Ideas and successful practices from principals in the Master Principal Program.
Our back to school meeting was very positive and productive. We had developed a school wide vision last year but, using the All On The Wall method and bringing new learning from this past year, we revised the vision to include more elements of best instructional practices and collaboration. We are also providing multiple times for teachers to engage in common planning time this year instead of just once per week. Also, based on teacher feedback from last year, we are doing our book studies on Thursday afternoons in place of "faculty meetings". All staff announcements are done via email. Feedback about this year's back to school meeting was very positive. It was a great time of collaboration where all voices were heard. Now, we are bringing our vision to the community via a School Governance Council composed of an equal number of parents, teachers and community members.
Our back to school meeting included using the "All On The Wall" tool to develop our school-wide core beliefs. We had not developed core beliefs in the past so this was a very positive experience for us. We have since then relooked at our mission statement and vision and have tied both of those documents back to our core beliefs.
During our first three days of professional development, we focused on rewriting our Vision and Mission statements. The faculty was aligned in table groups randomly across the circulum. As a group we established norms and identified shared beliefs. The PD used many of the collaborative activities we use at ALA this summer. All the comments were positive with teachers stating they enjoyed shared responsibility for the information. They also commented they enjoyed the collaborative setting rather than a presenter sharing dry information.
Michele HuttonThat's great, our school too started by revisiting our vision! Wow, during our first few days of PD we revisited our mission this year. We used strategies from our training sessions as well ( think pair share/ All on the Wall/ Dot vote)! I feel like our faculty worked collaboratively and have learned a great deal from each other.
Stephanie VernonI have had success this year in changing our teacher meetings. The monthly meetings have gone from a time of announcements and calendar dates to a time of collaboration. We have pulled out the mission/vision that we created on the first day together in August and re-visited it. We listed characteristics of a school we would like our own kids to attend and have re-visited whether or not we are still reaching for that type of school. We have done the in-basket activity a couple of times, with classroom management and general problems as the prompts on those. We have done clock-buddy activities so that they aren't just with their grade level all the time. I have also set aside time for vertical alignment. One thing from Master Principal that has also helped me is using the agenda with times for each activity and the reason we are doing each activity. That has kept it more focused, and I have gotten so much more accomplished than in year's past. Each grade level/department set goals for themselves in August, and we have pulled those back out to see if they are reaching any of them. I am also having the grade level PLC's evaluate themselves on DeFour's professional learning community matrix (it says for principals but we are using it anyway)All of these things are unlike anything I have done in the past at meetings, and I'm getting lots of positive feedback. I think they feel like their time isn't being wasted as much!
Debbie JonesI think the work with creating and understanding the importance of the mission/vision/core beliefs had a great impact on the beginning of our school year. We now have our beliefs throughout the building. The comments from parents have been positive and very supportive. We revisit our vision and beliefs at the opening of each PLC and at our staff meetings. The "on the wall " activity was so great when creating our vision from the beliefs of our stakeholders. We are growing as a faculty in staying student focused and working collaborativly!
It sounds like a broken record (I believe one that should be played over and over), but we too had success of going through the process of re-writing our vision and mission! The core beliefs determined by "all on the wall" was very valuable to focus our work and hold each other accountable. We begin each meeting with the vision and mission and we will begin an activity in vertical teams to determine concrete examples of how we are living the vision and mission. We are also using the living vision and mission to make all decisions for our school. I have also created a student council who provided input and I received input and shared this work with our parents getting very positive results! Kim Starr
As a result of Phase I learning, and as a reflection on our SAI & 360 Survey results, I've been collaborating with various stakeholders on how to increase student voice at Wooster Elementary. Several small "steps" or "projects" have been implemented successfully. I feel comfortable in declaring them a success because, first of all, I as the instructional leader, as well as many other staff members, have a clearer understanding of what is on our students' minds in regards to school. Secondly, we've went beyond just acknowledging the students' opinions and thoughts to taking action based on those opinions and thoughts. Because the efforts were actually so simple to implement, it is somewhat embarrassing that we had gotten "too busy" to make them a natural practice. For example, my library media specialist approached me after our fall book fair for advice on what reading materials to purchase for the library with our profit. I quickly referred her to the CCSS Units of Study and other materials to study, but also encouraged her to conduct a Google Survey for students as they come to their regular library classes during December. She now has student input both in text and graphic form on what our students want to read and have access to in our library, all including genres, topics, specific titles, and specific authors. How simple was that? Additionally, as our Behavior Management Team/PLC met over the past year, they decided that one of the most effective behavior rewards for all ages of our students was just to spend some time with the principals. In the past we've had "Play with the Principal" with friendly games of kickball, but in late November we altered this to "Picnic with the Principal," just to give us a few minutes to sit down and actually have a meal and conversation with the kids. We informally "surveyed" them about what was going well and not so well in their grade level, in specific block classes, and at Wooster in general. Our eyes were opened to some very fixable problems they were having that were so big in their minds, like the headphones in the computer lab and interruptions to their classroom. Many were bored with our daily "Brain Gym" physical education conducted via our closed-circuit morning announcements, so our PE teacher is working on more motivating activities to begin their days. This time also gave us the opportunity to explain the "why" behind some of the Wooster routines and expectations. We're so proud that one of our newest success stories is based on student voice. After all, they are why we "go to work" every day, why we do what we do. Whose opinions and input could be more important?
