Ideas and successful practices from principals in the Master Principal Program.
We have concluded our back-to-school professional development for this school year at Cedar Park Elementary in Trumann. We began our sessions with several culture building activities which included using the sentence stem activity, the hand activity, developing group norms, keirsey temperament survey, reflection journals, carousel, the clock appointments, and developing S.M.A.R.T. goals. Based on our evaluation results, it was very effective. 48% of my staff stated that the culture building activities were their favorite parts of the day. 62% stated that the session was very useful to them personally. For many of my staff, the sentence stem activity was the activity that they enjoyed the most and will use in their classrooms. The S.M.A.R.T. goal development was the biggest struggle. Our teachers have not been involved with the actual writing of the goals in the past. We wrote a S.M.A.R.T. goal together and then grade level bands wrote two S.M.A.R.T. goals related to Math and/or Literacy data from ITBS and Act Aspire.
One of the cool things happening is that the teachers are taking some of the tools we talked about during PD and are utilizing them in the classroom. One teacher e-mailed me and talked about how doing those activities are impacting how she runs and manages her classroom. It has been very positive!
For our back to school meetings, my assistant principal and I set up the room in a Kagan style setting which was a big focus during our summer pd. I used the shoulder partner discussion technique, used a timer to control the amount of time spent on topics, the cell phone timer for breaks, and a signal for everyone to get quiet and stop discussion.I also led a meeting to develop norms for our pd meetings and plc meetings. I also did the "boat" activity to lead intro a discussion about change. We are currently implementing Kagan Structures and also setting aside time each day for necessary plc meetings.A few extras we did was to have upbeat music and great snacvks for the meetings.
I had not heard of Kagan Structures but I researched it on line after seeing your post. I am going to share this resource with my teachers!
After our focus on the importance of reflections and acknowledging the teacher voice through the reflections, I began my back to school in-service by going over their reflections from our school retreat earlier in the summer. When revisiting our mission statement, we wrote "I believe quality teaching and learning is..." on post-it notes. These were collected and will be used by the Leadership Team during the school year. Some of the strategies shared at ALA were very helpful in getting important information out to the faculty where they were engaged in the process and not sitting and listening, such as, I Have Who Has question and answer, If Then Statements, and Critical Friends. After analyzing individual data, the teachers did the hand activity and made commitments to their team. I was able to incorporate so many different things that we learned during Master Principal that it made the planning easier and aligned to our goals.
At MD Williams Intermediate School, we began our back-to-school session with establishing Community Norms or Working Agreements. I reviewed the "Big 8" with them and and presented the agenda for the next few sessions. It was very important at this time to introduce new teachers and staff. My focus during the sessions was taking necessary steps in Team Building and Facilitating Improving School Culture. During Phase I of the Arkansas Leadership Academy Master Principal Institute we were introduced to many tools that we could implement in our Journey for improvement. Some of the cultural learning activities that I used were Keirsey Temperament Sorter, High 5 Hand Activity, All On The Wall, and The Purpose of School. These were very well accepted and the feedback and discussions that transpired were very productive and enlightening. As part of our session I presented my core beliefs and my vision and mission. As a building we were able to establish building core beliefs, and a revised building vision and mission. We spent a great amount of time on this activity and each grade level worked together to produce core beliefs that we analyzed as a building team. There were also 3 Team Building Activities that we did as teams and were well received. It was great to see the teams work with each other and the collaboration across grade levels was also positive and productive. I believe that we have a clear vision and mission now as a Building Team. Productive PLC's will be one of our goals as the school year progresses. I feel good right now and look forward to what we can do.
For Robert F. Morehead Middle School in Dollarway School District, we started our back-to-school professional development by developing meeting norms. Our focus was on team building and the school culture. We also focus on student engagement, by implementing strategies to utilize electronic devices in the classroom. I was able to developed a well-structured agenda similar to the one provided to us during the MMP. This allowed the staff to identify the "Why" for each session, along with he resources and tools utilized. We spent time developing our Action Plan, "Increasing Engagement". I used several of the resources and tools that I acquired during the MMP. The year has started off beautifully. I feel being a part of the MMP will give me resources and other related supported needed for me to be successful as an educational leader.
