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May/June 2017

GenerationAppropriate Support for Teachers


Where learning


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M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 7




Next-Level Leadership 8 Worth the Investment: Trust

Why learning to listen might be a principal’s most important leadership skill. Sarah E. Fiarman

12 No Time for ESSA?

Here’s a 10-minute read on how to leverage the Every Student Succeeds Act to benefit your school.

14 Synergy and Straight Talk 12 14

Tools to build an honest, interdependent relationship that maximizes the capabilities of principals and superintendents. Brian Bullis, John Filippi, and Michael Lubelfeld

20 Building Leaders

With careful investment, an assistant principal will become a valuable partner in the school leadership team. Sandra A. Trach

24 The Write Time

If you’ve got ideas and experiences that can help others, writing a book is a great way to share what you know. You just have to get started. Cathie E. West

16 24

28 Entrepreneurial Leaders Redefine the Principalship

In Philadelphia, a spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and well among principals— and it’s reaping big rewards for schools and students. Tim Matheney

32 Social Media or Social Life?

Technology can work wonders in keeping principals in touch with stakeholders. But too much of a good thing can overwhelm even the most tech-savvy leader. Jody Capelluti and Anita Steward McCafferty

FE AT UR E S 20 32

36 Systems Change for Literacy Gains

Strong literacy programs can be the foundation for improved instructional practices and better student outcomes schoolwide. Gerry Brooks, Nayal Maktari, Karen Scott, and Jeffery Williams

40 Providing “Generation-Appropriate” Support

What new principals need to know about working with baby boomers, Generation X, and millennials. PRINCIPAL’S BRIEF John F. Eller and Sheila A. Eller

Principal n May/June 2017



BOARD OF DIRECTORS Steven D. Geis, Ed.D. President

In Every Issue

Robyn M. Conrad Hansen, Ed.D. Past President

4 From the Editor Getting Things Done —Kaylen Tucker

Brian K. Partin President-elect

6 Snapshots Nuggets of research, policy, and practice to keep you informed. 42 Member Spotlight New Jersey Principal Moonlights as Mayor 44 Parents & Schools Helping Children Deal With Failure —William F. Russell

46 The Reflective Principal Discovering Strength in Tough Times —Jennifer N. Dalton

—Penny A. Reedy and Maggie L. McHugh

49 Advertiser Index 50 It’s the Law Who Is Really Accountable? —Perry A. Zirkel

52 Principal’s Bookshelf Personalizing 21st Century Education: A Framework for Student Success By Dan Domenech, Morton Sherman, and John L. Brown —Reviewed by Cris Blackstone

When School Policies Backfire: How Well-Intended Measures Can Harm Our Most Vulnerable Students By Michael A. Gottfried and Gilberto Q. Conchas —Reviewed by Liz Garden

—Tracy Reimer

56 Practitioner’s Corner Can Students Search for New Staff? —Chris Dodge

57 Postscript Gail Connelly: Reflections of a 21st Century Leader

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Principal (ISSN 0271-6062) is published in September, November, January, March, and May by the National Association of Elementary School Principals. Annual membership dues in the Association are $235 (institutional subscription, $150), of which $35 are for a year’s subscription to Principal. (Subscriptions available only as part of membership.) Periodicals postage paid at Alexandria, VA, and at additional mailing offices. NAESP Executive and Editorial Offices, 1615 Duke St., Alexandria, VA 22314-3483. 703-684-3345. Copyright 2017 National Association of Elementary School Principals. All rights reserved. Requests to reprint or reproduce, in print or online, material published in Principal or other NAESP publications must be in written form, specifying the article(s), publication date(s), usage, and number of copies to be reproduced. Each request will be reviewed on its merits and confirmed by email for one-time use only. Direct reprint requests to Postmaster: Send address changes to: NAESP, Member Services Center 1615 Duke St. Alexandria, VA 22314-3483

54 Speaking Out When to Lead, When to Learn


Directors Tara A. McAuliffe, Zone 1 Melissa D. Patschke, Ed.D., Zone 2 Deborah H. Frazier, Zone 3 Sharon K. McNary, Zone 4 Susan Cobb, Ed.D., Zone 5 Paul Wenger, Zone 6 Dave Steckler, Zone 7 Duane L. Dorshorst, Zone 8 Dwight C. Cooper, Zone 9 Kimbrelle B. Lewis, At Large Schwanda Jackson, Ed.D., At Large Gail Connelly, Ernest J. Mannino Ex Officio

48 Best Practices Flipping the Script With Staff

Join NAESP’s Networks

Eric S. Cardwell Vice President

Principal is a registered trademark of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. Opinions expressed in Principal are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of NAESP. No information contained in this issue of Principal should be construed as legal or financial advice. The publication of any advertisement or article by Principal does not constitute an endorsement of that product, service, or position. Principal reserves the right to refuse any article or advertisement. Only the publication of an article or advertisement shall constitute final acceptance. Volume 96, Number 5

Together, we endeavor to ensure learning for all. Since 1998, Solution Tree has helped more than a million teachers and administrators from across the country— and around the globe—navigate challenging issues that lie in the path of our students’ success in the classroom and in life. We can help you too.

