SWIFT Implementation Gains: Supporting Teachers First
As SWIFT Center's New Hampshire and Vermont LEA Facilitator, I am often asked, by non-educators and educators alike, what I do. I reply with some version of the following: “I help create systems, structures, and frameworks that support the work of the classroom teacher so that he/she can help every child learn to his/her greatest capability.”
Recently, at the SWIFT National Leadership Collaborative meeting in Kansas City, I learned that two of the SWIFT Framework domains—Administrative Leadership and Inclusive Policy Structure & Practice—had the most implementation gains during our three years of partnership with 64 schools. In SWIFT schools, strong and actively engaged administrative leaders are committed to improving teaching and learning within a system that empowers educators and school personnel. Inclusive policy structure and practice includes a supportive, reciprocal partnership between the school and its district or local educational agency. As I interpret these gains in equity-based inclusive education, our partner schools are increasingly supporting their teachers "from the outside in" and "from the inside out!"
In order for teachers to consistently use evidence-based classroom practices with fidelity in ways that allow all students to learn and enjoy learning in their community classrooms and schools, administrative leaders at the school, district, and state levels must show teachers that their work is valued and supported.
Administrative Leadership gives teachers the opportunity to share their expertise and contribute to meaningful decisions through distributive leadership structures placed in the school and district. Inclusive policies and practices empower teachers to talk about the barriers to their work in the classroom with certain knowledge that they will not only be heard, but that their concerns will be addressed in a timely manner. Teachers can also be confident that when they share what has worked for them, their experiences will be used in ways that expand evidence-based practice in their schools, districts, and states.
SWIFT partners have worked diligently to foster school cultures that honor the strength, commitment, and knowledge base of teachers. SWIFT implementation teams bring these problem-solvers and “can-doers” into the action and provide a role and a voice for their invaluable perspective. Through an initial focus on Administrative Leadership and Inclusive Policy Structure & Practice, SWIFT schools support teachers, which set up the conditions for all students to learn and grow in their community classrooms and schools through a Multi-Tiered System of Support with an Integrated Educational Framework in Partnership with Families & Communities.