What makes a school ‘high performing’ or an ‘improving school’? The Adaptive School – Garmston & Wellman 2009

On our first day back at school for the year we met as a whole staff to welcome in the 2011 teaching year, and also for staff development. We were given an extract titled ‘The Elements of Professional Community’ taken from The Adaptive School by Robert Garmston and Bruce Wellman -Christopher-Gordon Publishers, Inc (2009).  After forming expert groups we were asked to read and share one of the following areas.

  1. Compelling purpose, shared standards, and academic focus
  2. Collective efficacy and shared responsibility for student learning
  3. Collaborative culture
  4. Communal application of effective teaching practices and deprivatized practice
  5. Relational trust in one another, in students, and in parents
  6. Individual and group learning based on on-going assessment and feedback

My notes were extensive, but I’ve managed to put my learning into a number of dot points. I’ve also borrowed the book to read further.

  •  Schools need a strong academic focus to ensure conversations about teaching and learning are targeted and drive instructional improvement.
  • Collective efficacy enables group members to believe that they can carry out and achieve goals. Teachers together and individually believe they can overcome obstacles to reach goals.
  • In ‘high performing and improving schools’ collaboration is the norm. This is not contrived. Teachers work together sharing expertise on teaching and learning, review data and have a shared responsibility and desire to improve instruction.
  • In ‘high performing and improving schools’ deprivatized practice is valued. Teachers visit each other’s classrooms, to observe, coach, mentor and solve problems.
  • In ‘high performing schools and improving schools’ there is a shared understanding of instructional practices and a coherent instructional approach.
  • ‘Trust is the glue that binds communities, classroom communities and parent communities.’ The four elements of relational trust are: respect, competence, personal regard and integrity.
  • In ‘high performing and improving schools’ teachers are constantly learning and reflecting to improve student learning and teaching practice.

I intend to support these via my actions this year. My goals this year are around connecting, sharing, collaboration and effective listening.

 Cheers Nina

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