Friday, April 24, 2015

How Kentucky is creating responsive 21st-century schools

Over the past few weeks, I have been writing about the International Summit on the Teaching Profession that I attended recently. In last week’s blog, I highlighted the key ingredients for a responsive 21st-century school. I want to revisit those this week and briefly mention what is happening in Kentucky to address some of them.

Promoting effective school leadership
     • Empower teachers to play a role in decision making at the
        school level – Kentucky has long been a leader in this regard. 

        Kentucky teachers are heavily involved in what happens in a 
        school through the school-based decision making councils 
        and through professional learning communities. In addition, 
        every two years, we ask teachers to let us know how they are 
        involved in decision making at the school. The teacher survey 
        results can be found at 2015 results will be 
        public in June.

     • Provide opportunities for, and remove barriers to, continuing 
        professional development for principals – Kentucky has strong 
        principal development programs in our universities. Also, the 
        Kentucky Chamber of Commerce has worked with communities 
        across Kentucky to provide innovative and creative leadership 
        training to more than 100 principals the last few years. Kentucky 
        also is providing training to principals who are looking for ways to 
        improve student achievement in their schools. Through a partnership 
        with the National Institute for School Leadership, we are training 
        more than 100 principals a year.

Strengthening teachers’ confidence in their own abilities
     • Build teachers’ capacity to provide instruction to all types of 
        learners – The Kentucky Department of Education has offered 
        an online resource for a number of years where teachers can 
        access differentiated professional development aligned with the 
        special needs of students in their classrooms.

     • Support the development of interpersonal relationships/
        collaboration within the school – Many schools are providing 
        common planning time for teams of teachers to collaborate 
        and review student learning expectations, current student 
        performance and identify instructional techniques that help 
        improve student performance.

Innovating to create 21st-century learning environments
     • Create conditions conducive to innovation – Legislation 
        has enabled the state to create districts of innovation and
        for the Kentucky Board of Education to grant exemptions from 

        certain administrative regulations and statutory provisions 
        in an effort to improve student learning. As a result, Kentucky’s 
        districts of innovation are spawning new approaches to teaching 
        and learning. 

While there is much work to do in Kentucky, there is much we have accomplished. It is extremely important that we continue to look for ways to improve public perception of the value of the teaching profession. Our very future depends on our ability to recruit, support, and retain great teachers.

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