Twanisha R. Garner

Langford Elementary School
Blythewood, South Carolina

Best Practices

1) As an instructional leader, providing professional development for teachers is an essential part of my responsibilities to increase student achievement. I design professional learning opportunities and coach teachers on how to effectively use educational strategies that support high-level learning for all students. Teachers are provided with the best practices to use student data to drive instruction. Also, I observe lessons, provide instructional feedback, and support teachers to strive for continuous improvement to provide high-quality instruction.

After observations, walkthrough data is used to drive decision making. As a school administrator, I complete at least five walkthrough observations each week. Specific feedback is provided immediately to teachers regarding instructional strategies observed as well as areas of reinforcement and refinement. Also, walkthrough data is analyzed by all members of the administration team to identify trends. The results of the data are communicated clearly and effectively with teachers and used to create professional development opportunities within our school setting. An example of the 2019-2020 school-wide professional development focus is “Writing across the Curriculum.” Based on walkthrough data and teacher discussion, a needed area of refinement for writing was “appropriate and challenging learning experiences with high expectations for all” (based on Richland School District Two’s Walkthrough Observation Rubric). Teachers felt student motivation, stamina, and a lack of a structured writing curriculum were critical factors in a student’s underperformance with writing. As an instructional leader, I worked with the reading coach to provide structured, personalized learning with Lucy Calkins’ Writing curriculum, which resulted in immediate changes in instructional practices when teaching writing.

2) In addition to providing professional development for teachers, I also use data to coach teachers through instructional decision making. I believe that educating the whole child is not the sole responsibility of the classroom teacher; school teams must work together to provide support for all. Over the past three years, we observed the trend data for our school. The Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA), Measures of Academic Progress (MAP), Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA), Easy Curriculum-Based Measures (CBM), SC PASS, and SC Ready were all considered. Based on the data, we identified several priority areas, including reading comprehension, writing, number sense, and measurement.

Based on a school-wide review, we implemented “data days” to provide support to teachers with data analysis. During these grade-level meetings, we review school-level assessment, attendance, and discipline data. After each “data day,” follow up meetings are conducted with teachers to ensure interventions in place for at-risk students as well as acceleration for high achievers. A successful instructional practice I implemented at Langford is the use of focus groups. Within this model, intervention and acceleration are significant components of student academic success. Data sources like Easy CBM are used to monitor progress and mastery. Teachers develop specialized lessons for students based on academic levels. Instructional assistant also work with teachers and students to provide additional intervention for students in the bottom quartile and acceleration for students achieving above-average performance. Every six to eight weeks, I lead data review and coaching conversations with instructional assistants and teachers to ensure interventions and acceleration strategies are implemented with fidelity.

As a result of the continuous review of data and feedback, a systematic approach to teaching structured, flexible groups had an immediate impact on student performance. Teachers are able to create and implement clear learning targets, while students are able to assessment and walkthrough observation data to ensure that instructional practices are aligned with district’s initiatives and our school’s vision of “educating the whole child.”