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Learning to Navigate the Uncertainties of School Leadership11154GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p> <em>This post is part of a series profiling the University of Connecticut’s efforts to strengthen its principal training program. The university is one of seven institutions participating in Wallace’s University Principal Preparation Initiative (UPPI), which seeks to help improve training of future principals so they are better prepared to ensure quality instruction and schools. A research effort documenting the universities’ efforts is underway. While we await its results, this series describes one university’s work so far.</em></p><p> <em>These posts were planned and researched before the novel coronavirus pandemic spread in the United States. The work they describe predates the pandemic and may change as a result of it. The University of Connecticut is working to determine the effects of the pandemic on its work and how it will respond to them.</em></p><p>There are many facets to a principal training program and many stakeholders the program must satisfy. Over the past few weeks, this blog series has profiled several of the players who have helped shape one such program, the University of Connecticut Administrator Preparation Program (UCAPP). Previous posts have described how UCAPP has attempted to engage such stakeholders, including <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/embracing-the-unknown-in-new-approaches-to-principal-preparation.aspx">faculty members​</a> and <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/it-takes-a-village-to-train-an-effective-principal.aspx">district partners</a>, in its efforts to improve its curriculum and practical experiences. </p><p>But what of the program’s students? With so many interests shaping its principal preparation program, how well is UCAPP addressing the needs of its students, who many consider UCAPP’s primary stakeholders? UCAPP connected&#160;the Wallace editorial team with four members of its class of 2021, the first class to train in the current iteration of the pr​ogram, so we could seek out their views about the new program. </p><p>It’s still early in their tenure—they started the program in the summer of 2019 and were beginning the third of six semesters when Wallace interviewed them—but many are already noticing benefits of the program, especially the program’s curriculum, its internships and its new assessments.</p><p> <strong>A more connected curriculum</strong></p><p>Sherry Farmer, a teacher of more than 20 years with a background in special education, was drawn to UCAPP in part because of the opportunities it offers to ensure equity in schools, especially for children with special needs. Her depth of experience with such children has given her a solid understanding of the ways in which teachers can ensure equity in individual classrooms. But teachers need larger, schoolwide systems to support that endeavor, and UCAPP is helping her figure out how to establish them.</p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read e61e5486-de8f-4735-a2d3-da67e21ba4c8" id="div_e61e5486-de8f-4735-a2d3-da67e21ba4c8" unselectable="on"></div><div id="vid_e61e5486-de8f-4735-a2d3-da67e21ba4c8" unselectable="on" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p>“[UCAPP has] been very meticulous in helping us understand, piece by piece, how important it is to set up the systems within your school,” she said. “To build capacity and build leadership within your school and to allow people to take on roles that you can't take on.”&#160; </p><p>Several courses had to work together to help Farmer appreciate the complexities of that task. An instructional leadership course taught her how she can use data to spot inequities and help teachers address them. An organizational leadership course taught her how to engage parents and communities to establish the expectation of equity throughout the school. And a talent management course, which follows that organizational leadership course, taught her how to ensure that her staff meets such expectations.</p><p>“It's starting to make sense to me how they put the program in place for us,” she said. “I feel like they're building the capacity we need from one area so that we're ready to get to the next area.”</p><p>But a principal’s job is complex. There is much UCAPP must teach its students, from ensuring quality instruction to balancing budgets to managing school politics. Its agenda is packed; every semester, students must complete two six-week courses, each meeting once a week for three and a half hours, and a daylong workshop. </p><p>It’s a busy schedule, says Winallan Columbano, a high-school health and physical education teacher who taught in New York City for 10 years before enrolling in UCAPP. He appreciates the pace on some levels; he says it provides a thorough introduction to Connecticut school systems and familiarizes him with pre-high school instruction. But, he says, the schedule can sometimes feel a bit rushed. </p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read 29f77ba0-7956-4016-b141-756be248f77b" id="div_29f77ba0-7956-4016-b141-756be248f77b" unselectable="on"></div><div id="vid_29f77ba0-7956-4016-b141-756be248f77b" unselectable="on" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p>“It’s a little bit short I would say, the six-class sessions,” he said. “By the time you get going with the professor, it’s almost over. So, in that sense, I wish I had a little more time.”</p><p>But another element of UCAPP helps make up for that hectic pace, Columbano says&#58; internships.</p><p> <strong>From theory to practice</strong></p><p>UCAPP internships place each student in an area school with a veteran principal for all six semesters of the program. The student visits that school regularly over two years and helps its principal with leadership responsibilities. The principal, which UCAPP calls a mentor, guides the student through a series of leadership tasks. Meanwhile, a leadership coach, generally a retired principal or a school-district leader, works closely with both student and mentor, advises the student and helps draw connections to concepts covered in class.</p><p>These internships, Columbano says, are helping him apply concepts he may only peripherally encounter in his coursework. “We’re able to apply what we’re learning,” he said. “The work that’s covered in the courses, you’re actually doing that in schools.”</p><p>Kimberly Monroe, who has taught math for 18 years and currently serves as a teacher leader, is relying heavily on that practical experience to prepare herself for the principalship. While her teaching experience is deep, she is in her first year in a leadership role and feels she has much to learn about managing the politics of the principalship. “There may be times when I'll have to balance what the priorities are,” she said, “based on someone else telling me what needs to happen versus what I see as being the most important.”</p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read 04a62037-ffe9-4824-b605-1177cbf11779" id="div_04a62037-ffe9-4824-b605-1177cbf11779"></div><div id="vid_04a62037-ffe9-4824-b605-1177cbf11779" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p>UCAPP’s organizational leadership course in the fall of 2019 helped lay the theoretical foundation to help manage such priorities, she said. Observing principals, both in the school in which she teaches and the one in which she is interning, is showing her how that foundation plays out in schools. “I see how they interact with people,” she said. “Listening and getting the full picture and hearing from both sides and looking at best practices, to then make a decision about what they'll ultimately do.”</p><p>“I've already learned several things from my internship principal,” she added, “and I think there's even more that I'll continue to learn.”</p><p>Leadership coaches, a new addition to the program, also help. Monroe said that her work with her coach is helping her build confidence, not just in her internship, but also in her role as a teacher leader. That role requires Monroe to observe and evaluate teachers, a responsibility she approached cautiously, wary of overstepping her bounds. “I want to be invited into your room,” she said of the teachers she has to observe. “I don't want to feel pushy and push my way into your room.”</p><p>Monroe therefore left it up to teachers to schedule time for her observations. Few did, so her UCAPP leadership coach urged her to be more proactive and propose times herself. “That has worked much better,” Monroe said, “It helped me to be a little more forthright with trying to encourage them to meet with me.” &#160;</p><p>Coaches also help ensure students use time wisely. Farmer says her coach has helped steer her away from the details of her current job and focus on what she must learn to become a principal. “I don’t want you doing lunch duty,” Farmer’s coach told her. “I want you to go in. I want you to have an agenda. I want you to have what it is you want to talk about with [your mentor principal].”</p><p>Coaches will not solve students’ problems, however. They will only help students think through them. “Very rarely, if at all in this program, have I felt like they’ve given us the answer,” Columbano said, “That’s nice, but it’s also a little frustrating. UConn has made it pretty clear that they would rather we face our problems now, maybe struggle with them, fight through them and figure it out.”</p><p>Both he and Farmer say that that focus on independent thought, with the support of instructors and leadership coaches, helps prepare them for the jobs ahead. “Nobody's going to give you the answer; it's going to be up to you to figure out the answer,” Farmer said. “And I’m getting more and more comfortable with not having the answer than I was just a few months ago.”</p><p> <strong>Tracking progress</strong></p><p>To nudge its students towards such confidence, and to help ensure that they meet state requirements for principals, UCAPP introduced the “core assessment,” a series of projects designed to measure students’ progress in key areas of leadership. Students complete projects every semester, either in their own schools or those in which they’re interning, and work with their coaches every month to reflect on their performance, identify strengths and weaknesses and plan for future improvement. “That's really been important and helpful to me,” Farmer said. “To sit back and look at, what did I feel went well? What did I feel I would change?”</p><p>Teresa Maturino Rodriguez, a teacher of 20 years, also sees benefits in the core assessments, saying that they help students acclimate themselves to the twists and turns of the principalship. However, she said, they take a lot of time and she is not yet clear about the value of every required component. All students must complete the same projects, she added, even if they have years of experience with the practices those projects are meant to demonstrate. Some of these tasks can become rather onerous for students who are juggling classes, internships, families and day jobs.</p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read 1957595c-cc46-47f8-b674-919c4b402a62" id="div_1957595c-cc46-47f8-b674-919c4b402a62" unselectable="on"></div><div id="vid_1957595c-cc46-47f8-b674-919c4b402a62" unselectable="on" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p>“I feel like there's this other component hanging out there,” she said, expressing some discomfort with the addition to the workload. But she’s willing to give the assessments time to play themselves out. “I'm going to trust this is part of the learning process they're trying to create for us,” she added.</p><p>The benefits are more obvious to Columbano. The first step of the core assessment—an “organizational diagnosis” that asks students to investigate reasons behind an achievement gap of their choice at their internship school—helped him look beyond his previous focus on high-school phys-ed.</p><p>“Instead of looking at things strictly within your classroom,” he said, “it made me ask myself, ‘How do I fix this on a school level?’”</p><p>It’s helping him make an essential change to the way he sees education. “I’m always looking at things through a different lens now,” he said.</p><p>“I’m looking at it from a principal’s lens, not a teacher’s.”</p><p> <strong>Embracing change</strong></p><p>It takes a lot of planning and adjustment to create a program that can stimulate such a change in perspective. Administrators say they are always learning from their experiences and tweaking the program to respond to feedback from students, faculty and community partners. That willingness to change, however, can complicate things for students. </p><p>Farmer, for example, was hoping to get summer schedules ready for her internship when we spoke to her in January. But her class schedule was still unclear, making it hard to plan ahead. “We find that they're still tweaking things up to the last minute,” she said. “For people like us, who want to know things way in advance, that's been a little bit frustrating,”</p><p>That frustration, however, may also be part of learning to be a principal. Columbano says that his time in UCAPP so far is beginning to make him more comfortable with the uncertainties of the principalship. “Will I know everything?” he said. “No. But I know that if I work at it, I can get to the right answers.”</p><p></p><p>Read the previous post in our UConn series&#58; <a href="/news-and-media/blog/pages/it-takes-a-village-to-train-an-effective-principal.aspx">It Takes a Village to Train an Effective Principal</a>.</p>Wallace editorial team792020-06-23T04:00:00ZFour aspiring principals at the University of Connecticut get a glimpse of the work that lies ahead6/24/2020 3:29:36 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Learning to Navigate the Uncertainties of School Leadership Four aspiring principals at the University of Connecticut get a 297https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