Each Wednesday, students leave school 45 minutes early and the teachers meet with their PLC. The scheduled time allows for teachers to discuss useful strategies,learn new information, and share techniques that they are using in their classes. This schedule has been an excellent source for teachers to work on the vision and mission.
At Clinton Primary, we have focused on teacher empowerment by giving the teacher's more of a voice in the decision making process. We have included a teachers per grade level to our CPS Leadership Team and are meeting on a regular basis to examine data, problem solve issues and began the whole process by examining the behaviors or norms for being on the Leadership Team and our expectations of each other while on campus, in meetings and especially while in the community. We, in the past, have managed to become our own worst enemy when talking in the community. The CPS Leadership Team decided to set the example and hold each other accountable for modeling the expected behaviors. We also rotate the "leader" of the meetings so that it is not always coming from the CPS Admin. I assist with the agenda but the meetings are lead by teachers and I do my very best to be part of the team rather than the leader of the team...hard to do sometimes.
The norms for your leadership meeting sound very interesting. I am just curious if they set norms for themselves that were different than your other PLC norms, as in, did they set higher standards for themselves? We have set norms as a general PLC, but I have not done this, yet, with my leadership team specifically. It seems to be a great way to begin development of teacher leadership skills as "professionals."
The area of most impact for my school has been in the area of shared leadership. I am in my second year at Northside Elementary school and we have experienced a lot of change this year. We started the second semester with a new assistant principal and everything is in place to expand the circle of influence.All teachers were asked to provide information about what qualities an assistant principal should have that would benefit the school, be helpful to each teacher and would balance my attributes. A team of teachers participated in the interview process for a new assistant principal and their input was very valuable. The new administrator is a very good fit for our school. This is the second year for teachers to meet in grade level teams once a week. At the beginning of this year, the teams began to implement the strategies of a PLC.We began the year by reading an excerpt from Revisiting Professional Learning Communities at Work. The leadership team (principal, assistant principal, math and literacy facilitators) planned a schedule and agenda for the first semester for the grade levels to model the type of content that a PLC would discuss. Each grade level is ready to take the responsibility to plan their own agendas. The grade level teams are setting their goals and developing a schedule for their weekly meetings.Each grade level team is beginning the process to set smart goals for their grade level. The leadership team is also expanding. We have invited and will recruit some teachers to participate in leadership team meetings to plan professional development for the school and to offer the voice of the teachers. The teachers have offered great ideas and appreciate the opportunity to be included in the decision making process. The next steps would be to include parents in students in decision making processes.
I'm anxious to hear more about your teacher-created agendas for team meetings. I love that strategy and can definitely see how leadership would be distributed. Did you give them general guidelines on what had to be accomplished by a given date or broad topics to cover? We've taken the step of teachers leading some team meetings, but not necessarily the creation of the agenda. Can't wait to learn more from you!
I would have to say that I am doing a much better job of delegating, whether it is from participating in ALA activities/discussions or just reaching a comfort level to trust that I do not have to manage/co-manage everything that happens in my school is hard to say. I am forcing myself to utilize this in the true sense of giving a responsibility to someone and then not "shadowing" them as they make decisions and carry out the responsiblilities of the task. While I have delegated in the past, sometimes I spent more time monitoring than I would have spent doing it myself. I have had two different teams thank me for allowing them more autonomy in their team activities/decisions. It still seems to be an effort to make "extra" time in my schedule to be in the classroom. Last fall we needed to get ready for an Adv. Ed visit and begin the whole Common Core implementation process. This spring brings the TESS and Principal training that we will have to attend to....... while doing everything else. It seems that there is always something being added/or changed in education.
The biggest success story I've experienced thus far as the Principal of Fuller Middle School is the successful implementation of our School Leadership Team. Our SLT meets for a hour, twice a month. In that meeting we plan out various things. I struggle with delegation so this allows me the opportunity to present what needs to be done to the leaders in our building and break it into pieces. My SLT also leads our PLC's and Staff Meetings. The team also meets outside of the school setting so that we can have open and honest reflection without interruption. This has totally improved my ability to be an Instructional Leader because I get input from those in the trenches and we sit down and develop Action Plans to will help our school move forward.Our next challenge is the Advanced Ed accreditation visit. We've broken down the various reports and begun to respond as a team. It just feels good to be around good people that TRULY care about kids. I'm blessed to be their leader.
Brent, I served last year on an advanced ed visit. Remind me and I will help you while at the mountain. I noticed that you, also, struggle with delegation! I first thought that by delegating I was "putting more on other people's plate" but then realized that I serve as the chef and put items on the plates of others while still controlling what the menu is and who gets what food based on the size of their plate and how big their appetite for success is...once I starting thinking about delegating this way...I am much better at it. Food for thought! BTW...I have been walking and I am ready for the trails this time!
I think the greatest success story for my school is taking my leadership team to scale. This year SLT has taken over planning events, setting meetings, and work on improving staff morale. They planned a Community Night that highlighted the talents of our students, shared information, trained voulunteers, and highlighted the success story of our school.