Our professional development also began with culture building activities. The first day we had a limited amount of time together due to district professional development. However, we were able to use the question and answer activity to review logistics, establish norms, and complete the kiersey temperament sorter. Once we completed the sorter we divided into groups to discuss our personality type and signed our name on the chart paper to hang in our PLC room as a reminder. That same day our leadership team was able to use the hand activity when we met as well. The second day of professional development I started the morning by reviewing the evaluations and norms that were established the previous day as well as provide resources requested by staff members in their evaluations. The second part of the morning we had iReady Instructional Planning professional development and then lunch. Fortunately, I was able to provide lunch to all staff members as a way to show my appreciation for their hard work and dedication to our school. I also recognized new teachers as well as presenting certificates to teachers for their leadership by serving as mentors, leadership team members, ppc members, teacher support members, etc. I decided to do this after reflections from session one of the master principal. After lunch we began with the barbell activity and then worked our way to the human scatter gram to begin discussing the purpose of school. On the last day of professional development, I began the morning by reviewing the evaluation results and norms from day two. We then began discussion on the history of our town and poverty in Stuttgart which was followed by a bus tour. During our bus tour of Stuttgart, we pointed our research we received from our local museum and information we found online. Once we returned from the tour we read an article about how poverty affects the brain and then used the experiential learning model to discuss what we had learned. We ended our day with an All on the Wall activity that carried over from day two to determine our core beliefs that later lead into the beginnings of our vision and mission. We closed the week with the hi/lo activity. The evaluations and feedback from the teachers was very positive and they especially enjoyed the learning activities. This was a great start to this school year and I am looking forward to our next session together at MPP1.-Pam Dean
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I love the idea of giving certificates. Did you use a certain template? Also, did you give them out publicly or privately?
I used a template from Publisher. I gave the certificates out publicly.
Thanks so much!
I have a question about Peer Observations. Do any of you all have a system set up for peer observations. I am interested in how you cover classes, what you require with the observations, etc.
When we conduct peer observations, I have the Instructional Facilitator schedule time to go with those observing. That way at the end of the observation, the can begin a coaching cycle if needed, or just help. During the observation, there is a form that I have them complete to focus their observation, that way they aren't just looking around the room for ideas (I know we all do it right). As for room coverage. Sometimes, teachers may volunteer their prep or I try to get other staff such as instructional aides to cover. It really varies on how I get the room covered depending on the situation.
We have done peer observations and they seem to work best when we coach observers to look for one specific strategy. In turn, the feedback is solely focused on that specific strategy
Now that we are almost ready for Oct 1 Cycle Two reporting.... The opening of Northside Professional Development was great! We started out with the NHS Amazing Race. The clues and activity were created around a central theme of collaboration and teamwork toward our mission of the relentless pursuit of high levels of learning for students and adults alike. After the race, teachers were loaded on "tour buses" to go through our neighborhoods where our students live. Once they arrived back to our PD location, we began the reflection process to connect what we did to learning and instruction. We also utilized the Boat activity. To conclude the PD, we set expectations for common assessments and guaranteed curriculum. We had community members cook for teachers 2 days for lunches.
I wanted to start the year with a strong sense of team. During our back to school PD I engaged teachers five minutes of fun before we began each day. We have many new teachers this year so this gave us the opportunity to get to know each other and break the ice for the day's learning. Each teacher took the Keirsey assessment and discussed how we were alike and how we were different. This also began our discussion on why it is important to have these different personalities on our staff. We revisited our NORMS and modified them as needed. We took a look back at the previous school year and determined what we did right and what may need to be changed. We revisited our Mission and vision statements that were developed the previous school year and had a discussion on what we were doing as individuals and as a team to live our mission and vision. We took a look at our personal and school data to look at the developing trends that may need attention. We used the Yell it activity to learn about our school. The faculty participated on the Peek-A-Boo activity as a team building activity and to also discuss how not only we as adults but also how students learn.
W.J. Clinton Primary School started back-to-school sessions in a district wide two day PD covering RTI & EdReflect. All CPS certified staff got together on Wed. for a welcome back, expectations, procedures, and sessions provided by district staff- ex/ homeless, SpEd confidentiality, safety, etc. This welcome back day was packed with the necessary information needed before open house on Thursday and the first day of school. I ended up only having the whole staff for 2 hours due to the district new teacher orientation and luncheon.
SJHS had a great start to the year. We had a great presenter come in and energize the staff. The whole week, we concentrated on questioning techniques and formative assessment. There was a lot of positive energy. It made a huge difference.
Just curious...who was this great presenter? Where did you find him/her?
Back to school activities were a struggle for me this year because of a decision to do Phonics First training during our contract days the week before students came back. I tried to do some activities that encouraged team and culture including a luncheon and activities during PLC. My first official day to work with my entire staff on PD this year was October 10th. I spent the first part of the day working on building culture and modeling using techniques we learned during MPI. I began with the scattergram activity to facilitate the discussion of our purpose from the our perspective as educators as well as the what we believe parents and community see as our purpose. This led to a lot of good discussion including what we think school will look like in five years. Using our discussion of the changes we believe we will see in the near future, I led my staff through the activity on how people accept change: the boats and discussed that change is part of the educational system, and we need to be aware of our responsibility in that. Next I divided the teachers into groups to do the "Ideal School Activity". After they presented their work, we discussed our current reality and where we want to go. Because we had a speaker coming for state required PD for the rest of the day, we concluded the morning with hungry human hippo and a potluck. The teachers expressed that they enjoyed the morning information being presented in a fun way and that they felt closer to their team members. They verbally expressed that they enjoyed this fun way to learn so much better than the normal "sit and get."
