Andrea Ruggirello

 

​​​​​​​​

 Blog Posts

 

 

How Principals have Survived (and Thrived!) During the PandemicGP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61​ <p>​​​​​​​Another school year is well under way, and we can’t imagine getting through the trials and tribulations of the last twenty months without our principals. School leaders have always been incredibly committed to ensuring that our students grow, learn and play in a safe, nurturing space—not to mention their support of the entire staff, faculty, parents and larger school community. While they deserve recognition every day for their commitment and hard work, we are delighted to join in the celebration of <a href="https://www.principalsmonth.org/about/" target="_blank">National Principals Month</a> this October.</p><p>To get a clearer picture of principals’ challenges and successes right now, as well as insights into how they can best be supported, we spoke with Beverly Hutton, chief programs officer of the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP,) along with Gracie Branch, associate executive director, professional learning, and Danny Carlson, associate executive director, policy and advocacy, both of the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP).</p><p> <strong>Principals Need Support, Inclusion and Encouragement</strong></p><p>“To address principals’ various needs, they need support from a myriad of sources in a myriad of ways,” says Carlson. He points to research from the just-released report, <em><a href="https://www.naesp.org/leaders-we-need-now/" target="_blank">Leaders We Need Now​</a></em>, which indicates that the pandemic has changed the profession.</p><p>“Principals have become mail deliverers, bus drivers, contract tracers and more,” Hutton says. “Things are changing every single day. They need some grace and real support.”</p><p>One such support noted in the report is long-term funding, including funding to support in-school mental and physical health for students. While incoming American Rescue Plan funding is crucial in the short-term, many of the issues principals are facing are here for the long-term. Investing in the principal and teacher workforce infrastructure can help principals confront any underlying systemic challenges. Additionally, educator shortages due to low morale and early retirements continue to be a problem.</p><p>Hutton noted that principals also need to be included in important conversations about American Rescue Plan funding, as they will need to strategically manage those funds when they come in.</p><p>“Principals know their schools better than anyone,” Carlson says. “They have unique insight into what will be the most beneficial resources for their school communities.”</p><p> <strong>The Role of Principal Supervisors</strong></p><p>Principal supervisors <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/changing-the-principal-supervisor-role-to-better-support-principals.aspx">play an important role</a> in providing the support that many principals need,so Hutton urges them to be present with their principals. “Be on the front lines with them to see what they really need,” she says.</p><p>Branch, too, encourages principal supervisors to make it clear to their principals that their physical and mental well-being is being prioritized. Supervisors must remember that principals can’t do everything, she notes. As new initiatives emerge or are passed down from the state level, responsibilities must be delegated.</p><p>“The job cannot be bigger than the person asked to do the job,” she says.</p><p>Principals need access to preparation and professional learning, and that learning must be up to date. Moreover as their role shifts and they are forced to confront a neverending parade of new challenges, principals can only step up to the plate if they are equipped and empowered to do so. Because principals often feel tied to their school buildings, they need encouragement from their supervisors to not only find opportunities for ongoing learning but also to engage with those opportunities.</p><p> <strong>Principals are Leading Communities into the Future</strong></p><p>All three people we spoke to said that principals have used the challenges of the last 20 months as opportunities to innovate. Many principals have secured access to digital hardware and broadband internet for their students. They've also encouraged creative approaches to teaching in the classroom and online to transform students’ learning experiences.</p><p>“We’re blazing trails that will make school much more inclusive, equitable and relevant moving forward,” says Hutton.</p><p>Principals are building out their communities as well. According to Branch, they are eager to connect with their peers and learn from each other, using social media platforms, book groups and other venues to understand how others are coping with the fallout from the pandemic.</p><p>Branch also points to new roles that principals are creating within their school community that may have never existed before. They include attendance liaisons, wellness coaches for adults and students, instructional coaches, SEL coaches and more.</p><p>“Principals know they need extra supports,” says Branch. “They currently have the funding to put people resources in place. However, principals also fear these critical positions will go away when their funding goes away.”</p><p> <a href="/knowledge-center/school-leadership/pages/default.aspx">Research</a> can help support a school’s or district’s advocacy for additional funds. It can also help amplify best practices and provide exemplars of infrastructure and programs that effectively support principals, so they, in turn, can be more effective at their jobs. Just as importantly, these findings can also help districts and schools improve principal retention.</p><p>“The <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/how-principals-affect-students-and-schools-a-systematic-synthesis-of-two-decades-of-research.aspx">research is clear</a> about the impact of school leaders on the school environment,” says Hutton. “Any investment should be considered a highly cost-effective approach to school improvement.”</p><p> <strong>Principals Matter</strong></p><p>While it’s only October, Branch told us that principals are reporting feeling as exhausted as they usually do in March during a typical school year. That’s why pausing to acknowledge and appreciate their work now—and on a regular basis—is important.