It Takes a Village to Train an Effective Principal11043GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p><em>​This post is part of a series profiling the University of Connecticut’s efforts to strengthen its principal training program. The university is one of seven institutions participating in Wallace’s University Principal Preparation Initiative, which seeks to help improve training of future principals so they are better prepared to ensure quality instruction and schools. A research effort to determine the effects of the work is underway. While we await its results, this series describes one university’s work so far.</em></p><p><em>These posts were planned and researched before the novel coronavirus pandemic spread in the United States. The work they describe predates the pandemic and may change as a result of it. The University of Connecticut is working to determine the effects of the pandemic on its work and how it will respond to them.</em></p><p>Ask Mark Benigni, superintendent of schools in Meriden, Conn., about the importance of partnerships in education, and he might tell you about Daniel Crispino. Crispino started his career as a first-grade teacher in Meriden Public Schools. His success in that role led the district to tap him for a leadership position and eventually nominate him for a spot in the University of Connecticut’s Administrator Preparation Program (UCAPP). After a one-year program at UCAPP, Crispino returned to the district as an assistant principal. In 2016, he became principal of John Barry Elementary School, which at the time had a “failing” designation from the state. By 2019, Crispino had helped transform the school; it received a <a href="https&#58;//nationalblueribbonschools.ed.gov/daniel-crispino-principal-john-barry-elementary-school-meriden-connecticut/">National Blue Ribbon Award</a> that year, and Crispino became one of ten principals to receive the <a href="https&#58;//nationalblueribbonschools.ed.gov/2019-terrel-h-bell-awardees-honored-for-outstanding-school-leadership/">Terrel H. Bell Award for Outstanding Leadership</a>. He is now the district’s director of school leadership, where he is helping other principals improve their schools.</p><p>Benigni may not be able to retain leaders such as Crispino, he says, without his district’s long-standing relationship with the University of Connecticut. The promise of career advancement through training at UCAPP helps keep talent in the district, despite its limited salaries. “As a small urban district, we can’t pay as well as some suburban communities,” he said. “What we can offer is a really enriching experience working with a college partner.”</p><p><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/It-Takes-a-Village-to-Train-an-Effective-Principal/UConn-Partnerships-Benigni-lg-feature.jpg" alt="UConn-Partnerships-Benigni-lg-feature.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br></p><p>That partner is now working to strengthen such ties so it can enhance those experiences and help improve leadership in districts such as Meriden. In 2016, UCAPP joined The Wallace Foundation’s University Principal Preparation Initiative, which supports the redesign of six university programs so they can better train future principals. The initiative calls, in part, for closer partnerships with states, school districts and other community organizations so universities can tailor training to the needs of schools. UCAPP has embarked on a systematic effort to reinforce such ties, with a close, collaborative assessment of needs, establishment of regular communication channels and joint monitoring of results.</p><p>“We had had a concerted effort to work with more urban districts in the state,” said Casey Cobb, professor of educational policy at the University of Connecticut, who helped reorient UCAPP’s approach to district partnerships. “But we never had formal partnerships beyond one with the Hartford School District. The Wallace initiative gave us the opportunity to reach out to districts to support their leadership development pathways.” </p><p>UCAPP chose to work with three urban districts—Hartford, Meriden and New Haven—with which it has had close and long-standing relationships. “We wanted districts who had both the need and also the capacity to be part of this redesign,” said Jennifer McGarry, the university’s department head in education leadership who also helped manage work in the Wallace initiative. “We wanted people that we knew had a commitment to change and continual improvement.”</p><p><strong>Laying out the foundation</strong></p><p>The work began with the <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/quality-measures-principal-preparation-program-assessment.aspx">Quality Measures self-assessment tool</a>, which requires programs to work with school districts to determine whether they are preparing principals to lead teaching and learning in those districts. Based on the results of that assessment, UCAPP developed a general agreement with each district outlining the areas of focus and priorities for their work together. </p><p>These agreements are informal and sketch out broad frameworks for the work, such as guidelines for admissions processes, placement of UCAPP students for internships in district schools and protocols for communications among the partners. They were once enshrined in formal memoranda of understanding (MOUs) that UCAPP leaders assumed would help resolve disagreements or miscommunications. UCAPP has learned, however, that their utility can often fall short of the legal and administrative work they require. </p><p>UCAPP’s MOU with one district, for example, unraveled with the arrival of a new superintendent whose priorities differed significantly from those of her predecessor. UCAPP had spent three years cultivating the relationship that led to this MOU, working closely with leaders and lawyers to ensure it met all parties’ rules and regulations. Yet, with the arrival of a new district leader, all that work came to naught.</p><p>“It became a fragile agreement,” said UCAPP director Richard Gonzales. “Even with the MOU, we couldn't ensure that things were going to go according to those terms.”<br> UCAPP is therefore bypassing the formalities and focusing more on the spirit than the letter of its agreements. It still uses a self-assessment to determine the broad contours of its work with the districts, but it now relies more on personal ties than on official documents. “Now it’s much less about the written agreement and much more about the relationships,” Gonzales said. “You have to maintain and nurture those relationships. It’s more time-intensive.” </p><p><strong>Staying in touch and strengthening ties</strong></p><p>UCAPP relies on regular contacts, both formal and informal, to maintain these relationships. It convenes leaders from all partner districts roughly once every fortnight to share information and solve problems. All partners also come together at regular meetings of a professional learning community of participants in the Wallace initiative.</p><p>The most obvious benefit of this frequent contact is that it allows UCAPP to adapt and improve its program based on actual needs in schools. One district, for example, said early-career principals were struggling to create leadership teams. UCAPP therefore added to its curriculum to beef up support in that area. Another district was having trouble with teacher turnover. So UCAPP created a three-year program to help high-performing teachers become instructional leaders and help improve classroom performance throughout the district. Chronic absenteeism seemed to be a problem throughout the state. UCAPP responded by incorporating readings, discussions and assignments about absenteeism into its curriculum.</p><p>Beyond immediate improvements in UCAPP’s offerings, the frequency of contact is also creating bonds that transcend formal MOUs. Benigni, for example, had been looking for ways to better support his district’s eight elementary-school principals. At a meeting of the Wallace-convened professional learning community, he got the idea to restructure his central office and create a position dedicated to those principals. He saw an opportunity to do so when Miguel Cardona, an assistant superintendent in his district, left to become Connecticut’s education commissioner. With a top spot open, Benigni could shuffle resources and job responsibilities to get his elementary-school principals the support they needed. To help make sure he did it right, he called Richard Gonzales.&#160; </p><p>Gonzales helped Benigni determine the most efficient ways to restructure the central office and create a new position dedicated to elementary-school principals. He even used his knowledge of philanthropies such as The Wallace Foundation to help Benigni work out how to pay for that position. Benigni introduced the new position to the district in the 2019-2020 school year. It is currently filled by UCAPP graduate Dan Crispino.</p><p>“The added partnership puts us more in touch with each other so it’s easier to throw those ideas off each other,” Benigni said. “You become partners, but you become strategic thinkers together as well.”</p><p>Such relationships can’t ensure complete agreement among parties. Complications do arise, and UCAPP must work closely with districts to resolve them. For example, Cobb said, a district may place a UCAPP intern in a school that needs more support, not in one that would help that intern become a more effective leader. “It can be a little tricky,” he said of such situations, “but we try to face it head on.” UCAPP advocates for students in such situations. “We know they’re in a tough position,” Cobb added. “They can’t be complaining, they can’t put down other administrators. That’s when we will have a side conversation with the district.”</p><p><strong>Tracking outcomes<br></strong></p><p><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/It-Takes-a-Village-to-Train-an-Effective-Principal/UConn-Partnerships-Torres-Rodriguez-lg-feature.jpg" alt="UConn-Partnerships-Torres-Rodriguez-lg-feature.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br><strong></strong></p><p>Such sensitive conversations can be easier when they’re based on data. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, superintendent of Hartford Public Schools, for example, said that the district was once unable to communicate its needs to UCAPP because it lacked the data to understand those needs itself. “We needed stronger data systems to be able to see how our principals are doing and progressing,” she said. “It felt challenging to us to identify goals for the partnership when our data systems weren’t as strong.”</p><p>UCAPP is therefore working with all its partner districts to develop data systems to track the performance and career trajectories of its graduates. These systems will collect key points of data, such as graduates’ areas of strength while they were in UCAPP, the number of UCAPP graduates hired as administrators, the amount of time they spend in those positions and key performance indicators of the schools in which they serve. UCAPP plans to use such systems to identify the strengths and weaknesses of its graduates as they play out in schools. These systems could also help match UCAPP interns and graduates; if data suggest that a certain school needs support in a certain area, UCAPP could help direct graduates with expertise in that area to that school.</p><p>&quot;​I don’t need a zillion candidates to fill a principal job, I just need the one right person,” Benigni said. “If we can come up with a firm understanding of what makes a leader most effective, and if we can then track the development of those skills, then I’ll know when I’ve got a strong person ready for that job.”