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In this podcast episode, Miriam Plotinsky discusses the essence of leadership in education. including the importance of humility and openness to change, and how to create effective teacher coaching programs that focus on simplicity and collaborative communication. She also discusses shared leadership and overcoming resistance, highlighting the importance of teacher and student voices in decision-making processes and providing strategies to navigate any resistance that may arise.
Miriam Plotinsky is an author and instructional specialist who addresses challenges in both teaching and leading across schools with a wide range of differentiated needs. A strong advocate for student-centered learning, she provides coaching and professional development for teachers and administrators. In this episode, we talk about curriculum, professional development, teacher coaching programs, and the importance of humility in leadership.
The Big Dream
Having a clear vision of where we're going—what we are teaching and why—and to communicate it effectively to students.
Alignment to the 4 Stages: Mindset, Pedagogy, Assessment, and Content
Mindset is like an umbrella, overarching all other aspects of teaching. Mariam stresses the importance of building a growth mindset, being open to different perspectives, and being willing to admit when we are wrong as leaders. Pedagogy, assessment, and content, she says, fall into place when teachers have a clear understanding of what and why they are teaching.
Mindset Shifts Required
Clarifying what and why you’re teaching prevents a lot of “classroom management” problems.
Mariam says, “New teachers will say ‘I'm so worried about classroom management.’ But they don't mean that. They mean ‘I'm worried, I won't be able to control my class.’ And so one thing I've been trying to make a connection between is if your instruction is where it should be, you won't have as much to worry about.”
What can leaders do?
Step 1: Start with identifying (and helping teachers to identify) what we are teaching and why. This clarity helps align all other aspects of the teaching process.
Step 2: Implement effective teacher coaching programs. Harness the human resources within the building, let each teacher be a leader, and set up structures where they can help each other.
Step 3: Adopt shared leadership. This involves including teacher and student voices in decision-making processes and avoiding the pitfall of surrounding ourselves with “Yes” people.
One of the hardest things is giving people the help they actually want. Mariam suggests getting “feedback on feedback.”
One Step to Get Started
Decide on your one thing, and stay focused on it.
You can find Mariam on Twitter: @MirPloMCPS, Facebook: Miriam Plotinsky (author page), or her website.
To help you get even deeper into the concepts Mariam discussed in this episode, she’s sharing this link to her articles published in Edutopia. And, if you’re looking for more details on the ideas in this blog post, listen to episode 140 of the Time for Teachership podcast. If you’re unable to listen or you prefer to read the full episode, you can find the transcript here.
If you enjoyed this episode, check out my YouTube channel where I show you a sample unit arc on the topic of safety and freedom:
For transcripts of episodes (and the option to search for terms in transcripts), click here!
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Lindsay Lyons (she/her) is an educational justice coach who works with teachers and school leaders to inspire educational innovation for racial and gender justice, design curricula grounded in student voice, and build capacity for shared leadership. Lindsay taught in NYC public schools, holds a PhD in Leadership and Change, and is the founder of the educational blog and podcast, Time for Teachership.