</p><p>“Principals are on the front lines,” Branch says. “They are the ‘boots on the ground’ for their school, and many are at the lowest points in their careers [right now]…people stay where they are cared about and appreciated.”</p><p>Hutton vehemently agrees, stating that celebrating principals could help with the burnout she is seeing in the profession across the country: “We have to recognize that school leaders, along with hospital workers and educators, have taken us through this pandemic on their shoulders. Buildings closed but schooling continued. That alone is a reason to celebrate principals this year in particular.”</p><p>Branch hopes that through all they’ve weathered, principals will remain hopeful.</p><p>“They are part of the most amazing profession,” she says. “And the country desperately needs their expertise, their courage, their resilience and their compassion.” Principals, too, do not need to go through their journey alone, she says, reminding them that national associations like NAESP and state organizations are here to help.</p><p>Hutton adds that NASSP is also here for principals, to help provide safe spaces for school leaders to connect with each other regularly. “Get the emotional support that you can, so you can get through this,” she urges all principals. “And hang in there.”<br></p><p> <em>Photo by Claire Holt. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, 2018.​</em>​​<br></p>How Principals have Survived (and Thrived!) During the Pandemichttps://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/How-Principals-have-Survived-and-Thrived-During-the-Pandemic.aspx2021-10-26T04:00:00ZRecognizing our school leaders’ as essential workers during National Principals Month—and every month of the year
Let’s Talk About Social and Emotional LearningGP0|#890cbc1f-f78a-45e7-9bf2-a5986c564667;L0|#0890cbc1f-f78a-45e7-9bf2-a5986c564667|Social and Emotional Learning;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​Five new episodes of <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/podcast-the-partnerships-for-social-and-emotional-learning.aspx">The Wallace Podcast</a> bring to life findings and early lessons from the first two years of the Partnerships for Social and Emotional Learning Initiative (PSELI), exploring whether and how children can benefit from <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/early-lessons-from-schools-and-out-of-school-time-programs-implementing-social-and-emotional-learning.aspx">partnerships between schools and out-of-school-time programs</a>. The series features in-depth conversations with practitioners and leaders from the PSELI communities (Boston, Dallas, Denver, Palm Beach County in Florida, and Tulsa).</p><p>Listen to the whole series or dive into an episode based upon your current needs or interest. </p><p></p><ul><li> <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/the-partnerships-for-social-and-emotional-learning-initiative-episode-1.aspx">Episode One</a>: Discover the “what” and “why” behind the PSELI initiative with our partners at CASEL and the Forum for Youth Investment. The wide-ranging discussion covers the importance of social and emotional learning (SEL) and the settings in which children acquire these skills.<br></li><li> <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/developing-adults-capacity-to-promote-social-and-emotional-learning-episode-2.aspx">Episode Two</a>: Practitioners from both in- and out-of-school-time in Palm Beach County, Fla., provide insights on building <em>adults’ </em>SEL skills. “Every adult on campus has a very important role in a child's life, and they might not even realize it,” says Kristen Rulison, SEL manager for the Palm Beach County School District. A cafeteria manager also recounts the story of her staff’s experience with SEL training.</li><li> <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/building-effective-partnerships-for-social-and-emotional-learning-episode-3.aspx">Episode Three</a>: Leaders from school districts and out-of-school-time intermediary organizations discuss how to build effective partnerships in this episode. Perspectives from a newer partnership in Tulsa and a decades-long partnership in Dallas are featured.</li><li> <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/the-role-of-coaches-in-promoting-social-and-emotional-learning-episode-4.aspx">Episode Four</a>: Explore the role of SEL coaches, who were found to play a critically important role in the initiative, according to the RAND report on the initiative’s first two years. “I would say absolutely, coaches are necessary and you're going to see the outcomes for it,” said Kimberley Williams, former principal of Joyce Kilmer School in Boston. “The school leader needs to have that person to help them balance the many demands and initiatives in a school.” </li><li> <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/social-and-emotional-learning-in-and-out-of-school-episode-5.aspx">Episode Five</a>: Here’s a discussion of a useful tool for instructional “walk-throughs” developed in Denver, along with several examples of how schools and OST programs are integrating SEL across the school and out-of-school day. </li></ul><p></p><p>You can stream the PSELI podcast on <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/podcast-the-partnerships-for-social-and-emotional-learning.aspx">our site​</a>, where you’ll also find more information about each episode, or download them from <a href="https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/practitioners-share-how-to-build-steady-pipeline-effective/id1334331989?mt=2" target="_blank">iTunes</a>, <a href="https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9mZWVkcy5zb3VuZGNsb3VkLmNvbS91c2Vycy9zb3VuZGNsb3VkOnVzZXJzOjM3NjAzMTAyNy9zb3VuZHMucnNz?sa=X&ved=0CAYQrrcFahcKEwjYqbmDy_vsAhUAAAAAHQAAAAAQAQ" target="_blank">Google Play</a> or <a href="https://classic.stitcher.com/podcast/the-wallace-foundation/building-the-pipeline" target="_blank">Stitcher​</a>.​​<br></p>Let’s Talk About Social and Emotional Learninghttps://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Lets-Talk-About-Social-and-Emotional-Learning.aspx2021-05-04T04:00:00ZYour source for research and ideas to expand high quality learning and enrichment opportunities. Supporting: School Leadership, After School, Summer and Extended Learning Time, Arts Education and Building Audiences for the Arts.
