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Remote Support of Principal Supervisors “Not Different” from Pre-COVID Times26305GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​Last spring the role of the principal changed overnight and continues to evolve. As the pandemic took hold, principals almost immediately shifted from leading a school within a building to leading virtual schools. Principal supervisors had to pivot, too.</p><p>Strong <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/changing-the-principal-supervisor-role-to-better-support-principals.aspx">principal supervisors are high-touch with their principals,</a> working with them intensively one-on-one and in learning communities, often in school buildings.&#160;How are they adapting to the online environment? What seems promising? What new supports do they need to adapt successfully? </p><p>This summer, Meredith Honig, a professor and director of the District Leadership Design Lab at the University of Washington, and Nancy Gutiérrez, president and CEO of The Leadership Academy, a national nonprofit organization, <a href="https&#58;//www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GlfNdbmTuU&amp;feature=youtu.be">took on this question in a webinar</a> in the series <em>Education Leadership for a Digital World</em>. <a href="https&#58;//digitalpromise.org/webinars/education-leadership-for-a-digital-world/">The series</a> was hosted by Digital Promise, with support from Wallace. </p><p>After watching the replay of the webinar, I reached out to <span> <span>Gutiérrez</span></span> and Honig for a follow-up conversation aimed at learning what principal supervisors can do to support their principals as the pandemic continues. If you are anything like me, you will be blown away by the depth of knowledge&#160;they shared in response to my questions.&#160;An edited version of our conversation follows. </p><p> <strong>How can principal supervisors be most supportive of principals now?</strong><br><br><strong>Honig&#58;</strong> It’s as important as ever for principals to be leading powerfully for high-quality, culturally responsive, anti-racist teaching and learning.&#160;The shift to remote learning means many longstanding inequities may grow worse. So now is the time for principals to double down on their equity-focused instructional leadership and for principal supervisors to support them in that essential work.</p><p>In more typical times, maintaining that focus can be tough. That focus is definitely tough now as remote learning continues and too many students still do not have internet and laptops. Families are dealing with food insecurity, lack of access to childcare and other basic supports they rely on schools for. </p><p>That’s what we and others are seeing&#58; That shifting to remote learning has upped the ante on districts to ensure principals are supported to lead powerfully for excellent equitable instruction. <em>And</em> that they are trying to do that in the middle of a national public health crisis that, especially without federal support, continues to have dire consequences for school communities. Many of those consequences fall on the doorsteps of school districts and create incredible operational challenges. It’s tempting for principal supervisors to want to step in and help with that operational work. Our research and experience are clear that principal supervisors should resist that temptation. Principal supervisors are uniquely positioned to help principals keep their focus on equitable teaching and learning, and now’s not the time to let up.&#160;</p><p> <strong>Gutiérrez&#58;</strong> I agree, Meredith. We have to drop evaluative tones and focus on capacity building. Commit to leveraging effective adult learning practices to ensure good use of the time commitment. (Our leaders are juggling multiple commitments). Align learning what we know about effective adult learning.<br><br> We have some essential beliefs about adult learning<strong></strong> at <a href="https&#58;//www.leadershipacademy.org/resource/district-leadership/">The Leadership Academy</a>. We structure our work to make sure principal supervisors learn from experience and reflection, have structured freedom, engage in learning as a social process, make meaning through stories and have support through the most uncomfortable parts of learning. We model what we would like to see them do with the principals they lead. </p><p> <strong>What does this kind of hands-on support for principals look like with remote learning?</strong>&#160;<br><br><strong><span><span><strong>Gutiérrez&#58;</strong></span></span></strong> One key skill principal supervisors have learned to do well since last March has been to build capacity remotely. Believe it or not, it is still possible to visit classrooms with the same frequency and create feedback sessions for principals about the work in real time—remote coaching is one way to do this and follows the exact <a href="https&#58;//digitalpromise.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/remote-learning-check-in-guide.pdf">same five-step process a principal supervisor uses in person.</a></p><p>We would argue that remote support is not different from what we did pre-COVID. It requires building and maintaining relationships, coaching principals to better their practice as culturally responsive leaders, bringing small learning communities together to learn from each other and being responsive to principals' many questions and challenges in real time. The key here is not only to problem-solve in real time but to check on the social and emotional well-being of the adults. Adults need love too!&#160;</p><p class="wf-Element-Callout">Some principal supervisors tell us that they can be even more supportive of principals’ instructional leadership growth now that they don't have to spend so much time traveling to schools<br></p><p> <strong>Honig&#58;</strong> Our ongoing research supports all of what you just shared, Nancy. When principal supervisors help principals grow as instructional leaders, they don't actually supervise in the traditional sense of the word—that is, they do not mainly evaluate or direct principals.&#160;</p><p>Instead, they coach principals from a teaching-and-learning stance—helping principals lead their own learning and mentoring principals one-on-one and in learning communities. That’s still the right work and really, it’s especially the right work right now when principals need flexibility and support to navigate the challenges of ensuring equity with remote learning. </p><p>Much of that support can be provided remotely through video conferencing, for example. Some principal supervisors tell us that they can be even more supportive of principals’ instructional leadership growth now that they don't have to spend so much time traveling to schools and that they can now more easily observe principals working with teachers online.&#160;</p><p> <strong>How can other district leaders support their principals and their supervisors as they navigate the new digital world we’re all living in?