A Plan of Action to Develop a Vibrant Faculty Culture

This June and July The Headmaster has focused on developing a vibrant faculty culture as the most important initiative for improving student learning. We have interacted about clarifying teacher expectations, the evaluation and growth cycle, the division head as a coach to faculty, supporting faculty professional development, and the importance of leadership at every level to develop a college of faculty that delivers on school promises. This last article in this series provides practical action steps and a calendar for you to modify and implement for success.

Action Steps to Develop a Vibrant Faculty Culture Over Time:
1. Develop a board approved strategic plan and financial plan to improve learning by developing a vibrant faculty culture over time. Clarify expectations and board intentions,
2. Retain a head of school that will provide institutional leadership emphasizing development of a vibrant faculty culture the offices first priority,
3. Appoint a director of academics and programs with the intention of moving it to a full time position over time to provide focused leadership of this initiative,
4. Re-describe the position of division head as leadership of adults (faculty) in a manner designed to enhance the capacity of faculty to deliver the mission with excellence. Reduce their span or control, and reassign tangential administrative tasks (athletics, admission, compliance, curriculum purchasing etc.) to free them to coach and lead teachers,
5. Improve division head observation and feedback by providing professional development in this arena to help them improve as evaluators and as coach/mentors,
6. Revise evaluation and observation forms to include ideas from “Characteristics of Professional Excellence,” and more specific school expectations,
7. Add a collaborative teacher improvement plan to the end of year evaluation process based on the many interactions from the previous year. This plan would be initiated by interview and then completed by the teacher so that the teacher owns his/her professional development or improvement plan. The supervising division head would sign off in agreement or add comments before signing,
8. Provide support for professional development for each teacher based on the individualized improvement plan,
9. For underperforming faculty, make crystal clear the performance expectations in the improvement plan that must be reached to renew for the next year and replace any faculty that continues to underperform,
10. Fund this process through the operations budget at the rate of about two percent of expenses,
11. If the school employs many part time teachers, move toward a full time professional faculty backfilled with a few part time or adjunct faculty,
12. Align faculty compensation to industry standards to help make attracting and retaining quality faculty more competitive. That industry standard may be locally determined but should be equal to or greater than public school pay. Understand that the better independent schools pay much more than public school and have higher retention rates,
13. Reward exemplary teaching with recognition and merit pay though a well thought out system,
14. Narrow the span of control for division heads, and delegate administrative tasks in order to favor coaching and mentoring teachers. This means providing the funding for additional competent administrative help,
15. Assure that principals are fully qualified and educated to coach and mentor teachers to excellence,
16. Solidify the forms and content for professional development,
17. Implement the professional development calendar,
18. Promote and retain grade and subject chairs to augment the work of the director of academics and programs in development and the principals in coaching and mentoring,
19. And more…

A Monthly Plan for Implementation at The Case-Study School
August Orientation and initiation during 2 professional days
August Begin weekly morning book studies by school division emphasizing performing on expectations
August Begin weekly coaching/mentoring for all new teachers
August Begin informal observation and feedback for all teachers
September First quarter formal observation, feedback and response
October Professional development day after the quarterly break
October Begin peer-to-peer observation and reciprocal demonstration
November Board approved strategic plan supporting development of a vibrant faculty culture
Nov/Dec Informal observation and feedback process
December Board approved strategic financial plan supporting a vibrant faculty culture
January Budget supporting a vibrant faculty culture
Jan/Feb Second quarter formal observation and feedback
February Annual faculty survey
March Begin conversations to fill staffing plan for next school year
April Evaluation, improvement plans and contract offers
May Professional development days
June National conferences
July Reading, college coursework
Arrangement

Closing
If we really believe the following quote as educational leaders we will find the means to make developing a vibrant faculty culture the most important activity of our offices. “The education of children for God is the most important business done on earth. It is the one business for which the earth exists. To it all politics, all war, all literature, all money-making, ought to be subordinated; and every parent [and teacher] especially ought to feel, every hour of the day, that, next to making his own calling and election sure, this is the end for which he is kept alive by God – this is his task on earth.” The important thing is to lead the organization on a trajectory of improvement. Over time you will then reach your goal of outstanding student learning.

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