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Today's Focus on Principal Effectiveness Breaks Sharply with the Past24364GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61;GP0|#02d6f4ae-88a2-4236-b1a9-1f37b2599002;L0|#002d6f4ae-88a2-4236-b1a9-1f37b2599002|District Policy and Practice;GPP|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;GP0|#8cf34914-7bff-4dc4-95c0-d6e59a295cba;L0|#08cf34914-7bff-4dc4-95c0-d6e59a295cba|Effective Principal Leadership<p>If you want to know about school principals, consider getting a data dump from Susan Gates. As a senior researcher at the RAND Corp., Gates has been key to numerous studies exploring the principalship, many commissioned by Wallace. The most recent, published in June, is a first-of-its-kind look at the prevalence in large and medium-sized school districts of comprehensive, systemic efforts—known as principal pipelines—to develop a large corps of effective school principals. &#160;</p><p>In a way, <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/taking-stock-of-principal-pipelines.aspx"> <em>Taking Stock of Principal Pipelines&#58; What Public School Districts Report Doing and What They Want to Do to Improve School Leadership</em></a> brings Gates full circle. Close to two decades ago, she was the lead researcher on another Wallace-commissioned report, <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/overview-of-school-administrators-and-their-careers.aspx"> <em>Who is Leading Our Schools&#58; An Overview of School Administrators and Their Careers</em></a>. Published in 2003, that study helped overturn the then-common view that the nation was facing a shortage of people certified to become principals. The report influenced Wallace’s decision to devote the foundation’s education leadership efforts to helping more principals work in a way that could improve schools, a move that eventually led to Wallace’s Principal Pipeline Initiative. With that came a <a href="/knowledge-center/school-leadership/pages/principal-pipeline-implementation.aspx">groundbreaking 2019 report </a>by Gates and her team finding that pipelines can have significant benefits for student achievement and principal retention. &#160;</p><p> <img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Todays-Focus-on-Principal-Effectiveness-Breaks-Sharply-With-the-Concerns-of-20-Years-Ago/gates_9114-(002).jpg" alt="gates_9114-(002).jpg" class="wf-Image-Left" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;159px;height&#58;201px;" />We recently caught up with Gates to ask her to reflect on the “then” and “now” in the principal landscape, including what the COVID-19 crisis has meant for school leadership. The interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.</p><p> <strong>Since 2003, what changes have you seen in the discussions about school leadership? Are we at a different place from where we were 17 years ago—pandemic notwithstanding?</strong></p><p>I’ve seen a tremendous shift in the public discourse around school leadership in the last two decades.&#160; Twenty years ago, attention was focused on a pending wave of retirements and questions about whether there would be enough people to replace the retirees. Policymakers were also worried about high principal turnover rates—especially in more challenging high-needs schools. But the focus was really on whether there were sufficient numbers of people to fill vacancies. </p><p>Concerns about turnover and filling vacancies remain today, but the discussion is now focused on whether schools have effective principals. It’s not enough to simply put more people through principal preparation programs. There is growing recognition that the principal’s job is exceedingly complex and unpredictable. We’ve learned a lot over the past 20 years about how to prepare people for this important role. Research has identified features of good principal preparation. But we’ve also learned that prep programs can’t do it all. Twenty years ago, there was this notion that a person with two to three years of teaching experience could attend a good preparation program and at the end of it be ready to serve as principal in any environment with minimal support. Today, we understand that school leadership is itself a career with expectations for growth and development. This implies that good school leadership must be a shared responsibility of preparation programs and the school districts that hire and support principals. </p><p>The search for strategies to improve principal quality now focuses on improving preparation programs and the activities of districts. Are they hiring the right candidate for the job? Are they providing that person with the supports they need to be effective? Are they helping them identify their growth areas and supporting them in their professional development? And are they working in partnership with preparation programs to improve preparation?