As a school leader, my first non-negotiable is that outdated pedagogy must be left behind. Technology has enabled so many improved teaching strategies in the past few years, that it would be inexcusable for teachers (even veteran ones) to still be stuck in 20th-century pedagogy. It’s OK if a teacher is hesitant to embrace education technology out of nervousness. That can be remedied with guidance and support. It’s not OK, however, for a teacher to avoid technology simply because they want to teach the way they’ve always taught. It’s nearly impossible to have a high-performing 21st century school if the teachers are still caught in a 20th century pedagogical rut.
Another non-negotiable relates to professional development. Since instruction improves when teachers are motivated, I believe in giving teachers the leading voice when it comes to guiding their own professional development. I want teachers to set their own goals for improving their own instruction, and then I will have them make their own PD plan for each year. Insisting on PD that is driven by individual teachers will improve the quality of instruction every single year.
Students must be made to see the relevance of their education, so another non-negotiable will be making connections between school and the real world. Each discipline and each class must make a concerted effort to demonstrate to students how their learning directly connects to life after high school in the real world. As students see more real world relevance in their daily classroom work, their motivation and work ethic will improve.