&#160;</strong><br><br><strong>Honig&#58;</strong> District support for principal supervisors is key to their success every day and especially today. In particular, supervisors of principal supervisors have important roles to play in principal supervisor support by reinforcing principal supervisors’ focus on principals’ growth as equity-focused instructional leaders, protecting principal supervisors’ time for that work and mentoring them in taking a teaching-and-learning approach. In the webinar, I share examples of what that support looks like and the consequences of principal supervisors not receiving it.&#160; Supervisors of principal supervisors can find those examples as well as tools to help principal supervisors in our book, <a href="https&#58;//www.hepg.org/hep-home/books/supervising-principals-for-instructional-leadershi">S<em>upervising Principals for Instructional Leadership.</em></a></p><p>District leaders can also support principals and their supervisors by taking a hard look at their central offices. The pandemic has provided a unique opportunity for all of us to see some fundamental mismatches between what central offices have traditionally done and what supporting educational equity takes. We outline some of those mismatches in <a href="https&#58;//annenberg.brown.edu/sites/default/files/EdResearch_for_Recovery_Brief_10.pdf">a recent brief</a>. </p><p>As districts consider how to come out of the pandemic with a much stronger anti-racist equity focus, the principal supervisor-principal relationship can provide a kind of beacon. When principal supervisors try to do the right work and focus on principals’ growth as equity-focused instructional leaders, when does the rest of the central office get in the way of that work? And how can we start to bring all of what we do into greater alignment?</p><p> <strong><span><span><strong>Gutiérrez&#58;</strong></span></span></strong>&#160;The way districts can best support our principal supervisors&#58; 1) build their capacity, too; 2) check on their social and emotional well-being; and 3) make this difficult work, and progress within it, tangible.</p><p>A great principal supervisor gives school leaders the support they need to make their school a culturally responsive, standards-aligned learning environment for every student. But they need help to do this. Virtual learning during the pandemic reinforces the need to defy individualism as a path to success—all of us, regardless of role or experience in the system, need to continue learning and growing.&#160;We need to know what is expected of us. </p><p>We define a culturally responsive leader as someone who recognizes the impact of institutionalized racism and embraces their role in mitigating, disrupting and dismantling systemic oppression. Leaders like this must first work on themselves by reflecting on their biases and beliefs. Only then can they move to publicly modeling belief systems grounded in equity; being responsive to, and inclusive of, student and staff cultural identities when making decisions; confronting and changing institutional biases that marginalize students; and finally, creating systems and structures that promote equity, particularly for traditionally marginalized students.</p><p>One great tool to help leaders guide principal supervisors to assess their own progress in being more culturally responsive is The Leadership Academy’s&#160;<a href="https&#58;//www.leadershipacademy.org/resources/culturally-responsive-leadership-a-framework-for-school-school-system-leaders/">Culturally Responsive Actions for Principal Supervisors</a> (specifically pages 51-64). The guide provides a set of tangible observable actions to do this important work, which is important to note because the work around equity is so big that it can be intangible. </p><p> <img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/remote-support-of-principal-supervisors-not-different-from-pre-covid-times/Digital-Promise-1-Five-Steps-Coaching-Principals.jpg" alt="Digital-Promise-1-Five-Steps-Coaching-Principals.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" />&#160;Source&#58; The Leadership Academy</p>Rochelle Herring362020-11-17T05:00:00ZAsk the experts: three questions about principal supervisors and how they can best support principals now11/17/2020 5:10:36 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Remote Support of Principal Supervisors “Not Different” from Pre-COVID Times Ask the experts: three questions about 1304https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
School Leaders Keep Eye on Equity as Unusual Year Begins29492GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​Dr. Sonja Brookins Santelises, chief executive officer of Baltimore City Schools, has heard the same concern from parents across her district’s 161 schools since in-person instruction was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. No matter where they live, she says, parents throughout her high-poverty district are worried that their children are losing ground academically during this period. </p><p>They have reason to be concerned&#58; A McKinsey &amp; Company report estimates that if in-person instruction does not fully resume until January, black, Hispanic and low-income students could lose as much as nine to 12 months of learning because they are less likely to have received high-quality remote instruction last spring and now again this fall. </p><p>As Baltimore developed its re-opening plan, some voices in the district argued that schools should focus on students’ social and emotional needs and put academics on the back burner. Santelises refused. Schools must tend to their students’ mental health, she says, but short-changing instruction would only exacerbate learning loss and widen the achievement gap for the most vulnerable groups. Simply put, schools have to do it all. &#160;</p><p>“It is easier in this time period to resonate in a broken-child narrative, to almost let ourselves off the hook for choosing to do one or the other,” she says. “I would argue that…in this crucible, we actually are being charged for the first time to do both-and for children who are not used to having people address their needs both-and.” &#160;</p><p>Approaching the re-opening of schools with a ‘both-and’ mindset was the central theme of Santelises’s keynote address at last month’s convening of Wallace’s Principal Pipeline Learning Community. The virtual event drew more than 270 participants, including 17 superintendents, from 80 districts across the U.S. that are testing a toolkit that guides how they hire, train and match principals to schools. The toolkit is based on lessons learned from the Principal Pipeline Initiative, <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/principal-pipelines-a-feasible,-affordable,-and-effective-way-for-districts-to-improve-schools.aspx">which found a significant improvement in math and reading scores</a> across six districts that took a strategic approach to school leadership. The convening focused on principal pipeline activities in the midst of the pandemic and how districts like Baltimore are ensuring equity as schools re-open.&#160; </p><p><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/blog-plc-post-core-principles-lg-feature.jpg" alt="blog-plc-post-core-principles-lg-feature.