</p><p> <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/taking-stock-of-principal-pipelines.aspx"><strong><em>Taking Stock of Principal Pipelines</em></strong></a><strong> is the first systematic look at the status of principal pipelines in large and medium size districts across the nation. Should readers be surprised by how much activity in pipelines is under way now—or be surprised about the gaps? How do you and your team see the findings? </strong></p><p>Pipeline activities are those related to the preparation, hiring, evaluation and support of principals. Districts employ principals and so it is natural to expect that all districts would be doing some if not most of these pipeline activities. And that is what we found. Districts of all sizes reported that they are devoting effort to the preparation, hiring, evaluation and support of principals. Not only that, the leaders in nearly all districts reported prioritizing school leadership as a lever for school improvement. There’s a pervasive understanding across the country that school principals matter. At the same time, less than half of districts reported moderate or high satisfaction with their pool of principal candidates. This suggests that districts see pipelines as an area for improvement.</p><p> <strong>What does the study tell us about differences in pipeline activities between large districts, medium districts and smaller districts?</strong></p><p>Districts of all size reported engaging in pipeline activities and there was substantial interest across districts of all sizes in doing more in each area. Medium districts reported engaging in fewer pipeline activities. &#160;They were less likely to have principal standards and a process to encourage or “tap” individuals to become school leaders. They were also less likely to use performance-based hiring metrics and standards-aligned evaluation and to have a position dedicated to school leadership.&#160; </p><p>These differences between medium and large districts were not terribly surprising. It takes some up-front effort to set up some of these activities—you have to develop standards, hiring processes, evaluation metrics. Smaller districts tend to have fewer schools and hence fewer principals. So the payoff to them from such up-front efforts may be smaller.&#160; </p><p> <img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Todays-Focus-on-Principal-Effectiveness-Breaks-Sharply-With-the-Concerns-of-20-Years-Ago/Percentage-of-10K-Districts-Reporting-Prevalence-of-Principal-Pipeline-chart.jpg" alt="Percentage-of-10K-Districts-Reporting-Prevalence-of-Principal-Pipeline-chart.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;600px;height&#58;568px;" /> <br> </p><p> <strong>The current study found that large numbers of the district officials you interviewed want to upgrade their pipeline activities, everything from pre-service principal preparation to on-the-job support. What do your study and other research suggest will be the easiest and most difficult areas to strengthen?</strong></p><p>Research on the principal pipeline districts suggests that efforts to strengthen principal preparation can be challenging because there is a long lag time before such efforts will result in improvements in principal quality. In contrast, efforts to improve hiring and professional development for current principals can have more immediate impact. Although nearly all districts in our study reported doing something with regard to on the job support, this is also an area where most districts also wanted to do more. What struck me as an important growth area was the use of performance-based hiring approaches. This is a pipeline activity with relatively low prevalence nationwide.&#160; </p><p> <strong>The COVID-19 crisis has placed huge demands on public school education. What role are school leaders playing in keeping education going during this time, and how should districts be thinking now about their principal pipelines? </strong></p><p>Even prior to the COVID-19 crisis there was a recognition that the principal’s job is exceedingly complex and unpredictable. National school leadership standards outline 10 areas that principals need to master&#58;&#160; mission, ethics, curriculum and instruction, student support, professional capacity of school personnel, professional community of school staff, community engagement, management and school improvement. It’s as if all principals need to have the same toolbox, along with the ability to figure out which tool to use at which time. When a principal first takes over a school, they have to spend time figuring out what prioritize and how. In other words, which tools to use and how best to use them. Then they make adjustments over time. </p><p>The COVID-19 crisis disrupted the landscape for all schools. All principals had to re-think how they were approaching each area. Some may have had to dig deeply into their toolbox to find tools that they hadn’t had to use in a while. </p><p>School principals tend to be highly dedicated to the communities and students they serve, and according to a recent <a href="https&#58;//www.pewresearch.org/politics/2019/09/19/why-americans-dont-fully-trust-many-who-hold-positions-of-power-and-responsibility/" target="_blank">Pew survey</a>, they are among the most trusted category of public officials, along with police officers and members of the military. Families and communities are stretched in so many ways, and they are turning to these trusted school principals for help. So while principals are still expected to be the instructional leader of the school (now with a focus on supporting virtual learning options), they are also&#160; in charge of providing meals to families, making connections to social services, developing contract tracing and virus testing plans, and developing options for classroom set-up and bathroom breaks that honor social distancing requirements. And the list goes on. No principal preparation program could have fully prepared a principal for all aspects of this crisis so district support will be critical. Even highly effective veteran principals may need guidance, support or respite in these challenging times. By providing such support this school year, districts might be able to limit burnout and turnover.