Ideas and successful practices from principals in the Master Principal Program.
We are off to a great start at Blytheville Middle School! We changed the way we did our back-to-school workshops and it proved to be very beneficial for the staff (and me)! We spent a lot of time discussing such important issues as shared vision, critical friends and adult learning. Much of the work was done in small groups so our staff had plenty of opportunities for peer interaction. We also had several team building activities that succeeded in bringing our teachers together. This is going to be a very productive year!
I hate I waited so late to respond, but the start of school was great at Westside-Cabot. One of the major differences I did this last year was to add journals to our day and embedded time into our agenda for reflections. I think taking the time to reflect about the activities we did and how they could possibly use them in their own classroom was a positive thing. The teachers were very excited about the activities and were ready to get started. They are still working and being positive about kids and their work. So far great year.
We had a great start at Stagecoach Elementary! I made several changes to our back to school PD and was more intentional with other areas in our days. I was very aware to support both sides of the "railroad track" and after our Bloomboard webinar it was very necessary. I gave each teacher a journal to reflect on at the end of the days and after any activity that needed more processing. We looked at our Core Values and continued to tweak these into the first of the year. We did the tinker toy activity and this provided great conversation before we started talking about procedures for the building and classroom. It's been a good start with lots of new things----opportunities!
Wickes Elementary is off to a great start, hard to believe that we are almost 6 weeks in. We changed many ideas to start the year off, how we looked/used data, how we incorporated the PDCA cycle into our ACSIP Plan, and I had the teachers reflect from last year on how things were done and had them do the All on the Wall activity to suggest ideas that we as a staff could do to make our school better. We look forward to doing great things.
Crossett Elementary is making great gains this school year. We revised our mission, vision, and core beliefs. My teachers are taking ownership of PLCs and learning from each other. Our school goal is to increase student engagement by students taking ownership of their learning. Teachers are reflecting during their team meetings, PLCs and on their lesson plans on how to increase student engagement while making it authentic. We are tracking students and everyone in the building takes ownership of raising student achievement. I have maximized time spent on instruction by reducing the number of referrals to the office, limiting disruptions during instructional time. We have had some family nights and our parents have given us feedback through surveys and they have been pleased with our school. I am looking forward to a great school year!
I am not sure I can be brief about all of the positive things happening at Trusty this year! We began the year with a laser-like focus on team building and individual needs. I consider our year to be a word play on "You are not teaching curriculum. You are teaching children." Our year's focus includes, not only students, but in my point of view, a focus on: "You are not leading an organization, you are leading individuals." Our beginning of school, school-chosen PD was designed with a focus on needs of our group and focus on staff as individuals. Reflection time and lots of discussion time were built into the PDs. In addition, PLC time has become more focused, with Instructional Facilitators meeting every couple of weeks with teachers to support and guide them in their efforts, including embedded PD, discussion of results on common assessments, intervention ideas for students, and new resources to support CCSS. PLCs are beginning to function more efficiently and effectively. Small group teamwork and large group teamwork is becoming more evident day by day, as staff are beginning to support one another, as well as their students.
Tracy Bratton Sorry for the delay in posting. Boy how time flies when you are having fun. Asbell is off to a great start but upon reflection there are several things I wish I would have done differently. Last spring my staff identified a need for an oral language/language aquisition intervention for the majority of our students. Although, we only have around 23% of our students that our ESL our poverty population is mimicking language learners because of their lack of rich, oral language in the home. As we discussed this we decided to pursue SIOP (Sheltered Instruction) training for the entire staff. At that time , I scheduled Pearson to begin training our staff with a full day training during our back to school inservice and then with 3 follow up 2 hr trainings after school. The training is wonderful and I highly reccommend it, however, it has been a very large undertaking. Our calendar only has 3 days of inservice before the students return to school. Although, there were no alternatives, taking one full day for SIOP training put us feeling like we are in a rush. I have 8 new teachers this year. With the full day training, Bloomboard and E School the new teachers did not get to hear all of the ins and outs of their new school and curriculum planning for the first nine weeks was rushed and disjointed. Lesson learned on managing such task for my staff. On a more positive note , the 8 new staff members along with the awesome veterans of Asbell are very energetic and eager to make the best decisions for students. I have planned to begin working on the vision and mission of Asbell early in the Spring semester. I look forward to our time in Novemeber and learning from you all. See you soon.