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br></p><p>Equity is one of five core principles—along with health and safety, high-quality student learning, stakeholder engagement and continuous improvement—guiding Baltimore’s re-opening plan . The district examines every policy and practice with an eye on equity, determining which students may be disparately affected and how to mitigate those effects. Baltimore students started the school year virtually, but if and when schools transition to a hybrid-learning model, struggling students such as English learners and those far behind in reading and math will return to the classroom first. The district is also digging into attendance data during remote learning to expose disparities “so that we can have a response that is not the same for all, but that names without fear or frankly, apology, that there are certain groups of students that actually require more attention,” Santelises says.</p><p>Students aren’t the only ones needing attention as the school year gets under way. The convening also featured a panel of central-office leaders from three districts who described their efforts to support principals as they adjust to ever-shifting policies and lead their school communities during such trying circumstances. Rudy Jimenez, assistant superintendent of North East Independent School District, which serves 64,000 students in San Antonio, Texas, discussed how his district revised its communications strategy with principals after realizing that some were misinterpreting information coming from the central office. District leaders added a second weekly meeting with principals to avoid overwhelming them with too much information at once and shared their talking points after each virtual gathering for principals to review. The pandemic has also amplified the critical role of the district’s four principal supervisors. “They’ve been able to take the pulse of what’s going on in their collective schools and act accordingly,” says Jimenez.</p><p>The first day of school started at 3 a.m. for panelist Sheila McCabe, assistant superintendent for educational services for Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District, with calls from principals who were being evacuated from their homes due to fast-moving wildfires in their region 45 miles north of San Francisco. The district postponed re-opening for a few days and its 21,000 students are currently fully remote. Re-opening has brought heightened attention to principals’ social and emotional wellbeing, says McCabe. After it became apparent that principals were running themselves ragged as they prepared for distance learning, district leaders realized they had to do a better job giving principals the space—and permission—to unplug and take time for themselves. Supporting principals has also meant rethinking how fast to proceed with the district’s pipeline-building efforts. “The question becomes, how much do we push and how much do we back off in helping site leaders move forward with these initiatives while simultaneously recognizing their capacity based on everything that’s taking place?” McCabe says.</p><p>The good news is that the pandemic hasn’t derailed pipeline work in many districts. Plenary attendees described holding virtual boot camps for new principals over the summer, hiring coaches to support school leaders, and implementing leader tracking systems to better manage principals’ career development. Boston Public Schools completely revamped its recruiting website in the midst of the pandemic, adding details about required leadership competencies, profiles of principal mentors and photos of its two most recent cohorts of new principals, 75 percent of whom are minorities. The goal, explains Corey Harris, Boston’s chief of accountability, is to give applicants a sense of who they will work with and what they will experience if they’re hired. Boston’s hiring process had already begun when the pandemic struck, but the district quickly pivoted to an all-virtual experience. Applicants can even do a dry run on Zoom before their interview to check connectivity.&#160; </p><p>While their districts continue adjusting to the new normal, participants in the learning community agreed that collaboration with families, staff, community partners and others is essential to ensuring an equitable response to a school year that will be like no other. Parents, noted Santelises, are counting on them. “Our families have not relinquished their belief in the power of education to give their young people the kinds of agency that oftentimes underresourced communities have not been able to fully experience.”</p>Jennifer Gill832020-10-13T04:00:00ZRecent convening of leaders from 80 U.S. school districts addresses issues of equity and principal support as schools re-open.10/13/2020 1:02:49 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / School Leaders Keep Eye on Equity as Unusual Year Begins Recent convening of leaders from 80 U.S. school districts 614https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Once Focused on System Problems, Principal Supervisors Now Drive Support22986GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>In 2014, Des Moines Public Schools was one of six urban school districts selected to participate in Wallace’s Principal Supervisor Initiative, a four-year effort to overhaul a central-office position from its traditional focus on administration to a focus on developing principals’ skills at supporting effective teaching. Des Moines, which serves 33,000 children across more than 60 schools, was eager to get to work. </p><p>A year earlier, newly appointed superintendent Thomas Ahart had increased his staff of supervisors, known in the district as directors, to five from three, thereby reducing the number of schools each supervisor oversaw. At the time, a single director managed all of the district’s 39 elementary schools. Over the course of the effort, Des Moines made substantial changes that allowed principal supervisors to spend more time working alongside principals to strengthen their instructional leadership practices. A new report, <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/changing-the-principal-supervisor-role-to-better-support-principals.aspx"> <em>Changing the Principal Supervisor Role to Better Support Principals&#58; Evidence from the Principal Supervisor Initiative</em></a>, describes the experiences of Des Moines and the other districts, as well as the impact of the work. In early March, Ahart sat down with us to discuss how the supervisor effort had unfolded in Des Moines and his plans to keep the momentum going. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.&#160;</p><p> <strong>One of the key components of the Principal Supervisor Initiative (PSI) was to strengthen central office structures to support and sustain changes in the principal supervisor’s role. How did you accomplish this in Des Moines? </strong></p><p>Prior to the PSI grant, we had a central-office structure that supervised schools, not principals. In theory, our principal supervisors evaluated principals, but what they really did was help principals solve problems with the system, whether it involved facilities, business and finance, human resources. Then at the end of the year, they did an evaluation that, from my own experience as a principal, was of very little value.