Improving Classroom Instruction: The Principal’s Point of View
Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) is Georgia’s largest school district. That provides both unmatched challenges and opportunities. We asked three GCPS principals to share their unique insights on their role in improving classroom instruction and how to build upon the positive momentum that our schools are experiencing.
Here are some of the highlights from the interview:
1) When asked how principals can encourage growth among teachers:
“It’s important for the instructional leader to keep it simple and focused. We do that by concentrating on what’s most important—teaching and learning—because it’s easy to get caught up what’s urgent, what’s critical, or what needs to be done today versus what can wait until tomorrow.”
2) We also wanted to find out what methods of professional development have worked well in their districts.:
“I knew that I had to develop more leaders in the building. At times, teachers listen to other teachers more than administrators. In each grade level, we developed two facilitators in language arts and mathematics. Their roles are to help lead instructional conversations, continue staff development, and work with the instructional team to determine or adjust the professional development.”
3) The conversation then turned to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the impact it is making on leadership and classroom instruction:
“ESSA is challenging our leaders to rethink the current structures and build more opportunities for teacher collaboration and shared leadership. We have more flexibility to determine what works best for our schools. In the classroom, it gives leaders the ability to meet students where they are and increase collaboration with teacher teams to differentiate our own needs. I appreciate the flexibility that it offers individual schools and districts.”
Despite the incredible success, GCPS leadership and staff members are always striving to improve by leveraging technology and working together in a thriving and supportive environment. When we do better, our students do better—and that’s what it’s all about.