Successful Schools Begin When The Adults Believe They Can Lead Success

Science has proven what you probably suspected.

The number one influence in schools related to student achievement is what your teachers collectively believe about your students. 

John Hattie and his team, using a meta meta-analysis have studied effect size of what works in schools.  Hattie’s work is chronicled in his numerous books, conference speeches, and papers, notably found in his book Visible Learning.

The single most important question for any school or school system is this:  what do the teachers at this school REALLY think about the students?

If the teachers REALLY believe that students can learn, that collective belief becomes who they are as a faculty.  The opposite is just as true.  If the teachers don’t believe they can make a difference, regardless of what other initiatives you launch, their impact will be limited.

What Hattie and his team have done and updated regularly is a list of factors (252 to be exact) related to student achievement and their effect sizes.  The higher the effect size, the more likely the positive outcomes on student achievement.

Ranking number one is collective teacher efficacy, defined by Hattie as the “collective belief of teachers in their ability to positively affect students.”

Another way to look at it could be the “group think” of the adults in your school;  that notion you’ve been working on since you’ve been in school leadership– culture.  Specifically, your school’s culture around whether they believe that together, they can make a difference.

In your efforts to improve instruction at your school, are you building confidence in the heads and hearts of your teachers that they can do their work well, and together make a difference?

At this point in the school year, you are deep into observations, observation write-ups, and the evaluation process.  Do the teachers truly see your work as a vehicle to help them be better prepared individually and collectively to make a difference for your students?  Or, do they see you much like you view the fire marshall when they make an appearance at your school?  (necessary but not necessarily welcomed)

The subtle difference of your work in the evaluation process can make a difference in the way that individual teachers at your school think about their work.  This isn’t a suggestion to “go easy” on your teachers in evaluation work: it’s quite the opposite.  Teachers who get meaningful feedback and timely follow-up become more confident to do the work, and then begin to believe that their work can make a difference. That attitude spreads; if teachers think that your feedback is a canned response, rushed, or for compliance, its influence on their belief in their work will be limited if anything at all.

Think back to your days as a student. The teachers who challenged you are the ones who made the biggest difference in your learning. If you can challenge your teachers individually to be the best they can be as a part of a team of teachers that are on an important mission, you’ll be amazed at how differently your school can be.  Like all good things, it takes time.

Where do you begin?  With one teacher at a time, but in each interaction sharing a vision of what you can do together.

© 2018.  Dr. Mark D. Wilson.   All Rights Reserved.

For additional study, check out these links:

Hattie’s Visible Learning Listing
https://visible-learning.org/2018/03/collective-teacher-efficacy-hattie/

Issue Brief from CSRI
https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED499254.pdf

Research on Collective Teacher Efficacy
https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/6167/a32cba0f727d72b071df00f8fc2d8b6d8673.pdf

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Safe and Orderly Schools: Learning Resources

Safe and Orderly School Learning Plan

 

In schools everywhere, there is a spotlight on safety and on leading a school that is “safe and orderly.”  At first glance it seems like it’s all about a focus on security and preventing intruders from disrupting the safety and lives of our children and staffs.

When you look again, leading a safe and orderly school is a multi-faceted challenge.  What do you think of when you hear “safe and orderly”?  What does the school leader do to not only secure the school, but to make it safe- socially and emotionally as well as from outside forces.

At our Principal and AP Academies, this is our focus for September.  Please find the following link to a Google Drive folder full of links, resources, and other items for your study and learning about leading a school that is safe and orderly.  Take a look, and if you have additional resources that ought to be in that folder, please contact me with those links so we can share with them with the group at large.  Thanks!  ~ Mark

Safe and Orderly Schools: A Folder of Links and Resources

 

© 2018.  Dr. Mark D. Wilson.

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Your Job? Helping Teachers Grow.

Becoming a Principal can be a curious thing.

You get the job before you know the job, and then a big part of your job is to figure out what your job really is.

Are you with me?  Please let me explain.

The expectations of the principal haven’t changed over the years… instead, they’ve multiplied!  People still expect the principal do things they’ve done for decades– be the face of the school, support the students at extracurricular events, open car doors in the morning and solve bus issues in the afternoon.

And.

And develop a comprehensive school improvement plan.  And a hospitable culture to rival Chick-Fil-A.  And infuse STEM, Mindset Training, and Differentiate for teachers and students alike.

That’s just a sliver of all of the things you’re asked to do, as you know.  But here’s the challenge:  out of the many important things that you do, what’s the most critical for you to do to live up to the standards set for your performance?

Help your teachers grow.