Many of you have mentioned your back to school meetings as successes. I would agree that those days stand out in my mind as a time of change and reflection. Teachers did a lot of reflection about our vision and mission, as well as our beliefs about teaching and learning. Since then, we have made changes in the way we spend our time after school. Instead of faculty meetings, we spend time collaborating in PLC teams. I send out a weekly "Monday Message" with announcements, important dates, etc., so that our valuable time after school can be used for collaboration. I have also tried to encourage more accountability during PLC time by having teachers develop their own agendas. They take turns bringing teaching ideas to the table, either in literacy or math, so that all teachers on the team participate in the discussions and planning.
Melanie LandrumAs a result of my Smart Goal 2, we began to focus this year on making sure that we were infusing the arts into the Common Core Curriculum. We began by participating in the A+ Professional Development this summer as a whole staff and having PD after school every month during the school year. We also had teachers meet during Common Planning Time during the school day to plan for instruction. In addition to the A+ PD after school, the staff participated in a Book Study using the book Teaching Literacy Through the Arts by Macdonald and Fisher. Last month, the Leadership Team conducted a focus walk in all classrooms where this was one of the "look fors". We found that 15/17 teachers were infusing the arts in a meaningful way into Common Core. We are now engaging teachers in Focus Walks in each other's classrooms as a way to further the conversation about the Arts and integrating Science and Social Studies.
Brenda BoardmanWe made some significant changes in the make up of our campus staff this year. In previous years we had grade level teams that met occasionally or as needed. We had some serious issues which really hampered any formal effort to operate with effective teams. It has been a positive change, however, we've had a lot of trust and team work to rebuild. In an effort to move our campus forward, we've spent a lot of time developing our advisory and leadership teams. As we've worked through a variety of issues, we've discovered the need for other teams to help with the work. The leadership team and the advisory team have become the foundation for making the necessary changes on our campus. I had to make some serious personal changes in the way I see leadership on our campus. This change involved changing my leadership style and working with the various teams to develop and support the leadership of our teachers. I have always wanted things done correctly and I found it difficult to relinquish that "control" out of fear that it wouldn't get done. I've read professional journals, articles, and chapters in the book Revisiting Professional Learning Communities at Work. Reading these articles and books have given me a lot of food for thought and prompted me to make the decision to overhaul my leadership style and begin working with teams of teachers in an effort to improve student and adult learning, increase involvement and leadership of our teachers, and have a systemic approach to overall improvement. These changes have made a difference in the willingness of most of our teachers to take on more responsibility to provide a more student-centered learning environment. It has resulted in a much improved climate on the campus that is now very obvious. Our staff is searching for new methods and instructional ideas with a desire to develop an improvement plan that will lead our students to success.
Stefanie SmitheyCarroll Smith Elementary is a new school that combined two former campuses. This in itself was a challenge because there were some very hard feelings between staff members. I was blessed in that I had a turnover that allowed me to have 3 equal parts to my staff, 1/3 new, 1/3 from one elementary and 1/3 from the other elementary. Therefore, any way we cut it 2/3's of the staff had never worked together. I started the year with the "On the Wall" activity to create our core beliefs, mission and vision. I was excited when I watched how everyone was respectful and trust was built that everyone's opinion counted. The groups colloaborated and then shared and together we built our beliefs, mission and vision. I always felt this had been a success because everyone was focused on the kids. AND...We rocked along doing well and I believed everyone was still on board. However, as a leader we are not always the first ones to know what our staff is really thinking. I learned and it brought me such joy when our district cafeteria manager decided to implement a new program. No one had any idea that this was coming...I pulled my staff together because we had less than 24 hours notice to make it happen. When I told them that we would be providing snacks every afternoon to our students before dismissal and they would have to bring them to the cafeteria for approximately 20 minutes each afternoon and back to class for dismissal. My staff immediately said, "Mrs. Smithey, you have to fix this we can't lose our instruction time...that is when we do our interventions." To say the least, I was so happy that CSE staff put children before themselves. I realized then that we were a staff of educators who believed and practiced what we had agreed upon when we created our beliefs, mission and vision. CSE has become a school with a culture and climate that is truly based on providing children with a safe, nurturing environment where they will learn the skills necessary to be successful for college or career.