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Getting Things Done “Cities are where hope meets the street.” This is according to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, speaking during his 2016 TED Talk, “How Are Mayors Better Poised to ‘Get Things Done’?” His message about the strength of what he calls the ascending state of cities is predicated on the concept that local governments’ proximity and flexibility are best poised to make real impact on the quality of people’s lives. The Reed administration’s approach to improving the city takes a wide range of measures, from addressing safety and balancing the city’s finances to attending to those elements that can make or break a resident’s quality of life like access to green spaces. As Reed contextualized the mayor’s role in providing supports for “people who are most in need of help,” I couldn’t help but compare it to the principalship and how school leaders “get things done.” Schools rival local governments in their capacity to directly impact children and families. Principals routinely make sure that students not only have access to a well-rounded and complete education, but also leverage wrap-around services and other supports they need to thrive. If cities are where hope meets the street, then schools are where families access opportunities—converting hope into future success. New Jersey principal Emil Carafa has learned to leverage municipal and school leadership; he’s been doubling as an elementary principal and town mayor since 2015. According to Carafa, who is profiled on page 42, “the work I do in the public [as mayor] is an extension of my work at my school.” In addition to the impact on the life chances PAGE 57 of students, principals also strengthen the entire “Reflections of a 21st educational system and leadership pipeline. As the Century Leader” reviews articles in this issue of Principal magazine demonGail Connelly’s visionary leadership of NAESP. strate, principals cultivate positive school cultures that are built on trust, strengthen the principal pipeline by identifying teacher leaders and nurturing assistant principals, and through interdependent relationships with superintendents, contribute to strong, district leadership. As a final note, I salute the ultimate champion of principal leaders and their ability to “get things done” for the students they serve. While Gail Connelly is retiring after 10 years as NAESP executive director, her lasting impact on the principalship can be encapsulated in one of her guiding principles: “Share leadership, collaborate with others, and create a culture of inclusion.” —Kaylen Tucker, Ph.D.

Gail Connelly Executive Director, NAESP Foundation President Ernest J. Mannino Deputy Executive Director, NAESP Foundation CEO

P R I N C I PA L Kaylen Tucker, Ph.D. Editor-in-Chief Edwin Colbert Communications Assistant

EDITORIAL ADVISORS Kristin Bishop Plano, Texas Cris Blackstone Alton, New Hampshire Julie Bloss Grove, Oklahoma Brian Bond Corbia, Kentucky Allen Fain Pickens, South Carolina Liz Garden Groton, Massachusetts Jennifer Klipp Greenville, South Carolina Jennifer Nauman Lewes, Delaware Jen Thomas Washington, D.C. Sylvia Zircher Monmouth Junction, New Jersey If you are interested in submitting an article for possible publication in Principal, submission guidelines are available at Letters to the editor or general inquiries may be sent to

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Principal n May/June 2017









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Fast Fact: Latino children’s math


Conversation in the Digital Age While advances in digital technology have ushered in exciting, new ways to communicate and share information, ramifications for human relationships and conversation have surfaced. This is according to renowned social psychologist Sherry Turkle, who is the author of Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age (Penguin Press, 2015). Turkle is a thought leader for the 2017 National Principals Conference in July. Here’s a preview of her message. What’s your educational philosophy? Read. Talk. Listen. Imagine. Create. Should cellphones be banned in schools? Cellphones should be banned in all classrooms and dining areas. Those are places for talking. Students should be able to consult phones

MYTWOCENTS Ready to be inspired at the National Principals Conference? What are you looking forward to or hoping to achieve? 6

Principal ■ May/June 2017

in halls, lounge spaces, and other designated areas. How can principals help reclaim the power of conversation in an age of technology?

By creating no-device “sacred spaces” in school environments that are set aside as conversation-only places. When we are interrupted by our devices, we attend less to each other. We become less empathetic.

Lynn Colón (@TheColon_s): Collaboration, inspiration, and energy from passionate leaders Julie Bloss (@BlossJulie): I’m looking forward to collaborating with my incredible PLN—many I’ve never met in person! #principalsinaction #kidsdeserveit #ecechat


skills trail those of white students by the equivalent of 3 months. —Child Trends, February 2017

We turn the conversation to more trivial matters and we feel less connection to each other. In what specific ways can principals use new technology to enhance communication? For the moment, I think our challenge is to learn to put aside technology to enhance communication. We need to learn to look at each other in the eye, to attend to body language. We need to relearn the art of the significant apology. And perhaps most of all, to attend to each other, we have to learn to attend to ourselves, to be content with our own thoughts. If we can’t gather ourselves to ourselves, we can’t hear what someone else has to say. We project onto them what we need them to be saying to buttress our fragile sense of self. What’s the most important benefit and biggest drawback to technology in schools? Technology brings us in contact with people and experiences all over the world, with people we would never meet. That is wonderful. We need to take advantage of this without living a life of constant distraction. *Excerpted from Principal Leadership, March 2017

A Tribute to NAESP Executive Director Gail Connelly “Gail is someone you can always count on to ... greet you with a smile ... be prepared, thoughtful, attentive, and honest ... think, lead, and ask tough questions ... challenge your thinking and enlarge it ... see things from many perspectives ... think of amazing new ideas ... approach every situation with the needs of principals, students, and families uppermost in mind ...

make thoughtful decisions ... do the right thing ... work closely with others ... make everyone feel welcome and important ... provide sound advice ... have your back ... be a loyal and supportive friend ... fill you with positive energy ... give you hope that the principals, families, and kids of this country will be better off ... and always be there for NAESP.” —From colleagues at NAESP and around the country. See a full retrospective of Connelly’s decade-long tenure as executive director on page 57.