Yes, your responsible for safety is always the most important thing you do, but the most critical for you to be deemed successful is to help your teachers grow.

It’s for that reason everyone says you need to be visible.  It’s to help your teachers grow that you go to grade-level meetings, and PLCs, and book studies.  It’s the goal of your school’s evaluation program.  It’s the most critical thing you do.  In its absence, you are at best a caretaker of the school, not a leader.  Our business is learning;  our key representatives in the business are our teachers;  their performance IS your performance.  It is on this that you focus if you want your school to meet the needs of the students, because it’s through your teachers that you reach out to each and every one of your students.  Your heart and your head through their hands.  Hands whose work YOU are responsible for.

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Your commitment to the task at hand– leading your teachers in their professional growth– is the pathway to success for you, your teachers, your students, and your school.  Using the evaluation system as a support and as a needs assessment, your role as the school leader is to find out what your people need and get it to them.  (Just as the teacher’s role is to do the same for her students!)

I’ve heard school administrators tell their faculty members, “my job is to make your job easier,”  That’s a notion worth a challenge.  The truth is, the teacher’s job isn’t really easy, and while administrators offer support, our best play isn’t to present ourselves as Tech Support or the Geek Squad.  Perhaps our goal should be to be more like Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid?  A trusted, wise coach whose wisdom matches up with his authority.

Making your teachers’ jobs easier may be a lot to promise, but what if your focus is on helping your teachers find more meaning in their work?  What if your “job’ is to help them learn so much about doing their job that their confidence stands taller than their troubles and their doubts?  That’s a lot more substantive and sustainable of a gift.

As we enter September and the second phase of the school  year, the performance of your teachers will become more and more an indicator of the success of your students, AND your quality of life as the principal.  Their growth is your job.  Make sure your calendar reflects it as the priority that it is.

© 2018.  Dr. Mark D. Wilson.   All Rights Reserved.

 

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Leading A Culture of Professional Growth for All Teachers

Do you have MTSS for your teachers?  We often think that we don’t have to differentiate for our teachers since they’re professionals, they’re adults, and they’re paid to come to work.

What if we could develop a more effective approach to helping our teachers grow by differentiating our work with them towards their development?

The following graphic is here to provoke your thoughts about the nature of professional growth for ALL of your teachers, and a framework in which you may find success.  Share it with your administrative team.  Talk about which of your teachers would belong in which tiers, and then consider the possibility of a more effective school driven by the recognition of the varying needs of your teachers towards their learning and growth!

© 2018.  Dr. Mark D. Wilson.  All Rights Reserved.

Supporting growth for all of your teachers

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It’s Not The Ideas; It’s The Implementation

OK!  You’re convinced that the growth of your teachers is critical for success at your school and now you’re ready to do something about it.

You’ve been credentialed to evaluate teachers, you’ve been recognized as a good teacher yourself, and you have served as an instructional coach and/or a team or department leader.

In short, you’ve got game!

Here’s the challenge:  what got you here won’t keep you here (and it won’t get you there >>>  either!).

Your self-discipline, attention to details, and amazing work ethic got you through the door and into school leadership.

Your ability to lead adults (not always the most coachable learners in your building) is now the pathway to your continued success.  However, one or more of your teachers isn’t doing what you want them to do.

Getting mad at them for not being “on it” at the same level as you  isn’t very effective.  What IS more effective is taking a look at the progression between the idea (whatever part of instruction you’re focusing on) and successful performance.  Hopefully, the chart will lead to conversations between you and your administrative team, and will help you see the progression that happens for students in class… and for your teachers with you just as well.

The progression is:

  1. Awareness;
  2. Understanding;
  3. Application;
  4. Performance.

Often as school leaders, we assume that our people can come right out of the gate into the fourth level of the implementation progression, Performance.  That notion rarely works out like that, and we can spend more time going back through the steps than if we had began directly with an intentional awareness campaign, followed by checking for understanding, assessing for clarity by observing the application of the idea, and finally sharing in the joy of performance of a new idea, something of which you can celebrate among your faculty and staff.

© 2018.  Dr. Mark D. Wilson.  All Rights Reserved.

Four Steps in Leading Improvement in Instruction

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The New Principal Show! S2 E2: Support Your New Teachers.

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-xnzfz-97bf43

Support Your New Teachers

As we begin the new school year, one of the most important priorities for us as Ps and APs should be the successful introduction of new Ts to our building and especially new teachers to the profession.

You know the data points… that within five years, half of new teachers have left the profession.  You also know we are hiring from a deficit rather than from a surplus.  Once it was true that effective hiring was one of if not the most important actions a P could take.

