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February 2009 | Volume 66 | Number 5
How Teachers Learn
Richard DuFour and Robert J. Marzano
By promoting teacher learning in collaborative teams, a principal is far more likely to improve student achievement than by focusing on formal teacher evaluation.
Research on the principalship has consistently described the most effective principals as instructional leaders, an image that has the principal "hip-deep in curriculum and instruction" (Hallinger, 2007). We advocate for a new image. If the fundamental purpose of schools is to ensure that all students learn at high levels, then schools do not need instructional leaders—they need
learning leaders who focus on evidence of learning. When principals make the transition from instructional leaders to learning leaders, they move the conversation from "What was taught?" or "How was it taught?" to the far more important questions of "What was learned?" and "How can we use evidence of learning to strengthen our professional practice?"
This shift in focus will affect the day-to-day work of the principal in significant ways, particularly when it comes to the formal teacher supervision and evaluation process. The process that most school districts use is grounded in the assumptions of traditional bureaucracy: Supervisors must monitor and inspect subordinates' work to ensure that it meets standards. Thus, principals should conduct both frequent classroom walk-throughs and lengthier classroom observations to gather information on inputs: Are teachers presenting the correct content, using good instructional strategies, incorporating varied levels of questions, providing specific feedback to students, engaging students in content, and so on? A second, more benevolent assumption driving this process is that this direct observation of instruction will improve individual classroom teachers, one teacher at a time, and thereby improve schools.
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Copyright © 2009 by Richard DuFour,Robert J. Marzano
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