All the questions about " Principal as Instructional Leader " that have been answered are listed below. To search for specific questions, enter one or more search terms.
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How do principals deal with underperforming teachers?
Expert's keyword(s) :Answer : It is our responsibility as Educational Leaders to establish a culture and climate, a viable curriculum, an organizational structure, and a professional learning community that promotes professional excellence. Instructors must be provided with high quality professional development around BEST practices. There must be internal support systems for teachers to receive effective feedback from administration as well as from their colleagues.
A clearly articulated vision must be espoused by the Educational Leader at all staff forums. A mission statement with all stakeholders input must be published and posted. Teachers' instructional delivery must be consistently monitored with effective feedback with a standard evaluation tool.
Classroom teachers who continue to perform below identified standards must be given an opportunity in a relaxed and non-punitive setting to communicate their educational philosophy, strengths and areas that need improvement. The educational leader should address concerns that effect student academic achievement. The administrator and teacher during this initial meeting should collaboratively formulate the course of action to improve instruction. A time line with clear times and dates should also be established at this meeting. The Educational
leader must directly inform the teacher that a formal plan of
improvement will be initiated if the measures collectively developed do not remedy the concerns that are impacting students' scholastic success in the instructor's classroom.
The ultimate goal of an Educational Leader is to facilitate the learning process for students, staff and community.
Answer provided by Kevin Miller, Principal of FairHaven School in New Haven, CT, and a member of the Principals' Leadership Network Advisory Board.
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I am Head of Studies at the American School Foundation. We are a large k-12 international school in Mexico City with the IB program as the centerpiece of our curriculum. We are struggling here with many of our older teachers about the issue of depth vs coverage.
Can anyone offer either a cogent and compellins statement as to the benefits for learners of learning in depth as opposed to grazing lots of information.
Can anyone suggest an article or two ?
Expert's keyword(s) : leadership administration standardsAnswer : I would direct you to "The Leader's Guide to Standards: A Blueprint for Educational Equity and Excellence" by Douglas B. Reeves (2002) for a compelling (and realistic) discussion of teaching in the age of standards.
Realistically, every teacher and every school leader realizes it is not possible to cover every standard in the course of the school year - so we make choices all the time about what we will cover in depth, what we will skim, and what we simply omit. Reeves' acknowledges this fact and promotes what he refers to as power standards - a subset of the state or school standards that represent the most important elements of the curriculum.
Reeves emphasizes that these standards must be thoughtfully prioritized - the essential must be separated from the peripheral. He says in his book, "I have never heard a fifth grade teacher remark that the student would have been more successful if he had learned more about the Articles of Confederation in the fourth grade; but I have heard many teachers lament that students would have been more successful had they learned to read comprehend grade level material and write coherent paragraphs."
As the school leader, you must lead this discussion away from what material needs to be covered, and towards what students need to learn.
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What is the difference between "instructional leader" and "educational leader"?
Expert's keyword(s) : instructional leader, educational leader, principalAnswer : What is the difference between "instructional leader" and "educational
A second question that could be asked is, "If there is a difference, is it
significant?" In capturing the essence of the mission and objective of the
school principal, the answer to the first is that there is a slight
difference. The answer to the second is that while there is a subtle
difference, it is of limited significance.
Instructional Leader vs Educational Leader
Instruction is one (albeit the most important and critical) component of
learning and, by extension, education. There are other components that
affect a student's education, each of which either complements and supports
or impedes and restricts instruction. Class size, the quality and quantity
of instructional materials, and facility security are just a few of the
factors that can have an impact on the effectiveness of the instruction
provided by teachers. As critical as each of these can be, it is the
quality of instruction, and by extension, the quality of the teachers that
has the single greatest impact of any element under the control of a school
system on student achievement. It is, therefore, the prime responsibility
of the principal to be an instructional leader if maximum student
achievement is the goal.
Does this mean that the principal must mandate that all teachers teach in
the same manner to all studenets? No. A principal should recognize that
good teaching comes in a variety of forms and styles. Requiring one and
only one instructional method would be as incorrect as ignoring that any
group of students will have a variety of learning styles. To be a strong
instructional leader a principal should take the time necessary to learn the
strengths and weaknesses of teachers and to work with them to improve in
areas that will benefit students.