Like Kenena, I had the most bizarre start to school. Due to district-mandated CGI and Phonics First training, I had no PD days with my staff before school started. I didn't want to start with at least getting everyone together, so I hosted a Back-To-School luncheon for my staff. I catered the food and we played some games and then did the "Five Love Languages" survey and a "four corners" activity. It worked to help build culture and awareness to how different, yet the same, we all really are. We began identifying our core shared beliefs through PLC and then brought all of the ideas together during our first faculty meeting for an "All on the Wall" activity. Through lengthy (and at times frustrating) conversations, we came to a consensus on why we are here. We are using those core shared beliefs to construct a more meaningful mission and vision for our school. Although I know we have a lot of work to do in this area, I finally feel more confident that we are heading in the right direction by building from the ground up. I had our first PD day on October 10th. I spent the first part of the day working on building culture. Our administrative team is doing a book study of, "School Culture Rewired," by Steve Gruenert and Todd Whitaker. In the book, they recommended doing the "School Culture Typology" activity with staff to determine the school's current reality in terms of school culture. I divided my staff into groups and they worked in those groups to complete the survey. I am using the data collected from the survey to assess areas of strength and growth for WPS. My plan is to communicate these results to my staff at our next meeting and gather feedback on ways that we can celebrate our strengths and improve in our growth areas. I would highly recommend this survey to anyone concentrating on improving school culture. You can access a free copy online at http://mllc.missouri.edu/Upload%20Area-Docs/Culture%20Typology%20Worksheet.pdf. I think that it is a tool that provides great data to use for school improvement.
Carol OvertonOur administrative team did the "School Culture Rewired" book study last year. This year we are using what we learned as we strive to become a School of Innovation. We are putting the theory to the test, as we will need 70 percent buy-in from the staff to become a school of innovation.
Wow. First quarter is over. Back to school went well I felt at my school. After MPI, I scrapped my original plans and went back to the drawing board on the agenda. For one, I used the MPI format. I communicated it to my staff and this gave them purpose and a source for resources. It served also as a great way to go paperless. We have used a number of our interaction routines in all of our in-service; they serve as opportunities for me to model interaction routines teachers can use in their classrooms. I've also used the MPI PD Evaluation tool. I report this information to our staff and they appreciate the feedback and seeing me respond to their feedback. One of the big game-changers, I feel, for our staff is looking at our PD work through the lens of the 4 Pre-requisites for professional learning. I see evidence daily of how our teachers approach the work through this lens. Generally, I am humbled and impressed with how the teachers at our school work tirelessly to meet the needs of our kids and meet up to work expectations.
This is Justin Swope by the way. For some reason it didn't upload my name.
I wish I could go back and review what we did for back to school! There was so much to cover as far as logistics of starting a new district that we were unable to really spend enough time team building. There have been so many firsts this year and we have been building our program as the first month progressed. So many expectations for behavior to put into place. Now we are reflecting after the first quarter and we feel like as a staff we can turn the corner and focus on delivering explicit core and tier 2 instruction to make progress with our students. Looking forward to this summer mapping out next year with activities, parental involvement opportunities, schedules events, pacing guides, essential questions, etc.!!!
Back to School Inservice at Omaha Schools went wonderful! We have a new superintendent and I am now K-12 Principal. Inservice week made for a great start to bring the school district together, and begin to build the bridge between our elem. and high school staff. It also helped to bring all of our new staff together towards a common goal. As a staff, classified and licensed, we read The 5 Dysfunctions of a team during the summer. Then, day one the superintendent lead a discussion of the book. Our theme this year is Forever Changing Trajectory. So, the first few days were focused upon our Shared Mission/Vision/Culture/Beliefs/Reflection/Trajectory. Our staff were introduced to the Reflective Notebooks. We did our regular meetings such as sp.ed. updates, continuation of bookstudies and literacy/science topics. However, the main focus was developing our district staff as a team and shared vision. Some activities that we did were the 4 Quadrant Activity- this was a great discussion, the boat activity about personalities- great discussion and insight for all, and speed dating- staff thought it was a great way to get to know one another. The last few days we focused upon setting up professional learning communities for each building level and allowing them to develop norms, smart goals, and an action plan. This is the first year for PLCs. At our in-service in October, we were able to let them further their PLC work, and do more team building activities such as pipes and marbles. The leadership team is beginning to feel the sense of family and everyone working together towards a common goal. Oh and for fun, we did a flash mob that we worked on during in-service week and presented to the students during a K-12 Back to School Assembly. It was loved by all and definitely surprised the students. There was an overwhelming response from staff that they thought this was the best back to school in-service that we had in quite a while.
The beginning of the school year was very challenging in the brand new school district. There was little time complete the the much needed team building activities. Most of the time was spent on completing tasks that were needed to get school started. My plans are to have a day retreat on a Saturday this month so the old and new staff members can get to know each other on a more personal level. School is coming together and interventions have started.