Pandemic Recovery Must Address Equity, Says U.S. Education SecretaryGP0|#b68a91d0-1c13-4d82-b12d-2b08588c04d7;L0|#0b68a91d0-1c13-4d82-b12d-2b08588c04d7|News;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​​​In a recent address, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona described the challenges that schools face in the coming years as they work to recover from the pandemic. “We have a daunting and important task ahead of us,” he said, as he introduced his <a href="https://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/priorities-speech" target="_blank">priorities for education in America</a>, emphasizing the importance of the next few months for addressing the widening achievement gap. </p><p>Cardona highlighted the urgency of the moment and said it was necessary not only to bring the education system back to where it had been before the pandemic but to address the inequities that have plagued the system since long before the pandemic began.</p><p>“Many of the students who have been most underserved during the pandemic are the same ones who have had to deal with barriers to a high-quality education since well before COVID-19,” he said. Cardona made his remarks Jan. 27 during what the Department of Education described as a "major address," at the department, to lay out his "priorities for continued recovery through the pandemic and improving America’s education system more broadly."<br></p><p>Calling on state and district leaders to take a hard look at their resources and make difficult decisions, Cardona shared a number of key actions he believes should be prioritized for K-12 education:</p><ol><li><em>Increased mental health supports.</em> Cardona called for improved access to mental health supports for students, including an increased hiring of mental health professionals. He urged districts to use <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/american-rescue-plan-five-things-state-and-district-leaders-need-to-know-now.aspx">Americ​an Rescue Plan</a> funding to hire more staffers and partner with organizations on this issue. He noted one school he visited where every student attended one learning period dedicated to social and emotional well-being or mental health and said he wanted to see that type of work in schools everywhere.<br><br></li><li><em>Academic supports to address unfinished learning.</em> Recognizing the impact that missed learning time has had on millions of students, Cardona urged districts to invest in targeted, intensive tutoring; afterschool programming; and summer learning efforts. “We cannot expect classroom teachers to do it all themselves,” he said.<br><br></li><li><em>Attention to students disproportionately affected by the pandemic. </em>Cardona urged listeners to avoid a return to pre-pandemic strategies that had failed to address inequities. Instead, he called for an increase in funding for Title 1 schools, as well as for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Free universal preschool and affordable childcare were also noted in his priorities for supporting underserved students and their families. As part of these efforts, he urged more “meaningful and authentic parent and family engagement,” recognizing the importance of including parents’ voices in the conversation about recovery.<br><br></li><li><em>Investment in teachers. </em>A livable wage, ongoing professional development and improved working conditions were among the key areas Cardona said could help ensure that teachers are “treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.”</li></ol><p>The Wallace Foundation has shared <a href="/knowledge-center/american-rescue-plan-act/pages/default.aspx">a number of​ resources</a> to help districts and states make decisions about how to spend American Rescue Plan Act funds in many of the areas outlined above, including social and emotional learning, summer learning and afterschool programming​. Additionally, <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/evidence-based-considerations-covid-19-reopening-recovery-planning-the-role-of-principal-leadership.aspx">this brief</a> offers evidence-based considerations for school leaders on reopening and recovery planning. </p><p>“This is our moment to lift our students, our education system and our country to a level never before seen,” Cardona said. “Let’s get to work!”<br><br></p>Pandemic Recovery Must Address Equity, Says U.S. Education Secretaryhttps://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Pandemic-Recovery-Must-Address-Equity-Says-US-Education-Secretary.aspx2022-02-15T05:00:00ZEducation Department priorities also include mental and academic supports for students and teacher retention strategies
Districts That Succeed: What Are They Doing Right?GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61​<p>​​​​​“You can fix schools all you want; if the districts within which they reside are dysfunctional, the schools will not stay fixed,” writes Karin Chenoweth, writer-in-residence at The Education Trust, at the start of her latest book, <a href="https://www.hepg.org/hep-home/books/districts-that-succeed"><em>Districts That Succeed: Breaking the Correlation Between Race, Poverty, and Achievement</em></a>, which was supported by The Wallace Foundation<em>. </em>After visiting dozens of high performing and rapidly improving schools around the country, Chenoweth came to this conclusion when she saw some of these schools fall apart after getting a new principal who upended the systems that were previously working. Districts are the ones that hire the principals, Chenoweth points out, and dysfunctional districts are more likely to hire the wrong person or fail to support a weak principal. </p><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Districts-That-Succeed-What-Are-They-Doing-Right/Chenoweth_cover_final.jpg" alt="Chenoweth_cover_final.jpg" class="wf-Image-Left" style="margin:5px;color:#555555;font-size:14px;width:144px;" /><span style="color:#555555;font-size:14px;"><span></span></span><div>We sat down with the author to talk more about what she learned as she researched successful school districts and what she hopes readers will take away from the book. </div><div><strong><br></strong></div><div><strong>Why did you want to look at districts? What role do they play in student achievement?