This year we had several new staff members at Retta Brown Elementary and changes at each grade level; therefore we had to spend more time getting to know each other and learning our new roles at the school. We incorporated more team building exercises and time for teachers to share and reflect. We only had a few days together and we needed to become and instant learning community before the students arrived. For the first time in several years we have common planning time daily at each grade level and this has helped our PLC teams tremendously.
This year was an awesome start to the school year. My staff came back ready and eager to be active, engaged learners in our school community. We revisited our Vision statement and decided that we needed to revise it and our mission statement. We have IB ambassadors on our campus that are in charge of the announcements each morning and they put the flags up each morning and take them down.I am more excited about our parent volunteers and community volunteers that we have coming to our school this year. I am taking Spanish lessons from one our parents at school. This has allowed me the opportunity to really form more collaborative relationships with all my parents.My focus for the next few weeks will be to look at incorporating more student incentives for students. I open for any suggestions anyone might have..I love what I do and I know this year is going to be a great year of growth!!
The beginning of the school year went well. I am the K-12 principal of a small school district where the elementary school is a year 3 priority school and the high school is in academic distress. However, I have a great leadership team that I would be lost without. I am also receiving great support from the ADE SIS and the CBL from the Arkansas leadership academy. The theme for my first meeting with my faculty and staff was "IT TAKES A VILLAGE". So far, the village is working together to educate our children. I hope you all are having a wonderful school year.
I started the 2014-15 school year off at Osceola STEM Academy with a collaborative activity for my staff. This is my first year at STEM academy along with 8 new teachers out of 25 certified teachers. I felt since my school was beginning under new leadership it was very necessary to revisit the Mission/ Vision statement and make possible revisions. I read the mission statement and we all decided that we felt it was to broad. The staff and myself decided that we would write a new mission statement. I divided the staff into 5 diverse groups and each group wrote their statement on a flipchart. After each group finished, we posted the flipcharts around the room and each group went around the room identifying the words or statements they liked. (Carousel activity) We rewrote our mission statement by combining or blending the words or sentences from the staff statements. I was very excited to see my new staff collaboratively working together. I also implemented morning enrichment classes before school hours every morning and started a 20 minute principal/student time every Friday. My students love and look forward to spending time with me every week. We discuss the word of the month, PBIS, play the game "are you smarter than a 5th grader", and etc. I love working with my staff and students and our culture and climate is both learning and positive!
We had a great start to the school year at Southside Elementary in Cabot. We began the year with Back to School days. I made an effort to change how I conducted the Back to School meetings using lots of new tools from Leadership Academy. I gave the teachers before they left for the summer the book, One Word That Will Change Your Life, by Jon Gordon. Each teacher had to have read the book and chosen their word before returning to Back to School Days. It was a hit! We were able to use the book to not only find our own individual place at Southside but to form our vision and mission from the book as well. Each teacher was also placed on a committee for the school year. Committees were able to meet and discuss the up-coming school year and develop a plan to meet the needs of the school. Southside has had many changes and new implementations this school. Teachers and myself are very over-whelmed with all of the changes but we are embracing them as they come and doing the best we can.
We started off our back to school inservice doing several of the activities that were done while we were "On the Mountain."We did the quadrant activity with teachers, parents, and other stakeholders that were in attendanceThis allowed for them to see that while we all have a different approach in mind, we all have the same goal at heart. We were able to create this set as we began our discussion on vision. We introduced the phrase "Beliefs you could jump off the building for." This created the set necessary to be able to introduce our conversation on vision.We then gave our teachers the opportunity to work as a grade level team on what they believe are the essentials for our students.We then came together and had them bring all of the sticky notes and we did an all on the wall activity. This gave them ownership of what the vision became. Our teachers then moved the sticky notes until they were satisfied with what we believe to be our vision. We then introduced the new book study book, "The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team" by Lencioni. We were able to use this to help drive the rest of our in-service, specifically with the idea of "positive conflict."This allowed for us to introduce a new direction for our PLCs for this coming year. In the past our teachers have done a great job working together, but the depth of the conversations and our growth was stunted because we were afraid of offending each other. These conversations have helped us to move forward. We still have a long way to go with our PLCs, but we are happy with the progress we have made.