NOW, you would do well to consider developing and retaining your Ts as a priority.  We can’t continue to work with new Ts as we did in the past.  We need a fresh new approach to support, nurture, and encourage our new Ts.

Let’s take a look at several scenarios for you as a P in regard to your new teachers and consider which of those set your Ts up for success and which of them set them up to have a more difficult year. 

In this episode, we look at ten different decisions that you as a P make regarding new teachers, and consider what those decisions do to encourage or discourage Ts as they begin their career.

Here we go!

  1.  Assignment of Classes/Courses:
  2.  Mentor Assignment
  3. Working with Colleagues
  4. Working with Parents
  5. Opportunity to Vent
  6. Feedback for Improvement
  7. Encouragement
  8. Duty Assignments
  9. First-Year Support? 
  10. Appropriate Onboard and Orientation

 

Thanks for listening!  

More resources for you!

 

Announcer for the New Principal Show!: Alex Johnson 

Music Licensed via Soundstripe:

Track Title: Little Unexpected Surprises

Artist Name(s): Cast Of Characters

The New Principal Show! S2 E1: Trust and the New Principal

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-2bh7c-973d29

Trust and The Principal.

Q:   WHY do we always advise new principals to proceed gradually in bringing about change?

A:   Trust.

As Stephen Covey wrote, “change happens at the speed of trust.”  In this episode of The New Principal Show! we explore trust and the principal through these questions:

  • Trust and the Principal:  
  •  Internal:  Building Trust among your Faculty and Staff
  • External:  Earning Trust of Parents, Community, and Central Office
  • Personal:  Trusting Yourself to Lead:  (Confidence v. Fear;  The difference between confidence and arrogance)
  • What’d we learn?  Wrap up from each of us

Read more about Trust and The Principal here:  Trust and the Principal

Your The New Principal Show! hosts are:

Mark Wilson:  Teacher and Coach of Principals, (@MarkWilsonGA);

Octavius Mulligan:  Principal, Tesnatee Gap Elementary School; (@Dr_Octavius77)

Debra Murdock, Executive Director, Cherokee County Schools.  (@Warrior_Pal)

——————–

More resources for you!

Announcer for the New Principal Show!: Alex Johnson

Music Licensed via Soundstripe:

Track Title: Little Unexpected Surprises

Artist Name(s): Cast Of Characters

Season Two Begins Tonight!

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-af7au-9736f5

Tonight’s the night!

Join us here for the live show at 8PM EDT  Join the LIVE Show

BIG NEWS….

Tonight’s co-hosts are Octavius Mulligan and Debra Murdock.  They will be the co-hosts for ALL of the LIVE shows in this year’s series!  That will be great for you to get to know them better, to learn more from them, and for us to share with the live audience and for those on the podcast as well.
EQUALLY BIG NEWS…

In addition to the 10 LIVE shows, we will be posting PODCAST only 30-minute episodes this year as well.  During those 20 episodes, Mark will be talking one-on-one with a special guest and posting the convo here for you.

NONE of this is much fun unless someone uses it to support their work, so please know how grateful we are that you listen.

Hope to see you tonight LIVE or back here for the podcast after the show.

Thanks!
The New Principal Show! Team

Trust and the Principal.

Everyone who begins a new tenure at a school as the Principal hears the same advice: (including from Principal Matters!)  don’t start making changes right away, and maybe not any big changes in your first year at all.

You’ve heard that.  It most usually holds true.  The ‘why’ of it, however, isn’t always discussed.

It’s pretty simple.  People reserve their full effort until they trust you as the leader. 

An initiative you lead after you’ve gained the trust of your team has very different outcomes than one you initiate before they’re ready to join you.  Of course, there are always leaders who fail to heed this advice and plunge in anyway.  Some of them aren’t given a choice by their supervisors and are called upon to do immediate changes.

If you begin to make too many changes before you’ve earned trust, now you run the risk that not only do they not trust you, but they are not sure they can trust your judgment.  (Others often view the leader’s judgment along with the results; if you push something before you gain trust and it flops, then your judgment falls into question and you’re further set back in your journey to gain their trust.)

OK, here’s how it plays out in practice.  Sometimes it is really necessary to change some things sooner than you’d like.  If your teachers are yelling or disrespecting students, that’s nothing you can wait on.  If you have staff who leave their classes unattended, don’t come to work on time (or at all!) you can’t wait on that either.  If there are practices that a reasonable person would consider to be unsafe, you have to get going on those as well.

Success falls upon the prudent more than the overly-cautious or the impulsive.  Do what must be done, and then gain the necessary trust to do what should be done.