CREATING & LIVING THE MISSION AND VISIONWhat’s In a Name: From Teams to PLC’s In the 1990’s when I became principal, Warren Junior High began to implement middle level concepts. Two weeks after school started, we—the teachers,students, and other staff—re-arranged our entire two-story building so that we could create “smaller learning communities. We began Advisor/Advisee; we had student-led and team Parent-Teacher Conferences. One of the concepts that was most beneficial to our students was teaming. We had the perfect numbers—125-140—in each class to have a 7th, 8th, and 9th grade “team.” Teachers met as a team at least weekly, and they met with parents when there was a major discipline problem. I attended meetings on PLC’s and thought to myself we’re already doing more than that, and just put it aside. Then, to my surprise, one day I realized that no one but WJHS knew that we were “teaming.” Suddenly, we had to change our mindset from “team meetings” to PLC’s. Frankly, we could hardly say the acronym without wincing. “Teams” just fit what we were doing. So we continued with our teams and lightly referred to them as PLC’s. Then when I started the Principals’ Institute at the Arkansas Leadership Academy,I received the book, then I realized that we had to change in earnest. Our school was “way ahead of the game” in practice and benefit, but to meet the challenge of change,our teams had to become PLC’s. We have made the transformation, and we have active PLC Teams! Our teachers have two conference periods, one for team meetings and one for the required time for preparation. As we followed research of Robert Marzano, we realized to become PLC’s,we need to make these changes: 1. We needed more structure. 2. We needed a written, set agenda. 3. We needed written norms (though we had always had core beliefs about our team meetings that coincided with the required norms. 4. We needed “Next Steps.” 5. Someone besides the “team leader” needed to facilitate the meetings occasionally. 6. Minutes needed to be kept more formally and submitted to the principal. We have successfully added PLC’s to our building because we realize that whether these “gatherings” of grade or content are called “team meeting” or “PLC’s,” teachers working together in a professional learning community is a must for academic achievement. Our school, which is now Warren Middle School, with the grade configuration of Grades 6, 7, and 8, has the following groups: *Grade 6, 7, and 8 Teams, which meet at least weekly *Literacy PLC, which meets weekly with just the building teachers and monthly with the Literacy Instructional Facilitator * Math PLC, which meets weekly with building teachers and monthly \ with the Math Instructional Facilitator *Science PLC, which meets every two weeks *Social Studies PLC, which meets every two weeks *Workforce PLC, which meets weekly *Fine Arts PLC, which meets monthly *Building Leadership Team PLC, which meets monthly with the principal. Our teachers know that they have always worked in a professional learning community to meet the needs of our young adolescents. Having PLC’s in our school was not a second-order change; it was merely renaming with a little more structure. “A rose by any other name is still a rose.” A team by the name of PLC is still a team! --Glenetta Rivers Burks Warren Middle School Warren, AR 71671*Literacy and Math PLC’s often meet daily because content-area teachers have the same conference periods, and usually I find all of them together discussing strategies or students—and not in the Teachers’ Lounge either!
Phase I learning as been instrumental in the organization of PLCs in my school. The structure of PLCs has created the expectation for this time to be focused on student achievement. In keeping with our philosophy that we must do everything we can to take care of the 'whole' child, in order to facilitate learning for each child. While this pretty much leaves the door wide open for what is appropriate focus within each PLC, I have attached data to each PLC. The data has included, but is not limited to Benchmark, MAP, CWT data, etc. I have protected the PLC time for teachers, as well as for myself. Each team set their own norms/protocol at their first meeting. These are visible and referenced at each PLC meeting. I have had the opportunity to build capacity and work with teachers in small focused groups in a way I have not previously experienced. I had one team ask to come back and revise their norms/protocol because they were not reflective of their work as a professional learning community. This lends credence to the PLC as an on-going work in progress that is being reflected upon away from the PLC time. I consider that a success!
After Phase I, I not only looked at the way I spent my time as an Instructional Leader, but I wanted my team to keep a time log with the same seven items I used so that I could see how their days (time) were spent. The teachers kept up with their time log for a month. The results were shared during a PLC. The results from their time management log were eye opening to say the least. Although Teaching/Learning ranked the highest among my team, I was shocked to see Change ranked the lowest. During one of our teacher led PLC meeting, I asked them to elaboarte on the results. I took their results and decided to come up with proactive efforts to address and improve our learning environment which would encompass Change. I then asked our students to participate in a short survey regarding our programs, services and school climate. The results of the survey were posted in each classroom were students were encouraged to view them. My teachers are aware that change is ongoing and needed in education. My moto as an instructional leader is clear. Continue to grow in your profession or change your profession. I can not jeapordize student achievement just because of an unwilling team member refusing to adjust to needed change.
This school year has been one of immense learning for me. I think this is due to my participation in the Master Principal Phase I. I now look at myself as an instructional leader rather than as a manager. I must admit, this is new for my staff as well. I think the practice I must celebrate is that of planning and conducting weekly PLC meetings with my grade group teams. Having already built in a common plan for each group, I was welcomed to spend one day a week with each team. It was a challenge to schedule 7 such meetings per week. It took a couple of weeks to create a schedule comfortable for all. Of course, we still have the occasional assembly or special event that necessitates a re-scheduling of one or two. In general, this has not been a big inconvenience on staff. Now, to the heart of the matter. We have spent our times together discussing the common core and how the implementation should look in our classrooms. Although we had added common core to our state standards last year, this is the first year for us to actually pull away from the state standards and look to common core as priority one. Each week I prepare a topic for discussion, allow time for comment, and conduct the meeting in a timely manner. My staff feels comfortable and appreciates the fact that I feel it is worthy discussion. They feel I am taking an active role in planning and implementation. After the week's meetings, I review my notes and select a topic that seems to have been indicated as an interest area. As you know, common core has enough elements to cover meetings for many years to come. Thus, I prioritize according to my staff's needs. Often, the PLC discussion indicate areas for future professional development and planning. Indeed, I feel the time spent in PLC has led to a more involved and collaborative staff.
Kim StarrWell, here we are just a few weeks from the last day of school and I can barely recognize myself compared to that principal I was last year! This year of the Master Principal Institute has changed my way of thinking and how I do business. I believe I have always been student centered in keeping with my personal mission, but now I have direction that stems from each of the five performance areas we have studied. I have grown as a leader and because of that my staff has grown too. We work closer in our PLC's and leadership team to improve student achievement. We examine our teaching as it relates to the way students learn and we hold ourselves accountable to that learning. We have worked through the school vision and mission and have found our core values. We have involved our community using the eight sectors. But I am most proud of my creation of the first student council at Indian Hills! The students have worked with me since November to make meaningful changes in the school. They put forth an initiative on bullying and were featured on Fox 16. I have enjoyed watching them develop and mature through vision building and having a voice in their school!