In essence the principal must be the prime or principal teacher. If the
principal can have and demonstrate a clear understanding of the challenges
and demands of teaching, he can be more effective in supporting teachers in
their work. At a recent national conference a panel of state teachers of
the year stated that the most important thing that a principal can do is to
be in the classrooms as much as possible. Their point was that if this were
done, principals would have a first hand understanding of the reality of the
classroom. Follow up discussions with teachers would be more authentic and
supportive. Teachers are more receptive if they perceive that the principal
takes a sincere interest in the elements of instruction.
If at all possible, a principal should also teach a course or an occasional
class. A discussion about instructional practices is much more effective if
begins, "When I was doing this lesson yesterday" rather than, "When I was a
teacher during the Reagan administration."
The degree to which a principal can move beyond instructional leader to
educational leader often depends on the size of the school and the
organization of the system. The principal may have no control over when the
buses come and go, whether or not the heat is on in the library, or even who
the members of the social studies department will be. In others, the
principal may drive the bus, switch on the furnace, and be half of the
social studies department. There are many components of learning and
education over which the principal has little control. However, every
school has teachers and each teacher's prime responsibility is to instruct
children. Regardless of the size of the school or the organization of the
system, the principal can and should be the instructional leader.
As a footnote, it is likely that some readers will dismiss this answer on
the grounds that, because of unique circumstances (usually union/contract
restrictions or academic freedom), it is virtually impossible to have a
direct impact on teachers' instructional methods. While the challenges
facing some principals are greater than those facing others, the fact
remains that the prime objective for a principal is that students learn to
the maximum extent possible. The fact also remains that the quality of
instruction is the critical factor in maximizing student achievement.
Systems that make it impossible for the principal to be the instructional
leader only hurt themselves and their children.
--Frank Spencer, Principal of Twin Valley High School in Wilmington, Vermont
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What exactly is the Principal's role as Instructional leader? Would a Principal of a small autonomous school find more time to fulfill that role more so than in a large comprehensive high school? If I were to develop a set of interview questions(8-10) around the role of instructional leadership what would be some examples.
Expert's keyword(s) : instructional leadership principal administrativeAnswer : You pose an interesting question about the difference in instructional leadership in small versus large schools. How do the differing demands affect the leader in these schools?
Paul Stringer, principal of Weaver High School (Hartford, Connecticut) believes that it really depends on the individual and how they structure their own time. He notes, " If the principal in the small school went into the position with experience, their transition would seemingly be easier as opposed to going into the position with no experience at all. A principal going into a large comprehensive high school had better arrive with experience or a dynamite administrative team intact. there are so many variables to look at when considering this question but the best any administrator could do is to rely on organizations or associations (such as PLN, CAS, NASSP) guidance and assistance."
Maureen Fitzpatrick, currently at Sacred Heart University but a long time principal in a small school, offers this response. "It depends on several factors. Principals in small autonomous schools often wear all the hats - budget director, maintenance coordinator, disciplinarian, report generator, etc. Being everything to everyone can be frustrating and can limit the time and energy a principal can devote to instructional leadership. Having moved to a principalship in another area where there were support resources within the school and within the district (ie, assistant principal/instructional specialist, curriculum director, director of finance/ maintenance, etc) I have also experienced the 'luxury' of having time to observe, dialogue with, and learn alongside, the classroom teachers about instruction and student learning. This should not be a 'luxury' in any school. Keeping student learning a priority and focus is critical - whatever one's situation. The resources to make this happen need to be there.
One change that we made successfully was to insure that ALL faculty meetings and grade level meetings focused on professional development. This seemingly minor change has had a profound effect on the 'culture' of the school; staff now openly talk to each other about what's going on in their classrooms - student learning wise; articles/books and resources are shared; student work samples are examined and discussed; strategies are talked about and modeled..... Establishing a non-threatening tone to accomplish this is also critical and can be done, again, in any type of situation.
