Carol A.

Swanson
Hamline University
Competency 16 Early Childhood Through Grade 12 Leadership

16. Early Childhood through Grade 12 Leadership
a. Articulate the alignment of curriculum from pre-school through Grade 12
b. Understand the different organizational systems and structures of early childhood, elementary, middle
level, and high schools levels
c. Ability to work with children of all age levels
d. Ability to work with parents, teachers and staff at all levels of schooling
e. Understand the characteristics of effective transitions from one level of schooling to the next
f. Demonstrate an understanding of developmental needs for children of all ages

An effective teacher must have training in teacher practice and pedagogy. Teachers must

understand how children learn and how their brain processes information. They must understand

evidence-based/research-based practice and they must be life-long learners. Teachers need to be

growth minded learners and they must also believe that all students can learn. Teachers must be

able to adapt content to match learner’s needs and they must have a willingness to learn about

their students needs. Teachers must be highly skilled at problem solving and be able to help

student’s become problem solvers. Teachers do not have to have all the answers, but growth

minded teachers strive to find out what they need to know in order to be the best teacher they can

be.

I believe to be an effective teacher you must build relationships with your students.

Students who believe that their teacher cares about them personally will most certainly work

harder, try harder and learn more. We all have experiences in school where we remember that

certain teacher who took an extra moment to get to know us personally. We also have experience

remembering the teachers that we did not feel a connection to and we probably felt differently

about that learning experience.
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I have had the privilege to observe hundreds of hours of instruction, both as a Reading

Instructional Coach and now as an Advocate for focus and priority schools. I have specific

criteria that I am looking for in an effective classroom. Student engagement is probably my

number one indicator of a successful teacher. And, in particular, how that teacher involves

students with the learning. I am not that interested in hearing a lecture from the front of the

room, but what I do want to hear is students talking to each other about the academic content.

I also look at room arrangement. Does the room allow for student collaboration and

conversation? Are students sitting in straight rows facing the teacher or are desks/tables arranged

so students can be full participants with each other? When observing instruction, I am also

looking at the classroom environment. Is there evidence of student work on the walls? Are

sentence frames for language support present, as well as other visual supports for learners?

Another aspect of effective teaching is seeing a learning target or learning objective

attached to a standard/benchmark posted, while being able to see and hear the learning around

that learning target. When students understand their work and can articulate why they are doing

what they are doing in the lesson, it will be more effective. As a literacy coach, I want to see

students in a reading class actually reading real text and writing either in response to that text or

writing something to inform another reader. If I am observing a math class, I want to see math

discourse using problem solving, not a basic memorized formula. I want to see kids using

manipulatives and talking about how they solved their real world problem. If I am observing a

World History class, I am hopeful to hear dynamic dialogue about the topic (learning target), and

how this history is affecting our world today.

Finally, I want to see an enthusiastic teacher, excited about teaching and learning.

Students deserve to be taught by someone who is inspiring and inspires others in the learning.
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These teachers have high expectations for themselves as well as their students. They expect

excellence from their students and they expect no less from themselves.