School Leaders: Mapping a Plan - Steve Barkley

School Leaders: Mapping a Plan

As this school year has gotten underway I have been working in several systems with principals and instructional coaches to prepare their plans for the professional learning of staff that is focused on increased student achievement. Sometimes this work produced a principal/ coach partnership laying out the roles that each would take, resources that might be needed from central office, and the commitments to each other.

I built my work around the three big ideas pulled from the work of DuFour for PLCs  and created questions to drive the leaders’ conversation.

#1 Results: Every teacher-team participates in an ongoing process of identifying the current level of student achievement, establishing a goal to improve the current level, working together to achieve that goal, and providing periodic evidence of progress.

So as the school year begins teachers should have assessment data, from the previous year or newly collected, to identify their students’ level of performance and then set end of year goals that focus instructional planning and formative assessments. I often find teachers hard at work “teaching” without goals. This creates what I would label as an acceptance of results (When the test comes this is what we’ve got).  I also find that higher achieving students are often overlooked as teachers push for the proficient standard.


How will principal and coach work with staff to establish learning goals for students?

How will you hold staff accountable for consistent assessment (monitoring) and planning for the goals achievement?

#2 Focus on Learning: The assumption is that the core mission of formal education is not simply to ensure that students are taught but to ensure that they learn.

For me this means clearly identifying the student behaviors, actions, and experiences that are needed to gain the learning result (the element that I continually find being skipped), then deciding the teacher behaviors that will generate the student actions. With these identified, principals and coaches have clear “look fors” as they observe in classrooms.



#3 Collaboration: Educators recognize that they must work together to achieve their collective purpose of learning for all. Therefore, they create structures to promote a collaborative culture.

Collegiality and teamwork rarely happen by happenstance. It is most often the hard work of leaders with purposeful design.


What leadership behaviors on the principal’s part are focused on increasing shared accountability among staff for student success?

What role should the coach play in building staff collegiality?

In what ways are the principal and coach modeling the vulnerability and collegiality that you want the staff to embrace?

Lastly, I provided some questions to examine how teachers would receive feedback as they worked to reach the goals for student achievement.

What should be the focus of observations that are geared to your school improvement efforts?

How might teachers be involved in observations?

When conducting coaching conversations around your school improvement efforts, what will be critical questions to pose?

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One Response to “ School Leaders: Mapping a Plan ”

  1. Sandra Crawford Says:

    I completely agree with collecting assessments by student. This will, in turn, gear out focus.

    My goal is to improve our unit assessments and
    give students more experiences with science
    labs that reflect assessments.

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