</p><p>Such systems cannot be bought off the shelf, however. Each district’s systems are different, and to bring them all together, UCAPP would have to sort through several technical and legal complications, such as the nature of the data collected, how they are stored, who owns and maintains them, how they are shared and how all parties can ensure privacy and security.</p><p>UCAPP quickly realized that the effort necessary to create a single system across all districts outweighed its potential benefits. Instead, the program forged agreements whereby each district develops its own system but gives UCAPP a standard data report every year. Such an arrangement gives districts the flexibility to collect the data that matter most to them, while allowing UCAPP to aggregate the data it needs to identify broader trends in principal performance and areas in which it may need to adapt. </p><p>It also highlights the importance of another partnership&#58; that with the Connecticut State Department of Education.</p><p><strong>Support from and for the state</strong></p><p>UCAPP can’t gain a full understanding of school needs using data from just three districts. Principals may move from district to district, and UCAPP must track its graduates’ records across districts to fully understand how well it trained them. Instead of negotiating complex data agreements with each of Connecticut’s nearly 200 districts, UCAPP is working with the state department of education to help meet its data needs. The department of education will help UCAPP track the basic essentials throughout the state, and UCAPP will incorporate the more nuanced data it receives from its three partners every year.</p><p>UCAPP has forged a close but informal relationship with the state, as it has with its partner districts, beyond such data systems. Commissioner of Education Miguel Cardona says this relationship helps ensure principals are trained to lead schools that principal preparation programs often ignore. “We have students who are dealing with many different things in their life, whether it's through poverty or other issues,” he said. “Historically, the students that graduate from some of the traditional principal preparation programs have had very little experience learning about leadership in communities dealing with these needs.”</p><p><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/It-Takes-a-Village-to-Train-an-Effective-Principal/UConn-Partnerships-Cardona-lg-feature.jpg" alt="UConn-Partnerships-Cardona-lg-feature.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br></p><p>State representatives participate in meetings UCAPP convenes with districts and communicate these needs, Cardona said. They also use these conversations to flag important shifts in state policy. Cardona pointed to the example of a recent change from a zero-tolerance policy for misbehavior to a focus on restorative practices, which seek to improve students’ relationships with each other and the community. State staffers signaled that change to UCAPP, and UCAPP tweaked its curriculum accordingly. “Now, pre-service principals are hearing different perspectives and different approaches towards restorative practices being considered in districts,” Cardona said. “So when they go into districts, these approaches are not new. New principals don't hear about them for the first time when they're employed.”</p><p>The state also gives UCAPP important context for its efforts. “The state is the best source of historical information for us,” Jennifer McGarry said. The department of education keeps information about interventions in years past, which she says is useful as UCAPP considers new approaches. “We can ask, ‘why did it work? Why did it not work? Is it something we want to revisit, or is it something that’s been done and wasn’t successful?”</p><p><strong>Results thus far</strong></p><p>Productive partnerships don’t come easy. All parties must stay open to feedback and change. They must balance different viewpoints and sometimes competing needs. And they must secure the resources they need to follow through on commitments. “It's not just one conversation, and then you go back to business as usual,” Cardona said. “It's a constant reflection of what's working, what's not working, what needs attention.”</p><p>But that effort may be yielding some early benefits for schools. Benigni, for example, said that more careful consideration of the skills his principals need and his greater familiarity with principal training has helped him ask better questions when he interviews principal candidates. “We’re putting less emphasis on the feel of the interview and more emphasis on the substance of the person,” he said. “There’s a likability factor that comes out in an interview. Sometimes that’s valuable, because being well liked helps you lead. But if you can’t help your teachers get better, that’s going to wear off very quickly.”</p><p>Cardona said closer communication with UCAPP and its partner districts is leading the state to reconsider certification policies. “The certification department may be under the assumption that a policy is a really good one,” he said. “But partners will tell us what they’re experiencing, and we might find that it is unintentionally hurting our ability to attract quality candidates. It gives us the opportunity to revisit that policy, see why it is in place and whether or not it's needed.”</p><p>Cobb, meanwhile, suggested that UCAPP’s initial self-assessment and its partnership with the state may even prod other programs to improve. “The state convened competing programs to talk about the quality of their own programs through the Quality Measures protocol,” he said. “I thought that was pretty neat.”</p><p>Challenges remain, however. One is staff capacity. Changes in personnel can disrupt efforts and partnerships with UCAPP can stretch districts’ financial and human resources. Another is the amount of time it takes to meet partnership commitments. Districts have requests UCAPP has not yet been able to address, and it can take a while for UCAPP to determine how best to squeeze these requests into a packed curriculum. </p><p>But the work so far has forced the parties closer together, built trust and, some hope, paved a path for continuous improvement in days ahead. “I define success by creating a culture of interdependence between the University of Connecticut, the districts and the department of education,” Cardona said. “So if this Wallace initiative wraps up, the partnership and the ongoing dialogue are still there.”</p><p>Benigni suggests that partnerships may be on their way to accomplishing just that. “We were partners before,” he said. “But now I feel like we may be influencing their work and they may be influencing ours.”</p><span>Read the previous post in our UConn series&#58; </span><a href="/news-and-media/blog/pages/embracing-the-unknown-in-new-approaches-to-principal-preparation.aspx">Embracing the Unknown in New Approaches to Principal Preparation</a>.<span></span><p><span></span><br></p>Wallace editorial team792020-06-16T04:00:00ZClose partnerships with school districts and the state help the University of Connecticut strengthen principal training.6/17/2020 1:18:07 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / It Takes a Village to Train an Effective Principal Close partnerships with school districts and the state help the 227https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Embracing the Unknown in New Approaches to Principal Preparation11017GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p> <em>This post is part of a series profiling the University of Connecticut’s efforts to strengthen its principal training program. The university is one of seven institutions participating in Wallace’s University Principal Preparation Initiative (UPPI), which seeks to help improve training of future principals so they are better prepared to ensure quality instruction and schools. A research effort documenting the universities’ efforts is underway. While we await its results, this series describes one university’s work so far.</em></p><p> <em>These posts were planned and researched before the novel coronavirus pandemic spread in the United States. The work they describe predates the pandemic, and may change as a result of it. The University of Connecticut is working to determine the effects of the pandemic on its work and how it will respond to them.</em></p><p>Richard Gonzales, director of the Neag School of Public Education’s University of Connecticut Administrator Preparation Program (UCAPP), <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/A-Road-to-More-Effective-Principals-Begins-in-one-Universitys-Classrooms.aspx">wrote on this blog</a> about the significant changes the program had to take on as part of Wallace’s <a href="/how-we-work/our-work/pages/school-leadership.aspx">University Principal Preparation Initiative</a>. Few feel these changes as acutely as the program’s faculty members, who must revamp long-established approaches to fit the program’s new curriculum.</p><p>Six of these faculty members met earlier this year at the UConn Hartford campus in the historic Hartford Times Building to discuss changes in the program thus far, elements that appear to work well, elements that present some challenges and directions the program may take in days and years ahead. Wallace’s editorial staff had the opportunity to listen in and report back. </p><p> <strong>No course is an island</strong></p><p>UCAPP, like many principal preparation programs, was once a collection of courses with few explicit connections among them. Students would study one course every semester, each focused on different regulatory requirements, with little discussion of how topics covered in different courses could interact. The curriculum is now more interconnected, said Erin Murray, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning in Simsbury Public Schools who teaches courses on instructional leadership at UConn. Students revisit key concepts of leadership throughout the program to ensure they can apply them in a variety of different situations.</p><p>“From what was a more isolated, topical approach to instruction,” Murray said, “we've gone to a more integrated crossover opportunity that topics will re-emerge throughout the two-year program.”</p><p>Students now complete two courses every semester, all of which have moved from a focus on narrow topics to one on broad competencies of leadership. A course that was once limited to supervision and teacher evaluation, for example, is now part of a broader set of courses that teach talent management, including recruitment, retention and team leadership. Three strands of leadership—instructional leadership, organizational leadership and talent management—are now woven together, with courses interspersed throughout the two years of the program. </p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read a5216f60-1baf-4848-a2ae-9a62e66969a3" id="div_a5216f60-1baf-4848-a2ae-9a62e66969a3" unselectable="on"></div><div id="vid_a5216f60-1baf-4848-a2ae-9a62e66969a3" unselectable="on" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p>The change requires faculty to work out how their courses fit into a larger program, said Howard Thiery, superintendent of the Harwinton-Burlington regional school district who teaches courses on organizational leadership. “Each of us is trying to deliver on this high-quality experience within our course and figure out how it integrates,” he says. “Are we delivering on the integration? I don’t know yet. It’s early.”</p><p>As an example, Thiery pointed to two courses&#58; one on organizational leadership, which he teaches, and another on instructional leadership. Similar courses would once have been taught in different semesters, but his course now immediately follows the other in the same semester. “The two courses in a semester come literally back to back,” he said. “[Students] end one course on a Monday and the following Monday they’re in a new course.” </p><p>His course work must now gel with the one that now precedes it. “I couldn’t ignore the fact that they had just come from [that] course,” he said. “I had to show them that although these are different strengths in our program, instructional leadership and organizational leadership in the actual practitioner are integrated daily. One impacts the other; they are part of a system.”</p><p>When his students present their work on learning targets and assignments, for example, he tries to connect it to school culture. “If these are your learning targets for kids,” he asks his students, “what does that say about your school values? How did you engage parents?” </p><p>The juxtaposition of courses forces him to keep the bigger picture in mind, he said. “I was just reacting to where my students were,” he added. “It wasn't so much by design as by demand.”