We have really had to work creatively with our PD time this year. We only had one back-to-school day with our teachers and worked on data disaggregation. We continue our weekly PLC meetings but feel the crunch to get in all the deadlines, required PD, teaching about BloomBoard, etc. Our big positive this year in the continuing of our leadership team and the focus we have this year. This team was given the results from the LEADS survey and asked to analyze the responses for list our administrative strengths and weaknesses. The team then devised a set of goals for me to focus on as a means to improve our school.
Manila Middle School is off and on an AMAZING RACE. We found out that we are an ACHIEVING school which is a first in middle school history. We started the year out using a number of the tools from ALA. During professional development, I introduced the railroad model by taking the staff to a railroad track. While traveling to the railroad track, the teachers looked at some of the home conditions of some of our students. The local bank also provided funding for the staff to go on a leadership adventure. During the leadership activity, the staff developed a working relationship with people on their PLC.
Waldron Elementary is off to a fast start. Seems like this is a year of lots of change, this usually means some growing pains, but we'll get through it. this year we are working on developing a mission and vision for our school. We are using PLC time to work together to develop belief statements, that will hopefully work into the development of a mission and vision that we all can agree on and build around
David Watkins - Kimmons Junior High...We have had a terrific start and I have had a lot of fun implementing a few of the strategies I learned from the Institute. Scattergrams, sentence stems, and the Q & A activity (the one we did first when giving whimsical but pertinent information). The staff was very receptive to the sessions I conducted as they were active and at times entertaining and informative. We have begun the analysis of our current reality as it connects to the mission, vision and goals of our school... this will be an ongoing process as we tweak or whole-sale change.
My how time has flew by. Seems like just a month ago we were meeting. Now we meet again next week. This year is a blur! I have had many hats this year and tried to implement a few strategies into my school. One activity that I did with my staff was directed towards our vision and mission within our ACSIP. I did the "All on the Wall" activity and the staff loved the activity. It helped plan the foundation of our ACSIP plan for this year. I didn't have much time with my staff but they loved the ice breakers that I learned through my time at ALA.
Ok! This is the 4th time I’ve typed and attempted to post this blog! I’m getting frustrated besides being technologically inferior! Here we go again... The Back to School in-service at Marion Intermediate School was the best one we’ve had since I’ve been principal. My teachers most loved the Human Scattergram. Feedback from that was very positive and they gave comments like: This made us think! Interestingly enough, only one person went to the “Academics” quadrant. He is a secondary transfer, and I think he was just being ornery! I also assigned teachers to unique table groups – not the normal seatmates. I used jig-saw to change up the groups for some discussions. We published groups’ responses using the chart paper and the table tools. It was, by far, the most productive in-service we’ve had and I credit the techniques for adult learners I learned at ALA.
How time flies! I feel like the start of the school year was forever ago! Pre-planning week (and PD in general) at Belle Point Alternative center was very different this year in comparison to past years. After attending the MP institute this summer, I really felt the need to do things radically different. Shortly after master principal, I attended two other conferences where I did some collaborating with my instructional facilitator about our pre-planning week. We were faced with a challenge: last year we had six days of meetings, this year we were looking at only two and a half! We worked, and worked, to crunch minutes, and came up with a solid plan to blend team building activities with the school wide initiatives that are so important. As a result, my team was EXHAUSTED, but energized and prepared to start the year. I know that sounds crazy, but since we've changed the way we do professional development, we are more cohesive and efficient.