The opening of the school year was very exciting and challenging (new district). As a staff we had limited opportunity to participate in team building activities. We spent a lot of time reviewing procedures and processes for our students to be successful upon returning to school. Mid September we were able to assess the data we had collected from several sources to establish our school goals. Through weekly meetings and the establishment of the Leadership Team we have made great progress in setting a positive learning and working environment. We are reflecting over our 1st Nine Weeks progress (student data, instructional practices, implementation of A+ essentials, RTI process, and enrichment opportunities for our scholars). One of the goals we established as a team is to reflective educator in order to move our scholars forward as well as to grow professionally. I am very proud of the staff and the dedication they have shown toward our school community and district.
Our first day of back to school meeting went very well. In the past we would have spent time working in classrooms, or sitting in meetings, but this year we rented a local lodge that was out and away from everything. It was a nice relaxing setting. As the staffulty entered the lodge we had the football team form a receiving line to welcome the staffulty back. They were clapping and cheering and giving fist bumps and high fives. What made this so awesome is that our staffulty really got in to it and some even danced through the line (some very unexpectedly!). As they came in we had donuts and other breakfast items and music playing. After all the staffulty arrived we began the meeting with how it felt to be appreciated and how this year our goal was to create that same environment for our students. Our goal was and is to change our school’s culture and climate. What better way to accomplish this than to show the staffulty what it feels like to be appreciated.
We had a great first day back to school. The principals collectively cooked breakfast for the staff and faculty. We started cooking about 5:00am because we wanted it to be finished so we could eat with the teachers. We used a FACS classroom and utilized every station. It was well worth it. The faculty appreciated the time and effort for being served such a great meal. (Meant more than if we had went to McDonald's and bought food.) Nonetheless, the morning kicked off on time, the trainings went well. Every presenter was well prepared and informative. The teachers were excited to see the students. It led in to a great first week of school. We used the barbell activity as a team building experience. It opened the lines of communication.
Our back to school in-service was focused on setting a mindset for our building for the upcoming school year. We took time the first morning to get to know each other better with every teacher filling out and discussing a personal identification chart. Last year we had a grade transition and 40% of the teachers were new to our building, so many teachers didn't really know each other very well. This was a good opportunity to help build relationships and find common interests among teachers, as well as a model for teachers to implement with their own students. We did a book study in the summer over the book Mindset by Carol Dweck. We used some of our in-service time to reflect and discuss the book and how it can benefit our students. Our building mindset is GRIT (Growth Mindset, Reflective Attitude, Integrity, and Team Mentality) and we did a carousel brainstorming session to define what each component of GRIT looks like in our building and what we want to see with our students. I utilized journaling and emphasized time for reflection. By defining how GRIT looks in our building, it will help teachers have a better focus and help set the culture for student learning. We had time scheduled to watch the Dewitt Jones video and discuss internal drivers. We ran out of time, so I included this in our October in-service. During back to school in-service we also focused on crisis management, policies and procedures, special programs, and pd on the new website and e-school. We also allowed time for teachers to collaborate with their interdisciplinary advisory teams and content teams. Our back to school pd helped set the building culture and expectations for the school year.
So far this school year I have experienced ups and downs. We started the year off with a bang! I am in a unique situation. I am coming in behind a principal who had already completed year 2 of Master Principal. She has already done a great job of introducing some good things that in the building that routinely address both sides of the railroad track. The issue I see is that sometimes they seem to focus more on the Process of Relationship side as opposed to the Product or Task. So far this semester I have had to have several conversations with several teachers addressing the need to stay focused on the task at hand and not get completely wrapped up in how we get there. I work in a building where the idea of family is a big deal. Sometimes, however, families take up for each other regardless of if they are right or wrong. I am looking to establish a sense of accountability in the staff. I am looking for a culture where they hold each other to high standards. We are headed in the right direction. Just last week I had a teacher finally work up the nerve to talk to a co-worker about dress code concerns. We are a work in progress.
The focus of our back-to-school PD was to build relationships within teams and as a staff, because so many of my staff members were new. We had already done 6 days of PD during the summer in content areas, so many staff members were only family with the 2-3 other people at their grade level. One of the tools I used was the preset norms and fist-to-five to help introduce them to how we worked at our campus. I also did a Selfie Challenge for each team where I gave them a list of selfies to take and a time limit. This was one of the fist things we did, and it was really fun for them. I posted the pictures in the hallway for the kids to see, and they really enjoy seeing their teachers and the staff members having fun. To help us continue the relationship-building while getting into procedures, I used the Experiential Learning Model. We screened the movie Paper Tigers, which is a video focused on how one school is addressing the needs of their students with Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) through discipline and support. It took some time to watch the movie, but we spent the rest of the day processing the video, brainstorming ways to better meet the needs of our students with ACES, and how our discipline system could be modified to not be so punitive for kids who are reacting to their environment. We finished the day by creating an action plan for how to mentor students, support them, and use discipline techniques that were more inclusive of all students. This was time well spent and has resulted in a staff that is more empathetic and more understanding of their students. We also received resources with the video that give research-based ways to make classrooms more ACES-friendly for students and have been able to use those suggestions to change how we do business. One of the things that I know for next year is to save more PD days for us to work together as a staff on modifying procedures and systems we have in place, because I have felt like we're playing catch up now that the year has started. We are trying to find creative ways to carve out time to train the staff on how we do RtI, assessments, and progress monitoring, and it's been a challenge. However, I feel that the tools I was given through ALA really helped me to frame the activities that we did in the right way and allowed for us to get the most from our learning together. We definitely started out the right way by focusing on relationships, and this has allowed us to move into PLC's more easily and be trusting of one another.
