Learning from an Education Research Guru

Picture2Today I spent the day with hundreds of school leaders in North Texas learning from Robert Marzano.

The conference was focused on school leadership that changes student outcomes.  He touched on several great points.

I won’t go over all of them, but wanted to share some of the highlights and his reflective questions with you. I’d love to pick your brains about your thoughts and opinions on what he had to say.

Teacher Evaluations

What is the purpose of teacher evaluations? measurement or development?

I liked something he said about when you are hiring new people. He said to tell them, “If you teach at this school, we will help you get better.” I think that really sets the foundation from the start that you will be coached and supported so that you can grow and learn as a teacher and professional.


Education leadership is not just about managing a school, but also about guiding teachers on what to do to help their students succeed. Effective school leaders should have a clear vision and plan for improving student outcomes, and be able to provide teachers with the support and resources they need to implement that plan. This includes professional development opportunities, coaching, and feedback, as well as clear expectations and goals for student learning.

Lean and Mean

This is the second time in the last few months that this concept of “lean and mean” has been addressed at a conference I’ve attended. I heard it this summer from Ron Berger, not in those exact words but the same idea. Instead of trying to teach “everything” really quickly so you don’t miss any material, slow down and go deep. Lean and mean equals deep understanding.


Vocabulary is always a hot topic for so many reasons. The problem with vocabulary, Marzano says, is we teach too much vocabulary and the wrong words. He spoke about 3 Tiers (or sets) of vocabulary words. If you are unfamiliar with the 3 Tiers of Vocabulary, check out this great resource that explains it very simply and easy to understand http://www.superduperinc.com/handouts/pdf/182_VocabularyTiers.pdf Here is a resource I found of Marzano’s Six Steps to Teaching Academic Vocabulary http://www.ncresa.org/docs/PLC_Secondary/Six_Step_Process.pdf.


How do we know students are learning? I love something Marzano said today about assessment. He said, “Assess more and test less.” I love that!

If you have taught any number of years, you can attest to what I am about to say. When I was a classroom teacher, I knew exactly how students would perform on an assessment before I even gave them the test. Why? I knew my kids. I did not wait for the day of the test to check for understanding. I was always asking probing questions and making mental notes of where students were in their learning and understanding.

My Take Away 

After hearing all the research and real life examples today, one of my beliefs was validated even more. I am now beginning my fourth year as part of the admin. team on my campus. I will be the first to say the most important things that happen in a school DO NOT happen in the office.  There is no substitute for a good teacher. Nothing an administrator does impacts student success greater than an amazing teacher.

What is an administrator to do? Create the environment and supports to help teachers become even more amazing. Stay out of their way and trust them. Help them grow by giving them timely, specific feedback and allowing them professional learning choices and opportunities.

In what ways do you wish your administrative team would support you more? 



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