Your staff probably can be divided up into those who are quick to trust, those who may never fully trust, and the overwhelmingly largest group (68%… you know the bell curve) who are waiting to see which of the first two groups are correct!  For those, trust is a function of time, a matter of developing relationships, and observably consistent behavior on your part (i.e.- what you do and what you say match up)

Trust will come (if you are trust-worthy) over time, and then moving the organization forward becomes a much different (and more effective) task.

Funny thing about earning trust… takes much longer to earn than to lose.  Being a person who can be trusted, a leader who seeks the best for her people, a team member who sets aside his personal agenda for the better of the school.. that’s how you can keep trust once you’ve gained it.


On Monday Night (from 8:00-9:00 PM EDT) you can access the first episode of season two of “The New Principal Show.”  Our topic:  Trust and the Principal.

You can join the LIVE show here:  The New Principal Show! LIVE .   If you miss it, you can catch the recording as a podcast here:  Podcast: TNPS! .

© 2018.  Dr. Mark D. Wilson.  All Rights Reserved.

Season Two

The New Principal Show! August 13- Season Two Debut

Being a Principal is the greatest job ever!

AND, it’s really a challenge.

You need to be in conversation with other practitioners.  We provide the opportunity for you to do so without leaving your home.

The New Principal Show! is back for Season Two and begins on Monday, August 13.   From 8-9 PM at this link:  https://www.gotomeet.me/principal-matters

  • We have a LIVE show once each month;
  • Each live show is posted as a podcast the next day at https://thenewprincipalshow.podbean.com/
  • We have additional, new podcasts weekly at the same site.

At the LIVE shows, you have a chance to:

  • interact with other practitioners;
  • use the chat function to talk about topics via text;
  • use the microphone function to talk to others and literally join the conversation;
  • get support and encouragement from others who want you to be successful!

There’s no charge; we aren’t selling anything.  We just want you to do well.

Join us.  Details below, including the schedule for this year!

Season Two

 

© 2018.  Dr. Mark D. Wilson.  All Rights Reserved.

Keep the Momentum Going! Here’s How.

Ever heard a principal say, “we had the best opening we’ve ever had.  I just hope we can keep the momentum going…”

Each year while teaching school leadership classes, I’ll ask, “who had a good opening to school?”  No matter where we are, the response is consistent:  nearly everyone raises their hand with a slight nod and a look of accomplishment.  We can usually get school started:  but then, how do we keep it going?

The answer can be found in this question:  why did the beginning of school go well?  With only a little bit of reflection, you can put your finger on it:  you had success because you planned for it.

Of course, you never have as much time to plan during the school year as you do before it begins.  That said, you don’t have to say goodbye to the act of planning just because the teachers and students have returned.

Here are three ideas to help you keep that “beginning-of-the-year” momentum going all year long!

  1.  Put Planning Times/Dates On Your Calendar Right Now:   Your intentions won’t keep the momentum going, but your planning will, and your calendar is the place from which action arises.  (To-do lists are where dreams go to die… RIP)  If you can schedule a Momentum Meeting with your school inner circle a week from now, would that make a difference?  Sure it would.  How about another Momentum Meeting  two weeks later?  Yes.  And, these meetings don’t need to be lengthy— but they do need to be very, very FOCUSED.  If you go longer than two weeks without developing and working a plan, the kudzu will grow up around you.  And you won’t be able to get rid of it.  Planning is winning and winning is planning.  If you don’t do it, your strategy REALLY IS hope.
  2. Don’t Forget:  What Worked on The First Day of School Can Work on Day 27.  And Day 39.  And Day 114.    Why does the first day work?  As mentioned above, because we plan, but a second reason is that the attitudes of the adults are at a high level.   We saw lots of high-fives and smiles at schools everywhere at the beginning.  (Check out these pics here:  https://tinyurl.com/FDOS-2018a )  Why not every day?  Of course, it’s not as special if you do it every day, but couldn’t we do some things to make EVERY day a celebration of learning?  If we rock it on day one and then fall back into ruts after that, we won’t be keeping the momentum going.  It takes planning and intent, something you and your teachers should talk about together.
  3. You Gotta Believe.  There will be others who will not believe that you can sustain a positive, learning-focused, enthusiastic climate throughout the year.  As the leader, your will has to be stronger than their disbelief.  This phenomena begins with the leader, the person who audaciously believes that every day can be amazing, every student can learn, every teacher can grow, and that, when put together, all of this matters.  You have to believe deeply enough to get others to believe.  That’s what’s needed of you.  Your belief + Every-Other-Week Planning + Positive Climate at your school= Success for Students and Teachers.  Don’t get sucked into pettiness, or jealously, or anger.  You have to see over the mist and into the horizon and have a picture in your head of the good that is to come, even if others are only seeing the haze of the day.  That is the task of the leader, but also leads to your greatest joy.  That moment when everyone arrives at that place you’ve been seeing all along.