In a large comprehensive high school I believe that the principal could create smaller schools within the school to create a close community culture as long as there was administrative support to help him/her with this. That principal would need to focus on developing an administrative team that was skilled in effective instructional strategies and capable of 'leading/facilitating' those he/she was responsible for. If that team was on the same page, with the focus on improved student learning, such a principal could fulfill the role as instructional leader. "
As for developing interview questions, I would suggest the use of the NAESP or ISLLC standards for guidance on content.
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Where do I begin with planning an instructional leadership program for experienced and novice principals?
(I am a new staff developer).
Expert's keyword(s) : principal mentoring leadership inductionAnswer : The Principals' Leadership Network has been working in partnership with the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators in New York City, building a series of leadership seminars for principals as part of a larger mentoring program for administrators.. As part of developing this, we have gathered information on many programs from around the country designed to help aspiring and new administrators. This mentoring publication is available from the PIL spotlight page (knowledgeloom.org/pil). The Knowledge Loom spotlight itself is a useful (and free!) program that we have found to be very effective as a resource for study groups and seminars. A facilitator's guide is available to download through this site, or you can contact us directly for a print copy (firstname.lastname@example.org). The guidebook helps a group of administrators identify a question or area of study and move through it to an action plan.
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I am a new principal. I have set a goal to use the evaluation process to improve student achievement. My school is also in the process of building a new staff evaluation system for next year. Any advice, local artifacts or resources to tap on effective teacher evaluation is appreciated. Thanks! Kyle
Expert's keyword(s) : leadership principal administration teacher evaluationAnswer : Kyle-
You are right on target to set your goal as a new principal to become
effective at teacher evaluation in order to improve student achievement.
The most important factor in improving learning is improving teaching.
School systems have been grappling with the components of successful teacher
supervision/evaluation models for years.
Long gone are the days of the "checklist" and effectiveness ratings.
Oftentimes this is to the chagrin of some principals because the evaluation
by performance standards with scripting and narrative is much more time
consuming. Include pre- and post- conferences in the mix and you have a
real commitment to improving teaching and learning in schools.
In my networking with other principals, I have found many school systems
adopting the "Saphier Model" of teacher supervision/evaluation. This model
is based upon a "common language and concept systems" based uponthe teaching
parameters (standards)from the book, "The Skillful Teacher" by Jon Saphier
and Robert Gower 1997 - Research for Better Teaching, Inc., 56 Bellows Hill
Road, Carlisle, MA 01741-1722. As a guide for administrators, "RBT" has
also published: "How to Make Supervision and Evaluation Really Work", by
My school system has adopted the Performance Parameters (as well as state
Performance Standards), pre and post conference strategies, scripting, and
narrative "observation" to create genuine dialogue regarding effective
teaching. Administration and the teacher's association fine tuned the model
to suit our school system and included the model and method in the teacher's
From my vantage point, an effective and collaborative evaluation system is
one of the most important components of a successful school.
Richard C. Raiche
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Is a principal who botches the dates for the Regents exams for students with disabilites out of compliance for IDEA or 504 if those students do not take the exam or are not allowed to take the exam because it is given at a high school that says that the students must take a predictor test first? What would this principal be able to do to speak up for his students and present himself as an instructional leader of his school? (School located within a residential facility, students ld/emotional Please answer, I'm very confused.
Expert's keyword(s) : leadership principal special education NCLBAnswer : Your question raises several issues but the fundamental regulation (as you are aware) require a free and appropriate education for all students with disabilities. This includes access to - even the requirement for - appropriate assessment. All states must make provisions for testing that accommodate students for whom assessment must be modified to make sense, such as those students who were once termed severe and/or profoundly retarded.
We cannot respond to your issue about "a principal who botches the dates..." issues. There would seem to be a right for the parents - not the system - to insist that the testing be done. At the same time, the system must accommodate the requirements of state law that require assessment during specific times of the year. The requirement for a "predictor" test MAY be illegal unless it is required of all students. In that case, the students with disabilities must follow the procedure all students follow including the required "predictor" testing.
It is our suggestion that you contact your state's Council for Exceptional Children's office. The location, e-mail and phone number can be secured from http://www.cec.sped.org.
