Keeping earlier improvements alive – a constant juggling act for school leaders.

Have you ever wondered how you keep earlier improvement work on the slow boil whilst undertaking more recent deeper work? I know this is a constant challenge for school leaders particularly as new teachers who often unfamiliar with the earlier work join the staff.

We faced this challenge with reading comprehension work recently. One of our leading teachers, Rosanna, who leads English ran a refresher workshop last week for all classroom teachers. Judging from the feedback, we use a plus / delta protocol to collect after most meetings, the workshop was very successful.


The content of the workshop was Debbie Millers updated book on Reading Comprehension.

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 2.16.52 PMRosanna used a jigsaw strategy on the first four chapters which the teachers really liked. They found it created experts on a chapter in every team and was an effective way to get through a new text. Rosanna also asked 4 teachers to show ways they were demonstrating a key point in that chapter in their classroom. Teachers really liked hearing from one another and symbolically it indicates that there is a consistency across the school.

As the principal, and lead instructional leader I always join in these workshops and my chapter (4) did bring some new understandings which I shared:

  • thinking about assessment upfront helps us move towards thoughtful intentional teaching (p71)
  • book choice is the key – its important for teachers to themselves make connections to texts and share this through e.g. read aloud.
  • Smart is something you get
  • making connections to texts needs to get deeper to the central theme of the book and not the surface level stuff.

The first and third points of course go across all disciplines.

readers workshop 1


Both symbolically and educationally this level of participation by principals according to Viviane Robinson has a strong connection with improved student learning – and therefore well worth doing.

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