</p><p> <strong>More work for instructors…</strong></p><p>The new setup places many other demands on faculty. Chief among them, instructors say, at least while they iron out the kinks, is communication. Richard Gonzales, director of UCAPP who also teaches courses on organizational leadership, said that instructors must share much more information with each other to stay in sync. “We had talked plenty,” he said, speaking of previous iterations of the program, “but we'd never exchanged our plan for the sessions. That's a noticeable shift”</p><p>Yet more may be necessary, said Kelly Lyman, superintendent of schools for Mansfield Public Schools who teaches instructional leadership. “It seems like there’s going to need to be more opportunity for us as instructors to understand the whole two-year program and what’s taught where so that we can help make those connections,” she said.</p><p>Thiery agreed. “What did you do right before me and what did you do right before her,” he said. “Finding the mechanisms for that are going to be key.”</p><p>The new curriculum also requires instructors to reduce their reliance on rubrics and checklists to develop course syllabi. “Looking at the competencies,” said Lyman, “forces me to think beyond just the content of course.” &#160;</p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read 3295a12b-373e-4f79-985c-2b1402c0c24d" id="div_3295a12b-373e-4f79-985c-2b1402c0c24d"></div><div id="vid_3295a12b-373e-4f79-985c-2b1402c0c24d" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p>Broader course guidelines could help instructors make this shift, said Charles “Chip” Dumais, who teaches courses on instructional leadership and serves as executive director of Cooperative Educational Services, a nonprofit that supports area schools. “A rubric that is based on the competencies—that includes an element of connections to the other work they've done—supports what we're asking them to do in the program,” he said.</p><p>Instructors must also become much better versed with their own material, Gonzales suggested. They must now examine their classes from many diverse perspectives and cannot fall back on standard practices that had changed little in many years. “We were students of our own content more this time around,” he said. “We re-read certain things, we assigned new things for the first time … and we were much more attuned to the preparation.” </p><p>That extra preparation is also necessary to meet the pace of the new curriculum, which puts students through two courses per semester instead of one. “We’re a little bit more focused on staying on schedule now,” Gonzales said.</p><p>Still, said Dumais, the quicker pace and extra effort could help instructors bring more value for their students. “If all of talent management is condensed into one semester,” he said, “it really doesn't allow you to do all the things that you'd need to do.”</p><p> <strong>… could lead to benefits for students</strong></p><p>Instructors hope that their extra work will help give students a more complete picture of the principalship. “I experienced the balance,” said Eric Bernstein, assistant professor in educational leadership. “Students are doing more than one thing at the same time.”</p><p>That cross-pollination of ideas, Murray suggested, is especially important given the breadth of experience of UCAPP students. “The backgrounds that the people come to in the program are so vastly different,” she said. “You could have a school psychologist, a guidance counselor, school counselor, first-grade teacher, a special-ed teacher. To integrate it in this redesign is extremely powerful to get them to better understand the full picture of what leadership is going to look like for them.”</p><p>It also keeps students engaged, said Thiery. In previous versions of the curriculum, students who had greater experience with school culture may have had to take a back seat for a year while courses focused on curriculum. That is no longer so. “We immediately hopped [from a course on curriculum] into a school culture and climate course,” he said. “And the school psychologist and school counselor all of a sudden had legs way up on many of the other students in the class. They got see their own value and their own strengths.”</p><p>The redesign could also make students’ internships more meaningful. Lyman suggested that the previous program design could often limit the work students did as interns. “It used to be, well, don't do anything on curriculum until you get to semester four, because that's when we teach it,” she said. </p><p>“Now,” she added, “I'm hoping that there's a little more opportunity in a more natural way for them to make those connections.”</p><p>Ultimately, said Thiery, the new structure shifts from academic requirements and forces instructors to help build students’ professional skills. “One of the biggest shifts we have to do is get them into a professional mindset,” he said, “which gets out of the ‘how many pages, what font, how many references’ mode of instruction.” The new design requires him to focus on larger competencies. “Here's your standard, here's your professional competency, here's what it would look like in practice,” he said. “It is about being a practitioner.”</p><p> <strong>It’s not easy being green</strong></p><p>New approaches bring many potential benefits, instructors suggest. But the program has much to learn and glitches to fix before it can claim success. Administrators are constantly collecting feedback from students, instructors, school districts and other partners to ensure it is on the right path. </p><p>“The first time we're doing it it’s going to be clunky,” Bernstein said, suggesting UCAPP must be open to criticism as it tests its new waters. But, he said, it must also be judicious about the feedback it chooses to act upon. “How do you differentiate between being responsive to the students’ concerns and letting something work before you stop trying it?” he asked.</p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read 6598adf6-fd1e-43cc-ad07-b2b014740c9a" id="div_6598adf6-fd1e-43cc-ad07-b2b014740c9a"></div><div id="vid_6598adf6-fd1e-43cc-ad07-b2b014740c9a" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p>“How do we take our reflections and feedback and figure out what is structurally deficient,” added Thiery, “and what is actually developmental on the student's end?”</p><p>One concern is the amount of time the program demands from its students. “The classes meet weekly for students who are full time educators,” said Lyman. “They've already had some leadership experiences in their school or district and now we're asking them every week to meet with us. I just wonder about the absorption rate and the application.”</p><p>Some wondered whether this pace is causing students to brush over essential elements of the program, especially the core assessment, a measure of the extent to which students meet established standards of school leadership. Students are expected to check progress against the core assessments throughout their time in the program, but some instructors worry that these assessments get buried under other demands. </p><p>“The pace is rapid and I think that that might be more of an issue for us in the design than for them in the work,” said Dumais. UCAPP may have to work harder, he suggests, to demonstrate the importance of each of its components, including the core assessment. “In order for the core assignment to be parallel [to curriculums and internships,]” he said, “we have to make the conditions for the core assignment to be parallel.”</p><p>Faculty members are soliciting and receiving feedback from students and partners to respond to such concerns. “It seems that there's something about the way this [iteration of the program] is working, or the way that we're approaching it, that we're listening more,” said Gonzales. </p><p>“If you listen to what you've said today,” he said to his colleagues, “there's a greater awareness of what you know and don't know. We understand what is happening or not happening, or what needs to be done, more than we did eight years ago.”</p><p> <strong>Do try this at home</strong></p><p>While the results of the work are still unclear, each of the instructors had advice for others who may embark on similar initiatives. <br> Faculty members can be key, said Lyman. “Engage faculty members as frequently as you can from the start to really build the understanding,” she said.&#160; “This program would not be successful if people in it, teaching it, working within it, don't understand the big picture of their program.”</p><p>An experienced partner could help, said Murray. The University of Illinois at Chicago had previously redesigned its own principal training program and helped guide UCAPP, a support Murray thought was critical. “The collaboration we’ve had with University of Illinois was exceptional,” she said. “Having outside people talking with us about other work that they've done and looking at other programs I think was extremely powerful.”</p><p>Don’t be scared of mistakes, said Thiery. “Even in the best of planning and design circumstances, where you have all the time in the world, when you finally push the go switch, there's still going to be this feeling that you're making it up,” he said. “The checking in with students more often comes from our own acknowledgement that we're building the plane and flying it at the same time. … I think to some degree that intensity is making us better. You have to be willing to do it and not be afraid of it.”</p><p>Stay focused, adds Bernstein. Equity and the student’s identity as a leader were the two guiding principles for the program, clear targets he found helpful. “These two things should be thought about in all of the ways that we're designing every piece,” he said. “Not these 12 or 18 or 36 things. Not these broad general notions, but these two very specific things.”</p><p>Students come first, said Dumias. “I don't think that the first thing that comes to mind when people ask about great teaching is college or graduate school. Things that are good for students, they become slightly inconvenient for teachers,” he said. “I think that this program is a perfect example of how this teaching staff are changing their perspective on how to change the structure so it best meets the needs of students.”</p><p>And design is just the beginning, said Gonzales. “Don't underestimate or discount implementation as part of the redesign,” he said, adding&#58; “It's the first cycle of implementation and the adjustments based on lessons learned … that's part of redesign. Make sure that you plan for that.”</p><p> <img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Embracing-the-Unknown-in-New-Approaches-to-Principal-Preparation/UCAPP-faculty-tips.jpg" alt="UCAPP-faculty-tips.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" />Read the previous post in our UConn series&#58; <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/taking-principal-training-to-the-real-world.aspx">Taking Principal Training to the Real World</a>. </p> <p></p>Wallace editorial team792020-06-09T04:00:00ZUniversity of Connecticut faculty members reflect on adaptations they made to strengthen their principal preparation program6/9/2020 3:12:21 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Embracing the Unknown in New Approaches to Principal Preparation University of Connecticut faculty members reflect on 195https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Taking Principal Training to the Real World10702GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p> <em>This post is part of a series profiling the University of Connecticut’s efforts to strengthen its principal training program. The university is one of seven institutions participating in Wallace’s University Principal Preparation Initiative, which seeks to help improve training of future principals so they are better prepared to ensure quality instruction and schools. A research effort to determine the effects of the work is under way. While we await its results, this series describes one university’s work so far.</em></p><p> <em>These posts were planned and researched before the novel coronavirus pandemic spread in the United States. The work they describe predates the pandemic and may change as a result of it. The University of Connecticut is working to determine the effects of the pandemic on its work and how it will respond to them.</em></p><p>It’s one thing to learn a skill in a class. It’s another to practice it in the real world, where conceptual lines are blurrier than they are in textbooks. It’s a distinction that leads many professional training programs to feature internships, which some may call clinical experiences of practicums, to complement the skills students learn in class. It is one that led the University of Connecticut’s Administrator Preparation Program (UCAPP) to reexamine internships when it began revamping its offerings to strengthen principal training.