Finally, the advice above is professional advice NOT LEGAL advice - we can not do that. It would be well for you to talk to the CEC persons and/or your board attorney to guide you in this area.
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If a principal visits classrooms to conduct an informal assessment of the instructional practices and learning opportunities provided to students, what evidence or indicators should he or she look for? What are some key characteristics of best practices being used in a classroom or of a high-achieving classroom? What type of information would you seek for a more in-depth analysis?
We are trying to create a preliminary checklist to stimulate self-reflection and collaboration among teachers, principal and other school staff. Do you know of existing checklists that might serve as a reference?
Professional Development Coordinator,
Expert's keyword(s) : principal instructional leader classroom observationAnswer : At the Conte Community School in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, principal Elizabeth Neale uses a short checklist for classroom observations. Called "Elements of a Good Lesson," it has been created by the faculty at Conte and all agree that these are the elements of a lesson to ensure student academic success:
There is additional information, with some excellent resources on this subject, posted under the "Professional Development" spotlight here on the Knowledge Loom. Visit the PD spotlight and click on ''Ask An Expert".
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Our organization is in the process of developing a Leadership Academy for aspiring and new administrators. What low cost programs are available that we might use as a resource for speakers and facilitators of workshops?
Expert's keyword(s) : principal administrator mentor leadershipAnswer : The Principals' Leadership Network has been working in partnership with the Council of Supervisors and Administrators in New York City, building a series of leadership seminars for principals with three or more years of experience 'on the job'. As part of developing this, we have gathered information on many programs from around the country designed to help aspiring and new administrators. This mentoring publication should be available within several weeks from our website.
The Knowledge Loom spotlight itself is a useful (and free!) program that we have found to be very effective as a resource for study groups and seminars. A facilitator's guide is available to download through this site, or you can contact us directly for a print copy (email@example.com). The guidebook helps a group of administrators identify a question or area of study and move through it to an action plan.
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Because of NCLB, we are heading into a high stakes accountability phase. We now have to succeed with groups of students who have not historically done well on academic assessments. What I need is to know what works. What can be done to restructure the school for high achievement with all our students?
Expert's keyword(s) : NCLB, achievement, No Child Left Behind, improvement, Title IAnswer : You have asked the $64,000-question. We all need to know what works, especially with underachieving children. I could list many elements: a superior and experienced principal and staff, high expectations for children, one-on-one instruction, tiny classes, continual and targeted teacher/administrator training, total focus on achievement, multiple measures of performance, very hard work, consistency, unlimited support and materials, dedicated parents as well as engaged communities.
I would also recommend that you watch for the release of an important new report by the Learning First Alliance on March 24. Titled "Beyond Islands of Excellence: What Districts Can Do to Improve Achievement and Instruction in All Schools," the report outlines lessons from five districts and identifies practical steps that school districts can take to move beyond a few excellent schools to success across the system. It is based on a new case study of high-poverty school districts that raised student achievement by focusing on district-wide strategies to improve instruction.
The National Association of Elementary School Principals, along with the eleven other leading education organizations, founded the Learning First Alliance in 1977 to improve student learning in America's public elementary and secondary schools: www.learningfirst.org.
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A district administrator has been asked to collect information around best practices for administrator induction. She is particularly interested in models that are working well in other states and districts. Your suggestions or thoughts?
Expert's keyword(s) : first year, mentor, induction, new administratorAnswer : Thank you for bringing up the critical subject of administrator induction: introducing a new principal to his or her job.
Regardless of the strengths and weaknesses of preparation programs, most principals agree that on-the-job training and strong mentoring helped them become able school leaders. Even principals who have had internships and have been assistant principals say that once they got the keys to the school, they are still overwhelmed during that first year. But those principals who have had mentoring by good and experienced principals usually find that support invaluable.
NAESP strongly recommends mentoring programs. A 1998 survey conducted by the Educational Research Service (ERS) for the NAESP and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) found just under half of the school districts surveyed had formal induction/mentoring programs in place. More of these programs were found in urban districts but there were a variety of such programs throughout the country.