You can keep the momentum going all year long, and “all year long” begins today!  Good planning to you and yours!

 

© 2018.  Dr. Mark Wilson.  All Rights Reserved.

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The New Principal Show! Season Two Begins August 13

We’re pleased to announce Season Two of “The New Principal Show!”, debuting on Monday, August 13.

Features for Season Two include:

  • Ten Live Shows. Once each month (from August through May), we will host a LIVE show, featuring guests, and providing an interactive opportunity for anyone who joins.  You can reach these shows by joining us at gotomeet.me/principal-matters at 8:00 PM, beginning on August 13.  (Full live show calendar listed below);
  • Twenty Additional Podcasts.    Each of our live shows is recorded and uploaded as a podcast at our podcast landing site,  thenewprincipalshow.podbean.com  This year we ALSO will be posting twenty additional pre-recorded podcasts for a total of 30 podcasts for this season!   Podcasts also are released on Mondays at 8:00 pm (EDT/EST).
  • We’ll be making releases of our guests in advance of each broadcast, and are excited about the opportunity thirty episodes gives us to have dozens of educational leaders on the show!  More details coming soon.

Join us on Monday, August 13 at 8:00 PM for the season premier.  It’s going to be fun!

© 2018.  Dr. Mark D. Wilson.  All Rights Reserved.

21

The Teacher’s Journey: The Paths That Led Your Faculty Together

As the new school year begins, it’s important for the principal and the administrative team to focus on the mindset of the teachers as they prepare to welcome the students for another year of exploration and learning.

Here is an activity you can use that can help connect your teachers to their purpose, to their colleagues, to the school’s vision, and to their work this year.

Life Maps.   As you look out at the faculty you’ve assembled, it’s important to consider that they are unquestionably the greatest resource you have to accomplish the good work of the school.  So, what drives them?  What path led them to be a part of your school?  What are their anchors?

Consider leading your faculty in an exploration of their journey by asking them to            draw their life maps.  (Remember “the Game of Life”?  Twisting, turning, full of                    curves and traps.)  It’s a simple exercise:  Give your teachers each a sheet of chart paper, some sharpies, and ask them to search google images for  ‘life maps’ , not for a template but for some inspiration in designing their own map.

They’ll need adequate time to reflect on their lives… their choices, their triumphs, their tragedies, and the essential points in their journey that led them to your school.   (This is probably a thirty-minute event).

After they’ve finished their maps, depending upon the size of your team, you have several options for your teachers to share the story of their journey.  You can break them up into small groups (6-8 is what we’ve learned works best) and ask each person to share their story.  Then, you can ask all of your faculty to post their maps in a hallway or room for a gallery walk.  As your teachers walk around and look at their colleagues journeys, give them post-it notes so they can make comments as they make their way around.  (Sort of an Instagram, alpha version!)

What can you hope to get from this exercise?  For all of the groups I’ve used this with, the individuals in the group have discovered a deep appreciation for the other members of their cohort.  Even at schools where the faculty has been together for a number of years, I’m amazed at how important parts of someone’s life has seemed to remain unknown by other colleagues.

This is more than an ice-breaker or a get-to-know-you activity.  WHO your people really are (and what experiences led them to this point) has a significant impact on HOW they work with others, and WHAT they will do each day in their work.  When your faculty members get to know each other and appreciate their paths, it breaks down walls, gives them a point on which to connect, and opens the door to deep collaboration.

Your school will be more effective if your faculty works collaboratively and with respect for one another.  As they learn more about each other and the paths that led them together, they have a greater likelihood of coming together to do extraordinary work with your students.

And if you arrive there, it was well worth the investment of time.

©  2018.  Dr. Mark D. Wilson.   All Rights Reserved.

 

Recipe Card:  Life Map Exercise Activity

Life Map Exercise

Purpose:  Your teachers reflect on the journey that led them to this moment where they are a member of your faculty.  They gain insight through their own personal exploration, and in discovering the paths of their colleagues.