</p><p>UCAPP internships were once sets of largely isolated experiences, each designed to build a specific skill with little connection to the rest of a student’s training. Each student was matched to what UCAPP calls a “mentor principal,” an experienced school leader who guides the student through at list of activities, and a UCAPP supervisor, who ensured students met minimum graduation requirements. There were few structured opportunities to explore the interdependence of each of the required activities.</p><p>During a semester focused on clinical supervision, for example, a student would observe a teacher, provide feedback about the quality of instruction and check “performance evaluation” off the to-do list. There was no infrastructure in place to ensure that the student saw how that evaluation affects other areas of concern for principals, such as instructional leadership, school ​culture or the equity of educational opportunities.</p><p>UCAPP’s internships are now a lot more rigorous and, leaders hope, offer a more complete understanding of the principalship. The program still assigns each student to a host school for the two years of the program. Now, however, interns must visit the school regularly, get to know its staffers and help with several principalship responsibilities. UCAPP also assigns each student to what it calls a “coach,” a UCAPP staffer or a school-district leader who works closely with both student and mentor and helps draw connections to concepts covered in class. The goal, says TJ Salutari, principal of Daniel Hand High School in Madison, Conn., and a longtime mentor for UCAPP students, is to get students accustomed to the role of a school leader.<br></p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read d5edb8f6-467b-4842-8230-b94da6a5cc8f" id="div_d5edb8f6-467b-4842-8230-b94da6a5cc8f" unselectable="on"></div><div id="vid_d5edb8f6-467b-4842-8230-b94da6a5cc8f" unselectable="on" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p>“One of the goals I have as a mentor principal is to help the teacher get beyond just thinking and responding as a teacher,” Salutari said. He wants students to think beyond individual classrooms and also consider the politics, administrative infrastructure, community relationships and legal systems that affect teaching and learning in schools. “When they get done with their internship, my goal is they don't sound like a teacher anymore,” he said. </p><p>Two major changes appear to be helping UCAPP students make the shift from their previous roles as teachers to future roles as leaders&#58; the “core assessment,” a yardstick of students’ leadership skills, and the introduction of leadership coaches. </p><p> <strong>Not just an assessment</strong></p><p>The core assessment, some UCAPP students say, is helping them understand how different concepts from the UCAPP curriculum come together in schools. It asks students to complete one project each term at their host schools and produce deliverables such as presentations to school staffers and memos to superintendents. Students then work with mentors and coaches to use these deliverables and assess whether they are on track to learn the skills they’ll need as principals. UCAPP designed the projects to touch on all four areas of leadership defined in the <a href="https&#58;//portal.ct.gov/-/media/SDE/Evaluation-and-Support/LeaderEvalRubric2017.pdf?la=en">Connecticut Leader Evaluation and Support Rubric</a>&#58; instructional leadership, organizational systems, talent management and climate and culture. </p><p>Thomas Bushnell, a social studies teacher and first year UCAPP student interning at TJ Salutari’s school, said the assessment helped him see how different aspects of leadership must come together to improve student outcomes. He completed an “organizational diagnosis” at Salutari’s school, a requirement of the core assessment that asks interns to investigate reasons behind an achievement gap of their choice. He chose math scores among students with disabilities, an issue he assumed he would understand using teacher evaluation skills learned in instructional leadership courses. </p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read d013e515-025a-40d1-a4db-238257610d78" id="div_d013e515-025a-40d1-a4db-238257610d78"></div><div id="vid_d013e515-025a-40d1-a4db-238257610d78" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p>But, Bushnell said, he quickly learned he had to dip into material from other courses as well. He had to survey parents to identify supports students most frequently receive at home, something he learned in an organizational leadership course. He had to ensure math teachers were working effectively with the special-education specialists, which required skills covered in talent management courses. </p><p>“We're noticing all of these connections between what we're learning in school and taking them to the internship experience,” Bushnell said. “The coursework matches up tremendously with what we're being asked to do as far as the internship is concerned. That's been my favorite experience.”</p><p> <strong>A little help from a friend</strong></p><p>To help ensure students can make such connections, UCAPP introduced leadership coaches. Supervisors, who previously oversaw internships, focused largely on the bureaucratic details of the work. “They read student reflections [of internship experiences], made sure a total of 480 internship hours were completed over two years and helped resolve problems,” UCAPP director Richard Gonzales said. “It was a passive and compliance-oriented role.”</p><p>The program has now replaced supervisors with coaches, who work closely with interns and their mentors to ensure UCAPP students get a thorough introduction to the principal role. Coaches don’t just help resolve problems; they also help students set goals, devise plans to meet them and work with students and mentors to ensure adherence to and adaptation of these plans.</p><p>“Probably the biggest thing I do,” said Joanne Manginelli, a UCAPP coach who also serves as project coordinator for the program’s Wallace-funded efforts, “is help [students] make sense of what they're learning in the classroom and then bring it over into the internship and into real life.”</p><p>Manginelli coaches nine students in the 2019-2020 school year, including Thomas Bushnell. She maintains regular contact with each of them throughout the program, meeting with them and their mentors at least once a semester, and helps ensure they are on track to develop the leadership skills they will need. Bushnell says she has helped him think more clearly about his leadership experiences.</p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read e5e459ef-3911-4c37-bbee-61201f57215e" id="div_e5e459ef-3911-4c37-bbee-61201f57215e"></div><div id="vid_e5e459ef-3911-4c37-bbee-61201f57215e" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p>He pointed to a tense relationship between two staffers he had to help resolve. Bushnell approached the situation gingerly at first, without much luck. But conversations with Manginelli convinced him that he needed to be bolder and ask more of the staffer who appeared to bear greater responsibility for the conflict. </p><p>“She asked me to push a little bit more,” Bushnell said of Manginelli. “I did, and I was able to have a really great meaningful conversation. … It turns out that there were a couple of things that I was unaware of that had led to a rift between those two colleagues. And it ended up working itself out.”</p><p>“The role of the coach is to be there to ask the questions that help move [students] forward,” Manginelli said. “To know them well enough to know the skills and dispositions that they already have and where there are areas that you need to help them build.”</p><p>Bushnell says he appreciates the opportunity to have two sources of feedback from two different perspectives. “[Salutari and Manginelli] both asked me great questions that pushed me and challenged me, which I really appreciate,” he said. “That's been a great part of the whole coaching and internship experience so far.”</p><p>Such experiences require a fair amount of work, of course. Coaches need training and support. UCAPP administrators must maintain communications with coaches and mentors so classroom and internship experiences complement each other. Mentor principals must make time to ensure a valuable experience for their interns. And the schools where UCAPP students currently teach must hire substitutes while those students work in other schools learning to be principals.</p><p>It is too early to say whether these extra efforts will translate to improved performance among UCAPP graduates. The program’s careful reexamination of its internships, however, has drawn a significant source of support to continue its efforts. The Neag School of Education, of which UCAPP is a part, has earmarked $48,000 of annual funding from the school’s endowment to cover all costs of substitutes at UCAPP students’ home schools. </p><p>Such support could help train better principals. It could also help the schools in which they develop their leadership skills. Bushnell is thinking ahead to his “change project,” the capstone of the core assessment projects that he is to complete in his second year. The change project requires students to take elements of their work throughout the two years of UCAPP, learned both in class and in their internships, use them to help improve instruction at their host schools and work to ensure that the improvements continue beyond the internship. </p><p>“I’m hopeful,” Bushnell said, “that the work that I’ve done will last at the school, hopefully long after I’m gone.”</p><p>Read the previous post in our UConn series&#58; <a href="/news-and-media/blog/pages/a-road-to-more-effective-principals-begins-in-one-universitys-classrooms.aspx">A Road to More Effective Principals Begins in One University’s Classrooms</a>. <br> </p>Wallace editorial team792020-06-02T04:00:00ZThe University of Connecticut strengthens supports to help aspiring principals navigate new roles6/3/2020 4:59:38 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Taking Principal Training to the Real World The University of Connecticut strengthens supports to help aspiring principals 224https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Changing Principal Preparation to Help Meet School Needs21337GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p><em>This post is the first of a series profiling the University of Connecticut’s efforts to strengthen its principal training program. The university is one of seven institutions participating in Wallace’s University Principal Preparation Initiative (UPPI), which seeks to help improve training of future principals so they are better prepared to ensure quality instruction and schools. A research effort documenting the universities’ efforts is underway. While we await its results, this series describes one university’s work so far.</em></p><p><em>In this post, Dr. Richard Gonzales, director of the university’s educational leadership preparation programs, describes why the university decided to participate in the initiative, its general approach to the work and the effects it is seeing so far. Other posts include descriptions of efforts to redesign curricula and internships, students’ and faculty members’ views about the new design and the ways in which the university works with community partners to ensure it is meeting their needs.</em></p><p><em>These posts were planned and researched before the novel coronavirus pandemic spread in the United States. The work they describe predates the pandemic and may change as a result of it. The University of Connecticut is working to determine the effects of the pandemic on its work and how it will respond to them.</em></p><p>Change. It is a topic fundamental to schools and leadership. Since the mid-1980s, it has been a central theme in the discourse of educational reform. Today, it is a day-to-day reality for principals and superintendents leading public schools. Graduate education programs accordingly include, if not feature, the concept of change in coursework, assigned readings and capstone projects.</p><p>Still, change is not yet a part of the culture and operating norm within higher education. There is a gap between espoused theory and lived action in educational leadership graduate programs. Many profess that change is instrumental to organizational improvement. Yet, a vast majority of those programs have not changed substantially for decades. Here, I share my perspective of leading and supporting the effort to redesign the UConn Administrator Preparation Program, with the hope that our work can serve as an informative example of what bridging the gap between theory and practice can be like.</p><p><strong>Why change what is (apparently) working well?