The Department of Instructional Services (DOIS) believes if schools are to engender 21st century skills in students, the following principles must undergird the district support the department provides:
We believe the classroom is the primary unit of change in a school division. The goal of a school division is to help its students grow intellectually and emotionally. While students' experiences during lunchtime, recess, and extra-curricular activities assist in this growth, the transformation from a dependent kindergartener to an independent and knowledgeable graduate occurs primarily in the classroom. Therefore, we believe the lion's share of our work must benefit the classroom proper, directly or indirectly.
We believe building teacher efficacy will support and improve student performance. Teachers and administrators must believe they have the capacity to make a difference. No program, no innovation, no incentive will impact learning if the teacher does not believe in his/her capacity to teach. Therefore, the DOIS seeks to build teachers' confidence and skill in their content knowledge and in pedagogy through the services outlined in the services section of this website.
We believe reducing professional isolation among educators enhances professional learning and favorably impacts student learning. Collaboration and communication within and among schools is critical to growth. Districts must encourage school autonomy and creativity so that each school meets its students' and community's unique needs, but a district must also operate as a connected whole in which ideas about teaching and learning are considered from multiple perspectives.
We believe examining our leadership and instructional practices on an on-going basis enhances learning. We believe as a learning community we must question what we do on an on-going basis: asking "can we be better?" Are we reaching all students? Leadership is more than stewardship; it is "nudging" the entire instructional staff, including our department, to what Madeline Hunter called, "the cutting edge of our competence," moving to a place of discomfort to ensure our growth. This practice reflects the same emphasis on creativity and innovation expected in FCPS classrooms, where "creativity thrives on freedom, friction and diversity to spark new ideas and gain new perspectives" (Sternberg, 2007).
We believe providing purposeful feedback to teachers will enhance professional learning and student achievement. Teachers need to know how they are doing. Our best teachers are reflective practitioners who seek feedback not only from their students on an on-going basis but also from their school colleagues and building and central office administrators. Without feedback from multiple perspectives, teachers will practice without affirmation or accountability.