In The Principal, Keystone of a High-Achieving School, published in 2000 by ERS, NAESP and NASSP, Larry Lashway and Mark Anderson make some excellent recommendations for school districts "instead of leaving new principals to 'sink or swim.' The work environment should be structured in a way that allows the new principal to have a coherent experience, not just a chaotic barrage of experiences. Recommended elements of this plan include: efforts to reduce isolation through mentoring or similar approaches; scheduling time in the new principal's work schedule for reflection, systematic and ongoing orientation on both official and unofficial policies and procedures; and regular feedback on performance."
The February 2003 issue of NAESP's newsletter Communicator addresses the topic of how to become an effective mentor, an important part of a sound program. Untrained mentors may be unsuited to helping new principals with new ideas. You may read this at http://naesp.org/comm/c0203.htm.
NAESP has an online mentoring experiment that's worked quite well for the past couple of years. A new principal is chosen each September and through our publications and Web site, that principal posts questions while experienced colleagues answer. Take a look: http://www.naesp.org/mentorcenter/.
NAESP has been pleased with the FY 2002 budget allocation that made available $10 million under the School Leadership program in federal grants to high-need districts that, in conjunction with other organizations, would use the funds to recruit, retain, and provide mentoring and incentives to principals and assistant principals. The School Leadership program, though, is zeroed out in the President's FY 2003 and 2004 budget proposals!
I also recommend that you visit our Web site (www.naesp.org) and link to our State Affiliates, many of which have excellent resources and mentoring programs.
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What key components should I see in observing standard-based instruction?
Expert's keyword(s) : standards, instructionAnswer : Standards-based instruction should not differ a great deal from any good instruction. The significant difference is that the standards-based instruction has well-defined standards and guidelines to follow. The standards have been identified as the focus of the entire lesson.
It should be obvious to any observer that all of the activities are the focal point of a standards-based lesson. However, the teacher must be able to adjust what's being taught to the learning styles of the students. Teachers, in all instruction, must be accountable to every student and able to use the various learning activities that will work for each child.
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With the new NCLB federal legislation, many believe our nation's public schools will soon be deemed as failures. What is your opinion? What should principals do to get ready for what could become a tough public relations challenge?
Expert's keyword(s) : failing school, NCLB, AYP, school improvementAnswer : Every school system and principal in the nation is working to understand and comply with the intricate and demanding regulations of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). NAESP is providing our members with a great deal of information on this topic in an effort to ease the way for them. Check http://www.naesp.org/misc/special_NCLB.htm for information on regulations and public relations tips. Check http://www.naesp.org/cgi-htdig/htsearch for more information.
It is quite possible that many more schools will be deemed "in need of improvement" under NCLB. But we don't want principals to fall into the trap and become overly apologetic about their school's status. In fact, we recommend NOT using the word "failure," when describing their school. (See "What Do You Say When Your School Flunks?" at www.naesp.org/comm/pr0902.org/).
Principals must continue to be upbeat, stressing the positive accomplishments of their schools. Parent education is an increasingly important function for them as they explain what "in need of improvement" really means in lay terms. We advise our members to host meetings at school, place short articles in newsletters and on Web sites to show exactly why a school has received a designation and then have a detailed plan of what will be done to counteract it.
We also know that principals can't do it alone. They must include their staffs in every aspect of the NCLB information and discussions. Parents should be expected to help with their students at home as well. For help with this public relations challenge, principals should also call upon their school system's public information officers.
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With the shortage of principals looming over our nation, how can we explore alternate routes to certification which endorse non-educators as instructional leaders? How can these individuals lead teachers without classroom experience?
Expert's keyword(s) : principal shortage, alternative certification, instructional leadershipAnswer : Working to end the critical shortage of school principals is high on the agenda of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. We have extensive information about this troubling trend on our Web site at http://www.naesp.org/misc/prin_shrtg_facts.htm.