</strong></p><p>The University of Connecticut Administrator Preparation Program (UCAPP) was doing well by any reasonable measure in 2016. Enrollment was steady, alumni satisfaction was quite high and at least 95 percent of every graduating cohort in the previous five years passed the state certification exam and completed the program on time. Encouraging as they were, those indicators weren’t enough for us at UConn. We viewed the Wallace University Principal Preparation Initiative (UPPI) as an opportunity to critically examine our program and identify ways in which we could improve.</p><p>A key step in our journey was completing the <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/quality-measures-principal-preparation-program-assessment.aspx">Quality Measures self-assessment</a>. We used the instrument to identify what we were already doing well and highlight ways that we could improve. The self-study process helped us identify three improvement priorities for redesign.</p><p>The most significant takeaway was that we could not speak with confidence to our graduates’ level of competence in core leadership domains such as instructional leadership, talent management and organizational leadership. We accordingly started our redesign process by defining project-based tasks which would assess our students’ <em>applied</em> knowledge, skill and judgment. Our practical theory was that such tasks would give students the opportunity to assess and demonstrate their skills in these areas and allow us to ensure they were ready to lead schools.</p><p>We also realized we needed to do a better job of monitoring student progress and graduate outcomes. Information is useful only if you have systems in place to use it to evaluate what’s working and guide continuous improvement. We had no data systems in place, so we are developing the Neag School Educator Preparation Analytics System in partnership with the UConn Graduate School, local school districts and the Connecticut State Department of Education. This database will allow us to answer questions about our students’ performance while in our program as well as their career pathways from undergraduate degree to district-level leadership positions. </p><p>Developing this data analytics system forced us to face an uncomfortable fact and our third priority for improvement&#58; our student demographics were not representative of the educator workforce. Although nine percent of certified educators in Connecticut are persons of color, Black or African American and Latino educators typically constituted only one to two percent of our enrollment over the past 10 years. Actively recruiting educators of color and promoting their attainment of and success in school and district leadership roles is now a top priority to promote equitable workforce outcomes in our state. </p><p>Inspired by the Carnegie Foundation’s work in the area of continuous improvement, we developed a practical theory of change, referred to as a logic model in UPPI, for the work ahead. The fundamental shift for us at UConn is that success used to be measured by delivering on the promise of a quality holistic preparation experience. Going forward it will be measured by student and graduate outcomes and the impact of our partnerships to improve the leadership pipeline across Connecticut. Redesign for us accordingly entailed changing the program of study, the curriculum, our instructional approach, expectations for student learning, the structure of the practicum experience and developing systems for collecting and using program data to inform implementation and planning. </p><p><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Changing-Principal-Preparation-to-Help-Meet-School-Needs/theory-of-change-table.jpg" alt="theory-of-change-table.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br> <img src="file&#58;///C&#58;/Users/jmoreno/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Dreamweaver%20CC%202019/en_US/OfficeImageTemp/clip_image002.jpg" width="624" height="351" border="0" alt="" /><br> <strong>Improvement in action&#58; the example of core assessments</strong><br> Perhaps the best example of the translation of theory to practice is the core assessments. We underwent similar processes to increase diversity and develop data systems, concepts that will be discussed in other blog posts in this series.</p><p>We designed the core assessments to address four shortcomings we uncovered in the Quality Measures self-assessment&#58; </p><ol><li>Most “final” assignments asked students to write papers and had few connections to lived leadership experience in schools. </li><li>Students developed several plans for school improvement, but never implemented them. </li><li>Students only did work aligned to course topics (supervision, curriculum, etc.) during the semester of the course, rarely returning to them again. </li><li>We didn’t know the extent to which students were making connections among course topics and assignments. </li></ol><p>The core assessments in our restructured program seek to tie together previously disparate parts of our program. They are a set of leadership tasks students must complete and use to measure their competencies in the domains of instructional leadership, talent management and organizational leadership. Students no longer learn about one skill or competency and move on. The core assessment tasks allow them to practice authentic principalship work in schools as part of the clinical experience.</p><p>Students first conduct an organizational diagnosis to identify what is working well in a school and potential areas of improvement. Next, they formally observe a teacher’s lesson and provide constructive feedback to promote student learning. They then facilitate a professional learning community with a teacher team or the entire school. For the capstone project, each student leads a group of stakeholders in a school improvement initiative. </p><p>Courses now align content and scaffold experiences to support students’ completion of each task independently within prescribed timelines. A leadership coach guides each student through the Investigate-Plan-Act-Assess-Reflect process for each task to promote leadership learning. </p><p><strong>Encouraging signs of adaptation</strong></p><p>While it is too early to tell the extent to which we will achieve our goals, it is evident by the way we engage in the daily work of preparing our principalship candidates that we are a different program. <a href="https&#58;//www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10174450">Heifetz and Laurie (1997)</a> describe adaptive challenges as those that organizations face when they undergo substantial change. They argue that adaptive challenges require organizations to “clarify their values, develop new strategies, and learn new ways of operating” by discussing, debating and problem-solving in real time while engaging in the core work. At UConn, the early adaptive responses center around collaboration and communication to deal with the adaptive challenges of implementing a new program of study and a substantially different approach to preparing aspiring school leaders. </p><p>The first noticeable change is that communication happens more frequently and openly to plan and teach the new courses. In the past, instructors might have had a pre-course meeting to discuss the syllabus and an end-of-course debrief discussion. In the restructured program, instructors are communicating weekly. They are sharing preparation notes, presentation slides and observations about student sensemaking. In effect, they are using these data to make real-time adjustments to content and instructional practices. For example, three instructors teaching a talent management course recently exchanged ideas for how to facilitate discussion—online and in class—about providing evidence-based feedback to teachers. In their discussion, they considered how this practice would be helpful to the students in demonstrating proficiency in the core assessment’s teacher-observation task, which measures practical knowledge, skill and judgment of this foundational principalship practice. </p><p>In addition to communication happening more frequently about coursework, we are also discussing “big picture” program considerations differently throughout the organization. As one instructor recently commented, the new program requires us to think about the whole program, not only a single class, assignment or experience. This has implications for how we structure opportunities to plan, ask questions and solve problems systemically. Understanding the conceptual and practical connections between the coursework and the clinical experience provides an excellent example. It is no longer a matter of “Who does what?” or “Where does that happen in the program?” Instructors are starting to wonder and ask aloud&#58; “How does what I’m responsible for connect to what came before, what else is happening right now and what comes next?” Leadership coaches are similarly mindful of when things happen in schools and districts during the academic year to guide the interns’ thinking and action accordingly.</p><p>Our students are also developing a voice and informing implementation, a phenomenon which was virtually non-existent in the past. New organizational norms, we hope, encourage students to speak up about what is working for them and what is not. For example, the first cohorts to enroll in the restructured program recently challenged our espoused program commitment to equity (using language from our handbook and coursework) by pointing out that the vast majority of instructors and guest lecturers work in suburban districts. They argued that including urban leaders’ perspectives would enhance their preparation experience. This feedback helped us realize that we could and must do better immediately and from now on to ensure proportionate representation. </p><p>Our case is an example that it is possible for higher education organizations to close the gap between professing change theory and living it in action. We look forward to the continued challenge of reconciling our organizational values with new ways of operating.</p> Richard Gonzales1082020-05-21T04:00:00ZA University of Connecticut director describes his program’s attempts to improve principal training and equip new administrators to lead today’s schools5/21/2020 4:16:08 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Changing Principal Preparation to Help Meet School Needs A University of Connecticut director describes his program’s 641https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Understanding the Effects of Building a Principal Pipeline Strategy11926GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>On this day one year ago educators from around the country came to New York City to celebrate the launch of the RAND Corporation’s report <em> <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/principal-pipelines-a-feasible,-affordable,-and-effective-way-for-districts-to-improve-schools.aspx">Principal Pipelines&#58; A Feasible, Affordable, and Effective Way for Districts to Improve Schools</a></em><em>.</em> The report, which examined the impact of a strategic approach to school leader development in the six large districts that took part in Wallace’s Principal Pipeline Initiative, found a positive impact on student achievement and principal retention. </p><p>A lot has happened since we released the findings, and it’s no understatement to say a lot has happened in the world around us as well. Still, we thought this day was worthy of note, both to acknowledge the significance of the original findings and the work they have inspired. </p><p>In late 2019, we <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/effectively-communicating-about-principal-pipelines.aspx">commissioned market research</a> to better understand how state and local educators view pipelines, the benefits they deemed most important and any barriers that prevented them from implementing the approach. This could ultimately help us and others in the field communicate more effectively about pipelines. The main takeaway&#58; The researchers found that the response to the principal pipeline approach to developing a robust corps of effective school leaders is “resoundingly positive.” However, a key challenge in advancing pipelines is differentiating what some districts are doing now from the deliberate and comprehensive approach encompassed in the domains of the principal pipeline strategy. There’s much more in the deck for those interested in the language we use to define school leadership and what it means to different people. </p><p>Meanwhile, we’ve been working with 90 school districts in 31 states to test and spread the lessons learned from the Principal Pipeline Initiative. The 90 districts have signed on to test a tool kit that guides how they hire, train and match principals. Read more about the initiative <a href="https&#58;//www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2020/02/10/6-districts-invested-in-principals-and-saw.html">here</a> and stay tuned for results in the fall.