McKinsey & Co. (2007) states, “The only way to improve outcomes is to improve instruction” (p. 26). Similar to our emphasis on teaching and learning, The University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Public School Initiatives knows that instructional leaders are essential to improve instruction. Based on the work of Dufour, Dufour, Eaker, and Many (2010), instructional leaders must
- accept learning as a fundamental purpose,
- examine practices to identify the impact on learning,
- work with colleagues to achieve a common purpose,
- cultivate a collaborative culture,
- assess effectiveness on the basis of results, and
- use relevant data and information to promote continuous improvement.
To accomplish these ideals, leaders must be able to establish relationships by empowering, trusting, and building capacity with their teachers. IPSI team members are uniquely positioned to provide expert-level support or share their professional experiences about how to establish a culture of collaboration aimed at continuously improving teacher development and student learning.
Instructional Leadership customized professional development includes the items below.
Coaching and Facilitation
Coaching is “a cooperative, ideally collaborative, relationship with colleagues mutually engaged in efforts that support teacher development to enhance student learning.”
(Hasbrouck & Michel, 2016)
IPSI offers various approaches to supporting instructional coaches at the campus or district level. One approach is designed to support new or experienced individuals currently serving in instructional coaching roles and includes leading professional development sessions and effective meetings, as well as models effective communication, problem solving, and observation techniques. Another approach focuses on sustainability and builds capacity among grade- or department-level teachers through peer coaching. IPSI team members lead professional learning opportunities that include the exploration of the coaching role, modeling of strategies to support teacher development aimed at increasing student learning, and use of facilitation protocols to promote a culture of collaboration.
Comprehensive Needs Assessment
“New challenges require new solutions, and even old challenges can only be overcome by taking a fresh look at them.”
IPSI offers support and guidance in conducting comprehensive needs assessments at the district and school levels. The process includes gathering and analyzing data to understand the scope of needs and to develop and/or refine action plans. Support is also provided in prioritizing and designing an implementation plan for areas that are in need of improvement. Following the comprehensive needs assessment, the district or school is provided with a targeted and customized course of action based on identified priorities.
"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest."
The overall goal of any school district should be to ensure that a rigorous, valid, and functioning curriculum management system is being implemented to meet the educational needs of all students. Following a systematic framework that examines adopted board policies, resources, and practices, IPSI performs a curriculum management audit that identifies specific changes needed in order for all students to perform at the highest level academically. After completing an audit, a team from IPSI provides the local school board, educators, and community members with an objective and comprehensive report that details how well the school district functions in the area of instructional delivery. The audit identifies changes that need to occur systemically, modifications that need to be made to the written and taught curriculum, and deficits in resources/materials that need to be addressed.
Community and Culture
“Strong school communities engender strong students.”
IPSI’s experience providing support at the local, regional, state, and national levels has allowed us to understand and see firsthand the many challenges schools or districts face with parent, family, and community partnerships due to language and cultural differences, lack of knowledge of the American education system, past experiences, negative school climate, or deficit perceptions. Because of these experiences, we have identified and developed collaborative tools aimed at supporting school or district personnel with capitalizing on existing practices and recommending alternative ways to improve communication to meet each challenge. A strong communication system, coupled with ongoing and supportive collaboration, will ensure that partnerships between the school and the parents, family, and community are established and sustained to avoid further obstacles in the academic success of all students.
Leadership and Instructional Rounds
“[D]eep and sustained school improvement will depend upon the leadership of the many rather than the few.”
(Harris, Day, Hopkins, Hadfield, Hargreaves, & Chapman, 2003)
IPSI’s team members have local, regional, state, and national experience supporting instructional leaders. As a professional development and technical assistance provider, our instructional leadership expertise focuses on culture and climate, learning communities, evidence-based instructional techniques, data-driven decision making, student-focused coaching, leading effective meetings, curriculum auditing, using a comprehensive needs assessment, and providing job-embedded professional learning opportunities focused on student needs. IPSI also supports schools and districts in the facilitation of instructional rounds to enhance teacher practice and effectiveness.
New or Experienced Teacher Academy
“Teaching is not just something you’re equipped to do because you like kids. It is a rigorously demanding profession and—like other professions—its successful practice rests on the mastery and implementation of a large and continually expanding body of knowledge, research, and documented practice.”
IPSI offers single- or multiple-day support packages for new or experienced teachers in face-to-face or virtual environments. The New or Experienced Teacher Academy introduces or extends knowledge of evidence-based instructional techniques, models of teaching, learning theory, standards-based planning, professional practices and responsibilities, cross-disciplinary reading and writing, cooperative learning, culturally responsive teaching, and data-driven practice.
Positive Behavior Management Support
“The number one problem in the classroom is not discipline; it is the lack of procedures and routines.”
IPSI provides professional development, coaching, and support in positive behavior management at the district, campus, and classroom levels. IPSI demonstrates various systems and processes to increase student motivation, engagement, and rigor in the classroom. Additionally, IPSI team members share and support the development of walk-through observation forms, including how to use data findings during feedback sessions.
“Ensuring that teachers are capable of improving student learning—and that school leaders are able to help them do so—is perhaps the most significant step they can take to raise student achievement.”
(Darling-Hammond & Rothman, 2011)
IPSI offers expertise in helping teachers and leaders understand the complexity of state standards and how to align and integrate these standards when planning. Most teachers have a favorite resource(s) to use when teaching or have been handed an alignment guide to follow; however, to build capacity, teachers and leaders need to know and be shown how to work through and internalize the meaning of the many grade-level state standards. We have outlined a process that includes the use of an IPSI-developed planning template to analyze standards and student expectations prior to planning for explicit instruction.