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Principal & teacher pair-up, a lethal combination

When a teacher and principal team-up and teach a class it is a win-win situation

Often, teachers and educators perceive instructional observation as punitive or being checked upon constantly. Can’t there be strategies where teacher observations are no more stressful and can be reimagined as an empowering factor for both teachers and school leaders? Definitely, there are ways through which instructional observations can be exercised effectively without making teachers anxious about their performance.

This can be facilitated by co-teaching, collaborative and productive interactions. One of the first tasks for school leaders or principals lies in convincing teachers of the benefits of instructional observations. School leaders’ role is imperative here to make teachers understand why it is necessary to develop a culture of co-teaching and observations and boost it to thrive in the school’s ecosystem.

One of the positive outcomes seen in recent years is principals getting out of their offices and spending more time than ever in the classrooms. With the aim to improve the teaching practice and learning capacity of both students and teachers by evaluating their teaching practices and behaviour to enhance schools’ growth in achievingquality standards in terms of learning outcome. Let’s look at six strategies by which school leaders can help improve teacher observations.

Principals playing coach

In the recent years, we have observed a shift in the school leader’s role. Though principals are tasked with more administrative duties, the instructional leadership role has emerged as a key factor in developing their teacher observations skills. They can also hone their craft or adopt new ideas by observing teachers’ teaching sessions.

Flexible invitation strategy

Teachers have the liberty to choose their observation schedule, which gives them greater autonomy over selecting lessons of their interest and driving the narrative. Teachers can seek advice from school leaders when they are facing challenges and coalesce on finding solutions. In this way, school leaders affirm teachers that their success is the leader’s topmost priority.

Leverage teachers’ strengths

As a leader, we might be quick to point out shortcomings or deficits of teachers and students, which can often discourage and disgruntle teachers’ confidence in their content knowledge and pedagogical skills. Researches have exemplified that people get motivated and grow from their strengths rather than flaws. Hence, leaders can look for teachers’ strengths instead of getting overwhelmed by their weak points.

Co-teaching

Under this strategy, principals and teachers design, prepare lesson plans together. They co-taught the lessons in classrooms with the shared objective of leveraging the overall learning outcome. Roles are more effective when the lesson plans are prepared well in advance. Through this exercise, they get the opportunity to discuss each other’s strengths and progress.

Teacher and principal can team-up and teach a class together, taking turns, which allows both of them to observe each other’s teaching techniques.

Teacher flip

In this method, the teacher gives a brief summary of what the class is working on to the school principal in advance. Then the school leader takes the class, and the teacher leaves the class to observe another teacher teaching. Through this process, a school leader learns and simultaneously, acknowledges the instructors’ skills. Moreover, this strategy not only allows teachers to observe another colleague in action but also permits them to reflect on their own teaching practice.

Feedback

It is essential to provide timely feedback to teachers, no matter how distinguished the class session was. School leaders should provide at least one suggestion or tip for improvement that should include practical examples and methods a teacher can implement immediately.

To sum up, instructional observation is a win-win situation for both school leader and teacher as it creates a positive experience for both the players in providing ample opportunities for progress, understanding and learning.

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