</p> <p> <em>Lead photo by Claire Holt</em></p>Wallace editorial team792020-09-15T04:00:00ZYour 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.9/15/2020 4:44:31 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Today's Focus on Principal Effectiveness Breaks Sharply with the Past RAND’s Susan Gates reflects on the changed discourse 175https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Keeping a Focus on Equity as Schools Reopen During the Pandemic24463GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​The COVID-19 pandemic has cast a harsh spotlight on the inequities that fester in almost every sector of our nation, including K-12 education. Recently, we spoke with Hal Smith, senior vice president of education, youth development &amp; health at the National Urban League, about how districts and state departments of education can address those inequities as they move into a new school year and face the unprecedented challenge of educating students while keeping schools safe during a pandemic. Smith is a member of the steering committee for Wallace’s ESSA Leadership Learning Community, a group of staff members and chiefs from 11 state departments of education, leadership from urban districts and Urban League affiliate CEOs. The group is considering how federal education law and the resultant state and local policies and investments could be used to promote evidence-based school leadership practices focused on achieving educational equity. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.</p><p> <strong>What did we learn about remote learning after school buildings closed last spring, and what lessons should districts be applying in the coming school year?</strong></p><p> <img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="Hal_Smith.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Keeping-a-Focus-on-Equity-as-Schools-Reopen/Hal_Smith.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;245px;height&#58;184px;" />Nobody was prepared to move online. That’s not a criticism—nobody could have anticipated it—but the quality of instruction varied widely. You had very few prepared to do in-person instruction that transferred easily to online settings. And some never attempted to move instruction online, and education became a series of workbooks and cobbled-together approaches done on the fly.&#160; </p><p>This year, as the school year opens, we should have had time to prepare for remote instruction. That would mean professional development for teachers and support for parents to take advantage of remote learning. Even if you provide the broadband internet access and devices that we’ve clamored for, there is still a question as to how families, caregivers and students themselves can use digital and remote learning to greatest effect. It’s one thing to turn on the computer and sit in front of the screen; it’s another to know how to best take advantage of digital learning and platforms. How do you grow and maintain relationships in a virtual environment? </p><p>Also, how do you understand screen time not just as a passive experience where you are pushing buttons, but as time to do serious inquiry into what interests you as a learner? While there is certainly a need for instruction, there is certainly room for student-led inquiry into what is happening in the world around them. Their interests, their hobbies, the things they wanted to know more about—all of those things should be acknowledged as we return to more formal instruction this school year. We are hoping that districts are thinking of students as more than passive recipients of digital learning, [and seeing them] as co-creators of their learning, of their sense of inquiry and development. That was not happening in in-person instruction either. So this was an opportunity to think differently about students and their own learning and development. </p><p> <strong>Are urban schools prepared to reopen?</strong></p><p>Right now everyone’s plans seem to hit the high notes in general terms because they’re not asked for specifics. But the next six weeks will bear watching. Publicly released plans focus on children’s safety and wellness. But we also want to know your strategy for reaching high school students who never logged on in the spring, in the summer, and have no ability or intention for logging on in the fall. Those strategies are not clearly articulated in reopening plans. Those plans assume that everyone will show up every day, and that’s not the case. </p><p><img alt="COVID-19-Costs-to-Reopen-Schools.