New Hashtag Alert Vouchers and school choice, rights for special education students, and funding for professional development for teachers and principals. These are among the issues the nation faces in the 115th Session of Congress, as new initiatives are being advanced by the Trump Administration, and as states and local districts implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Enter #PrincipalsAdvocate, which attendees of NAESP’s National Leaders Conference recently used to document their advocacy on Capitol Hill about these issues. Follow #PrincipalsAdvocate to keep up with NAESP’s advocacy agenda for a stronger investment in public schools and policy developments that impact school leadership.

Kelly Musselman Luscre: I’m looking forward to meeting new people and creating a Professional Learning Network that I can learn from, ask for help when the “tough” times ensue, and who can help celebrate the good times!!

Want to grow your PLN before the conference? Connect on Twitter via #NPC17

Amy L. Suffoletto: I am excited to be part of this amazing conference again. I am looking forward to connecting with so many great leaders! #NAESP2017

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Know How to Listen

Worth the Investment:

Trust Why learning to listen might be a principal’s most important leadership skill. By Sarah E. Fiarman


ecently, a new principal asked me how she could build trust more quickly. My first response was, “You can’t!” Trust can only be developed through daily interactions that accumulate over time until people know not just what your values are in theory, but how you’ll act upon them. I experienced this in my first months as principal, when I asked teachers about a plan for professional development. There was mostly silence until one teacher bluntly said, “We don’t have much to say because we don’t know yet whether we trust you, Sarah.” It was a helpful reminder: Trust takes time. However, understanding that it takes time doesn’t mean that school leaders should just wait for trust to happen. Trust also takes deliberate effort. Research, including that of Anthony S. Bryk and Barbara Schneider in Trust in Schools: A Core Resource for Improvement (Russell Sage Foundation, 2002), shows that principals can’t skip this work. Success will be limited without trust. There are concrete steps to building trust, including knowing how to listen, knowing when to speak, and owning bias. They may not be glamorous action steps, but they are crucial.


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Name Your Biases


Know When to Speak

Take the Time

Principal â– May/June 2017


Know How to Listen

English to tell me they wanted When leaders their children to be challenged, Listening is one of the most meet anger they wanted good teachers, powerful acts we perform. or frustration and they wanted to know that When we listen to truly with genuine, their children would do well understand what people compassionate in high school. mean, not just what they’re After they spoke, I repeated saying, we build trust. This interest in the what I heard them say and requires slowing down, checkother person’s promised to do my best. Then ing to be sure we understand perspective, I worked to ensure our school correctly, and sharing back what we earn trust. fulfilled that promise. For years, we hear. I reaped trust from this outreach. When a parent charged into At school events, these parents felt the office accusing the school of they knew me and brought friends not taking care of her child when and relatives for introductions. Sevhe missed bus dismissal, I learned a eral asked for help arranging afterlesson in building trust. I could see my school care or summer programs. Reachattempt to explain what happened was ing out and listening signaled to these not helping. She was still fuming. Despite families that their opinions were valued. feeling attacked and misunderstood, I tried They responded with trust. to deeply listen. Then I shared what I heard: “You must have felt scared when you didn’t see your son. You’re worried this will happen again.” Know When to Speak After emphatically agreeing, she calmed down. The more we understand others’ perspectives, What was most surprising to me wasn’t just the the more we’ll anticipate their concerns. Since mom’s quick response to feeling heard but the a lack of information causes people to worry (or fact that she became one of my staunchest allies. make up their own story) and distrust the leader, The way we receive anger is an opportunity to we must communicate more than we think we build trust, say Ronald A. Heifitz and Marty Linneed to. After a long day of work, it’s easy to skip sky in Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive Through writing a letter or making a phone call. But we the Dangers of Leading (Harvard Business School need to go that extra mile. So, when the school Press, 2002). When leaders meet anger or frustracook exploded in anger at students and made tion with genuine, compassionate interest in the several cry, I sent emails and called parents. other person’s perspective, we earn trust. When we implemented a new strategy for assessThis is true when people disagree, not just ing student progress, I explained it at Back to when they’re angry. If I can demonstrate that I School Night. sincerely want to understand the person’s point People pay attention when the principal of view and then—this is important—say it aloud speaks. It’s one of the privileges (and perils) to show I understand, people will trust that I’m of the role. Wise principals use that voice of not dismissive of their opinions. It’s important authority to communicate their values. One of to note that a consequence of sincere listening is my values is that respectful questioning and disthat leaders will realize that they’re wrong someagreement accelerates our collective learning. times. Changing course based on input is a sign I explicitly say this at meetings and encourage of integrity, not weakness. “pushback.” However, saying this isn’t enough. Another aspect of listening well is ensuring Leaders need to show that dissent will be liswe’re listening to a wide range of voices. This tened to. Without this reassurance, a disagreerequires legwork. Who are the families we don’t ment doesn’t go away; it just moves to the parktypically hear from? They are the most likely to ing lot or staff room to grow. be overlooked. At my school, we didn’t regularly At an instructional leadership team meeting my hear from immigrant and low-income families. I first year, an insightful but often quiet teacher ginhad to go the extra mile to earn their trust. gerly disagreed with my idea. As a result, the plan One year, I invited all the families in a particutook off in the direction she’d pointed us, and we lar housing project to meet to tell me how the came up with something better. school could support their children better. As This moment was pivotal. If she hadn’t distheir children ate pizza, mothers from Ethiopia, agreed with the proposal, we wouldn’t have Haiti, Eritrea, and Guyana used their developing arrived at the stronger place. I shared this with