Stacy DonaghyThis has been a year of growth for me personally. I have learned so much about being an instructional leader and have begun to do more reflection on my own job performance in relation to the 5 focus areas. This has been a very difficult year because our school population increased by 100 students in one year, which has totally changed the dynamic of my population. Our staff struggled in relating to students, and at the same time, learning common core was a challenge. We continued developing our PLC's but were forced to meet after school because of district changes, which was not ideal. So, as much as I'd like to say it was a wonderful year, I have many changes I want to make for next year. I feel good about the work of my leadership team and look forward to developing a stronger team next year, implementing change and including the 8 sectors in a more meaningful way. I will continue my reflective practice and work this summer to set personal goals for improvement next year.
What a great year this has been! I have grown as a leader and through my own growth process have been able to develop teacher leaders within my building which has resulted in the emergence of more student leaders. Our LEADS group, Pups News Network, and Ambassador program have sprouted out of the professional growth that has taken place this year. My proudest moment came about two weeks ago when students came to me and asked to lead a community wide project to help tornado victims in Oklahoma. They immediately went to work, and while we provided guidance and resources when necessary, the planning and organization of the event was largely done by our STUDENTS. It was a huge event in which we ended up taking a semi truck and trailer of items to Little Axe Elementary in Norman, Oklahoma. This is THE best end of the school year I have ever had because all of our engergy (administration, teachers, students, parents, and community members)was focused on living and furthering our shared vision of working in partnership with parents and community members to prepare our learners with skills needed in addition to reading, writing, and math to adapt and succeed in the global community. In reflection, I believe that we on the road and moving in the right direction although there is still much to be done. I can't wait to begin our next steps which were developed in leadership and parent advisory team meetings last week after reflecting on the year and assessing our progress. I am looking forward to continued professional growth experiences.
Debbie JonesThe last semester of the 2012-2013 school year has brought the challenge of managing the school day to day operations with instructional leadership. I learned that our school has grown so much in shared leadership. It is exciting for me to see the growth that our leadership team has made. Professional learning communities have become student focused and teacher driven. Teachers have become professional colleagues and opened their doors for observations and discussions. I also know the area that I will continue to grow in is outside collaborative relationships that influence student academic and social growth. Phase I has had a definite influence on my leadership.
Success Story: DKTL & Building Collaborative Relationships"The" success story of Wooster Elementary this year was the establishment of a true leadership team. The WIT (Whatever it Takes) Leadership Team met monthly, and the agenda topics focused only on teaching, learning, and leadership development. With the educational shift to CCSS, our "teaching" items were basically laid out for us, with our district mandated research projects as the main literacy focus, and the 8 Standards of Mathematical Practice as our math focus. During the second semester, the norms had been established in such a way that the teacher leaders basically ran the leadership meetings on their own. Literacy teachers shared student work from the previous research project, and then collaborated to create integrated rubrics for the upcoming research projects. Math teacher leaders who were receiving ongoing pd led teachers through a better understanding of the 8 SMPs, and helped us all return our focus to the student and his/her action, his/her thinking. Another celebration came in the second semester when the members of the team expanded to other sectors of the community. More stakeholders began attending, including parent representatives, local bankers, business owners, and college professor from UCA. It was a chance for us to "tell our story" through the same agenda topics we had maintained for several months. As these stakeholders will become more comfortable providing input during the meetings during future opportunities, it was still inspiring for to observe their "looks of understanding" after hearing the teacher discussions. It was a chance for us to exhibit some of the "why" behind the things they were hearing about (CCSS, Nonfiction Challenges, Research Projects, rubrics, etc).In our summative evaluation conferences and yearly PLC reflections, every WIT member indicated the establishment of this team as one of the most effective components of the 2012-13 school year. Additionally, many other teachers expressed their desire to be involved in the vertical collaboration and leadership progression. This newly developed PLC was the key factor in improving the vertical alignment at Wooster, as well as Next steps for the PLC would be to focus on communication skills as a teacher leader, to ensure that what is discussed and learned in the leadership meetings is fully implemented throughout the building. This expectation of effective communication once the meetings are adjourned each month could easily become one of the norms for the groups. An additional next step would be to continue the inclusion of community members and parents as regular PLC team members, and to move them to a more of participatory role.
Stefanie Smithey Phase 1 of Master's Principal has been a tremendous help to me. It has helped me grow in the area of time management, collaboration and PLC's. Throughout the year our campus grew as a team that was data driven and focused on student achievement. My staff took ownership of the data and used it to guide instruction. I look forward to gaining more and more. The experience of the training and then working with my staff is amazing and gratifying. Looking towards next year, I plan to work on collaboration among teachers and working with my resource to co-teach with the classroom teachers.
Darnell BellAs a first year principal, Phase 1 of Master's Principal has been a blessing to me. The tools and strategies that I have learned to utilize in PLCs have helped me to design workshops better. One of our biggest success story at Harris Elementary was building and sustaining an accountability system. We developed a system for analyzing formative and summative assessment data. Teachers were required to analyzed the data and determine "Glows and Grows" from the information. Students were identified and focused instruction by Academic Interventionists working with teachers was provided. I am very optimistic and excited about the upcoming year. With the tools and strategies that I have learned, I truly believe that they will strongly assist us with getting off of "Priority" status.