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Keeping-a-Focus-on-Equity-as-Schools-Reopen/COVID-19-Costs-to-Reopen-Schools.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br>&#160;</p><p> <strong>How should districts and schools approach social and emotional learning during this school year?</strong></p><p>Every district named social and emotional learning as an important part of their CARES Act plan [<em>the federal relief package that has provided funding for, among other things, public education</em>]. Is it real or is it political speak that doesn’t change the way we invest in public schools? It’s very common now for social-emotional learning to be dropped as a marker of educational care. You have to have it there. The language doesn’t mean you changed a single way that you operate. We’ll see that play out in the investments, the partnerships, the staffing decisions, the scheduling. Do you have room in your schedule for one-on-one and small group contact with young people, or have you simply replicated your block schedule online? </p><p>There was certainly trauma, financial uncertainty, but we want to acknowledge that young people are thoughtful and resilient and did some things outside the building we call school that will contribute to their education and growth. Having adults that can help them process what happened is important. </p><p>We had young people in Urban League programs who were essential workers. They worked in retail, they worked in fast food, and they were asked to take that on at 16, 17. That’s ripe for learning and reflection—the inequities in experience, the maturity that was accelerated by that. What have we learned in this moment about ourselves, our society? </p><p> <strong>What inequities has the pandemic laid bare and how should districts address them? </strong></p><p>There is no hiding the impact of inequity on education now. Inequity of food security, of housing, social economic status, racism, access to laptops and high-speed internet access—those have been made clear. These are not things that all cities, all communities were paying attention to in a connected manner. We are in a different place in that people have acknowledged these inequalities exist. I don’t know as we are in a different place as far as doing things differently.</p><p>We think it’s necessary for people to envision a longer-term set of solutions [that address] remote and distance learning, that upend inequity and establish a more high-quality education for all students. There will be a tendency [in the coming year] to focus on remediation and not acceleration. Some students need to catch up. But this doesn’t mean we have to stay there for the whole year. Because they missed four months of instruction doesn’t mean they are incapable of higher-level work. I do not believe that the highest-achieving students in the highest-achieving schools are going to receive a basic education. So the same kinds of imagination and energy that are going into educating high-achieving students, why not give that to all students? </p><p>I also think there’s a real of parents, caregivers and community stakeholders. I say funded very specifically because sustained engagement costs money. The funded nature means there are some resources dedicated to make sure it’s robust. You structure meetings, you structure people’s professional time, so someone is responsible for getting parent feedback and include them meaningfully in your strategy and planning. Anything that’s sustained has to have resources dedicated to it.</p><p>Often engagement is understood as a communications effort&#58; We are going to make sure that everyone hears the message, that the tweet, the flyer goes out there—but that’s not engagement. You really want to engage parents and stakeholders around what you want to happen and anticipate pushback and questions as you shape what your priorities and your strategies are [for remote or hybrid instruction]. Having parents, caregivers, stakeholders and even students themselves, where possible, be a part of the planning, the implementation, and most importantly a part of the reflection, is essential. </p><p> <strong>You've talked about regarding this school year as one that lasts 18 months, through summer 2021. What would that look like?</strong></p><p>We should think of summer 2020 through summer 2021 as one school year, one educational time period, rather than parse out our plans in three distinct time periods, so that we have time to think about recovery and acceleration and some new innovation. The investments we made this summer and what we learned are going to be applied to this school year. And the things we learn this school year will certainly shape what is necessary next summer. So rather than create artificial barriers, there’s an opportunity to think about an 18-month period where we are going to work with parents, children and educators in a more connected way compared to the typical school year. </p><p>I do look forward to what this fall will bring. We have very talented educators in this country and there will be no shortage of new approaches. I think much of what we will learn will dramatically shape what school looks like after the pandemic. Maybe we’ll no longer accept 40 kids in a classroom. Maybe more teachers will take on a hybrid approach where student projects live online. I don’t imagine education going back to the way it was before. </p><p><em>&quot;What Will It Cost to Reopen Schools?