My thoughts on these tend to follow the glass half full mentality. We have been working on a schoolwide literacy assessment plan that will give us a huge push forward in our grade level and cross grade level discussions next year. Simultaneously, we'll be spending much more time in staff development, observations, coaching, and feedback with teachers focused on the elements of good teaching such as a clear purpose and good modeling. I think we are poised to see consistent improvement in every classroom. I believe we have built up a strong professional culture at this time in our school to overcome some of the typical inertia in school staffs that completely resist changes to daily instruction.
An ever-growing contingent of researchers is beginning to concede that instruction itself probably has more impact on learning, and on achievement gaps, than any other factor. So the key to better schools is not commissions or new commercial curriculum materials, or even professional development. Each of these lacks the most basic, critical ingredient: a willingness to establish clear expectations for instruction, to arrange for teachers to work in teams so they can meet and exceed those expectations, and to institute simple routines for honestly and continuously monitoring teaching to ensure its effectiveness.
We are on our way to make this happen at Halecrest.