</strong></div><p>For years I have written about schools that serve children of color and children from low-income backgrounds and that are high performing or rapidly improving. Ultimately each is a powerful testament to the power of school leaders to be able to marshal the full power of schools to help students. </p><p>But by the time I wrote my last book, <a href="https://www.hepg.org/hep-home/books/schools-that-succeed"><em>Schools that Succeed: How Educators Marshal the Power of Systems for Improvement</em></a>, I realized that even when principals lead huge improvement, if the districts they live in are dysfunctional, the schools won’t stay fixed. Principals take other jobs, get promoted, or retire, and if district leaders don’t understand the kind of leadership schools need, they are liable to replace them with principals who don’t understand how to continue the improvement process and the school tragically falls apart. So, I wanted to explore what it looks like when district leaders do understand the key role of school leaders.</p><p>In addition, as I talk with highly effective principals, I have heard many stories of how they have to shield their schools from district initiatives and directives because district leaders far too often undermine school improvement rather than support it.  </p><p>I wanted to dig into that more in this book by examining what successful and improving districts look like and how they function.  </p><p><strong>How does this book build on the lessons in your earlier book, <em>Schools that Succeed</em>?</strong> <br> <em>Schools that Succeed</em> laid out some of the very basic, sometimes prosaic, systems that effective school leaders use to ensure that teachers and staff are able to continually improve their knowledge and practice—systems of managing time, looking at data, making decisions, and so forth.  </p><p>In <em>Districts that Succeed</em>, what I found was that effective superintendents and district leaders establish the systems and structures that allow principals to be successful. The scale is different, but the basic pattern is the same.  </p><p><strong>How do districts affect the success of principals?</strong> <br> The most powerful question in education is: “Your kids are doing better than mine. What are you doing?” This is a question that can be asked at the classroom level, the school level, the district level and the state level, and it is the start of improvement. But in order for educators to be able to ask that question, several things need to be in place:  </p><ul><li>publicly available common data that can be compared;  </li><li>the time and space to be able to look at that data and think about it; and </li><li>a culture of trust, where asking that question is seen as a sign of professional strength and judgment, not a confession of failure. </li></ul><p>Superintendents and district leaders play a key role in establishing the time and space for school leaders to be able to come together to expose and share expertise. They also provide the key pieces of understandable data that can inform them—formative and summative assessment data, school climate and culture data, all kinds of data—and the research that can help inform possible solutions to the problems faced. They also establish a culture in which it is safe for educators to betray their weaknesses. </p><p>So, for example, when principals get together they should be able to see that some schools have much more family participation in curriculum nights than others and be able to ask their colleagues: “You are engaging a lot more families than my school is. What are you doing?” That question exposes expertise that can be shared and learned from. Similarly, the fact that one school has much better third-grade reading scores than others can lead to much deeper understanding of what goes into early reading instruction. </p><p>In other words, districts can play a powerful role in building the knowledge and expertise of school leaders. This is different from the traditional role districts have played, which is largely treating principals as middle managers who exist to carry out district directives and deflect the anger of parents away from the superintendent. </p><p><strong>Can you share a highlight of your district visits?</strong> <br> I identify schools and districts to visit through a bunch of numbers—test scores, demographics, suspension rates, graduation rates, whatever data is available. I am looking for high performance and improvement. And what never fails to amaze and delight me is that when I go to see what lies beneath those numbers, I find smart, dedicated, hardworking educators who understand that they are doing important work and are eager to share what they are doing with the rest of the field.  </p><p>So, for example, I initially identified Lane, Oklahoma, through the district analysis of Sean Reardon, professor of poverty and inequality in education at Stanford University. Lane’s students “grow” six academic years in the five calendar years from third through eighth grade. When I called to find out what they were doing, I talked with assistant superintendent Sharon Holcomb, who herself attended Lane as a child and has spent her entire career teaching and leading at Lane. She invited me to visit and I was able to meet students, teachers and parents. I met one parent who drove her children from another district because her son, who has epilepsy, had not been taught how to read and had been bullied and mistreated by teachers in another district. At Lane, she said, he has learned to read and is thriving. And Holcomb told me that that was what kept her and her colleagues working so hard: “Seeing kids that have been thrown out and discarded and seeing them improve—seeing them come from other schools just beat down and seeing them succeed here.” </p><p>By the time she finished her sentence, we were both tearing up. </p><p><strong>What are the biggest barriers to districts learning from each other?</strong> <br> Years ago, we had no publicly available data that district leaders could look at, but we now have achievement, graduation, suspension and expulsion, and often school climate data. It is all publicly reported, so there is no real structural barrier to district leaders identifying districts that are doing better than they are and asking what they are doing. I worry about the effect that pandemic schooling will have on the availability of data, but we still have relatively recent data, from 2019. </p><p>But what the field of education doesn’t have is a culture of learning from others. There is a tradition in the field that every classroom, every school, every district is so different from each other that there are no lessons to be learned. District leaders who serve few African American students might think they have little to learn from districts that are primarily Black and brown. I was once dismayed and amazed when I heard of a principal who said that the examples of high-performing high-poverty schools held no lessons for her because she only had a few students who lived in poverty.  </p><p>But learning can be generalized—kids are kids, schools are schools, districts are districts. They vary in all kinds of external ways, but at the heart all kids can learn and educators need to share information and expertise in order to help them learn.  </p><p><strong>What do you hope readers walk away from this book knowing or believing?</strong> <br> The expertise to help all children learn exists, but it doesn’t reside in any one person, and the answers don’t lie in one particular program, policy or practice. The expertise comes from the pooled understanding of professionals informed by experience, data and research and armed with curiosity and a willingness to learn. Only by marshaling them all together can we hope to help all kids learn to high standards. But we can do this.  </p>Districts That Succeed: What Are They Doing Right?https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Districts-That-Succeed-What-Are-They-Doing-Right.aspx2021-06-08T04:00:00ZYour source for research and ideas to expand high quality learning and enrichment opportunities. Supporting: School Leadership, After School, Summer and Extended Learning Time, Arts Education and Building Audiences for the Arts.
How Can Teachers Support Students’ Social and Emotional Learning?GP0|#890cbc1f-f78a-45e7-9bf2-a5986c564667;L0|#0890cbc1f-f78a-45e7-9bf2-a5986c564667|Social and Emotional Learning;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61​<p>​​​​As schools begin to reopen across the country, concern about student well-being is at the forefront of many conversations. Teachers’ voices in this conversation are critical. To gather perspectives from teachers on social and emotional learning (SEL), RAND Corporatio​n conducted a survey in Spring 2019, collecting responses from more than 1,200 K-12 teachers via the American Teacher Panel. The findings are shared in a report released in November, <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/supports-social-and-emotional-learning-american-schools-classrooms.aspx"><em>Supports for Social and Emotional Learning in American Schools and Classrooms: Findings from the American Teacher Panel</em></a><em>.</em>  </p><p>The study found that teachers felt confident in their ability to improve students’ social and emotional skills, but want more supports, tools and professional development in this area. Notably, RAND found a relationship between teachers’ sense of their own well-being and their use of SEL practices. The Wallace Blog sat down with the researchers, Laura Hamilton and Christopher Doss, to chat about these findings and more, putting them in the context of COVID-19 and school re-openings and shedding light on implications for school leaders and policymakers. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. </p><p><strong>According to the report, many teachers felt confident they could improve students’ social and emotional competencies but that factors beyond their control had a greater influence on SEL than they did. What are those factors and is there research on their influence on student’s social and emotional well-being? </strong></p><p><strong>Hamilton: </strong>Thanks for that great question. I want to start by acknowledging that surveys are excellent for capturing broad trends and for collecting systematic data across different contexts, but getting the nuances often requires more in-depth, qualitative data collection. I think our findings raise a number of important questions like the one you just asked that could benefit from conversations with teachers and other educators to get the kinds of rich information that will really inform our understanding of these findings. That said, we know from research that SEL is influenced by a wide variety of conditions and experiences, both in and outside of school. Families, neighborhoods and community-based organizations all provide opportunities for children to develop relationships and to build competencies such as resilience and self-management. One specific example of a non-school influence that we've heard about from educators a lot recently is the news media. Students are exposed to news about protests against systemic racism or the negative effects of the pandemic, for example, which can influence their sense of well-being and identity. All of these non-school factors are inequitably distributed, with some students much more likely to experience high levels of toxic stress or limited access to supportive communities than others. The effects [of non-school factors] on SEL are well researched and have led to numerous efforts to promote SEL through partnerships between schools and other organizations. I think a nice example of that type of partnership is another Wallace project, the <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/early-lessons-from-schools-and-out-of-school-time-programs-implementing-social-and-emotional-learning.aspx">Partnerships for Social and Emotional Learning Initiative</a>, which brings together schools and afterschool programs to support SEL at the same time. <strong></strong></p><p><strong>The report found that higher levels of teacher well-being were associated with greater use of SEL practices. Can you speculate as to why that might be and what the implications may be for school leaders and policymakers?</strong></p><p><strong>Doss: </strong>Like all of us, teachers who feel stressed and burned out may not be able to engage with others, including their students, as effectively as they can when their mental health is better. There is research that points to negative effects of teacher stress on student outcomes. And this relationship can be explained in part by teachers not engaging in practices that promote positive relationships with other aspects of SEL. In our study, we can't determine whether there is a causal relationship between teachers' well-being and their SEL practices. It is possible, but this relationship might also reflect other factors, such as positive school climate and high-quality principal leadership, which might both support SEL practices and teachers' sense of well-being. And so, the primary implication for education leaders and policymakers is that supporting educators at all levels in ways that promote their well-being and their ability to form supportive relationships with colleagues is likely good for everyone, including their students.<strong></strong></p><p><strong>Can you talk a little about the disparities in SEL practices reported by teachers in lower-poverty schools versus higher-poverty schools and why these differences may exist, as well as how they may be addressed?