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6.04 Standard Four: Content Knowledge Instruction. The principal is knowledgeable about all requisite Colorado Model Content Standards and knows and is able to demonstrate effective instructional and assessment methodologies and strategies.
Another essential part of content knowledge comes with understanding how to assess student learning and modify instruction based on this data (McREL, 2000). It is especially important for school leaders to be able to model this for staff, resulting in de-mystifying a part of good instruction that baffles many teachers. When faced with test data, teachers may notice patterns in student performance. However, they may or may not have a solid understanding of how to evaluate their instruction and plan an alternative approach to teaching that meets student needs. In his book on professional learning communities, Rick Defour (1998) proposes several critical questions related to ensuring that students learn. These questions succinctly focus this approach:
These questions can be very helpful to administrators trying to lead a group or an individual through the process of refining their teaching and instructional delivery. Course content will also shape this approach. It can assist teachers in thinking very specifically about how to present concepts so that all students learn. Two of my recent professional products involve examining content knowledge and how to integrate specific content into other subjects.
Another recent effort into understanding and applying content to instruction relates to strategies for strong CSAP performance. I assumed a leadership role within the elective departments (e.g. business and technology, arts, foreign language, etc.). Our role was to present viable strategies to the full staff regarding how we could support the CSAP preparation efforts (artifact – Quest for the Test). We used a process similar to what I describe above. We gathered information about content standards, student data on past CSAP performance, and surveyed current strategies or interventions to address weaknesses in student learning. The result was a Power Point presentation with a video introduction to the staff that considered core concepts and challenged staff to consider strategies and collaborative efforts that can improve student achievement.