Stephanie WortheyWhew! I cannot believe it is already November! During my inservice day with my staff, I used many activities that I learned during MPI. Our first focus was to establish my staff's shared core beliefs. This allowed us to really discuss, reflect, and focus on what we wanted for our students. Once we had our shared core beliefs, I used my leadership team to take them and transform them into a vision statement. I really just facilitated this meeting and let them create the statement. Once the statement was given to the staff and PTO for comments and suggestions, we published it publicly. I will be sharing my agenda at our MPI to go over the activities and structure of my plan, but by using those it really allowed my staff to all work together to decide what was best for our students and what their needs were from us.
Cheryl PutnamI was thrilled to have all the PD support from the academy this summer. I used a great deal of this material in our back to school professional development days. I was looking forward to working with the new staff with our new school STEM focus as we were granted the School of Innovation waivers. I have been pleasantly surprised with my new staff's energy and excitement. I was not prepared for the speed they would all want to move! They are very unlike the staff I had in the past. They want to know everything now and start it all tomorrow. This has created the need for us to have more PD meetings to join the different groups' focus. We wanted the leadership team to guide their own teams' focus and has been beneficial in getting them the right help when they need that, but it is sometimes difficult to keep the building vision. I will need to do more teacher reflection and have more focus on the building vision in order for us to be successful as a building team moving forward. I can't wait to hear all your great ideas and see you next week.
We designed our PD very differently this year from years past. We used many of the skills and ideas that I learned on the mountain. We used activities that kept our teachers moving and thinking. Probably the most powerful activity we planned was an experiential activity. We partnered with a business in Little Rock (owned by a former Highland graduate) that set us up with eight different business situations—from Stephens, Inc. to the LR police department. Our teachers were allowed to visit these businesses and to talk with the owners and workers to discover what type of skills employers expect from our graduates. It was an eye opening experience. We discovered that many of the so-called “soft skills” were the most important skills to employers. Employers stated they would train employees for specific duties, as long as the employee could speak appropriately, collaborate, think critically and was self-motivated. This was quite a difference from what most teachers believed to be the importance of their jobs—teaching content. This experience and its findings set the stage for the rest of our PD before school and have continued to drive our learning experiences this semester. It allowed our teachers to better understand the requirements of the common core standards and to drive our professional learning communities that we are beginning to build.
This is great! I would really love to talk to you about this more.
With all the amazing tools we learned from the Master Principal summer session, I returned to plan our before school professional learning week, focused on sharing my new learning with our assistant principal as part of our collaborative planning process. As we considered all that I had learned, we incorporated several tools and strategies that worked extremly well with our staff. We were able to purchase each teacher a reflective journal, to use as we began the school year, and also throughout the school year during professional learning. These were personalized with our school logo and designed similar to our reflective journals we use in our Master Principal work. We started our PD using an introduction activity, making time at the end to process the learning experience and think of how this could be connected to the classroom with students - purposefully incorporating the experiential learning model. We revisited our norms from previous years, considering revisions for our faculty this school year (similar to the norming process we used this summer) and also had a Parking Lot for teachers to share questions, concerns, etc. We used the Organizational Energy arrow graphic as we considered our work across our school. We concluded each day, asking for Highs and Lows, which we analyzed and shared, revising our planning to best meet the needs of our teachers. We used the question/answer activity around the room to review our teacher handbook. We used table talk roles as we learned about poverty in a jigsaw activity with several articles, with each group charting (“dark” markers) and sharing out with the entire group. We used the Human Scattergram activity as we considered multiple perspectives of our schools, which provided a very powerful reflection as our teachers considered different perspectives. We used our reflective journals to individually record our core beliefs, then worked with a partner and finally our table group, posting these for an All on the Wall activity. From this work, a committee of teachers wordsmithed this information and brought it back to our staff at our October professional learning day, moving our school toward formalizing our shared vision and mission. Teachers have also included information from parents, students, and the community to inform this work. As we have navigated mandates of using eSchool, Bloomboard, etc. - we have been able to utilize the awesome professional learning tools from the summer session to improve our learning and focus our work on what really matters - our students. I acquired the video - Celebrate What’s Right with the World - from the ALA office for our October professional learning day - which was a wonderful way to conclude as teachers continue to consider our vision/mission work and our focus on improving our learning - in service to our students. While there has been the usual “craziness” of school - we have much to celebrate at Butterfield Trail Middle School - in part because of the wonderful learning I have been able to share from the Arkansas Leadership Academy. I look forward to seeing everyone and learning more next week.