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the entire team to show why differently instead of seeking to Leaders can’t I valued such behavior. The understand her concerns. Six build trust without result? Teachers learned kids of color are hanging out recognizing and that their opinions would in front of the school and valuing people’s be treated respectfully and people worry that trouble is could be consequential. brewing. Such hidden biases full selves. One way to communicate undermine not only trust, but respect and build trust with a also the work we aspire to do. teacher is to be familiar with Knowing that I’m biased his or her work. A union repmeans I have to watch my deciresentative once said he trusted sion-making all the time. his principal because she was in For example: his classroom every day, even if only for two minutes. Many teachers are ■ Do I file reports with the state for reassured when the principal visits child neglect more quickly with a family regularly enough to know the routines of color than a white family? and identify the small victories in student ■ Do I consider a parent of color pushy, but behavior and learning. Teachers pour a white parent who does the same thing a energy and effort into their work every day. strong advocate? It’s easy to take this for granted; after all, it’s ■ Do I ignore when a low-income family doesn’t what we do. However, it engenders trust when show up for a conference, but feel worried for a your boss can speak to the specifics of your work. more affluent family that does the same? ■ How do I respond when a particular subgroup— whether it’s black, low-income, or kids with Name Your Biases learning disabilities—all fail the state exam? Some white people seek to build trust with Would I react differently if all of the white stupeople of color by claiming to be colorblind. dents (or students in another group) failed? This strategy may be well-intentioned, but it’s not helpful. Race isn’t something to be feared. Would we say that we don’t see gender? Why do people Asking such questions helps me counteract feel they shouldn’t see race? Leaders can’t build my unconscious bias. In her 2008 article “Cultrust without recognizing and valuing people’s tivating the Trust of Black Parents,” psycholofull selves. gist Beverly Daniel Tatum explains that when Furthermore, our society is not colorblind. In a white educator names race, it is reassuring a New York Times article titled “Racial Bias, Even not because it means the person is free from When We Have Good Intentions,” from Jan. 3, bias, but because it indicates awareness of her 2015, Senhil Mullainathan writes that study after prejudices—an awareness of the larger problem study shows that people of color are treated difso many families of color face. Recognizing the ferently when applying for jobs, buying houses, pervasiveness of bias is an important first step. getting medical treatment and more. Increasingly, Acknowledging that I might make mistakes the research shows that these findings reflect because of this bias—then actively working to unconscious biases rather than overt prejudice. counter it—builds trust. I’ve learned that as a white person leading a racially diverse school community, a critical step Take the Time in building trust is to own and confront my biases. Trust happens through thousands of small, In their 2013 book Blindspot: Hidden Biases of purposeful interactions over time. In addition Good People, psychologists Mahzarin R. Banaji and to the steps described above, leaders earn trust Anthony G. Greenwald show that we all unconwhen they keep promises, respond when teachsciously absorb prejudices about people of color. ers ask for help, and have difficult conversaThese messages, buried deep in our unconscious, tions with adults to ensure high-quality teachcan make us act counter to our best intentions if ing for everyone. It’s not a simple task. Can you we aren’t alert to them. accelerate it? No. Can you make progress every day? Absolutely. For example, an African American father walks into school and the principal assumes he’s a janitor. An administrator assumes the young, new Sarah E. Fiarman, a former principal, is an author and teacher of color is paranoid about being treated education consultant.

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No Time for


f there’s one resource that principals across the nation agree is in high demand, regardless of the type of school they lead, it is time. Now that the Every Student Succeeds Act has passed and is at the implementation stage, principals must balance their everyday responsibilities to make sure that they invest in the future by helping to shape the new law’s application at the state and local levels. ESSA was designed to include principals and other stakeholders in the development of state plans. So, principals should be prepared to champion the policies that they know enable schools to deliver to students a well-rounded, complete education. Whether it means an expanded curricular experience through arts integration or offering additional programs that address social-emotional learning, there is a real opportunity here to reimagine the opportunities that can be provided for all students. Likewise, principals should work with colleagues and their district leaders to ensure that they recognize the law’s potential to provide greater support for their own leadership. Principals need strong training and support to be able to implement specific interventions and strategies, such as pre-K and afterschool programs, for example.

Here’s a 10-minute read on how to leverage the Every Student Succeeds Act to benefit your school.