The Association does not take an official position on alternative routes to the profession and encourages all qualified persons who are interested in doing what is necessary to prepare for the principalship to consider applying. We do believe, however, that since the teaching and learning are the purpose of schools, that applicants must fully understand what good teaching looks like and how student and adult learning occurs. Classroom experience is highly recommended and in fact the NAESP platform "strongly recommends that persons entering the principalship should have at least five years of successful elementary and/or middle school teaching experience. Training programs or certification components should require a master's degree, with academic preparation focusing on those administrative competencies that have been identified and validated through research."
States and organizations are developing alternative certification programs designed to encourage individuals from non-education professions to become principals and to speed up the process by which one can become a certified principal. Because NAESP values so strongly the understanding and expertise that direct classroom teaching experience can bring to a principal, we are cautious about alternative certification programs. That said, we realize that in an emergency situation there may be a need for an alternative certification option. We suggest that each such plan and each potential participant be considered individually. At a minimum, an alternative certification program should include intensive instruction on child development and the nature of learning, accompanied by several months' experience in an in-school internship before one is granted certification.
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Do you know which states require continuing education credits and professional development for certified school administrators who are already practicing on the job? What kinds of professional development do these states require, or is it just credit completion?
Expert's keyword(s) : professional development, licensing, continuing educationAnswer : Most states require continuing education credits and professional development for online school principals and teachers. Each state, however, sets its own requirements. Calling state education departments and asking for the administrative licensing agency or checking state education departments' Web sites is the most direct method to find this information.
The Education Commission on the States has a great deal of information on School Leadership (K-12) issues at http://www.ecs.org/.
NAESP offers a host of regional and online professional development for principals. Check for the offerings at http://www.naesp.org/pdev.html. Most of NAESP's state affiliates also offer continuing education opportunities. Check: http://www.naesp.org/membmap.htm
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We hear a great deal today about the instructional leadership role of the principal as the sine qua non of an effective school. In theory, this is worthy of emulation. However, could you comment on the factors that inhibit achievement of this goal such as(1) large school size, (2)traditional hierarchical decision making so common in many schools and (3)tight schedules that do not allow time for joint planning between teachers and administration. To what extent do these factors detract from the goal of teacher professionalism?
Expert's keyword(s) : Schedule Leadership TeachingAnswer : Thanks very much for a thoughtful and throught-provoking question. Briefly, let me offer these ideas: 1) School size can be mitigated by the establishment of learning communities. In St. Louis, for example, they took high schools of almost 4,000 students and broken them down into 7 separate communities, so that teachers, counselors, and administrators knew the students and, perhaps more importantly, the students knew and cared about one another. 2)and 3) are related -- hierarchy and schedules go hand in hand. Where I see reform happening, the following occurs: Traditional faculty meetings go the way of the brontosaurus -- no more reading announcements to adults. The faculty OWNS the faculty meeting, using it to evaluate student work and to constructively collaborate about what the word "proficient" really means. Staff development is not "sit & git" but a collaborative enterprise focused on REAL student work. The schedule is changed -- 2-3 hours EACH DAY are focused on literacy. Yes -- it forces people to make choices and yes, it forces us to say what we all know -- literacy is more important than other stuff. To those who decry the loss of 9th grade electives, I can only respond that kids who drop out of school because of 9th grade failures don't take any electives in later years. If you want more electives, the first thing you must do is get kids to stay in school and that requires FEWER CHOICES in 9th and 10th grades. The schedules are only tight because of tradition, not because of logic or necessity.
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Why are principals referred to as "accountable instructional leaders"?
Expert's keyword(s) : principal leadership accountabilityAnswer : Words matter, and your question highlights an important distinction between an administrative caretaker and an instructional leader. With the national trend toward accountability, the ax falls most heaviliy in two areas -- children and leaders. Only in the most egregious cases are the jobs of teachers at risk, but each year a raft of principals and superintendents lose their jobs due to the academic performance of students. Even more students lose lifetime opportunities because schools fail to provide them with what they need. This will remain a mess until accountability is distributed throughout the system, so that parents, community members, teachers, board members, and administrators at all levels share the burdenrs of educational accountability along with students.
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When building leaders try to implement changes, they are often faced with some teachers who don't buy-in to the ideas. How can principals approach recalcitrant staff?
