Teachers cannot do it alone. As an administrator, I know the importance of supporting teachers in my building. By helping them gain the skills they need to increase rigor for their students, add relevance to the subject they teach, and build relationships with students, I am helping raise achievement at Covington High School.
Teachers must believe they are supported by a principal and administrative team. As administrators, we must provide teachers with opportunities to attend meaningful professional development to learn about the latest effective teaching strategies. Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) have become a very important part of getting our staff where it needs to be at CHS. With PLCs, the administration is able to provide opportunities to equip teachers to teach with rigor, make learning relevant to our students, and collaborate with others in their discipline to support each other as they continuously strive to reach every student.
One of the most important things we do at CHS is establish a culturally responsive teaching and learning environment. Seventy-five percent of our students come from poverty, so it is extremely important to provide a caring and respectful environment because most of our students do not receive that at home. Trust between teachers and studentsis an integral component of the learning process that must be earned and developed in our school. Building that trust in a relationship takes effort, time, and hard work often in areas disconnected to the simple academic responsibilities we have. In reality, we are laying the groundwork so students trust us enough to teach them.
In addition, we try to establish a constructivist learning environment. As our teachers focus on making learning relevant to our students, participation in PLCs has helped them share ideas on how to make that a reality. Basically, we try to incorporate project-based learning (PBL) into our classrooms so that we are providing our students with lessons that are meaningful, rigorous, and relevant to their daily lives. As we look forward to the Common Core State Standards, we recognize the need for more application, analysis, and text-referenced responses. CHS staff realizes that teaching doesn’t happen until students have learned and we are putting all the pieces of the puzzle together to make that learning puzzle complete.
Our school has been successful with these initial steps. We have several more that build on these strategies that we will share with you as the weeks go by.