Melanie C. Harris

H.E. Corley Elementary School
Irmo, South Carolina

Best Practices

1) Throughout my educational career in school district of Lexington-Richland Counties, there has been an intentional focus on professional conversations about student data and achievement. From my time as a classroom teacher until most recently our district used the Doug Reeves model of Data The Data Teams model included analyzing student data, create a smart goal and implementation of high yield strategies to yield student achievement and drive instructional practices. I led professional development with teachers on the process, various high yield strategies, encouraged teachers to think and dig deeper in their analysis and facilitated many meetings. In 2021, our district transitioned to the Professional Learning Community (PLC) model to further this collegial conversation about student achievement and progress with continued focus on data, implementation of strategies, and differentiation to meet the needs of all learners.

My role as Assistant Principal while using both of these models has allowed me to continue my growth and leadership as an instructional leader in my building and school district. Both models allow for teachers to be reflective practitioners and for my role to be a support as facilitator and coach throughout the process. Both models provide an opportunity and environment where Collective Teacher Efficacy can flourish. Attending weekly and monthly meetings has provided me with the opportunity to hear about the planning and my observations allow me to see that planning come to fruition through the classroom instruction. I also have been able to continue to build and foster professional and personal relationships with teachers by attending these weekly and monthly meetings. I also have been able to become familiar with the dynamics of our grade level teams, personalities and teaching styles of our teachers and instructional needs of each grade level. My work with our instructional support areas such as math and reading intervention has allowed me to great a pulse on our most struggling students and has helped me in having conversations about strengthening core instruction with teachers.

Being a part of our Data Team meetings and now PLC meetings has not only helped me grow as instructional leader and instructional coach, but also continued professional development and growth for me as educator. This intentional conversation has yielded great results in student growth and achievement. As an instructional leader, we will continue to reinforce and provide dedicated support and opportunities for teachers to continue to hold professional conversations about student data and how we can impact it positively.

2) With the awarding of the MSAP grant in 2017, the identified desegregation strategy implemented to help reduce minority isolation was Cooperative Learning. Our district adopted this strategy for the five schools receiving the grant and E. Corley was included. Our teachers receiving targeted professional development on the cooperative learning and the identified model selected was Kagan Cooperative Learning strategies. This collaborative practice allows student engagement to be high by using structures and activities that allow all to participate. After receiving the formal training along with teachers and other administrators, the implementation in our classrooms was a no-brainer. With the implementation of the structures and activities, I was able to see the increase of student engagement and student understanding of the concepts being taught. Kagan Cooperative learning strategies allow all students to take part in the learning and students are able to show their knowledge in a variety of ways.

With a dedicated focus on cooperative learning strategies, I focus my reinforcement and refinement feedback in this area during classroom observations. This opportunity to provide coaching and feedback has promoted a positive school climate and continues to strengthen the trust between teachers and administrators all while impacting student achievement.

While working with our District Cooperative Learning Coach, I have been able to learn more strategies, assist with professional development, and coach/encourage teachers to use these strategies with fidelity in our classrooms. Kagan Cooperative Learning strategies go hand and in hand with our Leader In Me habits and paradigms. This best practice has proven to increase student achievement and engagement throughout our school for all learners.