&quot; image is reprinted with permission of the Association of School Business Officials International® (<a href="https&#58;//www.asbointl.org/">www.asbointl.org</a>) and is non-transferable. Use of this imprint does not imply any endorsement or recognition by ASBO International and its officers or affiliates.</em> <br> </p>Elizabeth Duffrin972020-08-25T04:00:00ZThe Urban League’s Hal Smith sees pitfalls and, yes, educational opportunities—including more student-led inquiry8/26/2020 4:50:08 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Keeping a Focus on Equity as Schools Reopen During the Pandemic The Urban League’s Hal Smith sees pitfalls and, yes 788https://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 221https://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 607https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Weaving Equity into the Fabric of Principal Training23659GP0|#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 last in 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>The University of Connecticut Administrator Preparation Program (UCAPP) grappled with many moving parts when redesigning its offerings to better address schools’ needs. Leaders worked to <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/changing-principal-preparation-to-help-meet-school-needs.aspx">build support for the change</a>, <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/a-road-to-more-effective-principals-begins-in-one-universitys-classrooms.aspx">overhaul the curriculum</a>, <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/embracing-the-unknown-in-new-approaches-to-principal-preparation.aspx">engage faculty</a>, <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/taking-principal-training-to-the-real-world.aspx">fine-tune internships</a> and <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/it-takes-a-village-to-train-an-effective-principal.aspx">strengthen partnerships</a>, among other efforts. </p><p>Cutting across all this work is equity. Connecticut, like much of the country, is more diverse than it once was. To help ensure equal educational opportunity for all its students, UCAPP hopes to train principals to spot inequities and negotiate thorny social issues to help resolve them. It has therefore worked to infuse equity into its curriculum and create space for groups education systems often overlook. </p><p>Wallace’s editorial staff spoke to UCAPP director Richard Gonzales to find out about the program’s efforts to prepare leaders who can help ensure equity in education. An edited transcript of our conversation follows.</p><p> <strong>Why was equity so important for you in this redesign?</strong></p><p>Statistically, educators of color make up about nine percent of the teacher workforce in Connecticut. But that number drops when you look at administrators. There is some representation of people of color at the assistant principal level, but it goes down at the principal level, it goes down further among the central office leadership, and it’s miniscule when you get to superintendents, deputy superintendents and the state level. You can name all the people of color in Connecticut who are at that level. There are numerous social factors which explain this trend, but the opportunity for us in Connecticut is the understanding that <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/it-takes-a-village-to-train-an-effective-principal.aspx">university-district partnerships</a>&#160;can positively influence the career trajectory and outcomes for all educators in the talent pipeline, including those historically underrepresented in executive leadership roles.</p><p>I felt that we have some ability and a responsibility to fix those sorts of things. And the Wallace initiative gave us the opportunity to try to do that.</p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read d975ecb1-4d3d-4793-b852-573b1109aa30" id="div_d975ecb1-4d3d-4793-b852-573b1109aa30"></div><div id="vid_d975ecb1-4d3d-4793-b852-573b1109aa30" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p><strong>How do you define the populations for whom you want to ensure equity?</strong></p><p>We are thinking about equity in terms of the people for whom the system is currently not working—inside the school, in the district or in our state—and what it will take to change that.</p><p>There is legal and regulatory guidance for some groups. We have federal laws for English language learners, and racial minorities are protected in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 speaks to medical conditions that may manifest in educational need. There are programs for talented and gifted students. Those are the groups of people we commonly talk about; there's regulatory guidance for those students. </p><p>But we also look at other special populations, even if they are not groups protected by regulation. That includes issues related to bullying, related to gender identity and the realities of what principals are going to be dealing with in schools. It's a lot more inclusive and it's a lot more culturally responsive.