In spite of millions of dollars spent on professional development for teachers, the dream of providing every child with the great teacher they deserve always seems just out of reach. With each new education product and innovation promising to transform teaching and learning, the myth of a silver bullet to cure education’s ills is perpetuated. But the silver bullet is already in the classroom: the teacher. Every teacher has the ability to transform their practice if he or she is willing to look inside themselves to make the changes necessary. By using methods described in Navigating the Labyrinth: Teacher Empowerment Through Instructional Leadership, educators can establish a metacognitive process for how they recognize what beliefs they have about how students learn, how they approach research so that it drives instructional decisions, and how they design and deliver instruction that ensures student learning at the highest level. This process is the foundation of effective pedagogy. Daily practice of these methods can establish a standard of professionalism that inoculates teachers against the everchanging “shiny things” in the profession and enable them to become strong instructional leaders.
With over forty years in the education profession, Dr. Shirley Ann Smith has taught at several levels, produced multiple digital resources for teachers, and provided professional development for teachers across the country. Among the many experiences of her career, her favorite has been in classrooms observing teachers and children during the complex process of teaching and learning.
Chapter 1. What Do You Believe?
Chapter 2. Is Teaching an Art or Science?
Chapter 3. Have You Done Your Research?
Chapter 4. How Is Learning Assessed During Teaching?
Chapter 5. How Is Effective Instruction Designed?
Chapter 6. How Is Effective Instruction Delivered?
Chapter 7. Where Does Technology Fit?
Chapter 8. Where Do You Go from Here?
Navigating the Labyrinth: Teacher Empowerment Through Instructional Leadership is a useful tool for teachers no matter where they are in their journey to help students learn. This book also has implications for educator preparation programs and school administrators to use as a blueprint to prepare, develop, and support effective teaching. The Practical Matters section at the end of each chapter provide guidance for comprehensive planning to put these research-based practices into actional steps that lead to student and professional growth. This book is a must read for all who believe that teachers are instructional leaders and are the key to the changes we want and need in education.
Navigating the Labyrinth goes beyond just acknowledging the importance of the individual teacher in improving the lives of children to lead to a productive society—it helps teachers navigate the labyrinthine twists and turns to reach that goal. Dr. Smith’s conversational tone makes psychological and other findings natural and comprehensible, which makes it easy for readers to understand key studies and their implications in order to best navigate the maze and barriers of what they face every day. The Practical Matters section in each chapter has valuable take-aways for the reader. For example, in chapter 7, Smith wrestles with the role of technology in the classroom and illustrates how the teacher can win. Teachers, and administrators who care about teachers and teaching, will value this book.
Dr. Smith provides a navigation tool and calls teachers toward adaptability and openness to change. Here are essential principles and practical tips on disposition, design, practice, and technology that aspiring student teachers can keep close throughout their careers and experienced teachers can employ in renewal of their teaching drive.
After decades of research and experience evaluating the modern classroom and the multitude of head-spinning influences on our education systems, Dr. Smith zeroes in on the core and source of necessary systemic change for improved instruction—the teacher—with metacognitive self-analysis as a starting point. Dr. Smith’s practical advice should be read, reread, and followed if we want to move education from the 19th century to the 22nd.