</p><p>Frankly, it just checked a box. </p><p>When we started to break down how to better support our schools, the big challenge was&#58; How do we take care of the things currently on the principal supervisor’s plate that detract from coaching around student growth? That was the driver in shifts made holistically at central office. Rather than principal supervisors brokering resources from the district for their principals, we needed a system that allowed that to happen organically. </p><p> <strong>So what changes did you make? </strong></p><p>We created a cadre of five principal supervisors called directors and put each in charge of a network of schools. They [originally] reported to two executive directors who served as a go-between between the rest of the central administration and the schools. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t figure this out earlier, but we soon recognized a problem with this solution. Why were we relegating executive directors, bright people with years of experience in the district, to this type of work? It was true that they knew the system inside and out, and had relationships to navigate it, but their work wasn’t contributing to a more powerful system. </p><p>That’s when we created a structure in which each principal supervisor has a district support team for their school network. Each of them has one point of contact in human resources, business and finance, operations and other central-office departments. These [central-office] individuals now hear the whole range of questions, frustrations and wants from principals relative to their department, and they’re going back to their [department heads] with really good thinking about how to make their department work better. This is a paradigm shift in how the central office functioned. In the past, departments like business and finance never felt connected to what was happening in schools. The new structure makes them feel like, hey, I’m not just pushing numbers. I’m a critical piece of making this work at the classroom level. They’re motivated and highly engaged. Interestingly, we now have principals inquiring about openings in human resources. We’ve never had that before, so I think that’s a positive development. </p><p> <strong>The job description of a principal supervisor has been completely rewritten in Des Moines. How did you manage the change in expectations for the role? </strong></p><p>I became associate superintendent for teaching and learning in 2011, and 10 months into it, I was named interim superintendent. By the time I was appointed superintendent in 2013, I already had been working on a different organizational strategy. I drafted a new org chart and showed it to the three directors who were supervising schools at the time. Their eyes got really big and they said, what about us? I said, great question, tell me what you do right now. They said they supported schools and described the brokering role I mentioned earlier. Then I showed them the monitoring reports I submit to the board of education every year and asked them to which ones they contributed. They looked at each other and said none. That’s the problem, I told them. These guys were working really hard, feeling like they were doing everything for our schools and principals, but it didn’t show up anywhere on paper. They didn’t own anything, and that actually did them a great disservice in terms of how the position was viewed by the rest of the organization.</p><p>After I became superintendent, I hired two more directors and gave them each smaller networks of schools. Both had been sitting principals, both were dedicated to students, but they had no idea what they were doing as supervisors. In terms of coaching, they had a lot of work to do. Shortly after, the grant application for the PSI came about. It was perfect timing. The PSI provided us the resources to put in place a leadership framework and an instructional framework, and to develop shared language and shared expectations. It allowed us to support our principal supervisors so they can coach effectively and take a different coaching disposition based on the problem of practice they’re trying to solve. </p><p> <strong>According to the </strong> <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/changing-the-principal-supervisor-role-to-better-support-principals.aspx"> <strong>report</strong></a><strong>, over the course of the PSI initiative principals reported that the quality of the evaluation feedback they received from their supervisors improved. How has the culture around evaluations changed in Des Moines? </strong></p><p>A number of big changes have happened. First, our principals now receive a meaningful evaluation, whether they like it or not. It’s much more integral to their work with their supervisors. They also have much more clarity about their job and the system’s expectations for them. They’re not flying blind and then worrying at the end of the school year when someone goes through an exhaustive checklist to determine if they’re doing an okay job. Our principals see their supervisor at least once a week all year. In most cases, they’re spending several hours together each week. So even if they don’t like something in their evaluation, they can’t say it’s not an informed assessment of their practice. </p><p> <strong>Do you think a principal supervisor can be both coach and evaluator? </strong></p><p>We’re still wrestling with that question. I do think an evaluator should have coaching skills. We want the evaluation process to be one of growth and improvement, not punitive. But if my only coach is my evaluator, while he may do a wonderful job in supporting me, I think there are some inherent limits to that when ultimately he has to judge my performance. Right now, we’re working to build coaching capacity in the folks who serve on our network support teams.&#160;&#160; </p><p> <strong>The PSI researchers recommend that districts embed the principal supervisor role within the broader work of the central office to sustain the changes they’ve implemented. What’s your plan in Des Moines?</strong></p><p>Currently, our principal supervisors report to the associate superintendent, but we may have them report up through our executive director of teaching and learning instead. Her department is responsible for curriculum and works closely with principals to implement it. We’re at a place now where we’re asking, how many voices do we want in our principal’s ear? By better integrating our work at central office, we can eliminate the number of at least perceived demands on our principals. It would also be further doubling down on the principal supervisor’s ownership of executing district-wide priorities. </p><p> <em>A number of other reports about the principal supervisor job, including </em> <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/leading-the-change-a-comparison-of-the-principal-supervisor-role.aspx">Leading the Change</a><em>, a look at the role in larger districts nationally, can be found </em> <a href="/knowledge-center/school-leadership/pages/principal-supervisors.aspx"> <em>here</em></a><em>.