</p><p>It doesn't even have to be anything major. In magnet schools, for example, the magnet population often receives different services and opportunities than the local students. Sometimes they're not in the same classes. Sometimes they're divided physically within the building. The parents are engaged differently by the school. That's the kind of thing that we're talking about, as well.</p><p><strong>You’ve tried to adjust your curriculum so it can better train aspiring principals to ensure equity in their schools. What have you changed there?</strong></p><p>We’ve added a lot of material throughout the program. In the very first course, we show an hourlong video called <em><a href="https&#58;//www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnybJZRWipg">So You Want to Talk about Race?</a>&#160;</em>In the second, we have <a href="http&#58;//libjournal.uncg.edu/ijcp/article/view/1057">an article focused on social justice​</a>. There’s a <a href="https&#58;//www.academia.edu/3745626/What_every_principal_needs_to_know_to_create_equitable_and_excellent_schools_Teachers_College_Press_">book we added</a> that’s all about equity in schools, <a href="https&#58;//us.corwin.com/en-us/nam/improving-schools-through-community-engagement/book225711">one about community engagement</a>, a guide to help <a href="http&#58;//www.ascd.org/Publications/Books/Overview/Leading-an-Inclusive-School.aspx">meet federal requirements for access to special populations</a>. Those are just a few examples.<strong></strong></p><p>A great example of a programming change is what we used to call the Special Education Institute. It was a separate course that met during both summers of the program and covered issues traditionally considered to be part of ‘special education.’ That was focused on that one population. It has now become Leadership for Special Populations. It’s not just about that one group anymore, it’s about equity for all students. </p><p>It's a more inclusive idea of leadership—making the school work for all constituencies, regardless of whether they have protected status by statute or regulation. In the very first fall semester course, we begin talking about effective <a href="http&#58;//www.rtinetwork.org/essential/tieredinstruction/tiered-instruction-and-intervention-rti-model">Tier 1 instruction for all</a>, because that is where schools fail most special populations. Principals can set the tone and provide the support for kids to succeed in the general setting. Of course, certain needs require specialized intervention, but we can and should do better at meeting all kids’ needs in the general classroom setting.</p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read 9a8a4e03-df16-467e-9859-83120cfb8dd6" id="div_9a8a4e03-df16-467e-9859-83120cfb8dd6" unselectable="on"></div><div id="vid_9a8a4e03-df16-467e-9859-83120cfb8dd6" unselectable="on" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p><strong>You spoke earlier about ensuring representation for minorities among school leadership. A program like UCAPP is, of course, a major source of school leaders in Connecticut. What are you doing to ensure UCAPP students are more representative of educators in the state?</strong></p><p>We became a lot more proactive and aggressive in recruitment. Firstly, we know demographically where certain populations are concentrated. So we turned our attention to those areas.</p><p>Secondly, we became more proactive about engaging with individuals early and consistently. For example, we do our best to get to know teacher leaders—not necessarily to rush them or pressure them to apply to UConn, but just to get to know them so there's a familiar face when and if they start thinking about moving into leadership.</p><p>Our networks help with this work. We have meetings with superintendents and assistant superintendents in our partner districts where we’ll say to them, ‘We'd appreciate you inviting us to any events where you know you are celebrating teacher leadership, just in general. It doesn't have to be specifically around individuals color.’ And there we’ll meet people there who might be coming into the leadership pipeline.</p><p>Third, some of us in the faculty will volunteer to be professional mentors. We ask our partners if there are educators of color who are rising stars in their districts. It’s not to recruit for our program. We’re just offering ourselves, as people who've gone before them, to be mentors to them. We're fine if they choose another program that fits their needs better. </p><p>We have been doing this mentoring work informally for about six years now. But with the redesign, we started talking more about it and the conversation became public. A lot more faculty members learned about things that some of us do, and many of them started expressing interest. We want to make sure people coming into leadership pipelines know where the opportunities are so we can connect them with a network of support and help them make the best of those opportunities. </p><p>We have not yet tracked our mentoring efforts, but we will begin recording the numbers of mentors and mentees as we build out our educator preparation analytics system over the coming months.