This week I am humbled to have the opportunity to go to Washington DC for the NAESP National Distinguished Principals program. This is a result of the amazing work that our school staff do each and every day to make our school the best place for our students!
One part of this event is the opportunity to bring back a momento/souvenir from every attendee’s state. Since Tony Sinanis will also be attending as a NDP representative from New York, we decided to work together on a 21st Century Souvenir that we hope will continue long after this week’s event so we can continue learning from each other. While I know that we should wait to share until the big day, we want to help get people connected now (and I was always the child that secretly snuck peaks at my presents before Christmas and nothing has changed!)
We will be bringing these postcards:
You can watch our video here:
Special thanks to Jay Posick, Joe Sanfelippo, Matt Renwick, Eric Sheninger, Don Gately, and Vicki Day for helping us promote the power of Twitter!
The September/October issue of the Principal journal from NAESP is filled with articles on the Common Core State Standards for Principals. As the lead learners in our buildings, it is critical that we are leading our faculty into this new era of teaching with the Common Core State Standards. Although we do not have to fully implement them until the 2014/2015 school year, there is no time to wait. You must be doing work in your buildings on the Common Core State Standards now.
Want to know what we’ve done in my district with the Common Core State Standards? You can read about it in this article from Principal.
Here’s my February article in NAESP’s Mentor Center:
In my first year as principal at our school, I often felt stressed and overwhelmed at the amount of work needed to get our school on the right path. I formed a leadership team, created time for grade-level meetings, established professional learning communities, and began educating staff on response to intervention. In February 2009, I attended a statewide RTI summit; however, since our school was so behind on the path to having any sort of RTI plan, I felt out of place and overwhelmed by the summit sessions.
We started small at our school with a voluntary book study over the summer and then formed an RTI team in the fall to attend additional RTI trainings to learn together, present to staff, and begin creating a plan for our school.
Last month, I attended another state conference and attended many sessions on RTI again. This time, I was relieved and reassured as I listened to speakers and saw what other schools in the state are implementing because I could finally identify with what some of the other schools are doing. Even though we still have a lot of work to do, I feel like we are on the right path now and are making some positive changes to impact our students.
The difficult part of this process is remembering that change is a process and it won’t happen overnight. The literature I’ve read says this is a two- to three-year process. This is also a major change in both philosophy and practice for many teachers.
How do you keep the process moving forward with momentum, but not too fast to overwhelm staff?
Here’s my December article from NAESP’s Communicator:
During my first year as principal, I got into classrooms as much as possible. In my building, there was no previous practice of a principal presence in the classrooms other than the formal teacher observation on a three-year cycle. I made it a priority to get into classrooms to get to know teaching styles and the students, often just leaving a positive message on a Post-it note.
I started this year with the best intentions of not only getting into classrooms more, but leaving more meaningful feedback for teachers to promote further reflection and dialogue to improve student learning. At the start of the year, I met with each teacher to find out what teaching standard he or she would like me to focus on when I come into the classroom so I can tailor my feedback to each teacher’s goals.
To plan for this, my secretary and I came up with a strategy for her to manage my schedule so that both meeting and classroom time are marked on my calendar. I thought the plan was brilliant. However, I also took on additional duties this year as the district assessment coordinator (part of being in a small district). My plan did not account for how much time my new duties require. I am now ashamed to admit that I’m rarely in classrooms, to the point that a few kindergartners have mistaken the recess monitor as the principal.
I’d like to hear any time-management/organization tips that other principals have to make time for the classrooms and not stay in the office until 10 p.m. with paperwork.
I have not updated this blog in so long that I couldn’t even remember how to login! This new school year has been flying by, with very little extra time for me to get online at night. Why? Because I’m pregnant!! That’s right! I’m now 5 1/2 months pregnant and due in May. It’s quite exciting, but overwhelming at the same time.
Anyhow, I’ve been having a pretty successful year as a 2nd year principal and feel like we are making great progress at our school. It definitely feels better than last year. I was realizing the other day how much I have benefited from other principals I’ve connected with on the net and want to get this blog going again to put my communication out there.
For now, I’m going to copy/paste my articles that have been in the NAESP Communicator. I was excited to be selected as their mentor center principal for the year, because as I’ve read in previous years, many administators offered feedback. Unfortunately this year, the Communicator is now mostly online and you have to login to access it. So there has been very little feedback for me. I’m hoping that by also posting here, I will get more feedback.
Here was my article for October: Building a Culture of Collaboration
Throughout my first year as an elementary principal, I spent much time observing and learning about the school, its culture, and its history, and changing the things I could not live with. I worked hard with staff throughout the year in staff meetings and leadership team meetings to begin change processes to implement this school year. I thought my second year as principal would get easier, but now that I know how much work has to be done, it seems I’m working even harder than before. I still have hope that the third year will get easier.
Some changes at our school this year include: beginning stages of response to intervention and positive behavioral interventions and supports, school celebration assemblies, having the secretary manage my schedule and sort my mail, and meeting with each teacher to discuss his or her professional goals to tailor my classroom walkthrough feedback to individual goals. One other major change is providing biweekly substitute coverage (using ARRA stimulus funds) to allow grade levels to meet for collaboration during the school day. I have provided teachers with a meeting protocol to follow and take notes on that follows Dufour’s guiding questions for a professional learning community. I have found that some grade levels truly collaborate and accomplish great things together; however, other grade levels do not stay student focused or data-driven and revert back to venting or chatting if I’m not there to keep them on track.
I’m hoping administrators can offer some strategies or resources to help build the collaboration among grade levels so they are focused on student learning as a team, even when I’m not there in the meeting to monitor. I appreciate your input and hope that everyone is off to a great new school year!