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Leadership Pieces for Principals Month

October is National Principals Month, so this feels like a great time to round up some of the leadership blogs we’ve done over the last couple of years. We know principals have a lot on their plates every day, so we understand if you missed some of these the first time. We hope you enjoy these pieces on equity, SEL, PLCs, and building whole-school cultures for continual learning. 

Talking About Equity in Schools

Before we can create more equitable spaces, we have to ask and answer some difficult questions. What does equity look like? Where do we have gaps between our ideals and our practice? Which groups are currently marginalized in our schools, and what can we do about it? Addressing equity starts with having tough conversations at both the district and school levels. Dr. Karen Baptiste, ASCD Board Member and Founder of Preschool to Prison, LLC, shares her thoughts on the difficult conversations school leaders should be having around equity right now. She also put together a series of Thinking Maps exercises to support those conversations.

Building Strong Professional Learning Communities

What makes a professional learning community effective? Many districts have implemented professional learning community (PLC) models. Done right, PLCs can build a positive and collaborative school culture that translates to higher student achievement. But without a clear strategy, participation in a PLC can become just one more thing to do on a teacher’s very long list. Focusing on the purpose and goals of the PLC and creating an environment that is safe for collaboration and exploration can help schools get the most out of their PLCs.

    Coaches Need Support, Too

    Instructional coaches are increasingly seen as one of the keys to sustainable school change. But good coaching doesn’t happen in a vacuum—instructional coaches need clear objectives, training, resources, and plenty of support from school and district leadership. By taking care of coaches, districts can maximize the success of their instructional initiatives.

    Building a Culture of Continuous Learning for Teachers

    When evaluating the effectiveness of a professional development program, it’s not enough to look at what teachers know after the training. The real key is how much of that knowledge they transfer into actual classroom practice. Teachers, much like their students, need more than a one-shot lecture to master and apply new material. Effective professional development takes place within a continuous “Cycle of Learning” that includes targeted instruction, planning, application, and assessment.

    MTSS and Thinking Maps: Helping All Students Succeed

    Student success depends on more than just academic skills and content knowledge. To achieve equity in education, schools have to address all of the factors linked to student outcomes, including academic, behavioral and social-emotional factors. That’s why many school systems have implemented Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) to help students succeed in school. MTSS is a framework for providing targeted supports to struggling students that encompasses both academic and behavioral interventions. Thinking Maps can be used to support both branches of the MTSS framework.

    Why Social-Emotional Learning is the Key to Student Success

    As students and teachers continue to navigate a pandemic, the need for social-emotional learning (SEL) is more urgent than ever. SEL has long been recognized as an important component of student wellbeing and classroom management. It is also critical for academic success. Teachers can leverage Thinking Maps to help students grow emotional awareness and empathy and build important social skills.

    Looking for more?

    We have hundreds of articles and Map-based exercises for school leaders and educators in Navigator, part of the subscription-only Thinking Maps Learning Community (TMLC). If you don’t have access, talk to your Thinking Maps representative to get started.

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