Principal ■ May/June 2017


What Are the Issues? Here’s a cheat sheet on what you should know about the law and how to use it to advocate for your school. NAESP and the Center for Great Teachers & Leaders at the American Institutes for Research identified areas that should be of top concern for principals when discussing ESSA: Standards and Assessments: Principals should recommend assessment strategies that are best at helping schools provide the least punitive testing environment, such as eliminating duplicate or unnecessary assessments and including those that are the most informative for instructional purposes. ■ Accountability: Principals should identify a variety of specific, quantifiable metrics and the criteria under which schools and students are to be held accountable. The new system must be based on growth rather than one snapshot in time that does not reflect the overall progress of students and schools. ■ School Improvement and Title I: Principals should urge state and district leaders to embed solid education concepts in their school turnaround strategies, including how the state will use Title I funding. Title I plans should include goals and strategies to provide students with a well-rounded and complete education. ■ Professional Support: Principals should urge state leaders to use, in its entirety, their new 3 percent Title II funding set aside to provide school leaders with focused support to improve their abilities. ■ Student Support and Academic Enrichment: Plans should use flexible funding to help provide access to high-quality digital resources, activities, and programming designed to enhance education. Likewise, the program’s conditions for learning investments could support health, wellness, and other initiatives that are part of a well-rounded and complete education. ■

High-Quality Early Learning: Principals should encourage state leaders to make preschool a core part of the state ESSA plan by focusing on expanding access to high-quality early learning, encouraging alignment and collaboration from birth through the third grade, and providing training to better support teachers and leaders.

Hone Your Message An important first step in effective communication is building a framework that can help you and your allies develop messaging that is clear, concise, and consistent. Without such a framework, the message can become fragmented, offtopic, and ineffective.

Here are three steps to build your message:


Start by developing a core statement about an area you want to see changed in policy and practice, such as boosting school climate or counting social-emotional learning as a measure of school success.


Next, state your talking points. The talking points (aim for three) should support your core message and include both objective and subjective information.


Finally, restate the core message. A conclusion must restate the desired change.

By breaking down the issue into a brief framework, you will ensure that the most succinct and compelling case can be made. You then will be able to skillfully speak about ESSA from a principal’s perspective—regardless of the situation. This article stems from Principals Action Plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act: Providing All Students With a Well-Rounded and Complete Education. Access the full interactive toolkit at

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Synergy and Straight Talk Tools to build an honest, interdependent relationship that maximizes the capabilities of principals and superintendents. By Brian Bullis, John Filippi, and Michael Lubelfeld


he importance of a positive superintendent-principal relationship cannot be overstated. That is in part because the impact of a principal on K-12 student performance is second only to the impact of the classroom teacher. In most systems, the superintendent is the direct supervisor of the principal and holds the key to maximizing his or her potential. Similarly, the performance of the principal can be a significant factor in the ability of the superintendent to carry out a vision and maximize impact and effectiveness in the district.


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Interdependence of principals and superintendents speaks to the leadership concept of “managing up.” Managing up is two-way—it is about the interdependence that is foundational to effective superintendent/principal relationships. Such an approach helps to maximize the effectiveness of both parties, helping to identify strengths to be emphasized and opportunities for growth to be seized. In our Deerfield Public School District 109 (Illinois), there is synergy between the superintendent and the principals. This runs counter to how many superintendent-principal relationships unfold, as a relationship based WILDPIXEL/THINKSTOCK

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“If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants.” —David Ogilvy


relationship begins with a norm of transparency. Principals and the superintendent must be willing to share their successes and failures openly, and both must view success and failure through a lens of joint ownership. Our experience begins with lifting the shroud on performance data. Each survey, assessment, and other performance metric—whether unique to an individual administrator, school, or the district—is shared publicly with one another. We see performance clearly, we own the good and the bad, and we encourage each other to learn from others’ success and failure. In our experiences and leadership journeys, we are discovering that this type of open sharing is not typical of school organizations. The majority of administrators arrived in their positions via roles in the classroom or from leadership in district committees. While we hope the experience for teachers around the nation is beginning to change, our experiences were defined by a lack of opporon the organizational model of Your boss needs tunity to provide and receive command and control. Convencritical feedback from peers. tional wisdom may hold that the your help and superintendent is the “boss” or Make no mistake—building cooperation to the “chief,” and that his or her such a culture between prindo his or her job cipals and the superintendent word supersedes all others. However, in our experience, an intercan at times feel quite vulnereffectively, and dependent relationship between able. Engaging in such sharing you need your the principal and the superinrequires courage. But the honboss’ support tendent is a superior approach. est review of feedback leads to In short, our relationship has a truth that benefits all parties. and guidance encouraged two-way dialogue One way we established this in doing your and opportunities for principals culture was through formal exerjob effectively. to “manage up” to maximize cises with a third party who faciliorganizational performance. tated the Leadership Practices Inventory (modeled from James Kouzes’ and Barry Z. Posner’s seminal work, The Leadership Challenge). Three Key Behaviors The Leadership Practices Inventory offered an The University of California, Berkeley, career opportunity for 360-degree feedback for principals development website explains that managing and the superintendent. At a leadership retreat, up is important “because you and your boss are the principals and superintendent shared with mutually dependent on one another. Your boss one another their perceived strengths, weaknesses, needs your help and cooperation to do his or her areas for improvement, and individual reactions to job effectively, and you need your boss’ support this data. This open and honest sharing built the and guidance in doing your job effectively.” We foundation of trust needed to continue on a path submit that three behaviors define a successful of interdependence. “managing up” interdependence. The behaviors include being vulnerable with one another, Behavior 2: “Vision” Together. A second behavdeveloping a vision together, and collaboratively ior that promotes mutual dependence is develmanaging time. oping a vision together. Vision, in short, defines Behavior 1: Be Vulnerable With One Another. where the organization wants to go, in both the An interdependent superintendent-principal short and long term. Not surprisingly, when the

Principal ■ May/June 2017


Desiree Rusch-Winterbottom, M.A., CCC-SLP Speech-Language Pathologist, Schools

PLAYWRIGHT Children with autism can struggle forming social connections. I help by creating dialogue and teaching them skills for developing friendships.