Expert's keyword(s) : Motivation Development Teachers LeadershipAnswer : The conventional wisdom is that the enlightened leader secures buy-in from staff members before initiating change. If securing buy-in means explaining the reasons for a change, asking for advice and input, and gaining widespread participation in implementing the change, then the conventional wisdom has merit. But if the elusive search for buy-in becomes a device for a few staff members with loud complaints to stop progress, then the conventional wisdom must be abandoned. Can you imagine where we would be if the Supreme Court took a poll to see if school integration would get enough buy-in before rendering their decisions? Leaders are not called to be popular, but to be effective. This does not mean that leaders should be imperious and demanding all the time, but it does mean that on matters of principle and value, leaders must lead. I recognize that there are teachers who sincerely believe that they alone define expectations for their students and that as a matter of academic freedom, they can expect less of children of color and children who are poor. If you don't believe that this is happening right now in your schools, get three copies of student work that is "proficient" or "satisfactory" or graded "B" from the same grade in a dozen different classrooms representing a wide range of economic, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds. All the work should be of similar quality. See if that is what you find, or if "proficient" for a poor kid is not nearly the same level of expectation as "proficient" for a rich kid. If you find these disparities, then you don't politely ask for buy-in -- you demand equity. Low expectations in the classroom are the moral equivalent of hate speech. If you would not tolerate hate speech masquerading as academic freedom, then you cannot tolerate low expectations. As a practial matter, every leader needs to gain broad acceptance of changes and must make the case for "why" before instructing colleagues on the "how." But at the end of the day, leaders lead, making decisions that are not always popular or universally accepted, but necessary and just.
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Is a leader just born with leadership abilities or can anyone become a leader if leadership is nurtured and developed over time?
Expert's keyword(s) : Leadership DevelopmentAnswer : The short answer is "yes." Leadership, as is the case with most human characteristics, is the result of a combination of predispositions from birth or a very young age and training throughout life. Even the "natural musician" takes piano lessons if she wants to get to Carnegie Hall. Fortunately, there is abundant research on this point. Three of the best sources are the University of Washington (John Goodlad & colleagues) The Gallup Organization and the Kouzes-Posner studies (see citations below). These researchers establish that the distinctive characteristics of high-performing leaders (and they explicitly include educational leaders)are not a mystical blend of heredity and talent, but rather replicable behaviors that can be practiced, developed, and implemented by other leaders. This is not a minor philosophical argument. If we do not have a bone-deep belief that we can develop new skills and abilities, then how could we possibly have that belief about the students we serve? My recommended readings on the subject:
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Our district is attempting to creatively provide professional development time within a regular work day. We are not able to have students dismissed early from school in order to provide professional development time on a regular basis. Do you have ideas of how to provide this time without altering the students' school day?
Expert's keyword(s) : professional development, schedulingAnswer : First, take an inventory of the time that you have available now. Two of the most underused sources of time for collaboration are the faculty meeting and scheduled professional development. Faculty meetings are notorious time-wasters -- story hours for grownups in which one adult reads aloud announcements to other adults. If this futile exercise is replaced with written or E-mailed announcements, then every scheduled faculty meeting can be transformed into a time of meaningful collaboration. The principal need not sit at the head of the table reading notes, but the facilitation duties should be shared among faculty members who use this time to look at anonymous student work samples and, in a continuous collaborative process, improve scoring rubrics. The result is a significant improvement in the fairness of evaluation, the consistency of scoring, and the quality of student work.
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In an effort to move from the historical 'sit-and'get' (a full day, once a quarter) model of professional development to a more collaborative dialogue model, we are attempting to change our calendar of adult learning days in our district to 1/2 day per month of the school year. One of the administrators asked if we could locate research regarding frequency and duration of professional development to produce optimal learning and impact for students by teachers. Do you have any suggestions?
Expert's keyword(s) : professional developmentAnswer :
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Principals are often called on to guide the professional development of educators in their schools. What are some effective alternatives to traditional forms of professional development, such as education courses and workshops?
Expert's keyword(s) : professional developmentAnswer :
At the risk of getting kicked out of the staff developers union, I would suggest that there are a great many alternatives to traditional workshops. A few include:
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