</p><p><strong>How about the faculty? Are there any efforts to bring more diversity to the faculty?</strong></p><p>Increasing the diversity of the faculty remains a priority. That's not easy though, because our policy is to hire practitioners, superintendents, deputy superintendents or chief academic officers. As I said before, there's only a handful of people of color in those positions, so it's harder to diversify the faculty than it is the students. I realize I could change our policy of hiring only executive-level district leaders, but that’s not the best solution. </p><p>But we do seek out people of color and hire them when we can. Then over time, they establish seniority and start taking leadership roles in the program. We used to have just one gentleman of color in the faculty, who worked his way up to our faculty leadership group. We’ve recently added three other individuals of color to the faculty. In due time I’m sure they’ll do well and earn the opportunity to be in that group. And once you’re in that faculty leadership group, you're involved with the governance and then you have a voice. </p><p><strong>And once you have who you think are the right people in your program, are there any formal structures in place to make sure voices of underrepresented groups are heard?</strong></p><p>We don’t have formal structures or affinity groups. If folks wanted to do that, we would support it. But it hasn’t come up</p><p>What we’re doing is that we’re weaving equity into the fabric of our work. All those efforts we just discussed—the outreach efforts, the connecting, the networking—It's not just me doing it. It’s more comprehensive. It's faculty members, it's our district partners, it’s the dean, it’s the superintendents, all of us constantly thinking about how we develop pipelines to ensure diversity. While there are no formal structures, we're weaving a fabric that's becoming a lot more real. It's a lot more real today than it was three years ago, certainly, more than it was six years ago. </p><p>The representation of students of color is changing so they have a critical mass. <em>[According to UCAPP, the proportion of students of color has risen from 13 percent in the class of 2017 to 30 percent in the class of 2021.]</em></p><p>I think because there's now a critical mass, they are more comfortable speaking up. Two things have stood out from their comments. One, the over-representation of white educators among our faculty and guest speakers, and two, equity isn't ‘neatly packaged’ in the program.&#160;&#160;</p><p>Going strictly by the numbers, the first observation is fair. But as I said, there aren't more than a few educators of color who are superintendents or assistant superintendents available to hire, and we are doing better on that front than we were five years ago.</p><p>On the second, I get that students want a tight definition of how to &quot;do&quot; leadership for equity. But it doesn't work that way. Equity, like a lot about leadership, is something one must make sense of for him or herself. Unlike with teacher evaluation, there isn't a set of practices that is a best fit for all or most occasions. </p><p>We ask students to look, listen, talk, try, adjust, reflect and repeat in order to find their leader identity and espoused leadership theory of action. This applies to equity, too. They will understand this better upon completion of the program or years down the road as practitioners. For example, we recently received a request from our student advisory group for an optional session to further unpack equity as a concept. I think this is a sign of maturity; it signals that they aren't looking for a magic bullet answer anymore.</p><p>I don't think it's a coincidence that these issues of equity never came up when there were no faculty of color and basically one person of color in each graduating class. It’s not a coincidence that now, over the last two or three years, when there's a growing number of people of color and growing number of faculty of color, that these issues are surfacing.</p><p><strong>How do you measure progress on these issues? </strong></p><p>A very simplistic but significant indicator is what aspirant leaders talk about, look for and spend their time working on. If you have to prompt folks to look for gaps—in achievement, opportunity, participation, etc.—then they don't have an equity mindset. </p><p>A developmental next step is a systems orientation for inclusivity.&#160; For example, we saw in some assignments that students were thinking about how to use certain structures to help multiple special populations, not just one. That's inclusive and cohesive.</p><p>Another level still is responsiveness and proactiveness. If they are thinking preventatively for how things might not work for some teachers, students or families, then they are also thinking about which adjustments might be necessary and getting ready to respond accordingly.</p><p>One measure we’re looking at is student performance on their core assessment tasks, which are tasks that demonstrate their learning and translation of knowledge and skills into practice. Equity is evaluated in each task. </p><p>We recently got the preliminary scoring of the very first task ever to be submitted. The average scores were healthy. But it was promising to see that the highest mean was in the area of equity. [The mean score on equity was 3.13 on a four-point scale; the mean score in the other five areas the assessment measures was 2.95.]