I didnt have but 6 hours all together with my staff and only 3 hours at one time. During those 3 hours I had to do some things the district had asked us to do, leaving me with only about an hour and a half. During that hour and a half we did the Hand Activity and the Human Scattergram. The evaluations showed that the staff enjoyed the Human Scattergram the most because they were able to discuss and discover what they and their peers thought was the purpose of education. We have not been able to complete the hand activity as of yet. We have early dismissal the first Tuesday of every month for PD so I will be finishing that activity as well as doing the boat activity. I also plan on doing the barbell activity because we need to do more differentiation and RTI implementation and I believe the Barbell activity will help them see why they can't just give instructions one way and expect everyone to know what is expected. We have had PLC groups going for two years now and these activities will help the groups work better together. We do plan to review and revise our mission and I hope to do that through some of the activities we learned in July. This year has really gotten off to a better start than last year. Actually, It's spooky how quiet and good the students have been. We are trying to implement a new behavior technique so hopefully it is helping. I have had the teachers tell me they are less stressed this year and they are all excited about working together. I really believe this is going to be a great year.
From attending Master Principal, the teachers have appreciated the format of the ALA agenda and also doing the team building activities. These activities have helped us learn so much about each other and it allows us to start our meetings off with a smile
We are revising our agendas as well, and I'm using the "facilitator's agenda" with an extra column for resources and reminders to help keep me on track and more organized. I'm seeing this carried over when my teachers and even other administrators in my district create agendas as well. I'd be interested in seeing your format and any revisions you've made.
Mrs. Watkins, thank you for your comment on your use of structured agendas. That tool is so valuable, not just as a time management device but as a strong school culture piece to value and strengthen adult learning. I'm a strong advocate for using a structured agenda for all meetings!
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I remember when I was an assistant principal I used to think the most important qualities I would need when/if I became a principal in a good assistant principal were skills like: instructional leadership, student driven-data focused, proficiency in technology, a good communicator, etc. (you get the idea). Having gone through the Assistant Principal Inst. and now going through MPP - Phase 2 I understand that although the previous skills/qualities are extremely important, much of it would not matter if there wasn't trust and and an open dialogue about every inch of the school. My assistant principal, Jason Brunner, is going through the AP Inst. now. We have been able to work off of a common vocabulary. Last year was our first year working together. I remember leaning on a lot of what I learned at the AP Inst. - I would say things like, 'well, let's think about the things we can control and the things we cannot control' - he is a smart cat, but he used to give me that look like, 'what are you talking about?' When he came back from AP inst. he came in my office, sat down, and said, 'I get it' 'I understand it now' We have been able to use this common vocabualry to work together to advance our leadership team and the school.
It is great when the leadership of a school is on the same page, shares a vision, and uses a common vocabulary! Kim Starr
My success story revolves around a few of our next steps. As always, PLCs analyzed our first nine weeks walk through data and identified our school’s strengths and weaknesses of TESS components. One area in need of improvement was clearly 3B-questions/discussions/prompts. Since our district was pro-active in providing TESS training for teachers last spring during team meetings, there have been only a handful of times since then that we have formally revisited the TESS rubric in PLCs or as a whole staff. The last formal time was during our staff pd retreat in July. Therefore, we needed to take time to discuss what quality teaching looks like according to the TESS rubric.As we analyzed the data, we used this opportunity to have this conversation about what quality learning looks like, especially via the proficient and distinguished rubric descriptions and results indicators. We used the All on the Wall activity to determine what were the most important common terms and phrases in the rubric that stood out to us and that we could commit to using in professional dialogue. This focus also carried over to our November leadership team meeting during which the team members used the Gap Analysis tool to begin creating our professional development plan to support questioning and discussion in all classrooms. Prior to this meeting, I used my padlet.com account and had teachers use virtual sticky notes to communicate their current reality of questioning and discussion in their classrooms. The leadership team reviewed the teacher input and then used our “Quality Learning Definitions and Terms” to begin the discussion about our desired outcome, and the process continued with helpers and hindrances. Filling the gap included some of the steps now embedded in the pd plan for the year, including make and take sessions after school (led by the leadership team members), facilitation of effective discussion techniques embedded into PLC meetings, uses of discussion and questioning apps, etc.
My success story is and continues to be Faculty Professional Development and team/faculty meetings. We developed norms that are reviewed before each learning session that have really helped keep us focused on our work. Through our new superintendent, we used an Organizational Health survey at the end of last year to guide our plans for this school year. Through that survey two leadership teams have been developed and together we are changing procedures, schedules and instruction to improve the achievement of all students. I believe it is through the MPI that I have the tools to facilitate our staff through this change process! I'm looking forward to introducing the scale worksheets to be used after decisions are made to measure our progress and create strategies. We are having an exciting year! Kim Starr
At the beginning of the year, I was nervous about starting the school year with out an academic coach and a part-time counselor. My school is too small for an assistant, so I find myself on my own little island.... or so I thought. When it came time to write our PGP's, Central was leading the way. The teachers jumped in and rose to the occasion. I was able to send different teachers to meetings that normally would have been reserved for my AC. I have found that my teachers are finding their niches and developing leadership. We reorganized our ACSIP committees and had teachers willing to chair different focus areas in ACSIP. They have been meeting and working with our parents and school. Even our parental involvement committee has had more success. We have had more engaging activities with a willing chairperson. I am excited to see where this is going and would like to channel it into further areas (RtI, Special Education, AIP's, etc).