I thought I had a great plan for beginning the 2014-15 school year and then I attended ALA. We started the day with the Amazing Race. We collaborated with businesses from downtown Bentonville, and spend our morning running around on the square looking for clues and building relationships with the staff and the community. That afternoon we established our core beliefs. Last year we started the year revisiting our school vision and mission. I realized after ALA that we had never discussed our core beliefs. We used the sentence stem When it comes to teaching and learning I believe... I feel like these core beliefs have made us more focused this year on our school goals. We ended the day by watching Celebrate What's Right with the World and discussing focusing on the things we can change. I am looking forward to seeing everyone next week.
We started our school year off in early August with a Back to School Bash. It was a huge success and has started a paradigm shift in parental involvement and student voice. We have continued to celebrate our staff. The overwhelming changes with PARCC, BlooBoard, BYOC and e-school has been quite overwhelming for all. We have done something monthly to celebrate our staff, from cooking lunch for them, to a staff scavenger hunt that lasted a week. It created such a buzz and team building experiences that we will do this every year from now on. It has been an exhausting thirteen weeks but also very rewarding.
I found myself in a unique situation. By the time we were attending Leadership Academy in July, I had already planned our back to school PD due to our staff coming back on the Monday after we returned from Leadership Academy. However, I scrapped all of it after our time on the mountain. I looked again at the structures we had in place and our needs. We had quite a bit of information that was to be covered in our opening PD, but I kept going back to Vision and Mission. We began our first day with setting clock partners and defining table talk roles to aid in facilitating better and more authentic conversations. With so many new folks and people in different roles this year, we had a lengthy discussion of NORMS and used the same tools that our tables used in setting these for our staff this school year. We also utilized the Barbell Activity - which was quite a sight to see- to lead into a discussion of "how we operate". As we began to dive into revisiting our Vision and Mission, I began with sentence stems to truly look at our core beliefs. As we as a team began this work, the staff began the conversation of how much more time we needed to spend on redeveloping our Vision and Mission in order to reach authenticity and that we needed to look at what we truly believed. This has been an evolving action taken by our staff. It has been such a great process of change to be a part of and facilitate!! Great conversations had by both our new and veteran staff members. We have been having a very powerful and insightful beginning to our school year. I cannot wait to see everyone soon!!
We have had a great start to the school year at Leslie Intermediate. We also started our school year off with a Back to School Bash at the Kenda Drive-In. The purpose was to get our community on board to see the importance of the millage the school district was trying to pass. We had games, dancing, videos about the purpose of the millage and a movie. Even though the purpose was to press for the yes vote on the millage, the feeling is this will be an annual event. The entire teaching body of the Searcy County School District participated in a video to the tune of "Happy." The teachers at the Leslie Intermediate School had matching t-shirts said "We are happy you are here" on the back and our vision of Learning is Succeeding on the front. The theme of minions has been carried out throughout the school with "a minion reasons to be happy" with school banners for each classroom that display the teacher's name and a minion that fits what they teach or the teacher's character.As the principal of Leslie Intermediate School, I wanted my teachers to build in their relationships as a team. Having a new group of fourth grade teachers, one who had moved from first grade, and a group of sixth grade teachers that often struggle to work together, the team building factor was important to me. We did the Barbell activity which the teachers enjoyed, we have had a grade level scavenger hunt and initiated weekly team level meetings. The fourth grade teachers decided it was good for them to have lunch together to work on lessons and discuss what kids are doing. All of the teachers have reflection journals. The weekly team level meetings have been vital to our success this year. The weekly communication between administration and teachers helps keep everyone on the same page. It also gives us time to look at data and have meaningful discussions about what is taking place at our school.