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Certified Speech-Language Pathologists use their education, experience, and requisite skills to help improve students’ communication. Find your next playwright at



“Managing is like holding a dove in your hand. Squeeze too hard and you kill it, not hard enough and it flies away.” — Tommy Lasorda


superintendent and principal principal serves to maximize share different visions for their time at school and The superintendent leaders’ leadership, a tension is created away from the office. must empower printhat diminishes the effectiveHowever, understanding ness of both parties. Rather, the work patterns of leadercipals to have a high superintendents and princiship peers is not enough. level of autonomy pals should strive to achieve Principals and superintensynergy in their vision for lead- in making a range dents also must work to ership. Achieving such synergy of leadership deciestablish structured engageis less complicated than one ment to advance their persions, including might think. It involves someformance. Both sides work budgetary, thing simple: straight talk. to schedule collaboration through meetings focused To us, “straight talk” means instructional, and on various critical areas, that we react honestly to each personnel matters. such as curriculum develother’s direction, leadership, opment, budgeting, and and behavior. In a straight community relations, which serves to maximize talk relationship, the superintendent receives a their time on critical tasks. Also, planning critical response from his or her principals. For structured performance coaching conversaexample, if the superintendent thinks an idea, tions helps to ensure the superintendent-prinproduct, or method is fantastic and is all jazzed cipal relationship advances in a focused and up returning from a conference, the principals share honest reactions—not just “Yes” or “Sounds meaningful way. great.” In such relationships, “parking lot talk” or the “meeting after the meeting” is avoided. A Return on Investment Through honest and respectful dialogue, all Great schools require well-prepared and parties are able to leverage their strengths and well-supported principals. In Deerfield Public complement each other’s leadership. Schools District 109, the leadership focus on A straight talk relationship also assumes that principal support using high-leverage tools the organization functions without micromansuch as coaching, training, shared leadership, agement. The superintendent must empower and family focus is paying off. All metrics, principals to have a high level of autonomy in including student achievement, staff culture, making a range of leadership decisions, includstudent engagement, and stakeholder climate ing budgetary, instructional, and personnel point “north.” The focus on leadership at the matters. However, the superintendent and school level is giving the community a strong principal should have open dialogue about critireturn on its investment. cal decision-making. When the superintendent The demands placed on superintendents and principals make difficult decisions, both and principals continue to intensify as the era sides should approach the issue from a place of of accountability in schools transforms with the mutual support and dialogue. When principals implementation of the Every Student Succeeds and superintendents make decisions based on Act. While these demands might press many feedback from one another, the chance for dissuperintendents to double down on a “comtrict success is maximized. mand and control” style of leadership, we suggest superintendents and principals strive to achieve Behavior 3: Manage Time Collaboratively. A final behavior that supports an interdependent synergy. Practicing vulnerability, visioning together, and managing time collaboratively will superintendent-principal relationship is collecserve to maximize collective efficacy. tive time management. The demands placed on the time of superintendents and principals are significant. Taking steps to understand how Brian Bullis is principal of Charles J. Caruso Middle School the superintendent and principal prefer to in Deerfield, Illinois. manage their time is a critical step toward an interdependent relationship. Principals and the John Filippi is principal of Alan B. Shepard Middle School superintendent must understand one another’s in Deerfield, Illinois. work patterns, and they must work to honor those work patterns. Respecting the ad hoc Michael Lubelfeld is superintendent of schools in engagement between both superintendent and Deerfield Public Schools District 109.

Principal ■ May/June 2017

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Photos courtesy of John Pinderhughes

Photos courtesy of John Pinderhughes

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Building With careful investment, an assistant principal will become a valuable partner in the school leadership team.


By Sandra A. Trach

principal, but also the entire school community. chools are symbiotic organizations that According to Christopher Colwell in Impact: How are stimulated by the push and pull of Assistant Principals Can Be High Performing Leaders (Rowchange. This exciting yet creative tension man & Littlefield, 2015), assistant principals “lead can be complicated to navigate. Highfrom the middle” of the school, which allows them to performing principals know that shared work at a meaningful intersection of administration leadership with their assistant principal is absolutely and leadership, and among faculty, staff, students, and essential for success. parents. Assistant principals are key relationship-buildAn effective assistant principal is a potential future ers, becoming a bridge between the principal and facprincipal. Therefore, principals must make a deep ulty and staff, and aiding in the trust and transparency commitment to nurture the novice leaders with necessary for a successful school culture. dedicated time, training, and support. Developing an assistant principal is a time-intensive but worthy Experienced principals often say they owe much By Sandra A. Trach commitment for not only the principal and assistant of their success to their assistant principals—that


Principal ■ May/June 2017


Leaders they are the ones who lead, facilitate, communicate, collaborate, design, implement, problem-solve, and so much more. The assistant principal is a vital shared leadership partner with the principal in every endeavor. Principals must resist using assistant principal talent solely for managerial needs. Instead, principals should empower assistant principals as aspiring school leaders, ones who are ready to assume the helm at a moment’s notice. This can only happen with deliberate coaching and mentoring through authentic reflection, meaningful tasks, and continuous feedback.