</strong></p><p><strong>Doss: </strong>There are typically large differences in school funding and availability of higher-quality instructional resources between schools serving lower- and higher-income students. This could stem from differences in access to professional development and other SEL supports. It could also reflect greater pressure in high-poverty schools to emphasize academic achievement as measured by accountability tests, since these schools are more likely than affluent schools to be classified as lower-performing. To the extent that income is correlated with race and ethnicity, it is possible that students in higher-poverty schools don't have access to SEL instruction, materials or practices that they view as culturally appropriate for their students. We've heard a lot of concerns about the cultural appropriateness of materials from teachers across the U.S. Whatever the reason, it's clear that we need to pay attention to greater equity or resource allocation and development of materials and instructional strategies that meet the needs of a diverse student population.<strong></strong></p><p><strong>Many teachers surveyed found the pressure to focus on student achievement made it difficult to focus on SEL. Do you think that pressure has shifted during the pandemic and distance learning, and if so, do you think this shift will have a permanent effect on making SEL a priority? </strong></p><p><strong>Hamilton: </strong>There's been other survey data that have been gathered from teachers, principals and school and district leaders during the pandemic, and they've indicated that educators view addressing SEL and other aspects of students' social and emotional well-being as a priority—sometimes a higher priority even than academics. It's not hard to understand why. Kids lost access to in-person relationships with trusted adults and with their peers. They weren't able to participate in some of the activities that they found really motivating and engaging. And many of them were living in homes that were characterized by high levels of stress stemming from job losses and overworked, homeschooling parents. There's been some national survey data on family concerns about COVID, and that has also raised the importance of the concerns about students' well-being beyond just academics. I think that there will be intense pressure to address learning loss, and so what teachers are going to need is a set of strategies, including professional development curriculum and instructional strategies, that they can use to promote SEL and to integrate it into their academic instruction.<strong></strong></p><p><strong>What role should SEL play as children—and teachers—return to the classroom? And should SEL be a priority component of reopening plans?</strong></p><p><strong>Hamilton: </strong>Educators and families are telling us SEL should be a priority and it's important to listen to them. Clearly this is something we need to be paying attention to as schools start to look like something resembling normal. Reinforcing the message that SEL does not have to come at the expense of academic learning and that, in fact, they reinforce one another will be really important.</p><p>An interesting finding was that relatively few teachers were using digital resources to promote SEL pre-COVID. We also know that during the pandemic teachers prioritized finding ways to address SEL while they were teaching remotely. So it seems likely that there was a lot of learning that took place during this time very quickly, and that educators will be able to draw on their own efforts and those of their colleagues to promote SEL both in person and remotely. </p><p>One other thing I'll mention here is that it's important not to confuse SEL with mental health and to ensure that schools have the trained staff and other supports to address both. These things sometimes get mixed up together in the conversation, but SEL involves a set of competencies that all students and adults need to succeed and thrive. So, every student in our schools should have access to supports for SEL. But some students are going to suffer from anxiety, depression or other mental health challenges, and they'll need supports from professionals who are trained to address those issues. We shouldn't expect classroom teachers to do all of that.</p><p><strong>Did any of the findings surprise you in this report?</strong></p><p><strong>Doss: </strong>We looked at states that have [SEL] standards instituted and required versus those that did not, and then we also asked teachers, “Do you have standards that you're required to address?” We found that there was no correlation between what teachers did in the classroom and whether their states actually had standards, but there <em>was</em> a correlation between whether they thought they had to have standards and their practices. What this means is that the adoption of SEL standards in many states and districts can be a helpful lever for increasing SEL in school, but it's not likely to be effective if educators aren't aware of it. We have to not only think about instituting these standards, but then also making sure that educators are aware of them.<strong></strong></p><p><strong>Hamilton: </strong>Another finding that surprised me was that we saw almost all teachers indicating fairly high levels of well-being on the three different measures that we administered. This conflicts a little bit with some of the other data that we've gotten from other sources about how stressful the teaching profession is and how many teachers were planning to leave even prior to COVID because of the stressful conditions that they were facing. I think what we're seeing is high levels of reported burnout.<strong></strong></p><p>At the same time teachers were saying they generally felt good while on the job, and that while they felt committed and felt valued by their colleagues, there was also this sense of impending burnout and stress that was affecting them. Of course, this was all prior to COVID, and we know that the job got significantly more stressful post-COVID. This reinforces the idea that we need to be paying attention, not just to students’ SEL, but to the well-being of the adults who are providing the instruction in the schools. I hope that [focus on adults] will be something that continues after COVID, and that once we go back to school, there will be more widespread efforts to make sure that teachers are feeling good about the work that they're doing.</p>How Can Teachers Support Students’ Social and Emotional Learning?https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/How-Can-Teachers-Support-Students-Social-and-Emotional-Learning.aspx2021-04-22T04:00:00ZYour source for research and ideas to expand high quality learning and enrichment opportunities. Supporting: School Leadership, After School, Summer and Extended Learning Time, Arts Education and Building Audiences for the Arts.
