Want to improve your leadership development? Use simulations!

American schools are facing a crisis in the lack of professional learning for school leaders.

These leaders are required to be licensed, which usually entails a two-year program at a university or college. However, once they actually begin their careers, most of them will tell you that any further professional learning comes on the job. This vacuum of professional learning among principals and superintendents means many have to stub their toes by learning from mistakes, leading sometimes to grave consequences and almost certainly to less-than-optimal outcomes.

In my research, I’ve worked extensively with simulations that help our school leaders continue their professional growth well past their licensing requirements. Effective simulations present relevant scenarios that offer leaders the opportunity to listen and learn from their peers and to gain experience without risk.…Read More

5 ways to truly help principals succeed

Principals and districts benefit when principal supervisors move beyond the role of administrator to coach and mentor, according to a new Vanderbilt University report.

It is the first of three studies of The Wallace Foundation’s Principal Supervisor Initiative, a four-year, $24 million effort studied by Vanderbilt and Mathematica Policy Research.

The report, “A New Role Emerges for Principal Supervisors: Evidence from Six Districts in the Principal Supervisor Initiative,” details the implementation of five key components to reshape the supervisor position in six large, urban school districts.…Read More

Principals: The lessons we learned in 2016

[Editor’s note: This story is Part 2 of our 3-part series on Lessons Learned in 2016. Check back tomorrow for Lessons Learned by Educators. Click here for yesterday’s article from Superintendents.]

The best educational leaders are lifelong learners. They are constantly expanding their knowledge, refining their skills, and looking for creative ways to help kids learn. As these four principals look back at 2016, they recall the most important ed tech lesson they learned this year—and look forward to inspiring their staff and students anew in 2017.

discipline…Read More

How our leadership academies are creating better school principals

The city of Syracuse’s public educational system, and its long-term economic health, are nearing a tipping point. According to a recent study by the Century Foundation, Syracuse has the highest rate of extreme poverty concentrated among blacks and Hispanics of the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas.

Like many other urban school systems, Syracuse City School District (SCSD), where I serve as chief academic officer, has faced a number of challenges: Retaining teachers past their third year of teaching, too many competing initiatives that were unaligned to larger goals, and—most pressing—low academic performance among disadvantaged students.

A couple years ago, we took a fresh look into what it would take to move the needle on these enormous challenges. The research was clear: the largest non-classroom-based impact on student achievement as well as teacher retention is the effectiveness of building principals. We also recognized that school leadership is quite possibly the most difficult job to do well. We knew we had to make a substantial and systemic investment in our principals if we were going to make progress.…Read More

New book illustrates the 5 most important leadership skills

Leaders aren’t just principals, CEOs, and presidents, a new book asserts, but rather people from all walks of life benefit from leadership skills and training. That’s especially true in education where everyone from parents to teachers to students are often called upon to serve in leadership roles. But what does that entail?

The book, Life Lessons in Leadership: The Way of the Wallaby, uses a literary style similar to Spenser Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese? to illustrate real-world lessons through the stories of engaging fictional characters. Co-authored by ed-tech pro Ann McMullan — formerly the executive director for educational technology at Klein ISD in Texas — and journalist Michael Barrett, the educational and entertaining self-help book teaches essential personal leadership skills through a clever combination of literary text targeted to adult leaders, combined with captivating, childlike stories.

Each of the book’s five short chapters focuses on an essential leadership skill and begins with McMullan’s lessons, written in prose, describing the importance of that skill. As the book flows from one chapter to another, McMullan demonstrates how each leadership skill builds on the others and how all are critical to the success of any leader.…Read More

Study finds successes, challenges in shift to intensive principal preparation

A report released from the Illinois Education Research Council (IERC) at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, in partnership with the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research (UChicago Consortium), assesses the progress of sweeping legislation to redesign the way school principals in Illinois are prepared, with the goal of improving schools statewide through higher quality leadership. The report summarizes findings from a two-year study assessing the progress of these ambitious reforms and describing the changes that occurred as a result of the new policy.

“This in-depth look at principal preparation programs is the latest in our series of studies of Illinois’ school leadership and provides insights into the challenges programs face after major reforms and the innovative ways that they have navigated through these challenges,” says IERC Executive Director Janet K. Holt.

Illinois’ new principal preparation policy required universities across the state to shift from a general training model geared toward multiple school administrative positions to more targeted and selective principal-specific preparation beginning in the 2014-15 school year. As a result, the study finds that preparation programs experienced substantial, but not unexpected, declines in enrollment.…Read More

5 ways to give teachers and principals more say in ed-tech buying

Teachers and principals should play a greater role in selecting tech for their schools

Today, we’re seeing a growing number of new ed-tech solutions being adopted directly by teachers, prompting an opportunity to revisit who should be making decisions when it comes to which technologies are used in schools.

A recent Digital Promise report found that, for the most part, teachers and principals play a modest role in needs assessment and procurement, and that district administrators serve as the gatekeepers for school-level technology.

We recently spent the day with 100 leading district leaders, principals, and teachers to discuss the ed-tech decision-making process. Although they explained that district administrators played the most significant role in tech decision-making for their districts, more than half (55 percent) believed that principals should have the most significant say in purchasing decisions for tech in their schools. Only about a third (32 percent) favored decision-making by the central office.…Read More

New online portal facilitates i-Ready implementation

Collection of online resources aims to give teachers the right tools exactly when they need them

i-ReadyCurriculum Associates recently launched i-Ready Central to help teachers, principals, and administrators successfully implement its i-Ready program.

The online portal, offered at no additional cost to all i-Ready users and accessible 24/7, includes more than 160 resources organized around stages of implementation throughout the school year.

These resources, including tips, training videos, and planning tools, will be updated frequently to ensure educators have the most current, relevant content at their fingertips when they need it.…Read More

These 3 policy areas could help principals become more effective

New report details how state policymakers can help strengthen, support principals

principals-policyWhile school principals are often low priorities on state education policy agendas, a handful of states have taken steps to strengthen the role principals play in schools, according to a new report commissioned by the Wallace Foundation.

After analyzing how principals are supported and prioritized in a number of states, Paul Manna, professor of government and public policy at the College of William & Mary and the report’s author, suggests that those states’ actions focus on three areas in policymaking.

1. State leaders can move principals higher on policy agendas. Teachers typically have the larger share of agendas and professional development investments, according to the report. But when principals are elevated in state policy agendas, it can strengthen other state education efforts. “Numerous state education policy initiatives developed during the last two decades depend heavily on excellent principals for their success,” the report notes.…Read More

School principals beg for help with Common Core

New national survey shows principals feel unprepared for successful implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS)

principals-school-common coreIt’s no surprise that schools across the country are gearing up for implementation of Common Core, with many teachers and school principals fully aware of what the standards encompass. However, according to a new national survey, knowing Common Core is easy…but sustaining the new standards over time? Not so much.

The survey, “Leadership for the Common Core,” developed by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), polled 1,000 principals in 14 states that have adopted CCSS. According to the survey, more than 80 percent of principals “overwhelmingly support the CCSS initiative and have a strong willingness to continue to engage deeply in instructional leadership activities as states move forward.”

100 percent principals are also “familiar with the standards and curricular changes” that must accompany CCSS, and most had received “some level of professional development (PD) to lead teachers, families and students” through the Common Core transition.…Read More