I like the selfie picture ideas because it creates a feeling of unity.
I used the How People Accept Change with the boat analogies to introduce some of the changes we are implementing and how our mission and vision align with those changes. I randomly assigned teachers to a chart with one of the boats and first asked them popcorn out and list characteristics of their vessel on the chart. Then each group reported out what they had come up with and there were some deep and some funny comments. Then I asked them to think about the process of change, how everyone handles change differently, and how we are trying to get from point A to point B (guided by mission and vision). Then I asked them to popcorn out in their groups a list of how people deal with or accept change that related to their vessel. Then they reported those out and we made notice of any differences from their first list. I then went over the Matrix and described the analogies, types of people and response to change times. This also included a discuss of aligning our vessels in the same direction of our mission and vision and moving everyone in the same direction. Finally I had them write about two prompts in the journals we supplied for them: How do I see myself as usually accepting change? What boat am I on when I consider some of the coming changes this school year like PLCs? What do I need to change boats? I think this activity went very well and got people to think about change, the changes we have coming and about our mission and vision. We still refer to the different boats in meetings very often!
Greenland Middle School has had an especially great start to a new school year. The GMS principal and staff are very excited this year to be involved not only in the Master Principal Program, but also as a part of the Teacher Leadership Institute, Leadership Team Institute as well as the School Support Program. We feel very fortunate to have formed such a valuable partnership with ALA and particularly Brenda Tash who is our Performance Coach and Ms. Jennifer Medairos, ALA Research & Data Specialist. Our Building Leadership Team did a fantastic job in facilitating our back to school meetings. Traditionally, such meetings have been very administratively planned. This year though, and as a part of developing shared leadership in our building, the BLT began by having a planning meeting prior to our 2 PD days. During this meeting we were able to effectively plan for the meetings including the Time & Facilitator, Learning Focus, Intended Results, Learning Experiences as well as what Tools, Materials, and Equipment we would need in making our meetings as effective as possible. We began each session by welcoming the staff and having everyone participate in a team building ice breaker activity as well as revisiting norms. During one of our ice breaking activities and as a way to celebrate our successes, I brought a bottle of Welch’s Sparking Grape Juice, popped the lid, and poured everyone a glass as we toasted to our having improved test scores for last year. One of the models that I found especially useful during our first session of MPI was the Hourglass Model of Strategic Development. During our PD sessions, this presentation was coupled with the staff working on creating core beliefs and vision processing led by our BLT. I introduced the model to the staff at the very beginning of our first day together. This model was very effective in our understanding of the step by step process that GMS would be using this year as we work towards schoolwide reform. Particularly as we think about our current reality and continue to develop shared core beliefs, a shared vision and ultimately what our mission will look like. Also during one of our sessions together Ms. Medairos worked with us in the area of data disaggregation of which has currently evolved in our creating a Data Wall. I must say that of all of the activities and topics that were covered during our pre- school PD experiences the one piece that seemed to have the greatest thought provoking impact on our staff (and myself) for reflecting where our school is currently and where we want to be was when we decided to show the video: “What’s Right With The World”. What was so relevant from the video for GMS in our current reality for making improvements was the guiding question that we addressed as a staff…What’s right with Greenland Middle School? Overall the feedback from our staff was very positive in reference to how beneficial they felt our pre-school PD experiences were.
One thing we did that was really fun at the beginning of the school year was I gave out recipe cards to everyone. I actually blew up some larger onto a half a sheet of cardstock. I asked them to write down the ingredients to a good school. You could use this for the ingredients to a good classroom environment, etc. Then we wrote some actions for what we need to do as the instructions to bake it.On the back we wrote what you would NEVER want in your recipe for a good school like anchovies in a chocolate cake. YUCK!We shared with colleagues and neighbors to help establish what we want and don't want in our school... ie. gossip, hatefulness, etc.
I'm kind of late trying to fulfill my requirement for our homework with my post but I'm looking forward to doing this more in the future. It was a hectic start of the school year. Starting to breathe again. :)
At Elm Tree, we started our year off by revealing our Mission/Vision that we had worked on and developed all year. We celebrated our work on the M/V statement complete with champagne goblets with some bubbly... ok, Sparkling Grape Juice, Kool and the Gang "Celebration" and confetti guns.
My Leadership Project goal is to have a proposal for a School of Innovation for Hall High School submitted to the District by March 17, 2017. This is an opportunity to design a school for the 21st Century to prepare students for the 21st Century.