New Research Points to a Looming Principal ShortageGP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61​<p>​​Teacher burnout and shortages have been<a href="https://www.nea.org/sites/default/files/2022-02/NEA%20Member%20COVID-19%20Survey%20Summary.pdf" target="_blank"> making headlines </a>for months now as schools have struggled to adequately staff their classrooms. But what about the school leaders who are managing the constant changes and crises, and facing sometimes hostile criticism of their decision making? Turns out they’re not immune to the burnout their colleagues are reporting, and experts say the fallout could severely impact the principal pipeline for years to come.</p><p>The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) has released an <a href="https://www.nassp.org/news/nassp-survey-signals-a-looming-mass-exodus-of-principals-from-schools/" target="_blank">alarming report</a> based on their national survey of secondary school principals, the results of which indicate a looming exodus of principals from preK-12 schools. A staggering 4 out of 10 principals surveyed expect to leave the profession in the next three years, and the pandemic and increased political tensions are among the factors they cite for accelerating this decision.</p><p>“It’s going to shock the education system,” says Aman Dhanda, chief engagement officer at NASSP says of the findings. But she also noted that, while alarming, the results of the survey were not surprising.</p><p>Brian Cox, a principal at Johnson Middle School in Cheyenne, Wyo., agrees. “Issues have compounded from the pandemic, the political climate,” he says. “Nothing has been calm from 2019 to the present.”</p><p>Indeed, beyond managing significant changes in running their schools as the pandemic continues, some principals have also encountered hostile reactions to their mitigation efforts. More than one-third of principals surveyed said they had been threatened in response to the steps they have taken to stop the spread of COVID in their school.</p><p>“Seeing what’s happening at school board meetings, that’s wearing on our leaders,” says Nancy Antoine, principal of Bridgewater Elementary School in Northfield, Minn. Twenty-six percent of survey respondents reported receiving in-person threats from their local community members, with 20 percent reporting that these threats have made them much less likely to continue as a principal.</p><p>Besides the new challenges that have emerged in the last two years, principals surveyed reported that more commonly known factors like heavy workloads and state accountability measures are most likely to cause them to leave the profession.</p><p>The consequences of the loss of experienced principals cannot be understated. <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/how-principals-affect-students-and-schools-a-systematic-synthesis-of-two-decades-of-research.aspx?_ga=2.221791832.1941763541.1645546322-1352763000.1643649010">Recent research</a> tells us that principals are even more important than previously believed. Besides their strong impact on student achievement, effective principals also have positive impacts on teacher satisfaction and retention.</p><p>The ripple effects of losing effective principals could have devastating effects on already resource-scarce schools. “When there is rapid turnover at the principal level a school can lose momentum and any gains in student achievement,” says Kaylen Tucker, associate executive director, communications at the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). Dhanda at NASSP agrees, adding that students of color and those from low-income families could stand to lose the most. </p><p>What can be done now to prepare for—or better yet, mitigate—a mass exodus of principals over the next few years?</p><p><a href="https://www.naesp.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/LWNNEvolutionofPrincipalship.pdf" target="_blank">A new report</a> from NAESP’s <em>Leaders We Need Now</em> series suggests that the role of the principal has evolved significantly over the past two years, but no corresponding support has followed. This has resulted in a triage effect where principals put important responsibilities, such as equity and school improvement, on the back burner in favor of more immediately pressing tasks like COVID tracing.</p><p>“I hear from principals a lot that they are hyper-focused on keeping their school community safe—and that includes attending to [the community’s] social and emotional needs,” says Tucker.</p><p>The NAESP report points to implications of the evolving role for the principal pipeline, with the biggest impact on job standards and pre-service training. The research shows that crisis management and communications management will be important areas of expertise for principals in the future and both current and new principals will need additional training and support in these areas.</p><p>“The <em>Leaders We Need Now </em>research elevates why investing in principal pipelines takes on even greater urgency now,” says Tucker. “The research demonstrates that all phases of the continuum must be prioritized.”</p><p>Dhanda, too, encourages school districts to invest in the long-term health of their principal pipelines by preparing their school leaders of tomorrow and training their principals today. She points to Atlanta Public Schools as one district that is already addressing this issue by investing in salary increases and staff retention bonuses to attract and retain leaders. District leaders also plan to convene educators on the topic of mental well-being—for students and for the adults in the building too.  </p><p>The NAESP report suggests that besides improving support and professional development for school leaders, redistributing some responsibilities to assistant principals, teacher-leaders and central office staff could help address the changes they’ve identified in the role.</p><p>The principals we spoke to agreed with the redistribution of responsibilities and also emphasized the importance of elevating the voices of principals early on in the decision-making process, not just after new ideas have been implemented. “Building a team or networking system that will embrace leaders and make them feel trusted, listened to and empowered can assist in addressing and taking the next steps to greater success,” says Lisa Higa, principal of Nānākuli Elementary School in Honolulu.</p><p>Many principals themselves are helping to nurture the school leaders of the future. In Minnesota, Antoine teaches graduate-level courses for future school administrators and encourages her fellow principals to identify and support educators to become school leaders, despite all of the challenges the role entails.</p><p>Higa hopes to do the same someday. “There are great leaders out there,” she says. “What message do we ignite in them to empower the field of the principalship?”  </p>New Research Points to a Looming Principal Shortagehttps://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/New-Research-Points-to-a-Looming-Principal-Shortage.aspx2022-02-23T05:00:00ZSchool leaders discuss how the role is changing, why 4 in 10 principals might soon leave the profession and what to do about it
Pandemic Recovery Cannot Happen Without Great PrincipalsGP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61;GP0|#b68a91d0-1c13-4d82-b12d-2b08588c04d7;L0|#0b68a91d0-1c13-4d82-b12d-2b08588c04d7|News​<p>​​​J​​​ames Lane, assistant secretary of the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education in the U.S. Department of Education, began his address on a recent webinar for education leaders with gratitude for principals. “You’ve stepped up in ways that none of us could have ever imagined,” he said, going on to thank principals for their dedication, perseverance and tenacity in keeping communities together during the pandemic. <br></p><p>Citing the report, <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/how-principals-affect-students-and-schools-a-systematic-synthesis-of-two-decades-of-research.aspx">How Principals Affect Students and Schools</a>, Lane emphasized the importance of school leaders, quoting the report authors: Principals really matter.</p><p>Indeed it is difficult to envision an investment with a higher ceiling on its potential return than a successful effort to improve school leadership. He underscored this point by reviewing the Department of Education’s priorities and its supplemental priorities.</p><p>The supplemental priorities include:<br> </p><div class="wf-Element-BlueBullet"> Diversifying the education workforce to reflect the diversity of students.</div><div class="wf-Element-BlueBullet">Addressing staffing shortages through measures such as encouraging states to increase compensation; improving teacher working conditions; supporting teacher-wellbeing; and building a cadre of substitute teachers.</div><div class="wf-Element-BlueBullet">​Investing in an educator pipeline by establishing loan forgiveness, teacher development residencies and teaching as a registered apprenticeship.</div><div class="wf-Element-BlueBullet">Providing technical assistance to states and studying teacher shortages in order to provide researched guidance as to how to increase the number of teachers in the pipeline and improve retention.</div><div class="wf-Element-BlueBullet">Preparing and developing principals by expanding the definition of “educator” in certain grants to include not only classroom teachers but all those involved in education, including principals. These grants include the ​<a href="https://oese.ed.gov/offices/office-of-discretionary-grants-support-services/innovation-early-learning/education-innovation-and-research-eir/" target="_blank">Education Innovation and Research (EIR) grant program</a>, and <a href="https://oese.ed.gov/offices/office-of-discretionary-grants-support-services/effective-educator-development-programs/supporting-effective-educator-development-grant-program/#:~:text=The%20purpose%20of%20the%20SEED%2cenhance%20the%20skills%20of%20educators." target="_blank">Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) grants</a>.</div><p>Lane also addressed the administration’s commitment of federal funds to meet the needs of students and educators trying to recover and reimagine schools.</p><p>“We have got to invest those dollars <em>now,</em>” Lane said, addressing education leaders across the country. Lane and his colleagues are meeting with district leaders nationally who are using their federal funding to support activities such as partnering with community organizations to provide holistic services to students, putting a health clinic on campus that is open to the entire community and others. </p><p>Lane ended his remarks urging district leaders to be bold about the actions they take to make sure every student has the support they need to be successful.</p><p>You can view the recording of the webinar <a href="https://vimeo.com/705801954/334fd7c94b" target="_blank">here</a>. </p>Pandemic Recovery Cannot Happen Without Great Principalshttps://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/pandemic-recovery-cannot-happen-without-great-principals.aspx2022-05-31T04:00:00ZU.S. Assistant Secretary of Education explains how the department is prioritizing educators now and in the future