&#160; Finally, later this year, we will release a literature review on the connection between school leadership and student achievement. </p><p>And if you’re still looking for more on the Principal Pipeline, visit our <a href="/knowledge-center/school-leadership/pages/principal-pipeline-implementation.aspx">Pipeline Page</a> for all things related to the groundbreaking report and the work behind it. </p><p> <em>Photo by </em><a href="http&#58;//www.claireholtphotography.com/"><em>Claire Holt</em></a> </p>Wallace editorial team792020-04-08T04:00:00ZThe learning continues one year after the launch of RAND’s groundbreaking report on school leadership4/8/2020 4:44:39 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Understanding the Effects of Building a Principal Pipeline Strategy The learning continues one year after the launch of 524https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Spreading Lessons from the Principal Pipeline11148GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>Over the next several months, The Wallace Foundation is testing the <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/principal-pipelines-a-feasible,-affordable,-and-effective-way-for-districts-to-improve-schools.aspx">lessons learned</a> in its Principal Pipeline Initiative to see if the significant improvement in math and reading scores across six school districts can be replicated on a large scale. Those districts took a strategic approach to hiring, training, supporting and placing principals, creating a pipeline of school leaders. Pipeline-building proved to be feasible, affordable, effective and adaptable. </p><p>Now the question is&#58; Will the approach work for 90 districts in 31 states? </p><p>Wallace <a href="https&#58;//www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2020/02/10/6-districts-invested-in-principals-and-saw.html" target="_blank">director of education Jody Spiro spoke with <em>EdWeek</em></a> about the new effort, in which the 90 districts have signed on to test a tool kit that guides how they hire, train and match principals to schools. </p><p>Stay tuned for the results in the fall. In the meantime, we’ve got your source for all things principal pipeline at <a href="http&#58;//www.wallacefoundation.org/principalpipeline">www.wallacefoundation.org/principalpipeline</a>.&#160; </p><p><em>Photo by Claire Holt </em></p> Wallace editorial team792020-02-18T05:00:00Z90 districts will test if the success of the districts in the Principal Pipeline Initiative can be replicated2/18/2020 7:33:06 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Spreading Lessons from the Principal Pipeline Posted: 2/18/2020 Author: Wallace editorial team 625https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Performance Reviews Become a Tool for Developing Effective Principals4078GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p> <em>​​​​​​​​A principal pipeline is an approach to leader development that can have major benefits for school districts, as indicated in <a href="/knowledge-center/school-leadership/pages/principal-pipeline-implementation.aspx">groundbreaking research</a> we published recently. Pipelines consist of four parts—rigorous job standards, high quality pre-service preparation, selective hiring, and strong on-the-job support and evaluation. In an occasional series, we are examining these components by talking to principals in the school districts that, with Wallace support, tested the pipeline idea. Today, we meet a principal from Hillsborough County Public Schools in Florida who benefited from the district’s revamped evaluation system.</em></p><p>Some people run from change, but Rachael O’Dea thrives on it. When she was appointed in 2015 as a first-year principal to Lanier Elementary School in Tampa, Fla., just 42 percent of the students were proficient in reading and math. Garbage littered the campus, making the school feel like “a forgotten place,” she recalls. </p><p>O’Dea wasted no time in leading the Title I school’s turnaround, creating multiple job-embedded professional development opportunities for teachers. She scheduled weekly hourlong sessions for teachers to meet with reading and math coaches, review the standards they were teaching to&#160;and collaborate on lesson plans. She implemented a schoolwide leadership program—modeled after Stephen Covey’s book <em>The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People</em>—that includes goal-setting for both teachers and students. The school campus also received a makeover, thanks to a new event O’Dea established that enlists parent volunteers to spruce it up. </p><p>Around the same time, O’Dea’s employer, Hillsborough County Public Schools, was in the midst of a makeover too. It was revamping the way principals are evaluated. For O’Dea, the new process fostered a stronger partnership with her supervisor and led her to rethink the way that Lanier engaged its most important ally in raising student achievement&#58; parents. </p><p>Nationally, most principals are reviewed annually, but research indicates that few find the process useful to improving their practice. Hillsborough County and the other pipeline districts sought to change that, believing that evaluations could be a key&#160;&#160;tool to developing effective leaders. </p><p>In Hillsborough, the first step was analyzing and modifying the district’s professional standards for principals, which outline what school leaders are expected to know and do. A committee of school leaders, district administrators and others then developed a standards-based evaluation system that supports principals’ professional growth. In addition to student achievement, Hillsborough principals are now evaluated in five realms aligned to the standards&#58; achievement focus and results orientation; instructional expertise; managing and developing people; culture and relationship building; and problem solving and strategic management.</p><p>Principal supervisors base their assessment on concrete evidence collected throughout the school year as they interact with the principals they oversee. To determine&#160;instructional expertise, for instance, the evaluation examines how well a principal conducts classroom observations, uses data to boost student learning and ensures that curriculum, instructional strategies and assessments are in sync. Supervisor feedback to principals on how they are doing in the various realms is ongoing—one Hillsborough principal <a href="/knowledge-center/Documents/Building-a-Stronger-Principalship-Vol-4-Evaluating-and-Supporting-Principals.pdf">described</a> it to researchers as a “pulse check”—so that school leaders get the targeted support they need. </p><p>The district has found, for example, that many novice principals struggle with strategic change management. In response, principal supervisors and leadership coaches work with new principals to identify the root causes of the problems at their schools and narrow possible solutions to a few they can do well. They also help principals manage their time, so they stay focused on what matters. “With the demands of the job, it is very easy to become scattered and surface-level with implementation,” says Tricia McManus, Hillsborough’s assistant superintendent for leadership, professional development and school transformation. “Regular on-site coaching provides novice principals with the support needed to be successful.”&#160; &#160;</p><p>Like Hillsborough, the other five districts in the Principal Pipeline Initiative refurbished their principal evaluations, and overall, novice principals across the six districts expressed enthusiasm for the new approach. At least 75 percent of respondents to a survey of novice principals working in the pipeline districts agreed that their evaluations accurately reflected both their performance and the complexity of their jobs. A large majority who were told they needed to improve in at least one practice area reported getting help in that area. </p><p>O’Dea says Hillsborough’s current evaluation process begins at the start of the school year, when she meets with her supervisor to review data and set annual goals that are aligned with the school’s needs. “It is more than an evaluation,” she says. “It is about reflection and planning for the school community you are leading.” </p><p>While she excelled in her evaluations at Lanier, O’Dea found that the process helped her recognize that she could do more to engage school families, an aspect of culture and relationship building. “It’s hard to get parents in the door, especially at a Title I school,” she says. After brainstorming with her supervisor, she scrapped science day, which historically hadn’t drawn much interest, and replaced it with a leadership day for students to showcase their leadership skills and how they incorporate the 7 Habits in their daily life. Attendance at the event was strong. “When I started thinking differently about how to engage families, beyond academics, it really changed things,” she says. </p><p>Last year, district managers asked O’Dea to lead Forest Hills Elementary School, one of Hillsborough’s lowest-performing schools. By then, Lanier students had made significant academic gains&#58; In the 2017-2018 school year, 57 percent were proficient in math and 50 percent in reading. O’Dea left the school in good hands. Her former assistant principal, whom she mentored through the district’s principal training program, is now in charge.<br></p><p> <em>Photo of Rachel O’Dea (above, right)&#160;by&#160;</em><em><a href="http&#58;//claireholtphotography.com/">Claire Holt</a></em><a href="http&#58;//claireholtphotography.com/"><br></a></p><p><br></p><h3 class="wf-Element-H3"> Previous posts in this series include&#58;​<br></h3><p> <a href="http&#58;//claireholtphotography.com/">“</a><a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/new-hiring-approach-helps-district-make-the-right-match-between-principal-and-school.aspx">New Hiring Approach Helps District Make Right Match Between Principal and School</a>” </p><p>“<a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/leader-standards-let-principals-know-what-to-strive-for.aspx">Leader Standards Let Principals Know What to Strive For</a>”</p><p>“<a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/on-the-job-support-helps-new-principals-build-skills-and-confidence.aspx">On-the-Job Support Helps New Principals Build Skills—and Confidence</a>”</p><p>“<a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/effective-school-leaders-learn-how-to-solve-problems.aspx">Effective School Leaders Learn How to Solve Problems</a>”​<br><br></p>Jennifer Gill832019-11-26T05:00:00ZYour 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.11/26/2019 6:44:28 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Performance Reviews Become a Tool for Developing Effective Principals A new approach to evaluation helps a Tampa principal 1071https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
New Hiring Approach Helps District Make the Right Match Between Principal and School3724GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p> <em>​​​​​A principal pipeline is an approach to school leader development that can have major benefits for school districts, as indicated in <a href="/knowledge-center/school-leadership/pages/principal-pipeline-implementation.aspx">groundbreaking research</a> we published recently. Pipelines have four parts—rigorous job standards, high-quality pre-service preparation, selective hiring, and aligned on-the-job support and evaluation. In an occasional series, we examine each of these components by talking to principals in six urban districts that, with Wallace support, tested the pipeline idea. In previous posts, we found out how <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/effective-school-leaders-learn-how-to-solve-problems.aspx">pre-service training</a> prepared a Georgia principal to improve the graduation rate at his high school, <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/on-the-job-support-helps-new-principals-build-skills-and-confidence.aspx">how on-the-job support</a> helped a new principal in North Carolina gain the skills he needed to succeed, and how job standards <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/leader-standards-let-principals-know-what-to-strive-for.aspx">shaped the leadership development​</a> of a principal in Denver.</em><em>&#160;Today, we examine how selective hiring led to a perfect match for a first-time principal and her new school in Prince George’s County, Md., just outside Washington, D.C.