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Improve Teachers’ Performances in Basic Ways

I was once struck by an activity my basketball coach undertook before every practice. In the locker room, he checked to make sure his players took time to properly and carefully put on their socks. When I asked him about this devotion, his reply was, “No player successfully competes if he is wearing a blister on his foot, and all the emphasis on passing, shooting, and plays will come to nothing.”

Continuous improvement requires a commitment that is difficult to maintain in an era of instant gratification. Your daily building walks must help improve teachers’ performances in basic, but important, ways—habits not events.

Where to start? Here are five prompts:

  • Check to make sure teachers are giving students meaningful, individualized feedback on assignments. Instead of a general “The class did really great” summary, encourage feedback along the lines of “Jane, I really like the way you consistently developed your story by using the past tense. Let me show you what I mean.”


  • Praise the small things teachers do to help one another out. They might include loaning a pen or helping carry a stack of papers in the building. Don’t limit praise to a formalized award provided by the district. Tweet this


  • Look for and celebrate improvements in individual students. Often the focus of testing seems to be how well the school is doing. Take time, and ask your teachers to take time, to see how each student is doing. Are they, as individuals, making continuous improvement?


  • Strive to know each student and each parent. Schools have gotten so large in recent years that it is hard to know students’ names, let alone anything about them. But you can make a point to stop and visit with them, and to match parents with students, when you are watching buses or passing through your office. One visit a day will work wonders.


  • In these days of tight finances, look not only for substantial ways to save money, but small ways. Having computers set to automatically shut down at 8:00 p.m. and restart at 6:00 a.m. keeps them from running all night. Few, if any, faculty will notice.


  • Look for return on time and financial investments. Is each and every in-service activity leading to enhanced student performance? Are you sure of the learning objectives of every field trip?


  • Finally, take a hard look at your own performance. Are you devoting time and energy where it belongs? Make a log of your own time commitments and see if it matches your objectives.

Thought for the Week

AI can teach and share knowledge, sure, but it lacks the key elements of human modeling, nurturing, and connecting that are essential components of a comprehensive learning process.

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