</em></p>Jennifer Gill832020-07-28T04:00:00ZDes Moines schools chief Thomas Ahart discusses how his district re-made the principal supervisor job7/27/2020 8:50:10 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Once Focused on System Problems, Principal Supervisors Now Drive Support Des Moines schools chief Thomas Ahart discusses 300https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Bringing Out the Best in Principals During the COVID-19 Crisis23637GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p class="wf-Element-IntroParagraph">“When I look back, it feels like a year ago,” says Jill Baker, deputy superintendent of Long Beach Unified School District, reflecting on the district’s response in the days following its March 13 decision to close its 85 schools owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. Long Beach Unified is California’s third largest school district, serving nearly 72,000 children from diverse backgrounds. Baker began her career in the district as a teacher 28 years ago and is scheduled to take over as its superintendent on August 1, succeeding Christopher Steinhauser, who is retiring. Baker brings a unique perspective to the job, having directed the district’s participation in a Wallace Foundation initiative aimed at reshaping the principal supervisor job to focus less on administration and more on principal growth. Recently, Baker spoke about the district’s efforts to support principals during the closure, its summer plans for school leadership development and what school may look like in September. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.&#160; &#160;&#160;</p><p> <strong>How has your district supported principals during the school closures? </strong></p><p> <img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Bringing-Out-the-Best-in-Principals-During-the-COVID-19-Crisis/Jill-Baker-headshot.jpg" alt="Jill-Baker-headshot.jpg" class="wf-Image-Left" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;160px;height&#58;241px;" />We are very fortunate that over the last five years, we’ve built a strong coaching model for our <a href="/knowledge-center/school-leadership/pages/principal-supervisors.aspx">principal supervision practices</a>. Why is that important now? Because the relationship between our principal supervisors and principals has a coaching foundation, it is easy for them to move into unknown territory when faced with a crisis. Our principal supervisors have been right on the frontlines with principals, coaching them, asking good questions, advocating for them and bringing the lived experience of principals back to central office. </p><p> <strong>Can you describe that lived experience? </strong></p><p>Principals were immediately faced with a set of questions that they had never experienced before, just as we were at central office. They were faced with families asking for resources that they had not asked for before, their students had technology needs, Internet needs. [The school closures] tossed up into the air every system that a principal typically manages, from teacher evaluations to nutrition services in their building.</p><p>Because of how we’ve built our principal supervision practices, principals quickly looked to their supervisors for direction, for comfort, for answers. It was a huge pivot for a system that’s pretty directing, in terms of our expectations for schools, but also gives principals a lot of latitude to make specific decisions for their building. I would say that the lived experience for principals right away was&#58; We need you to lead us. We trust you as our supervisors to help us.</p><p> <img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Bringing-Out-the-Best-in-Principals-During-the-COVID-19-Crisis/LBUSD-Barton-39.jpg" alt="LBUSD-Barton-39.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /> <br> </p><p>Personally, I’ve never underestimated the whole idea of coaching and strengthening a trusting relationship between a principal and a supervisor, but I think the field may have. When you go through a crisis like this, it underscores why you have relationships. It is a foundational aspect of having to do really hard work. I hesitate to use the word “thrive” because this is such a sad time, but [the crisis] really has brought out the best in our school leaders. It has been a very rich opportunity for them to step up, try things they’ve never done before, be vulnerable and learn with others. </p><p> <strong>What inequities have been brought to the forefront because of the crisis? Has the district been able to address them, and if so, how? </strong></p><p>On the afternoon that we closed schools, we gathered at central office and literally said, “What do we need to focus on first?” In the back of my mind was Maslow’s hierarchy. Our first decision was that, on Monday morning, we were going to offer food at every school in our district. We did that, and we continued doing so until we could look at the data after the first week to see where our highest-need areas were. Some areas were obvious, but frankly every school has children with a need to eat. Our response has continued in a way that is so respectful to our community. We’re providing breakfast, lunch and dinner in our highest-need areas. There are almost 30 locations, and the meals are accessible to anyone. There are no requirements, no applications. </p><p>We also faced the same connectivity problems that other districts faced. One of our first purchases, literally days after the closure, was for 5,000 six-month-term hotspots because we estimated that about 10 percent of our students, or about 7,000, were potentially not connected to the Internet. In addition to giving away 20,000 older-generation Chromebooks, we came up with a system to loan more than 10,000 [newer] Chromebooks to families within two weeks of the closure. </p><p>The other needs have been sadly not surprising. Students in low-income families lack supervision as their parents go out and work as essential workers. They may be living with multiple families in one residence and are facing COVID spread because of essential workers coming in and out. We’re offering counseling digitally and are partnering with faith-based and race-based community agencies, like the NAACP, to ensure they are able to put out really good information on behalf of the district. </p><p>We’re using all of our existing programs to continue to focus on issues of equity. For example, we run a Saturday education program for students from migrant families. During the crisis, a coordinator from that program has done outreach to families. High-school teachers who work with newcomers who are English language learners have continued to connect with families, too.</p><p> <strong>Summer is a time when school districts hire and train principals. How will that be handled in Long Beach this year? </strong> <br> <strong>&#160;</strong><br> Last year, we had 80 principal promotions or changes. This year it will be 20. Five of those are first-time principals, all of whom have gone through the district’s “pipeline” programs [which provide training for aspiring school leaders]. We’re only making changes that are of necessity, such as because of a retirement. Normally, we would move around many more principals because they’re ready to transition to another school, but we’ve paused that because we want to create as much stability as possible.