</em></p><p>A decade ago, hiring a principal in Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland typically meant screening hundreds of applications with little guarantee that the laborious process would turn up someone with the right skills and experience for the job. That’s because anyone with the state-required certification could apply, resulting in a deluge of résumés each time a vacancy was advertised. &#160;</p><p>But last spring district administrators didn’t have to comb through stacks of submissions to find Adelaide Blake. She was already on their radar. That’s thanks to the way Prince George’s County has changed its approach to principal hiring and placement in recent years so that the district draws job candidates almost exclusively from among a group of professionals who have already been screened to show they are qualified for the job. </p><p>Blake was one of those pros. She began her career in the district as a special education teacher in 2007, helping develop a program for children with autism at Seat Pleasant Elementary School in Seat Pleasant, Md. The program flourished under Blake’s leadership, and over time she made a transition into the school’s administration, first as chair of its special education department and later, in 2014, as its assistant principal. </p><p>In 2018, Blake was one of four assistant principals in the district selected for a yearlong residency program that pairs would-be principals with experienced leaders in schools. Blake learned the ropes from a veteran principal at Chapel Forge Early Education Center, a preschool in Bowie, Md., where 75 percent of the students have physical or learning disabilities. At first Blake shadowed her mentor, then gradually took charge of running the school. (Her mentor, meanwhile, interned in the central office to explore alternate career paths should she ever decide to step down as principal.) As her residency drew to a close, Blake received a call from district leaders about a principal opening at C. Elizabeth Rieg Regional, a K-12 school for students with special needs in Mitchellville, Md. Blake interviewed and got the job, which she describes as an excellent fit based on her experience and the school’s needs. “Working with so many people over the years—special educators, general educators, paraprofessionals, parents, special-ed service providers—prepared me to be the leader that I am today,” she says. </p><p>Blake got the call from district officials because she was “in the pool,” lingo used by the pipeline districts to describe a group of aspiring school leaders who are eligible for principal jobs. The districts found that instituting a hiring pool served two important purposes. First, it ensures that only high-quality candidates who’ve demonstrated readiness to be effective principals are considered for openings. Most applicants to Prince George’s talent pool have completed one of the district’s leadership programs for aspiring principals, but that alone does not secure entry. They still must pass a range of practical exercises aligned to the district’s leadership standards, such as writing a 90-day “entry plan” as the principal of a hypothetical school to show how they would prioritize needs and draw upon district resources. They’re also asked to watch videos of classroom instruction and explain the feedback they would give to the teacher. Because Blake was already an acting principal, her assessment wasn’t based on fictional scenarios but on the real work she was doing in her residency. Candidates who ace the practical demonstrations advance to step two, an interview with a panel of principal supervisors and coaches who determine eligibility. </p><p>Prince George’s talent pool has also streamlined the hiring process. Rather than posting a vacancy and waiting to see who applies, district managers proactively contact candidates in the pool who are a good match. Sometimes, the process sheds light on areas of expertise that are lacking. While the district usually interviews four candidates for each opening, it only considered Blake and one other person for the principalship at Rieg because they were the only ones with a background in special education. “It’s been an eye opener to see the gaps we have, in areas like language immersion, special education, charter school operations,” says Melissa Ellis, district supervisor of school leadership programs. “We have to address how we’re going to identify the talent to work in these specific types of schools.”</p><p>While the right experience is critical, so too are the soft skills that an incoming principal needs to build strong relationships with a school community. To assess that ability, the new superintendent of Prince George’s recently reinstated a community interview as part of the hiring process. Candidates meet with a panel of up to 10 to 12 community members, including teachers, support staff, parents and business partners, to discuss their vision for the school and how to best meet its needs. The top two candidates then sit down individually with the superintendent, who makes the final hiring decision. Blake was nervous about meeting the Rieg community, but says it sent a powerful message that hiring a principal is a collaborative effort. She has emphasized that spirit of collaboration in her work as principal. “I’ve made it very clear that I’m not making decisions alone,” she says. “We as a community are working together to define the mission and core values of our building.”&#160; &#160;<br></p><p> <em>​Photo of Adelaide Blake&#160;(above right)​ by&#160;Colby Ware</em></p>Jennifer Gill832019-11-12T05:00:00ZSee How Prince George’s County, Md., Taps Its Talent Pool for More Efficient—and Effective—Principal Placement11/12/2019 6:08:27 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / New Hiring Approach Helps District Make the Right Match Between Principal and School See How Prince George’s County, Md 1349https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Leader Standards Let Principals Know What to Strive For4321GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p> <em>​​A principal pipeline is an approach to school leader development that can have major benefits for school districts, as indicated in <a href="/knowledge-center/school-leadership/pages/principal-pipeline-implementation.aspx">groundbreaking research</a> we published recently. Pipelines have four parts—rigorous job standards, high-quality pre-service preparation, selective hiring, and aligned on-the-job support and evaluation. In an occasional series, we examine each of these components by talking to principals in six urban districts that, with Wallace support, tested the pipeline idea. In previous posts, we found out how <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/effective-school-leaders-learn-how-to-solve-problems.aspx">pre-service training</a> prepared a Georgia principal to improve the graduation rate at his high school, and <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/on-the-job-support-helps-new-principals-build-skills-and-confidence.aspx">how on-the-job support</a> helped a new principal in North Carolina gain the skills he needed to succeed. Today, we explore how job standards shaped the leadership development of a principal in Denver.&#160;</em></p><p>When Pam Kirk became an assistant principal in 2008, she had a meeting with her new boss at Force Elementary School in southwest Denver. Her principal asked which leadership skills Kirk wanted to work on that year. Kirk wasn’t sure how to answer. As a former third grade teacher, she had never held any leadership positions, let alone given thought to what her leader strengths and weaknesses were. “I came straight out of a classroom to being an AP,” she says. “I was like, ‘I don’t know what I’m supposed to work on. You tell me.’”</p><p>Fast-forward more than a decade and conversations about goals and professional growth sound very different in Denver Public Schools. In 2012, the district unveiled its School Leadership Framework, a set of job standards that outlines expectations for principals in six leadership realms and identifies indicators that demonstrate competency in each. Today, the framework informs all aspects of the district’s talent management strategy for school leaders, from training to recruitment, from performance evaluation to succession planning. “It anchors everything we do,” says Mikel Royal, director of school leader preparation and development for Denver Public Schools.&#160;</p><p>Leader standards may strike observers as the most mundane of the four pipeline components, but the six pipeline districts found them of singular importance, according to <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/building-a-stronger-principalship-vol-5-the-principal-pipeline-initiative-in-action.aspx">research about the implementation</a> of the pipeline effort. This is in part because of how the standards guided the development of the other pipeline components and helped the pipeline as a whole cohere. The new standards replaced what the researchers described as “a loose patchwork of language about school leadership that did not communicate what the district really wanted principals to know and do.” Then, the new standards were often themselves revised, as districts observed the standards in use and saw gaps in them or lack of clarity about important matters, or lists that needed trimming to a few absolute essentials. “Living documents in use” is how the researchers characterized the standards. Moreover, developing standards proved to be by far the least expensive of the pipeline components, according to an initiative <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/what-it-takes-to-operate-and-maintain-principal-pipelines-costs-and-other-resources.aspx">cost study</a>. They carried a per-pupil price tag of about 41 cents a year—“remarkably inexpensive” for something so significant, the researchers said.&#160; </p><p>Kirk’s entry into the principal pipeline coincided with the launch of Denver’s standards’ framework. In 2012, she was among the district’s first educators to participate in Learn To Lead, a yearlong residency program in which aspiring principals work alongside veteran leaders in schools. The program is rooted in the framework, with residents identifying two to three indicators as growth goals for the year. The framework was so new that Kirk had to explain it to her mentor principal.&#160;</p><p>After her residency, Kirk applied to the hiring pool for principals, a process also closely aligned to the framework. To gauge her readiness as an instructional leader (standard two), for example, Kirk was asked to watch a video of classroom instruction and describe the feedback she would give to the teacher. To assess her skills as a community builder (standard six), district leaders had her role-play a scenario in which upset parents confronted her.&#160;</p><p>The framework influenced Kirk’s professional growth after she became principal of Asbury Elementary School in south Denver. At a workshop in 2015, she and other school leaders unpacked each standard and reviewed the types of evidence that their supervisors would use to evaluate their performance on a four-point scale&#58; not meeting, approaching, effective and distinguished. That year, principals also set professional goals tied to the framework. Kirk chose to concentrate on creating a more supportive workplace for her staff. “I’m not a warm and fuzzy principal—it’s not a strength of mine,” she says. “The framework makes me focus on it and ensures that I’m bringing those values to my building.”</p><p>In 2017, Denver revised the framework with input from principals to define expectations for all members of a school’s instructional leadership team—principal, assistant principal, deans and teacher leaders. Previously, everyone had been evaluated against the principal standards. In the area of instructional expertise, for example, teacher leaders are expected to develop a team of teachers who deliver “joyful, rigorous instruction,” while the principal is tasked with building and empowering the instructional leadership team to ensure engaging instruction for all students. By showing the competency progression, the framework has become a powerful tool for leaders at all levels to “self-assess their progress and have conversations with their supervisor about their growth,” says Royal.&#160;&#160;<br></p><p>Earlier this year, Kirk used the framework for the first time to evaluate Asbury Elementary’s dean of culture. She was surprised by all the evidence she needed to collect to make an informed assessment. Still, the effort led to a more meaningful conversation with her dean. Rather than a perfunctory review of his evaluation scores, she says, “we focused on the data behind the decision and his next steps moving forward.”&#160;Kirk recently took a step forward in her career too. In September, she became the new principal of Southmoor Elementary School in Denver.<br></p><p><em>​Photo of Pam Kirk by Sam Adams/Adams Visual Communications</em></p>Jennifer Gill832019-10-29T04:00:00ZA Denver principal reflects on how district standards influenced her growth and practice11/12/2019 7:08:38 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Leader Standards Let Principals Know What to Strive For A Denver principal reflects on how district standards influenced 1263https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx

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