Good Evening, my school year is off to an amazing start. One of the best tools that I have started using this year is Parent, Student, Teacher Newsletter. The tool was shared at Master Principal and one of the best things going. If you are not currently doing a newsletter please consider adding this little item to your Christmas list. I have also found that you can embed parent and student surveys into the newsletter. Your parent and student emails can be pulled from Eschool or Cognos. https://www.smore.com/38b6zThe program shows the number of visits and views.
A great tool I have learned about and used is called Repertoire. This tool is one I discovered from the 21 Day Challenge for classroom visits I began, as proposed by Justin Baeder at The Principal Institute. I wanted a manageable and meaningful way to visit more classrooms and offer meaningful feedback to teachers. This is part of my professional learning goal. This tool is electronic and uses "snippets" of text that can be recognized and reused as part of short classroom visits. I also uploaded all of our teachers into the online program and the Repertoire program let's me know who is "up next" so that I observe all teachers. I have already been in many more classrooms than in the past and been able to provide feedback to teachers that provides information about what students and teachers were doing while I observed. Information about the 21 Day Instructional Leadership Challenge (free) http://www.instructionalleadershipchallenge.com/join/ and the Repertoire program https://www.principalcenter.com/repertoire/ are worth exploring.
This school year has been a big challenge with our school culture. We have several teachers that are negative and play the role of culture killers. I am trying to promote positive behavior and recognize good instruction on a weekly basis. When I do my daily walk-throughs I have been note-talking effective classroom management and best practices used in daily instruction. I read a web-based article on shaping school culture by celebrating positive aspects of your school culture. I tried a tool called, "Name it, Claim it, and Explain it" from the article. During Professional Development I praised a classroom activity I observed informally and describe the interaction between students and their teacher. I asked the teacher to please stand and name what activity you did, Claim it, and explain why and what you were doing. I then allow other teachers to ask questions or give feedback. This activity was engaging and uplifting to both the teacher being recognized and the rest of the staff.
We took a school culture survey created by ADE and discovered that although we think that we are good at working together and we generally like coming to work everyday, we don't like or trust each all that much. So, I have dedicated every opportunity available to having the team work together for a common goal, to build their relationship. For instance, they must sit together in many school-wide PLCs and solve games like the "Jump All But One" peg game from Cracker Barrel or come up with the most words from words like collaborate, reflect, and teamwork (I got this idea from a presenter at our District Leadership Team Institute. I love these kinds of games personally, but never thought about using them with teachers. They loved it). The school's leadership team has created a plan to bring us all together outside of work more often, as well. In a couple of weeks, we'll be "forcing" ;-0) faculty and staff to have fun together at a holiday gathering. We'll use some of the team-building activities we learn from the ALA Team Institute. On a more serious note, one of the activities they enjoyed most was the uninterrupted work time they had to collaborate during one of the PD days. We'll take this survey again soon. I hope to see more positive result.
I've been trying to spend more time researching and learning about PLCs. The book Leverage: Using PLCs to Promote Lasting Improvement in Schools 1st Edition by Thomas W. Many (Author) and Susan K. Sparks-Many (Author) is a great resource for capturing how to make the most impact with all of the "things" that constantly demand our attention. Have you read it yet? If so, what practices have you felt had the most significant impact on your leadership?
We continue to stress the need to model as adults what we expect for adults. One of the ways that task has played out is differentiated learning for staff across the building using a couple of different methods. The first is through Wednesday Workshops which were staff volunteers who offered PD to their peers based on individual expertise and a vocalized need from the staff. The next is through collaboration with other secondary schools, creating menus of professional development that are subject area, role, or growth-area specific. The next was through voluntary lunch groups where we brought in outside folks to discuss targeted interventions/ programs. We have potluck lunches and any teacher who wants to come learn about the program can attend/ intervention/ strategy can attend. And finally, we began labeling our faculty meeting either as a Coordination meeting (for information distribution) or a Collaboration meeting (for collaborative learning.) These changes have helped us reframe how we talk about adult learning for a new school year.
The staff learning that you have planned at your school sounds like you have an enjoyable school to work at. The labeling of your meetings supports pre-planning for your staff, I bet they appreciate that.
With basketball season over I wanted to share the podcasts that I listened to in all my travels this season. Principal Center Radio out of lovely Heber Springs, AR has a plethora of resources for educational leaders. I recently listed to Tom Hoerr, author of The Formative Five..., Baruti Kafele, author of The Teacher 50..., Paul Mielke, author of Making Teachers Better, Not Bitter..., and Dr. Peter Dewitt, author of Collaborative Leadership... The podcast delivery makes over the road travel professional growth sessions. When not tuned in to Principal Center Radio I listen to #EdChat Radio which offers a different format for presenters, but is a good balance with the other podcast. Recently I heard Chris Lehmann, co-founder of Educon speak of their take on education conferences, an episode about change in education and the typical resistance faced, and a discussion on teachers being change agents. What I like about #edChat is that the people tweeting are on this podcast speaking. Often the Twitterverse moves to quickly for me combining that with connectivity lag it is easy to get lost in the Twitterdom, but this podcast takes the Twitter experts and delivers them in real talk that you can follow at your own pace.Well, on to baseball and softball season...see you on the mountain soon!
