virtual space for your staff to communicate ideas, share the latest and greatest and research a shared document, Padlet, Slack room, or GroupMe.
Lunch and Learn: Have a dedicated time once a month for staff to eat lunch and be intentional about learning from each other. During this time, have one to two teachers share with the team something they have tried in their classroom. Then allow the conversation to flow.
Upgrade your PLC Meetings: Consider using framing questions such as, “How might we….” to encourage sharing and divergent brainstorming.
Make Learning Joyful
Growth is more than just increasing pedagogical expertise and relationship building — it has to have joy. Joy can lift you out of the day-to-day grind, and help us see things differently. We might get this sense seeing ourselves in one of the heros, watching a superhero movie with friends, or awaiting the ending credits and the next preview.
And there’s a reason our superheroes work with sidekicks and teams, and a reason our favorite heroes keep a smile on our faces: we do our best when we collaborate joyfully. Joy can make us more connected, supportive, empathetic. And of course, it’s fun – which engages us and makes us want to return to the joyful learning.
Consider how you can make joy part of your work by:
Creating moments of levity (singing, dancing, stories, competitions).
Building in joyful habits (take time for celebrations and sharing food and laughter)
Making time to connect and check-in at the start of each gathering.