I was to answer some questions around instructional practices.
How do you typically instruct your students? other learners (e.g. teachers)? Have your instructional practices changed over the years? Why or why not? And if so, in what ways?
My instruction has drastically changed over time. Thinking back to my first couple years of teaching and how I instructed and led my classroom does not compare to what I do today. I still believe in traditional direct instruction and that you have to explain new concepts to students, sometimes multiple times before they understand it. Asking a student to complete a project or assignment about economic or political systems does very little good if that students does not have background knowledge to draw and to use to critical assess material that he/she is reading or watching. My classes typically involve direct instruction with concrete real world examples, followed by class discussion or debate both formally and informally and usually time to work on a project or assignment designed to enhance learning and I will often try to tie some technology integration into this part of my instruction.
Technology integration has to be purposeful and meaningful. I am lucky to be able to run a 1:1 paperless class which I have done for the last five years. I learnt quickly that paperless is not necessarily the best for everyone and that some tasks may need to be differentiated to fit the needs of everyone. My level of technology integration has changed a lot over the years and continues to so each year. Creating a movie, youtube video, green screen project have taken the place of posters and more traditional assignments in my classes.
What research do you use to support your instructional practices? What evidence do you have that indicates that your instructional practices help students achieve and be successful?
When looking for ideas and strategies to help support my instructional strategies i look to both print and online sources. I read constantly and gather numerous ideas and strategies from various authors. Most recently I have read books by Daniel Pink, Sir Ken Robinson, Simon Sinek, Leonard Sax, George Couros to name a few. While they may not all be about direct classroom instruction the ideas of dealing with and getting the most out of people and changing the way students or people see things helps me better prepare and plan for the individuals in my classroom. I also believe in being a connected leader and use social media platform such as Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to help me move forward as an educator and leader.
What work do we have to do as instructional leaders in this area to ensure that students are receiving the best instructional practices in our buildings/districts?
One of my rules when I talk to my teachers throughout the year is that I want the students in your class to enjoy coming to school and be excited to be here. If we can accomplish this one task, just about all other problems will figure themselves out. Relationship are the key to making this happen. Building and fostering positive, healthy relationships with students allows those students freedom. Freedom to try and fail, freedom to express themselves, freedom to reach for what may seem impossible and freedom to become the best person they can be.