As we ended last school year, as a result of MPI reflection and phase II application work, I knew one of the areas in which we were lacking was that of RtI. We had relied on our after school program as a means for remediation and enrichment. We were losing our 21st Century Grant, and the timing was right to begin to rework our daily schedule, staff assignments, and financial resources to meet the needs of our students. A team comprised of the assistant principal, literacy coach, teachers, and I worked to develop a schedule in which RtI and enrichment would occur the last thirty minutes of each school day. A handbook was written to guide teacher responsibilities and practices. Training would be provided to staff during back-to-school pd on RtI and the Comprehensive Intervention Model. RtI and enrichment rotations would change every 4 weeks based on data analysis. Grade-level RtI teams would work to collaboratively problem-solve before bringing a student to the building-level RtI team. Documentation would be kept. In addition, an analysis of our daily schedule revealed our specialty teachers had large blocks of unused instructional time. They were assigned to various grade levels as mentors who would work in collaboration with the regular classroom teacher to provide additional support to struggling students. We have been in implementation of our new structure and process for a semester. We provide time for celebrations and struggles during our monthly staff meetings and journal these on our wall in our training room. As the year progresses, it is our plan to conduct a gap analysis so that revisions can be made prior to the upcoming school year.Candie Watts,Mayflower Elementary
Candi, We have received forms and procedures from our district for RTI. We have had a few meetings as a team. I would like to talk to you further about your post this week. Jeff
This year has been one of continuous growth and change. I have been amazed at how much a staff can grow and bring to the table when the leader (me) learns to delegate and relax on the micromanagement!! Last year we were lacking in our RTI, fortunately this year we agreed as a staff that this was an area in which we were going to work hard to improve and grow. I put in our monthly calendars a specific date each month that we would meet...this has grown out of being a required date to one that encourages us to work together and lead our teachers in a plan that is benefiting all students. We have reviewed and determined a set plan and templates that we use to address students. We have developed a process through which the teachers, students go through to determine what is working and what is not working for the students. The most exciting part is that the teachers have taken this over and are leading it, as principal I am only the facilitator. When your staff begins to lead and work together it is a great feeling because you know as the leader that things are going to continue and you have truly begun the stages of a learning community. As a leader that is what it is all about watching others learn, grow and lead the school forward.
My success story so far this year is how everything is starting to connect with the work that is being done on the mountain. The tools learned from ALA has been very beneficial not only in meeting at school but on my job as a trainer on weekends. Just being able to talk the ALA talk in meetings and having several staff with training from the mountain has been very exciting and rewarding. As we all continue to get on the same page, I know that using the tools and work from the academy will allow us as a school to grow to greater heights.
My sucess has come from using the information we learned on scale. We have done a lot with developing a gap analysis on comparing common core and traditional learning starting with my leadership team. We then did the same thing with the entire staff. From the information gleaned from that, we developed action teams to address the areas the areas of concern. Each of the action teams has been responsible for developing an action plan for a specific area. We are addressing it all through the leadership team and during staff meetings. Since everyone is required to participate, they will all have ownership in everything. We are also intertwining the 10 educational terms that we all agreed upon throughout our action plans.
What is a successful story? Well, for me it is this. I have accomplished my first year as a Principal, and look forward to my second. I came through my first year, not only existing, but also making a difference. The ALA has given me a lot to think about. I know that there have been many times this year, when I was in the middle of something, that I would think "don't forget about this...or that...". I know that there are mistakes that I wold have made without the experiences I have been given here at ALA. I am truly thankful for this opportunity, and am glad that I am here. I am thankful that I not only came through, but I was able to accomplish a number of things. My school came through standards review with "No Issues". I was able to get approval for the ALE at my school which had not been accomplished since it's existence. I was able to help my staff come together more, and was able to build some collaborative relationships. As of November I became TESS certified, I finished my program of study, I came through a CTE visit, a gifted and talented visit, and my first stab at summer school still walking. I know that some of this was facilitated by my studies here with the ALA. I am thankful for the relationships I have been able to build, with those who are here as well. I look forward to seeing you all again next year.
