Continuing from yesterday’s post, Reeves notes that educational leaders have three essential resources: time, money, and emotional energy. In chapter three of Transforming Professional Development into Student Results, he considers the adverse effect of the Law of Initiative Fatigue on high-impact professional learning. He cites evidence that shows “an inverse relationship between the number of priorities that leaders pursue and their long-term effectiveness.” He likens it to the ineffectiveness of multitasking.
Reeves states that there are too many academic content standards and not enough time to teach each one in detail. He suggests that educators should focus on ‘power standards’ – those standards that include:
1) leverage – standards that influence more than one discipline (non-fiction writing skills influences reading, science, social studies, math, etc.)
2) endurance – standards that will have relevance longer than the time it takes to administer a single test (number sense is as important for 2nd graders as it is for middle schoolers)
3) essential for the next level
What are the power standards for teaching then? According to Reeves, we need to avoid initiative fatigue and try to prioritize our standards for adult learning. Teachers are often asked to learn too much at once: learn ways to improve how students do in math, and while you’re at it, don’t forget spelling, writing mechanics, and reading fluency; but make sure it’s all differentiated, the kids have fun, and that you don’t stifle their creativity; also we want you to integrate sustainability into your curriculum, learn more about teaching the social and emotional skills to your students, implement a new report card format, map your curriculum as you go, and communicate all these things with parents more effectively, please. And what is it that you also wanted to learn this year?
If we do not want to exhaust our emotional energy, Reeves says, “we must first prioritize the learning standards that teachers and administrators will find most essential to be effective in their professional responsibilities.” He goes on to list that every teacher must:
1) Understand academic content in the current grade level and the next grade level.
2) Provide feedback to students in a timely, accurate, and effective manner.
3) Prepare lessons that are engaging, adaptive, and differentiated.
4) Demonstrate an understanding of the individual needs of each student.
1) Understand the academic requirements of a particular school in relation to the schools that send students to, and receive students from, the administrator’s school.
2) Provide feedback to teachers and other staff members in a timely, accurate, and effective manner.
3) Prepare staff meetings and professional development opportunities that are engaging, adaptive, and differentiated.
4) Demonstrate an understanding of the individual needs of each staff member.
Still 3 more chapters to go on ‘what’s wrong’ with professional development before Reeves switches gears and describes how to create and sustain high-impact professional learning.