Thanks for sharing those resources! I am looking forward to have something to listen to as I attend all games too:)
I have been doing some research on the most effective grading practices in Middle School. Marzano continues to be the 'man' with his thoughts on no zeros, grades based on mastery/learning only, not behavior, using a point system, grading homework or not, and much more. There is plenty of research out there. I have found that districts all across America are going standards-based k-12. I did fine where many districts do a combination of both. resource: "Effective Grading Practices" Educational Leadership, 65:5, 85-87
One of the many changes at PAE has been the focus on performance strand 4: Teaching and Learning. In particular, our focus has been on skill 4.2, observe teaching and learning practice and provide actionable feedback for professional learning. We focused on this strand according to the results of the SAI survey. My lowest score was learning design. Therefore, I used this information to make a Smart Goal to initiate change for learning design. Upon reflection of the results, I created a survey and asked teachers their learning interests. According to the survey, 73% of our teachers preferred teacher led professional development and they were interested in learning more strategies for technology integration. Based on this information, I put several systems in place to provide learning opportunities for our teachers: Tic Tac Toe Challenge, The Pineapple Chart, and teacher led professional development sessions on integrating technology. This semester we also implemented learning walks. Rocci Malone from the ADE shared this information during a leadership quest professional development at our cooperative. We used the learning walks to wrap up our professional growth plans. Our school wide professional growth plans were based on phonological awareness and phonics. We tied these two ideas together by having teachers observing teachers within their grade level, one grade level below, and one grade level above using teaching strategies shared during PLC first semester. Then teachers were able to share during PLC and grade level meetings. This has been a positive change for our staff and it has also created opportunities for our teachers to collaborate, share, and trust one another.
Pam,I appreciate your thoughts. I've been thinking a lot about our PD for next year. Recently, we heard Mattos in Little Rock. If he can't transform our beliefs on teaching and learning, then who will? I love this model - the upside down triangle. It is very effective when helping our teachers rethink how we need to meet student needs. I can't stop going back to this book in conjunction with future PD...https://www.amazon.com/Annual-Growth-Students-Lynn-Fielding/dp/0966687523If we don't go back to the "root" cause, our little ones will forever be behind. Thanks for sharing your thoughts everyone!
If there is an extra few minutes in your day, check out Georgetown University's Institute for Transformational Leadership blog here : https://blogs.commons.georgetown.edu/itl-leadership/It's a quick read that helps both as I manage the work of school and the growth of self.As we move through the spring semester, testing and concerts and conferences often pull me away from home and family. Learning and growing in the pursuit of "blend" as opposed to "balance" is a focus of my personal path and a huge takeway from our time together this year. My own PLC and PLN continue to push and faciltate much of that work.
Bradley thank you for the link. Excellent resource!
For our end of the year event, we took time to have fun and to celebrate our successes. All of my staff have worked so hard and have endured a lot of change this year. I feel that we have been working so hard, in fact, that we have not taken the time to realize and celebrate our accomplishments. Oftentimes, when we are looking at student data, the struggling students grab our attention and their performance tends to drive our instruction; interventions for sure. Therefore, most of the time, we are looking primarily at what we are not doing well or what we need to change in our instruction to meet the needs of every student. While that is worthwhile, we need to also take time to focus on what we are doing well. Unfortunately, I have not made this happen throughout the year as much as I should have. As this year rocked on, I realized that our teachers really needed some time just to get together and have fun - to build relationships and strengthen culture. Therefore, we had a "Luau" party, complete with a Maui Murder Mystery game, scavenger hunt, and a Rock-Paper-Scissors Tournament. We took time to look at our data and celebrate our accomplishments for the year and talked about what changes are coming for next year. We ate, played, laughed, and cried. It was a great evening and a great way to wrap up our year. I have had so much positive feedback from my staff and they are already wanting to plan a beginning of the year kickoff celebration. We talk to teachers about making the learning fun for their students. Why not do the same for them?
We had a very different end of year at Cedar Park Elementary/Trumann Elementary School. We were ending the year by moving into our new school building. Imagine moving approximately 50 learning spaces from one building down the road to another building. It was interesting and fun. The community, staff, parents, and students all pitched in to help. The moving isn't completely over, but the largest share of moving is over. We did take time at the end of the year to celebrate successes and to Launch our Energy Bus initiative for the 2017-2018 school year. This was a time of high energy, a setting of expectations, and team building. We said goodbye to some staff members who were leaving, said goodbye to a building that had been a part of the community for over 50 years, and welcomed the change. This was such a positive way to conclude the year and set the goals for the next year. We are now anxiously waiting for our assessment results to determine our growth after our work with close reading over the second semester. Our teachers had put in a lot of work in this effort. We are also preparing for a large amount of work related to standards, pacing, common formative assessments, and RTI. The teachers have been asking for this work. I am excited about it. I believe that it is going to bring about a big change for our school and raise the level for our students!