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Upon my return from MP2/Session 1, I wanted to begin working on "Creating and Living the Mission and Vision" since I felt like this was my weakest area. One of the first things that we did as a leadership team was to conduct a gap analysis on our mission. What we concluded was that people know and are aware of the mission/vision of MTHS...but not exactly sure how we live it. We gathered some perception data from the students in a survey that we conducted during our advisory period and was amazed at some of the information we gathered. This is going to serve as great baseline data for us. We dedicated the next two months to really shoring up the "why" and "how" we live the mission at MTHS. There was so many good things that came from this, but the best is that it significantly improved the staff culture. This wasn't expected, but it was certainly a welcome byproduct of our work. Teachers were moved to tears (good and bad...mostly good) at some of the things we said, did, and recognized. We realized that as a school, our mission/vision/core values should be the driving force behind everything we do and we had let that slip....to a certain extent. This effort did a lot for us a faculty and has paid dividends for our students. We have one more month before we conduct our second survey, but I am certain, by student actions, that we will see kids aware of what we are working towards at MTHS.We also have made a better effort to celebrate student success, as stated by our mission. We have started a student of the week program that celebrates the student contribution to school culture or academic success, academic honor assemblies, and those same students and their parents are recognized at monthly board meetings. At the first board meeting that we did this, which was attended by 50+ (a huge meeting for our small school district), I shared the the school mission/vision/core beliefs that we were working on. Another way we spread the mission and vision was to conduct a PR campaign. I went and shared our mission/vision/core values with our city council and our school board (see above). The school board was addressed at a meeting where there was a large turnout. Both groups were invited to do a walkthrough of our school and see our school at work. We didn't ask them for anything, we just wanted feedback from them on how we are living our mission/vision and how we could improve. There was a lot of good feedback and several "pats on the back" that we were proud of, but I'm extremely happy about our work and attempting to take the mission and vision to scale. I feel like we have gained some ground in this area.
Matt...I enjoyed reading about your work. It sounds like you went back and hit the ground running. It also sounds like, as a result, some very good things have happened at your school. Congratulations!We are continuing to focus on taking our leadership program to scale with our teachers, staff, students, parents, and community (spread). Our process began by starting a school wide discipline plan, explicit instruction of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and students taking ownership of their classrooms and the building through jobs (Students apply for jobs, and teachers give out those jobs based on student applications...Students change jobs every 4 to 9 weeks.)(depth). We have also gone public with our efforts by getting the info. out to our community. We even have a Facebook page showing our progress (spread). Currently we are attempting to secure grant money so that we are able to continue this process through the next 5 years (sustainability). Finally, we are celebrating student successes in our celebrations every quarter (sustainability).We are making progress, but we have a long way to go. However, a friend from MPI tells me from time to time about the importance of small steps. "Slow is fast," according to her. I remind myself of this as we continue the process of taking this leadership program to scale.
Our school started our journey with Leader in Me, using the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey as the foundation, three years ago. The focus of the initial training started with the staff members and the inside out approach. Staff members had the opportunity to really focus on themselves as a person, their mission in life, and how they were/would be using the 7 Habits to impact not only their personal lives but also the lives of the students and families we serve here at Mary Mae Jones Elementary. During the first year of our journey with Leader in Me (LIM), we had a vision but we knew we were lacking something. After attending MPI phase 1, it was evident to me that we needed to back up and look at the bottom of our hourglass model so that we could determine our core beliefs. Our first week back with staff last year was extremely powerful because we were able to determine our core beliefs as a staff and see how it aligned with our current vision. As we continued our journey into the third year, it has been a goal of mine to continue to foster and encourage an environment of shared leadership, not only with our students but also with our staff. While working with our staff this year, the shared leadership is truly starting to be evident and our work with our core beliefs, vision, and mission is starting to take shape. Our staff members are providing training to new staff as well as current staff on the 7 Habits, the readers/writers workshop model, instructional strategies when working with students who are struggling, the navigation of various web-based intervention programs, and the list goes on. Matter of fact, when planning our work together for our last professional development day, our leadership team chose to revisit our mission statement as a school as well as their individual mission statements. This time together, coupled with shared leadership and a focus on our core beliefs, vision, and mission, has been so extremely impactful to our staff that they chose to revisit their class mission statements with their homerooms during the month of January. Thanks to MPI, as I grow and learn as an instructional leader, I hope to continue to foster a school culture that is centered on student achievement, shared leadership, and discovery while holding true to our belief system. Along the way, we will be reflective in our practice and remember “slow is fast” [right Russ:) ] while on our journey of impacting the world around us.
Our staff is currently revisiting our vision and mission statement. I decided to use the Dewitt Jones video, Celebrate What’s Right with the Word, to pull our staff together and help build understanding of the importance and value of a mission and vision statement. It was vital that they understood how putting our vision and mission into practice brings meaning to what we do every day. After watching this DVD, the staff was reflective, passionate, and energized about identifying what is right with our school, who we are, and what we want to do for our children and families every day. This was especially powerful because we did this after Winter break when many staff members tend to feel low on passionate energy. The content and meaning in this video has been discussed throughout our school on multiple occasions; bonding staff members through common vocabulary, shared experience, and passion. By celebrating what’s right, we have begun to look at the challenges we face as opportunities to grow rather than pulling us down. School culture is the beginning; it impacts everything we do. Cultivating and maintain a positive one is critical for the success of all. It simply started with a paradigm shift in our thinking, thanks to MPI.
I am very glad to say that there have been so many successes that it is hard to decide which one to write about. My staff is amazing and one that is so positive. We began our PD with The Energy Bus and we have truly embraced the idea of all being on the same bus sharing the same mission and vision for our school! Having a culture that is positive makes such a difference. The entire staff is supportive of one another and have become so passionate about what they do every day to impact the learning of our students. We are truly energized and rolling along for our destination of success!! I am so blessed to be able to work with such a wonderful team that is always willing to go the extra mile! :)
The Augusta School District was chosen by Indistar to share our success story and how we used and implemented Indistar as a guide to success. Please read the article at http://www.indistar.org/successstories/
Way to go Joe! I'm so happy for you and your staff. I'm sure it was a difficult but rewarding journey. Can't wait to hear more about your success at our table this week.
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