</p><p>Some of that might have been because of our own scoring, though we don't think we gave too much credit where it wasn't due. But we thought of it as a message received by the students and the faculty.</p><p><strong>Have you encountered any resistance to this work?</strong></p><p>Oh, we’ve encountered it from all sides. We have an annual Educational Leadership Forum in the fall; part of its purpose is to feature alumni who are doing really good work and making a difference. Some of us talked about adding more diversity to it. And a colleague, an esteemed professional in the field, said, ‘What does all this social justice and equity and race stuff have to do with leadership?’ <strong></strong></p><p>Another thing we’ve heard is, ‘So I guess you had to change the admission standards in order to get the folks that you're trying to get in.’ We’ve heard a couple of versions of that. We definitely did not change our admission standard. Instead, we got better at recruiting a more diverse candidate pool.</p><p>And I personally have also gotten it from the other side. Students have expressed frustration that I, as director, have not pushed harder to effect change. So we’ve dealt with it from both sides. That is to be expected and a sign of good organizational health, in my opinion.</p><p><strong>So how do you deal with that?</strong></p><p>The thing that probably served us well is to make it all about data and standards. The Professional Standards for Educational Leaders, the current set of standards, are infused with equity, and I used them to make my case. It helped me keep the argument as objective as possible, where it's less about me and my preferences and it's more about the work. </p><p>I also had to connect those things to the mission and vision of UCAPP. Our mission is to prepare high-quality and capable leaders for the state of Connecticut. That's why we exist. Our vision is that our graduates will be committed to excellence. That's our vision and that's our reputation. </p><p>All I did was focus on standards, the data, the mission and the vision and just kept talking about that. Equity helps us achieve our mission.</p><p>It’s not just about me and my vision.</p><p><strong>Do recent events, such as the mass protests against police violence, the surge in public support for the Black Lives Matter movement and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on D.A.C.A, affect the work at all?</strong></p><p>First and foremost, they validate our decision to prioritize equity as an essential component of school leadership. They also compel us to do more. Preparation is an important but single domain in the leadership pipeline. We also have to think about how we help our graduates ensure equity once they’re out in communities leading schools. We must be thoughtful and intentional about advocacy and support to ensure the entire education system, from pre-K to universities, operates fairly and yields equitable outcomes. </p><p>School leaders are community leaders. More than ever, we need principals and superintendents who effectively serve <em>all</em><strong> </strong>constituencies in the communities they are entrusted to lead, and who confront and alter institutional biases. They need to act with cultural competence and responsiveness in their interactions, decision making and practice. </p><p>These are all difficult things to do. But we hope that if we’re careful, welcoming of different perspectives and receptive to feedback, we can help future principals do them and play our small role in addressing the inequities that have long plagued this nation.</p><p>Read the previous post in our UConn series&#58; <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/learning-to-navigate-the-uncertainties-of-school-leadership.aspx">Learning to Navigate the Uncertainties of School Leadership</a> </p> Wallace editorial team792020-06-30T04:00:00ZIn its redesigned principal prep program, UConn is working to prepare leaders who will help ensure equity in education.9/11/2020 3:25:17 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Weaving Equity into the Fabric of Principal Training In its redesigned principal prep program, UConn is working to prepare 318https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Learning to Navigate the Uncertainties of School Leadership24085GP0|#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 407https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
It Takes a Village to Train an Effective Principal24082GP0|#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 307https://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 263https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Taking Principal Training to the Real World24112GP0|#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 305https://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 729https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx

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