The Right Strategy Principals must help assistant principals move from theory to application. While management tasks such as bus duty, schedules, and student discipline are necessary in a school, it is important to move beyond

these types of tasks in order for assistant principals to learn and grow. Colwell advises “the 50 percent rule,” contending that at least 50 percent of the assistant principal’s workday must be dedicated to the lives of students and teachers and the mission of the school. This is an easy metric by which to gauge the assistant principal’s schedule and assess the impact on teaching and learning. Principals must prepare their assistant principals strategically while staying realistic. New assistant principals cannot grasp the flood of leadership and administrative tasks required at the outset. Initially, assign a few projects that allow depth, then slowly expand responsibilities. Principals should not only be ready to assign tasks to their assistant principals, but also to give up some tasks and prioritize new ones. Part of empowering assistant principals is allowing them to shoulder some of the workload so the assistant principal can grow. Principal ■ May/June 2017


Tools for Growth The principal and assistant principal must be fully united in their understanding of high-quality instruction and how to provide purposeful feedback. This effort takes focused time and energy and must be deliberately planned into the week. Here are other ways principals can build leadership capacity: Start the morning with brief meetings to organize the day, and hold one-on-one closure opportunities for reflection. Balance these with quick check-ins throughout the day to communicate needs and decisions. n Conduct walkthroughs together to Principals should connect the instructional vision to visible learning. Develop and employ a not only be ready common instructional vocabulary. to assign tasks n Extend authentic forms of leaderto their assistant ship, authority, and responsibilities. principals, but n Provide opportunities to observe you also to give in action, then debrief together. Conup some tasks duct arranged observations of the assistant principal that include preand prioritize conference and post-reflection tools. new ones. n Encourage assistant principals to unearth problems within the school and design improvement efforts. Do not insulate the assistant principal from challenges. Guide from the side as much as possible, and intervene only when necessary. n

Here are five practical suggestions for helping assistant principals grow:


Conduct classroom walkthroughs together and model what to look for in highly effective instruction.


Support the assistant principal with data analysis. Look at student work and data together. The principal should model inquiry practices, and in turn, the assistant principal will develop data literacy.


Teach your assistant principal how to engage with challenges and untangle conflict. Listen to, guide,


Principal n May/June 2017

and support the critical thinking necessary to maneuver through issues.


Empower your assistant principal to offer his or her own professional opinions and rationale, not just emulate your voice.


Model ways to reflect. Teach your assistant principal how to gain perspective on needs and issues, and ways to solve dilemmas. Reflection is not only necessary for analysis, but also for growth.

n Teach the assistant principal how to work

through a personnel dilemma by modeling how to navigate supervision and evaluation procedures, balanced with improvement processes. n Create ways for your assistant principal to visit other schools to learn from peers in focused visits. Develop ways for the assistant principal to participate in small-group meetings with other assistant principals in the district through an aspiring principal network, or consider a partner organization such as NAESP, which trains principal mentors to provide such learning. n Support the assistant principal on finding ways to uphold and support the principal’s vision while also maintaining his or her unique professional identity. n Colwell suggests encouraging your assistant principals to “lead up” by developing new projects, expanding on assigned projects, and creating project proposals as they feel more comfortable in the role. n Make time for reflection and dialogue by holding routine conversations, providing coaching and counsel, and making your decisions transparent. n Offer a continuous loop of timely feedback, including a balanced approach of encouragement and constructive growth suggestions.

A Worthy Investment Principals must dedicate time and energy to listen, guide, and support assistant principals. This is a time-intensive commitment that will pay dividends not only for the assistant principal, but also the principal and school. With careful investment, an assistant principal will become a partner in the school’s work. It can be a challenge to determine how districts can sustain this level of training and support, especially when cost is an issue and time is a challenge. However, districts must consider this a wise investment. Assistant principals who develop with a high-performing principal contribute to stable school leadership. Above all, empowering assistant principals is professionally gratifying for the assistant principal and principal alike. The assistant principal’s newfound capacity will not only help the school flourish, but also expand to a new principalship in the future. Sandra A. Trach is special assistant to the superintendent for Lexington Public Schools, Lexington, Massachusetts.

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“Educators must be vigilant and visible in providing input into education decisions – NAESP provides that opportunity.” FIDELIA STURDIVANT, PRINCIPAL, NEW JERSEY

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Wrıte Time The

By Cathie E. West

If you’ve got ideas and experiences that can help others, writing a book is a great way to share what you know. You just have to get started. Illustrations by David Vogin


ou’re a successful principal. School improvement initiatives have been smoothly implemented, teachers and students thrive under your leadership, and problems, everything from pesky roof leaks to catastrophic financial shortfalls, are effectively managed. Isn’t it time you wrote a book that shares what you have learned? If you are reluctant to put yourself in the limelight, keep in mind that sharing leadership knowledge is a professional responsibility. Professional Standards for Educational Leaders 2015, the updated version of the Inter-State School Leadership Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) policy standards, includes powerful language directing school leaders to implement, communicate, and promote the “mission,


Principal ■ May/June 2017

vision, and core values of a high-quality education.” What better way to do this than by writing a valuable education book?