</p><p>Literally the day after a person finds out that they’ve been appointed principal or that they’re transitioning to another school, we launch a transition process that involves a facilitated change-of-principal workshop. The workshop engages members of the school staff to establish what’s working and what they’d like to see improved. It’s really important, and we’ll do a version of it this summer, too. </p><p> <strong>How has the district involved principals in the planning for when school resumes in September? </strong></p><p>Our principals have been an important part of our initial planning. I say initial because we’re really tracking on the health data. We’re trying to move fast enough but not too fast. Over the last month, our principal supervisors asked principals to explore all kinds of scenarios for the fall. Middle school principals, for example, considered 16 different models and in small groups worked through each one’s plusses and minuses. We went from a lot of brainstorming and testing of ideas, to now moving into a formalized planning process. We have task forces, and principals from every level are represented on them. </p><p> <strong>What might school look like in the fall, based on your initial plans?</strong></p><p>Our aim is to bring back as many students to a building as possible, especially at the elementary school level. That’s causing us to seek additional space in our city, through partnerships with local colleges and universities who will be providing distance learning/instruction. &#160;</p><p>We’re also talking about blending learning. A middle school student, for example, might not come to school every day. He might come Monday and Tuesday, then do distance learning Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Based on distancing requirements, we know that we can only have about 15 students in a classroom. That is about half the size of a traditional class and even less when you think about a class like chorus. Chorus might only exist in a distance environment because students can’t all be in one room at the same time. </p><p>We already have an independent study program in our high schools, which we will continue, and we’ll also be launching some new distance academies. How we’re going to do all of this—in-class learning, blending learning, distance academies—we’re still figuring out. But we imagine publishing the options and letting parents make a choice. If they don’t, we’ll likely default to expecting their student to come to a building.* </p><p> <strong>Like school districts everywhere, Long Beach Unified is facing a massive budget cut because of the pandemic. I’ve read that the reduction will be 10 percent, or about $70 million, this year. How do you stay focused on equity as you make cuts?</strong></p><p>We’re in a better position than other districts because of great fiscal management. Our superintendent and the district’s budget office built up a reserve over time, knowing the rainy day would come. The reserves won’t save us from future cuts, but it allows us time to make the best decisions given what’s coming from the state. We also have in our favor that we’ve worked really hard to build internal capacity. We don’t rely on a lot of consultants or outside companies. Because of our internal capacity, we can pivot quickly, change strategy and work together in a way that doesn’t happen in a lot of places.</p><p> <img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Bringing-Out-the-Best-in-Principals-During-the-COVID-19-Crisis/IMG_0660-2.jpg" alt="IMG_0660-2.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /> <br> </p><p>Our focus on equity is at a deep level. During this time, we’ve not stepped back from our equity agenda, but we’ve had some public outcry over things that have been perceived to be “taken away” from students as we navigated through the school closure and made decisions based on our equity philosophy. This meant that we were not privileging students who were not struggling during the school closure. When we closed schools, for example, we decided that grading for high-school classes would be credit/no credit, even if you’re a junior taking five Advanced Placement classes. There was a public outcry, and our school board had to entertain an item on its agenda to uphold the district’s stance on grading and not give an opt-in for parents who wanted their students to get an A. [These parents] had to accept that credit/no credit was good for <em>all </em>students, even if their student wasn’t going to get the extra bump they would have liked. When you really get down into the details of equity, it is not equitable to privilege a student when another student doesn’t have the opportunity for that same experience. However, we do have to pay attention to the voices that are coming out about grades. We don’t want families to walk away from our district and go to a private school because they are frustrated about grades at a time when we’re already facing huge cuts.&#160;&#160;&#160; </p><p> <em>*After we published this post, Jill Baker <a href="https&#58;//www.lbschools.net/Asset/Videos/external.cfm?videoID=2575#anchor_2575" target="_blank">announced</a> that for the coming school year, the Long Beach school district would delay in-person instruction until at least October 2020.</em></p> Jennifer Gill832020-07-07T04:00:00ZJill Baker, incoming chief of a large California district, discusses education priorities—and why principal supervision matters now7/15/2020 5:04:33 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Bringing Out the Best in Principals During the COVID-19 Crisis Jill Baker, incoming chief of a large California district 1868https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Principals Need Coaches Too24101GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61;GP0|#8cf34914-7bff-4dc4-95c0-d6e59a295cba;L0|#08cf34914-7bff-4dc4-95c0-d6e59a295cba|Effective Principal Leadership;GPP|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;GP0|#d4c2da24-0861-47f9-85bd-ee1c37263157;L0|#0d4c2da24-0861-47f9-85bd-ee1c37263157|Principal Supervisors;GP0|#f86ec85e-a137-43e2-8c12-5ce0b67efe8e;L0|#0f86ec85e-a137-43e2-8c12-5ce0b67efe8e|Principal Training<p>Is it feasible for districts to reconceive the role of those who supervise principals so less time is spent on compliance and more time on coaching to help principals strengthen teaching and learning in their schools? Is there an inherent conflict between supervising and evaluating principals and being a trusted coach?</p><p>A <a href="http&#58;//www.wallacefoundation.org/knowledge-center/Documents/A-New-Role-Emerges-for-Principal-Supervisors.pdf">new Vanderbilt University–Mathematica Policy study</a> offers answers to these questions by examining how six districts participating in <a href="http&#58;//www.wallacefoundation.org/knowledge-center/school-leadership/pages/principal-supervisors.aspx">The Wallace Foundation’s Principal Supervisor Initiative</a> have reshaped the role.</p><p>The study concludes that in those urban districts — Baltimore; Broward County, Florida; Cleveland; Des Moines; Long Beach, California; and Minneapolis — it was feasible for principal supervisors to focus on developing principals. This important and complex work was done in less than three years and has resulted, to date, in principals feeling better supported. In addition, the role change has led to the districts’ central offices becoming more responsive to schools’ needs.</p><p>Principals felt better supported and saw no tension between the supervisor’s role as both evaluator and coach. The principal supervisor is a continuous presence in the school — a member of the community, not a visitor. Learning is continuous.</p><p>This role is relatively new on the scene — in fact, five years ago, there was no common term for it. Sometimes called principal managers or even instructional leadership directors, the people in these positions oversaw large numbers of principals and traditionally handled regulatory compliance, administration, and day-to-day operations.