School improvement begins with self-examination and honest dialogue about socialization, bias, discrimination, and cultural insensitivity. In The Will to Lead, the Skill to Teach, the authors acknowledge both the structural and sociological issues that contribute to low-performing schools, and describe how leaders can create a healthy school culture. They offer multiple strategies and activities to improve classroom management, increase literacy, establish academic vocabulary, and create an engaging learning environment.
After making a distinction between a staff’s will—that is, their belief in all students’ abilities along with their determination to make student learning and success a schoolwide priority—and a staff’s skill—their use of quality, responsive methods and activities—the authors submit that healthy school cultures grow out of a marriage of the two.
Examine four broad steps to developing a positive learning environment (aligning philosophies, managing frustration, creating a culture of collaboration, and institutionalizing a healthy culture) and uncover the components of responsive pedagogy—a skillful and balanced framework of traditional and culturally responsive activities used in the classroom.
- Reflect on current practices and identify areas for improvement.
- Spot the factors that can be harmful to school cultures.
- Identify your school as high will/low skill, high skill/low will, low will/low skill, or high will/high skill.
- Develop a blueprint for achieving skilled pedagogy and successful school improvement.
- Gain practical classroom management strategies and activities.