Method:

  1. Distribute a piece of chart paper to each member of your faculty.  Give them adequate table space to create their map.  (Note: Everyone completes their own map, but they may want options for this activity.  Offer choice to your learners.  Some might want to work in the same space as a colleague to talk while they work; others might need quiet.)
  2. Based on your group size (leadership team? whole faculty? departments or grade levels?), determine if you’ll have your teachers share their journey with the whole group or in smaller groups.
  3. Consider posting the maps in a gallery style and give everyone post-it notes to “leave comments” on other’s maps.
  4. Ask your teachers to reflect.  You can do this in a written format, or you may choose to do a stand-up rotation for dialogue.  Some questions for reflection could include:
    1. How does the path that led you to this point impact who you are as a teacher?
    2. What did you learn about your colleagues through this activity?
    3. Why do the journeys of you and your colleagues matter in the work of your school?
    4. What’s next in your journey?
  5. You may have other variables you want to add to this activity, but one of the biggest take-aways most groups have is how applicable it is to their classroom and with their students.  Getting to know your students and the journey they have been on is also an important pathway to their success.

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How to Tell Your Teachers What You Want Them to Know (In Record Time)

Not enough time.

The problem for every principal, particularly at this time of year.  During this season, it’s reasonable for you to be saying that you don’t have enough time for all of the things you want to share with your teachers before school begins.  The truth is, you don’t.  So, what’s next?

Many leaders do what they’ve seen in the past and forsake good teaching to their teachers for making sure that they “cover” everything that has to be covered before the year begins.  A reasonable question to ask is this:

What that you share during pre-planning is actually being heard by your teachers?  Of that, what is being understood?  And of that subset, what will they be able to effectively incorporate in their practice? 

Not to make you feel bad, but if you say everything that’s on your list, but they either don’t hear or understand, or if they aren’t able to transfer the information, what have you really accomplished? 

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Adult learners need to process their thoughts out loud with colleagues in order to enhance the likelihood of understanding.  Standing up increases brain activity by five percent. (Walking gives you a fifteen percent boost).  Consider pausing to let your learners “mindshare” at least every ten minutes. 

What’s the solution?  Here are some practical, real-life things you can do as your teachers return and you get them ready for the year to make this time well-spent.

  1.  During your time with your faculty, check for understanding frequently.   If you are giving your faculty a series of things you want them to know, consider:
    1. pausing after each item, or at least after each set of items, ask them to share their understanding with the person sitting next to them; asking them to stand up is a good thing during this as well;
    2. ask some of them to share with the whole group; (consider asking three of your team to share; always have a person to serve as the timer other than you so answers will be as brief as you want them)
    3. acknowledge your team’s processing of the learning and reteach as needed to get to understanding.
  2. Plan your pre-planning work with your teachers just like they say to pack for a big trip:  lay it all out and then only take half of it with you.  Think about it like this:  if you could only share one thing, what would it be?  How about two?  What is the maximum number of items that you can share that you can be confident your teachers will be able to operationalize or act on?  You really don’t have to tell them everything at once and if you did they wouldn’t remember it.  What do you do with the rest of what you want to tell them?  (See number three below!)
  3. OK, here’s the situation.  Your bookkeeper comes to the faculty meeting before the year begins and tells everyone how to take up money for a fundraiser.  She talks about not leaving checks overnight in a desk; she tells them to write receipts; she asks them to not bring a bunch of change from the penny drive in at 4:15 on a Friday.  Fast forward to February.  Someone has a fundraiser.  It’s been six months since they were told how to do it.  They do it all wrong.  What is a better way to get this info to others?  Videos.  Technology.  What if you built a library of short (3-4 minute) videos to show your teachers “How To…” do the things you’d like them to do?  What if they went to that shared Google Drive when they needed to know things and it was there, waiting for them?  There’s really no end to the good you can do by building your “How To” video library for your teachers.  You can ask some of your all-star teachers to make brief videos on how to effectively call parents, working with struggling students, or even how to effectively utilize group learning.  You can make a 3-4 minute video about… whatever you want your teachers to know throughout the year.  In-Time learning is better than in-case learning every day of the week.  (NOTE:  these videos don’t have to be produced– they can be made with phones.  AND, you don’t have to be the star of all of them (some of them you will want to be).  Collect and curate the collective knowledge of “How To” do things at your school and you will have effectively given yourself time.
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You can easily use a number of platforms to curate videos “made by your school, just for your school” that can save EVERYONE tons of time.  How to “do grades”?  Use a screencast to show them how.  

Good luck in your work with your teachers!

 

© 2018.  Dr. Mark D. Wilson.

 

 

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Ten Things To Remember As Teachers Return To School

While I was at dinner, I heard someone in the restaurant, obviously a teacher, talking to a friend in line.  I heard her reply, but context leads me to believe it was the question every teacher is hearing now.

“Are you about ready for school to start?”

