Based on Dr. Robert Marzano’s “School Leadership That Works”, Dr. Todd Whitaker’s “Shifting the Monkey” and “Leading School Change”, and Thomas Goodney’s “The Power of Protocols: An Educator's Guide to Better Practice”
Non-negotiable expectations are clear and specific expectations for compliance with school policies and procedures that are systemically consistent and protect instructional time. While this is a management function of the principalship, it helps to ensure all the arrows are aligned to prioritize and protect teachers ' and students' time on task during instruction. In addition to protecting and maximizing instructional time, these consistent systemic expectations increase order and structure while reducing the potential for disciplinary issues. It's important to note that these are the minimum expectations for everyone in the organization. This is something that any administrator or person in an administrative role can identify and address quickly when they are not adhered to. While these types of consistent systemic expectations will benefit every school, they are extremely important to schools in turnaround where a large percentage of students are performing below grade level and extra instructional time is needed to give students an increased opportunity to exceed expected growth to "catch up" with grade level peers. Below are suggestions for non-negotiable expectations that protect and maximize instructional time:
* Be on time and “Do Your Job” to the best of your ability
* School and district level trainings and meetings are required and mandatory for all staff
* Teach bell-to-bell, maximize time on task
* Have a lesson plan available at all times – These will be submitted prior to instruction and feedback from administration/instructional coach will be provided.
* Daily objectives must be clearly posted and expressed in student friendly language. “I Can” statements should be posted and verbalized to let students know what they should be able to do to prove mastery. Revisit these several times during the lesson to check for learning/understanding. Clear learning targets should be repeated several times in multiple manners and are required in each classroom lesson.
* Have a 3-5 minute bell ringer activity that reviews prior learning and/or introduces new learning for the day. Attendance should be taken and classroom management functions taken addressed during this time.
* Follow the 10-minute rule (only release students from the classroom outside of the 10-minute rule when it is an emergency), students should have a hall pass signed by the teacher anytime they leave your class.
* Be consistent and timely with grading, behavior expectations, and feedback. Update grades weekly online before you leave work on Friday. This will be monitored by administration during the weekends along with feedback on lesson plans.
* Communicate regularly with parents discussing progress in class and clear expectations for student success. Make one positive communication prior to any disciplinary conferences.
* Enforce school and district procedures and protocols with fidelity (cell phones, dress code, tardies, etc.).
* Make sure your classroom and surrounding area is an inviting environment that is conducive to learning.
* Ensure class changes are efficient and effective. This not only increases the amount of time in class, but also reduces the time it takes to transition students to initial tasks and instructional activities.
* Limit systemic disruptions to instructional time, such as announcements on the intercom and students being called out of class for disciplinary actions. Administration should have a specific and set time for announcements in the morning and/or afternoon with a limited time frame. Doorknob discipline for minor infractions is recommended to reduce disruptions to instructional time.
example: class change times
Reducing class changes from 5 minutes to 4 minutes on a traditional yearlong schedule, saves 6 minutes per day times 180 school days = 1,080 minutes or 18 hours of instructional time over a school year. This equates to 3 extra days of instruction in each class over the course of the school year.
When the principal ensures instructional time is prioritized and protected, the staff and students realize the importance of maximizing their time to teach and learn. The impact of the combination of several policies, procedures, and process of non-negotiable expectations increases the amount of instructional time by weeks over the course of a semester and/or year.
example: bell-to-bell teaching & learning
If an average teacher stops each classroom 5 minutes before the bell rings and gives students a couple of minutes of free time on a block schedule, they lose 5 minutes per class per day times 180 school days = 900 minutes per class or 10 instructional days over a school year. This equates to one week of lost instructional time each semester. How many high school teachers and students would love to have an extra week to review prior to exams?
It is a good practice for leadership to begin with expectations and expected outcomes to create clear learning targets and clarity on expectations. The figure to the left is an example of basic meeting expectations that help make meetings more orderly and focused.