</p><p><img alt="74-Million-Blog-lg-feature.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/74-Million-Blog-lg-feature.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" />&#160;</p><p>They rarely visited a school more than once every few months and therefore did not work directly with principals. A 2013 <a href="http&#58;//www.wallacefoundation.org/knowledge-center/Documents/Rethinking-Leadership-The-Changing-Role-of-Principal-Supervisors.pdf">Council of the Great City Schools survey</a> of principal supervisors in 41 of the nation’s largest districts also identified other problems, including insufficient training, oversight of too many principals, mismatches in assignments to schools, and a lack of agreement about job titles.</p><p>Wallace launched the Principal Supervisor Initiative in 2014 to see whether and how districts could reshape the job. An important step was the development of the first-ever voluntary <a href="http&#58;//www.wallacefoundation.org/knowledge-center/pages/model-principal-supervisor-professional-standards-2015.aspx">national model standards for supervisors</a> in 2015, a process led by the Council of Chief State School Officers. These standards emphasize developing principals as professionals who “collaborate with and motivate others, to transform school environments in ways that ensure all students will graduate college- and career-ready,” rather than focusing on compliance with regulations. In the new study, the participating districts pointed to the importance of having standards for the job as a foundation for the position’s redesign.</p><p>That study suggests that “substantial, meaningful change is possible” across five areas. “After three years, we saw substantial change in all districts,” says Ellen Goldring, the study’s lead author. “They came up with efficient and effective ways to position supervisors so they could fill the coaching and supporting gap.” Specifically, the districts&#58;</p><ul><li>Revised principal supervisors’ job descriptions, relying on the national model standards that emphasize instructional leadership.</li><li>Reduced the number of principals whom supervisors oversee by almost 30 percent, from an average of 17 to 12.</li><li>Trained supervisors to support principals.</li><li>Created systems to identify and train new supervisors.</li><li>&#160;Restructured the central office to support and maintain the changed supervisor role.</li></ul><p>Following the redesign, most principal supervisors in the six districts reported that they now spend most of their time — 63 percent — in schools or meeting with principals. This shift means supervisors are working directly with principals, engaging in new routines and practices, such as participating in classroom walk-throughs, coaching, leading collaborative learning, and providing ongoing feedback.</p><p>Across districts, the principals emphasized that they trusted their supervisors to function as both supporters and evaluators. As one Cleveland principal explained&#58; “You don’t feel as though it’s your boss evaluating you. So it’s very comfortable. He’ll come in, he’ll have a conversation with you. … He always asks, ‘How can I support you? What do you need from me?’” It’s more of that than a formulated check-the-box.”</p><p>The districts also trained the supervisors to recognize high-quality instruction or better coach principals. For many, it was the first time they were provided with professional instruction specifically for their role. After two years, 80 percent of the supervisors reported participating in such opportunities.</p><p>In addition to offering professional development, districts began to identify more promising principal supervisor candidates and restructured central offices to support the new role and redistribute some noninstructional duties from supervisors to others in those offices.</p><p>Still, districts face some challenges. Goldring notes that the districts are continuing to refine the way they revamp the supervisor role, including defining what instructional leadership means, finding the right balance between supervisors’ time in school versus the central office, and providing uniformly high-quality training.</p><p>“It’s a heavy lift,” says Goldring. “But this study represents an incredibly positive example of the power of the supervisor role and a hopeful story about the power of district reform.”</p><p>Vanderbilt and Mathematica are planning two more reports to be published in 2019&#58; One will measure the initiative’s impact on principal effectiveness, and the other will compare principal supervision in the six districts in the study with peers in other urban districts.</p><p><em>This article first appeared in <a href="https&#58;//www.the74million.org/article/spiro-principals-need-coaches-too-what-a-new-study-of-6-large-school-districts-reveals-about-the-shifting-role-and-value-of-principal-supervisors/" target="_blank">The 74 Million</a> and is reposted with permission.</em></p>Jody Spiro142018-08-28T04:00:00ZPrincipals Need Coaches Too: What a New Study of 6 Large School Districts Reveals About the Shifting Role, and Value, of ‘Principal Supervisors’8/29/2018 3:10:43 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Principals Need Coaches Too What a New Study of 6 Large School Districts Reveals About the Shifting Role, and Value, of 5377https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Making the Most of the Principal Supervisor Role24089GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p> I<em>n many urban school districts, principal supervisors have a daunting task. Overseeing an average of 24 principals, they are also accountable for numerous administrative and other responsibilities, from monitoring supplies to ensuring government forms get completed on time. This makes concentrating on school leaders and their needs close to impossible. Wallace’s Principal Supervisor Initiative is seeking to see if that picture can be changed. It is funding a four-year effort in six districts that are working to reshape the supervisor job so it can focus on supporting principals to be as effective as they can be, especially in guiding schools to high-quality instruction. </em></p><p> <em><img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="Ellen_Goldring.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Making-the-Most-of-the-Principal-Supervisor-Role/Ellen_Goldring.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;208px;" />Recently, Wallace published </em> <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/a-new-role-emerges-for-principal-supervisors.aspx">A New Role Emerges for Principal Supervisors</a>, <em>the first report in a study looking at the effort, and it showed some promising findings, concluding that over the first three years of the initiative the six districts were able to make substantial progress in giving the supervisor job a makeover. </em></p><p> <em>We caught up with the researcher leading the study, </em> <a href="https&#58;//peabody.vanderbilt.edu/bio/ellen-goldring"> <em>Ellen Goldring</em></a><em>, the Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor and Chair in the department of leadership, policy and organizations at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College, to see if she could tell us more. </em></p><p> <strong>What was the problem that districts in this initiative were seeking to address? </strong> <br> School districts continually strive to support and develop their principals and improve their effectiveness. Most often, this occurs through professional development.