The teacher, replied back, “yes, I’m excited to get back to the kids and to have a routine, but I’ll miss my summer!  We go back next week.”

So, if your teachers haven’t returned to school yet, they’re thinking about it.  And others are asking them about it.

For you as the school leader, it’s a time you should be excited about.  These teachers are your stars;  they are the ones who will lead your students to discovery, to curiosity, to knowledge.  You should be as excited for them to return to you as the parents are to send their children back to you and your teachers.

As you prepare for their return, here are Ten Things To Remember about their return to school.

  1. Help All Your Teachers Get Off To An Inspired Start.   You can tell them all of the rules they’ll ever need to know on the first day you have them back, or you can get them excited about what they do and the promise of a new year.  Which method leads to instructional success?
  2. Teach your teachers what you want them to know; don’t just tell them.    It’s easy for you to look at the list of things you want your teachers to know, and the short time you have them to yourself and to try to tell them too much.  Does it really serve you (or them) well for you to try to cover more things than they can digest?  The school year lasts a while; you don’t really need to tell them everything at once.
  3. Together, Design a Great First Day With Students.   What one thing do you want your teachers to focus on in preparation for their first day with their students?  If you take your time with them to prepare them for that goal, will the beginning of school go smoothly?  Are you clear in your description of what you want the first days with students to be?  Painting that picture is important if you want your expectations to be met.  Taking the time to get the FDOS (First Day of School) right will pay dividends all year long.
  4. Atmosphere Contributes to Performance.   If your first days with your teachers seem rushed, over-scheduled, and full of tension, that will set a tone that you may not mean to set.  What if you and your administrative team met your teachers as they entered the school on the first day?  Giving them high-fives and fist bumps like you’d like them to do when their students arrive?  If you model this, would it be more impactful than if you merely told them?
  5. Define the Focus for the Year.   Recently, I heard some nice, wonderful school leaders tell their faculty what the focus would be for the upcoming year.  They then unveiled a powerpoint presentation for over an hour and shared Fourteen Areas of Focus for the upcoming year!!!   My expectations for their success are… very guarded.  If you tell your team fourteen things are important, they may not actually focus on the one that really is the most important. Please don’t say ‘priority’ if you don’t mean it.
  6. Give Your Teachers Space and Time to Connect with Each Other.  Your teachers will be working together, collaboratively, this year.  Don’t forget to give them time to connect and build trust with each other during the first days of school.
  7. Give Special Attention To Your New Teachers.   Who on your administrative team will advocate for each of the new teachers on your staff?  Sure, they have a faculty mentor, but on your team, who will shepherd each of them through the first days?  If you are checking in on them (in person) a couple of times each day during pre-planning and the first days, you’ll set the tone that you aren’t going to leave their success to chance and that you are going to be there for them.
  8. Be Rested and Ready for the Teachers’ First Day.    Here’s an idea worthy of your consideration:  do all of the planning for your teachers’ return, and on the night before they arrive, get refreshed for the next day.  (Exercise, walk, do something non-school;  then get a good night’s sleep)  Before you start shaking your head “NO!”, hear me out, please:  You have to stop your preparation for the teachers’ return sometime.  Stop it with enough time to get yourself to your best as they arrive.  If you are full of energy that first day, you set the tone in a good way.  If you are dragging on their first day, it’ll do the opposite.
  9. Focus on the Good.    Chances are that most of what you plan for the teachers’ first day will go well… but chances are something may not go as you planned.  This is a time when your teachers will see how you respond in such a scenario.  Is it better for them to see you adapt gracefully or to respond fretfully to the unplanned or unexpected?   If the food for breakfast arrives later than you planned, you can let it ruin your day, or you can keep your focus on the good.  And there’s lots of good on the first day for teachers.
  10. Take Time for Your People.   Will your school get off to a better start with you getting around the building and seeing all of your people on their first day(s) back?  How you spend your time on those first days shows others your focus, and the winning hand in school leadership is always a focus on leading your teachers.

 

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Better Together: The Principal Experience

It’s amazing to hear principal-after-principal, independent of each other, talk about how they once “thought they could do it all” before realizing school leadership is better when done collaboratively.

It’s also a profession, requiring of you sound judgment in unpredictable situations.  You can learn a lot from others who have done, or are doing, the same job as you.

Don’t try do it all alone!

The position of principal can be lonely… but it doesn’t have to be, and it shouldn’t be!  Building networks with other colleagues can help inform your practice, keep you going when things are tough, and give you connections that help you better serve your school.

To support you in your work, please find the following episode of The New Principal Show! 