We did several different activities to end our school year. We test at the end of April/first week of May. At that time of the year, teachers are tired. I began to change things up to end the year by throwing "Margarita Friday" in the teachers' lounge We made virgin margaritas, chip and dips and festive decorations, and the teachers loved it. To say goodbye to some retiring and to celebrate a great year, we had an after school party where we revealed our secret sister for the year, had finger foods, and just enjoyed each other's company. Finally during the last week of school, we played bingo. The kids loved it as much as the teachers, cheering their teacher on as we periodically called out numbers from the office over the intercom system. We involved all faculty and staff and provided prizes for everyone. I was told we have to do that more often next year. These simple activities received great feedback and appreciation and helped to strengthen relationships and build culture in my building.
We ended the year in a very positive way. The staff did a video that we showed at the end of the year assembly. The superintendent also showed it at the staff convocation. It was a time for everyone to be silly and have fun.The video has over 14,000 views on Facebook, so there is no hiding our silliness.
As I am reflecting on my first year as a principal, I have had to be honest with myself to ensure student achievement on my campus. I have learned a lot of what to do and not to do. The best staff meetings I had were centered around activities to strengthen teaching and creating our mission and vision. It was refreshing to revisit our core beliefs of education and identify our vision as a team. I borrowed the idea from someone in my group to use pictures of their children. I had them bring a pic of their child/children with them as we created our core beliefs. Each teacher wrote 3 down on an index card, and then we took these cards and used them in an All-On-The-Wall activity. We weeded out cards and used the Fist of Five to agree or disagree. This took us several staff meetings, but was so rewarding. We also ended our year activities with mission and vision.
A good time was had by all!!! We ended the year with a Beach Party PD! We had beach foods, door prizes, and even a photo booth. This was a time to reflect on our hard work and what had worked well based on data and what we needed to improve. Our fabulous consultant from Generation Ready helped us get focused for next year and reminded us of the importance of reciprocal reading in all subject areas. This was a great way to reflect on a great year and plan for another great one!
This was my first year as K-12 Principal. I can say it was definitely different than being K-6 only in previous years. I had great ideas, but it was hard to get it all done. So, luckily there is continuous improvement. It may take time, but we will get there. Something that I am looking forward to implementing next year is some of the "Leader in Me" concepts by Stephen Covey. I have a lot of ideas, but know that I need to start simple. I am thinking I will start at the elem. level first, as my leadership team is already "onboard" with the idea. They love it! At the highschool level, I am thinking that the staff will focus on the 7 Habits through advisory periods. I would like an input you have on this. Have you tried it? What are your successes/concerns about it? I know it will take time, and need to be adapted to the culture of my school buildings.
This was a good but very trying year. The staff came together mixing in the new and the old. New district policies and procedures kept us both on our toes. We did complete a clear mission/vision using input from all stakeholders. Since all of our new district procedures are now in place we will start the new school year with a laser focus on effective instructional practices and individual student learning. Great relationships were built with all team members so we are ready to push forward.
This has been a great year at our campus. I thought with it being my second year as principal that things would be much easier, and in some ways they were. However, I also learned that when you implement new ideas and try to affect change, that some ways are way more effective than others. I have learned that celebrating my staff and students is an integral part of building a positive culture, and will continue to use this as I plan for next year. One of our areas to celebrate has been the alignment work we've done with instruction and crafting a walkthrough form that captures the data we really want to see. Working through that process has been valuable for the Leadership Team and has shown us our areas of strength and growth. I'm looking forward to beginning next year with a new focus on building positive culture and relationships with staff and students.
One of the major accomplishments for Greenland Middle School this past school year was with our BLT. They really developed and came together as a team…as leaders of the staff, through shared leadership as they developed a focus; Worked as a team; Created and carried out agendas and facilitated professional learning. GMS made gains in working towards building a positive culture and in the area of professionalism. We developed and implemented Shared Core Beliefs; Began work on developing a Vision and Mission; Developed a Data Wall that was useful in our staff looking at current reality.Our last Staff Meeting of the year was a celebration meeting as a positive way to end the school year in a different way. While enjoying snacks and punch, the BLT encouraged any staff who wanted to, to share any fun summer plans that they had such as trips, going to school to work on an advanced degree, adding an area of certification, etc. Secondly, we had a time for Staff Recognition of another Staff Member. During this time the staff was encouraged to think of another fellow staff person who they would like to recognize (anonymously if they wished) by describing what they appreciated about them and why/ how they inspired them during this past school year. Finally, we had a time for Staff Recognition of a Student. Here, the staff came prepared to recognize and brag on at least one student that they had taught this year. Areas acknowledged were...Academics, social, behavior, generally most improved, etc. This time of reflection was a SUPER GREAT way to end the school year as it really brought us closer together as a staff.
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