What is Education had "scouts?"
Instructional capacity may be the most crucial component of effective schools, but it either appears nebulous and difficult to define or an assumption that leadership makes about the efficacy of the teaching staff. In either case, it may hinder the development of the student achievement in a school.
In the October 2013 Education Leadership, Ann Jaquith lays out a narrative for the power of intentionally building instructional capacity in a school. What I found fascinating about this article is that both principals in the vignettes believed wholeheartedly that his/her plan was accomplishing the task of building instructional capacity.
So, what’s a leader and the school to do? How do we create “checks” to serve as guideposts toward success? One potential way may be a novel idea in education. Use teachers and educators that have experienced success in building instructional capacity to be “scouts” for other teachers and schools that are building capacity in a meaningful way. What I mean by ‘scouts’ is that these individuals would be charged with working next to teachers and school leaders to develop and refine instructional capacity, but when “it” shows itself in the form of meaningful and intentional classroom instruction or PLCs that really improve student performance, the ‘scouts’ chronicle this story. The ‘scouts’ dual responsibility is to not only share in the building of the capacity, but to also spread the good news when it’s been accomplished.
In doing so, the profession of teaching and learning, can begin to articulate and share in these guideposts toward meaningful capacity. What’s missing in this dynamic are the ‘scouts’ that are embedded in several classrooms, schools and districts simultaneously and use this experience to improve the work simultaneously. What’s crucial about this approach is that it isn’t ‘helicoptered in’ and is never something done ‘to’ teachers. The work of the ‘scout’ is to find, develop, and refine great teaching and learning and use this as a way to scale up the work so that more and more students can have access to highly effective teaching and learning.
We have lots of dedicated and hardworking teachers and school leaders, but often times that work may not be generating the results that we think or hope that it is. We aren’t able to see this fact because we are so invested in a particular method or structure or the human relationships just aren't working. It takes the fresh eyes of the ‘scout’ to shine a light on the missteps and inefficiencies.
As a profession, we don’t seem to value this type of work though. We’ll invest countless people-hours in efforts that see negligible results or thousands of dollars on programs or Professional Development presentations. Where do we want to spend our time and our dollars? What would provide us with the best student outcomes? In my opinion, I want to invest in systems that allow individuals to reach their maximum potential. ‘Scouts’ are a powerful way to do this. By working side-by-side with teachers and teacher teams, individuals could spend their time in meaningful ways that would help them reach his/her potential. If teachers and school leaders could prosper, could you imagine how much learning the students could do?