[podbean type=audio-square resource=”episode=7xrau-741f73″ skin=”1″ auto=”0″ height=315 ]

Our guest hosts for episode five are quick to testify about the power of the principal making connections.  Stephanie Johnson is the Deputy Superintendent of the Georgia Department of Education and was the 2017 Georgia High School Principal of the Year (GASSP) and a finalist for National Principal of the Year (NASSP) for the work she led at Maynard H. Jackson High School in Atlanta (Atlanta Public Schools).

Jim Finch is the Principal of Mary Persons High School in Monroe County (Forsyth) and is the Vice-President of the Georgia Association of Secondary School Principals (GASSP).

Along with a live chat-audience, Stephanie, Jim, and Mark take time to talk about how and why the effective principal connects and how it’s beneficial for the progress of the school.

The New Principal and Instructional Leadership

When superintendents ask me if I know good candidates for principal positions, I always ask them what they’re looking for, but I know what they’ll say.

“We’re looking for… an instructional leader.”

With our focus on learning and student growth, it’s what you need to be to do what you need to do.

As the new principal, you’re a lot like a freshman in college.  Not only are you tasked with challenging work, but you’re getting acclimated to a new place, new people, and a new lifestyle.  Sometimes for that college freshman, the main thing can get swallowed up by lots of other adjustments.

The same thing can happen to you as a new principal.  That’s why it’s important to keep your focus on instruction and your leadership growth in that area.  To support you in that work, we hosted an episode of The New Principal Show! in season one with  amazing co-hosts Cindy Saxon and Casey Bethel to help you in your work as an instructional leader.  As we get ready for season TWO  of TNPS!, we are re-delivering you last year’s shows to get you back in the swing.  Please enjoy this one whenever you listen to podcasts!

[podbean type=audio-square resource=”episode=shs6j-70f1de” skin=”1″ auto=”0″ height=315 ]

MW

© 2018 Mark D. Wilson

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The New Principal Show! Live from Summer GAEL- A Recap

Principals, APs and other school leaders gathered yesterday at Jekyll Island at the Summer GAEL Conference for our LIVE session to support new principals.

Our topics included discussions on the previous two blogposts found here:  Principles for New Principals  ( https://principal-matters.com/2018/07/11/guiding-principles-for-new-principals/ ) and This! Not That! (https://principal-matters.com/2018/07/11/this-not-that-twelve-practical-steps-towards-successful-school-leadership/ )

We also heard from three leaders who have accomplished the chief goal of first-year principals:  they are now second-year principals!  Dr. Susan Stone of Jasper County and Tanya Welchel and John Rhodarmer of Floyd County shared some of the “You Won’t Believe This” moments from their first year in the principalship.

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Here’s the reason those stories need to be told:  you really don’t get a course in college to prepare you for every circumstance that might come your way.  These wonderful folks did well because they were adaptable, nimble and confident.

There’s no instruction booklet to cover all of the possibilities that come your way in school leadership.  You are able to do more than survive-  you can thrive IF you are able to rely on your experience, your knowledge, and the core of who you are to make good decisions and do the right things.

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Who YOU are will determine what your school achieves.  The most effective school leaders work on themselves first– not out of selfishness, but out of an understanding that your growth is critical for that of your school’s.  That’s why our hope is that you’ll never stop learning, and that you’ll make room for your own growth.

Here’s to a great year of learning! We’ll try to make it convenient for you.

MW

©2018 Mark D. Wilson

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Guiding Principles… for New Principals

It’s July and that means that we have new principals taking their places at their schools.  Congratulations!

It’s our passion here to support you (as well as veteran principals, APs and aspiring leaders) in your work.  Today we share some insight in the form of an infographic… something called “The New Principal:  Guiding Principles for Success.”

Over the coming months. we’ll dig into these individual notions about the work of principals.  For today, thanks for giving it a look and reflecting on your feelings and thoughts about these guiding ideas of the incredible job of being a principal.

Principles for New Principals: Click Here for the PDF Version

Principles for New Principals

© 2018 Mark D. Wilson

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This! Not That. Twelve Practical Steps Towards Successful School Leadership

School leaders are doers.  They are also dreamers, negotiators, and experts in human behavior, but as a group, we like to do things.

In that spirit, we share with you this list of twelve practical steps towards successful school leadership.  Each of these steps is a “This! Not That!” for simplicity.  Don’t be fooled; the ideas behind them aren’t simplistic.

Each of these steps is a lesson unto itself, and we’ll take up those lessons in the coming days here at Principal Matters!  For now, here’s the list of This!  Not That! (School Leader Version)

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