Would Be Our Instructional Coach . . .
Robert Barr directs the Center for School Improvement and Policy Studies and Boise State University.
If you have seen him speak, you know he
lends a powerful voice to his
work which focuses on practical strategies to help schools actualize the conviction that we must maintain high expectations for children of poverty.
is a great voice for coaching us through this knowing-doing gap.
In the first book, The Kids Left Behind, Barr
and Yates provide a meta-analysis of 18 published studies of diverse types of schools from across the country which identifies "eight specific strategies and practices found in successful high-poverty, high-performing schools" (p.9).
As someone who has seen Barr speak, I can attest that these research conclusions and self audits only really come to life when accompanied by Barr's
truly authentic personal voice and riveting stories about his
own experiences as a child of poverty.
compelling arguments for maintaining high expectations for students from poverty, when accompanied by the practical action plans of the second book, are more likely to fire up administrators such as myself than I to leave them discouraged by the deficits to be overcome.
It is also encouraging that the key practices identified as critical to realizing results for poor students are resonant with some of the most prominent reform efforts being adopted widely by schools recently.
These include efforts to "create a culture of data and assessment literacy", which is key to the work of professional learning communities . Also, the emphasis on literacy skills as a high leverage topic for professional development and additional resources aligns with a widespread trend towards embedding reading instruction across the curriculum as an accelerator of student growth.
It should be said that in a perfect school, we would hire the younger Robert Barr
of 20 years ago, as this senior fellow may be too senior of a fellow to really connect with a median age teacher.
But that's not a dealbreaker, as in a perfect school we would have a time machine right?
In any case, whether we hired the 70 year-old Robert Barr
1990 vintage younger self, he
would be one of our instructional coaches in a perfect school because his
compelling authentic voice for maintaining high expectations for students of poverty would not be delivered with a side of righteousness, but with a healthy serving of pragmatic action planning.