First, I truly enjoyed session 1 of MPI. My school is quite different since we are on the Non-traditional calendar, which means that we go to school year round. After attending MPI, we started school over the next couple of days, which casued me to change up my agenda to implement some of my new learning. Since I had a few new staff members, I started the morning off with the Sentence Stem activity. The staff loved this and it allowed our new staff members to feel a part of the process. I also used the Barbell Activity to introduce the importance of creating a vision and mission. This activity sparked a lot of dialogue given that many of the teams were frustrated, depressed, and annoyed at the lack of directions. I used their responses to connect to the importance of having a unified team. This activity was quite eye-opening to why we need to collaborate and agree on the same core beliefs. Finally, I used the Boat Activity to highlight our differences. This was another interesting activity. My teachers were plesantly surprised about certain staff members and their choices of transportation. Overall, I received positive remarks about our 1st week of school activities.
At Lee County High, our school year started on a more organized and positive note! The format of our professional learning agenda served as an interested conversation piece among our team. According to the session evaluations, team members were appreciative to view a document that aligned our professional learning directly to Framework for Teaching (FfT). After discussing the "true" meaning of norms, the possibility of them changing for different types of meetings (and not laminating this documents), team members demonstrated higher level of engagement during our professional learning sessions. Secondly, team members thoroughly enjoyed and were highly engaged in the professional dialogue regarding our shared mission and vision statements. Lack of time in our initial session appeared to be a major drawback for our discussions. Encouraging our team to work with clock partners proved to be an asset as well. It created opportunities to work with individuals on our team that we may not have partnered with in the past. What an awesome avenue to establish the foundation for building relationships! It was fantastic!The RailRoad Model, Arrow Systems, and Reflection Journals were three tools incorporated into our professional learning. The quote, "Any entity that is too busy to reflect is too busy to improve….Bob Garmston" was used throughout our learning. Now, our team spends more time reflecting and are changing past teaching practices based upon those reflections.Overall, I believe we had a wonderful great start to this school year!
DeWitt Elementary School began with a bang. First we had an addition of three new teachers which has been awesome. The existing teachers have welcomed them as individuals but also embraced their ideas. I used soem of the activities introduced on the mountain. this kept the teachers engaged and moving. DES is also focusing on teachers, students and stakeholders by offering them a pickle. LOL I showed the staff "Just give them a pickle!" video in order to remind them of customer service.
Amboy Elementary School is off to a great start! We began the year with data, data, and more data. We are truly becoming a data driven school focusing on the school climate and culture along with student achievement, behavior, and safety. We continue to strive towards our goals daily. I believe with hard work and dedication, we will soar to success!
Hughes School District started out with a great start. Our theme this year is "On our way to the top-quickly". During the summer our teachers attended project based learning workshops to improve our common core instruction. We implemented an elementary leadership team to give our elementary more voice. We implemented a student council and student leadership team. Our leadership teams volunteered to meet during the summer to prepare for the year. We held a staff retreat for three days in Stuttgart with 50 staff members attending. The focus of the retreat was team building and instruction. The leadership team members planned and implemented the retreat. Some of the academy modules were used including norms, table talk roles, vision activities, five minutes of fun, All on the wall, m & m activity, team skits, tower of pasta and the dumbell factory. The staff came back to inservice training more focused than ever. We made a lot of instructional changes and everyone has worked hard to implement them: Edmodo, Bloomboard, Eschool, LDC/MDC Modules and 15 new teachers. We have had one of the best motivational speakers in Arkansas speak to the students about attitude and academics. We have celebrated last years successes with students and staff. Staff has been more focused on instruction and data desegregation this year. We have met all IMO's for both elementary and high schools after the first quarter. We are on our way to the top quickly!
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The Sheridan School District elementary campuses held a summer institute this year. Both campuses came together and participated in team building activities. It was great to see friendships being built and renewed. Both staffs are moving in the same direction with similar goals. The evaluation responses were very positive.
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