&#160;But, most urban districts have a central office structure that includes principal supervisors.&#160;Typically, supervisors focus on administration and bureaucratic compliance. The initiative has a straightforward question&#58; Can districts transform the role of principal supervisors from compliance officers to coaches and developers of principals?&#160;What does it take to make this change? And, does this change&#160;help develop effective principals?&#160;This report addresses the first two questions. <strong> </strong></p><p> <strong>Do we&#160;have a sense—understanding it's early—about the benefits and challenges of the changes the districts were tackling?</strong><br> We have learned a great deal about the&#160;changes districts have made to support the new role, and what the new role entails. </p><p>The daily work of supervisors has changed. The clear benefits include supervisors spending time in schools and working with networks of principals on instructional leadership.&#160;Supervisors engage&#160;in walkthroughs, coaching and providing more ongoing feedback to principals;&#160;they have a deep sense of the context of each principal’s school and develop closer relationships. Supervisors are able to evaluate principals based on their ongoing, firsthand knowledge and understanding of each principal.&#160;Principals report productive relations with their supervisors. </p><p>The change in the role occurred as a result of revising job descriptions and reducing the span of control—the number of principals each&#160;supervisor works with—to about 12, on average.&#160; For the first time supervisors received dedicated, unique training to develop the skills needed to be effective in their roles. This training often involved shared visits to schools where supervisors observed each other&#160;coaching and providing feedback to principals. Supervisors worked together to develop a shared set of practices and common approaches. </p><p>To support this new role, other central office roles and responsibilities needed to shift, and some departments were reorganized.&#160;Work previously handled by supervisors needed to be reallocated; as a result communication patterns had to change. Investing other central office departments in the change is a challenge and an ongoing process.&#160; </p><p>Other challenges include continuing to clarify the new role and to balance expectations; deepening and further developing&#160;consistent and effective practices for supervisors;&#160;and differentiating supports for principals.&#160;There are resource implications as well. </p><p> <strong>What are districts learning about making decisions on what supervisors to assign to what schools?</strong><br> First,&#160;they learned that this is a really important decision.&#160;Most districts consider a combination of school level, geography and feeder patterns.&#160;Others take into account performance levels, principal experience and school themes. The decision helps the districts think strategically about principal networks and learning communities as tools for support, sharing and development.&#160;The decision also helps districts think through matching supervisors’ skills, experiences and expertise to schools strategically. Districts learned that they also need to think about not only the average span of control, but balancing the span of control for each supervisor with the unique needs of each school. </p><p> <strong>How are the districts understanding the concept of &quot;instructional leadership&quot;—and what role do principal supervisors play in supporting it?</strong><br> Districts understand instructional leadership entails a deep understanding of the conception or framework of high-quality and rigorous instruction used in the district,&#160;and then what principals do to&#160;support and propel teachers in their instructional quality.&#160;Instructional leadership also entails developing the school culture and community for academic and social learning. &#160;&#160;</p><p>The link between the district’s instructional quality framework and instructional leadership is central. Some districts are further along in articulating this link than others.&#160;Principal supervisors work with principals on instructional leadership by coaching them&#160;through analyzing data, providing feedback to teachers, observing classrooms together, and creating principal learning communities, to name a few of their core activities. </p><p> <strong>What should districts contemplating revising this role think about?</strong><br> They should know that changing the role of the principal supervisor is a district-wide effort with multiple components, and requires communication and coordination throughout the district; it is not “simply” a role redesign.&#160; In fact, all the districts realized early on that making changes to the work of the central office would be necessary to facilitate the change to the supervisor role. &#160;</p><p>As in every large-scale change effort, the leadership of the district should be clear about how this change contributes to the overall strategic goals of the district.&#160; Buy-in from core constituencies is key, especially because there are resource implications in terms of reducing the span of control, and the whole district will be involved.</p><p>Lastly, I would say that simply reducing the span of control will not lead to role change. Paramount are a clear vision and expectations for the role, a delineation of instructional leadership expectations for principals and a strategy for supervisor training and support. </p><p> <strong>What surprised you in your research to date?</strong><br> I was surprised by the depth of understanding and excitement about the need to change the principal supervisor role. </p><p>I think this is a very powerful example of district reform that rallied around a specific focus&#58; changing the principal supervisor’s role.&#160;It is a very hopeful story—one that suggests when change initiatives have clarity, alignment and focus, districts make important changes. </p><p>I was surprised about the extent to which the role before the initiative really was a catch-all for everything and anything schools needed, and it was very idiosyncratic within the same district.&#160;We saw how important it is to develop shared understanding and specific skills of supervision, such as implementing specific coaching models, or using protocols for walkthroughs. Developing a collaborative, professional culture amongst supervisors helped them in turn work with principals in professional learning communities. </p>Wallace editorial team792018-07-16T04:00:00ZCo-Author of Study Discusses ‘Very Hopeful Story’ of How Districts Are Changing7/16/2018 3:27:45 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Making the Most of the Principal Supervisor Role Co-Author of Study Discusses ‘Very Hopeful Story’ of How Districts Are 2978https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx

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