Why You Should Write Although authoring a book takes considerable time and effort, for a principal there are immeasurable benefits: Contributing. Do you know fresh-from-the-box principals who need guidance, veteran administrators who are looking to be revitalized, or career-minded teachers who are exploring leadership opportunities? These educators, along with many others, need books that help them broaden their vision and grow professionally. Strengthening the performance of other educators will always be your best literary reward.

Principal n May/June 2017


Learning. Unlike posts on blogs, Facebook, or Twitter, writing a book is an ambitious literary undertaking. A solid book requires substantive topics, credible research, authentic examples, and skilled writing. Yes, this can be hard work, but for an author there are immense payoffs, including a broader knowledge base, a richer vocabulary, stronger composition skills, and heightened creativity. These improved competencies power up a principal’s performance both as a writer and in the workplace. For example, after authoring a book you will be able to approach demanding writing assignments, such as grant applications, project proposals, and program evaluations with greater finesse and confidence. Collaborating. Does your book title have audience appeal? Should the narrative include graphics, text boxes, and data tables? How about an index? These are just a few of the questions that arise as authors work with editors to produce a top-tier book. And once your editor turns your completed manuscript over to a production editor, you will be collaborating with a variety of publishing specialists, including cover designers, copy editors, proofreaders, typesetters, and marketing directors. Novice authors soon learn that a praiseworthy book emerges not solely from their imaginations, but from the disparate views and unique talents of their editorial and production team members. Like leading a successful school, producing a book is an eye-opening, energizing team effort. Reflecting. While drafting a book, principals get multiple opportunities to reflect on their accomplishments, such as student achievement setbacks that were successfully addressed, personnel problems that were artfully prevented, and school renewal changes that were thoughtfully engineered. What steps were taken to produce these positive outcomes? Which strategy was high-leverage; which failed to get results? Leadership reflection strengthens the authenticity of a book about education and the principal’s on-the-job performance.

How to Get Started If crafting a book of your own seems intimidating, there are numerous resources that can help. Just enter “education book writing” in your favorite internet search engine, and you will quickly see


Principal n May/June 2017

how many resources are out there. Besides myriad lists of articles and books offering advice, you will come across organizations such as Writer’s Digest ( and The Authors Guild ( that offer helpful articles, seminars, and consultation. So, you’ve decided to take the plunge. You’ve got a compelling topic, a lively interest, and the capacity to explore, experiment, and expand your literary horizons. It’s time to write. Here are six tips to get you started:


Successful writers write—a lot. When Bob Busk was the elementary principal at the International School at Kuala Lumpur, he taught writing classes in addition to performing his administrative duties. To keep his writing skills up to speed, Busk maintained a lively blog featuring colorful essays about life in Malaysia. To become a better writer, he enthusiastically advises authors to “write; write some more; write even more.” Writing is a lot like public speaking; it gets better with practice. Leadership award-winner Cheryl Larsen also believes in the power of practice. In addition to her principal duties at a large Washington elementary school, Larsen prepares vital documents for her school district, such as parent-student handbooks, curriculum guides, student progress reports, and attendance communications. This technical work has spurred her on to other types of writing, such as contributing commentary to professional articles written by other educators and writing manuscript reviews for a publishing company. Larsen has a book in mind, and this ambitious step will be well supported by the writing practice she is getting now.


Write professional articles. Writing for a professional magazine, such as Principal, is an ideal way to gain the knowledge, skills, and experience needed to write a book. You will learn how to craft an appealing narrative, how to collaborate with an editor, and whether there are readers interested in your ideas—an appreciative audience is a powerful motivator. Education publications typically post article submission guidelines that can help show you what they want from a writer.

If you are reluctant to put yourself in the limelight, keep in mind that sharing leadership knowledge is a professional responsibility.


Picture your favorite education books. What type of book do you want to write? A highly researched textbook for teachers, an inspiring guide for school leaders, or a breezy “how to” for new principals? Collect published books that are similar to the one you visualize, then review each one thoughtfully. Take note of the narrative styles and any special features, including sidebars, illustrations, and data tables. Do you have the skills to prepare such a book? Identify what you would need to learn to make your dream book become a reality.


Research publishers. There are traditional education publishers to investigate, like Corwin Press, Heinemann, Routledge, and Solution Tree, as well as self-publishing companies, such as AuthorsHouse, XLibris, and Kindle Direct Publishing. Whichever avenue you choose, reputable publishers will provide writers with editorial support and detailed manuscript and submission guidelines. Check out a variety of publishers’ websites to learn more; knowing what is expected will build your book-writing confidence.


Select a high-interest topic. Popular education writer Elaine McEwan-Adkins, who has more than two dozen books on the market, advises new authors to write about their passion. Pennsylvanian educator Jacie Maslyk did just that. She was a principal when she initiated the STEAM program in her school and drafted STEAM Makers: Fostering Creativity and Innovation in the Elementary Classroom (2016). STEAM combines science, technology, engineering,

and math curriculum (STEM) with the arts, design, and humanities. “Maker” refers to a growing movement to make hands-on, projectbased learning a vital part of instruction. Maslyk, who has merited prestigious leadership awards, is now an assistant superintendent, and in this capacity will use STEAM Makers to support the professional development of teachers and principals.


Schedule time to write. If you ask school leaders about their biggest barrier to writing, you can bet that “lack of time” will come up first. But like everything else in life, time can be found for high-priority activities. Creating a reliable block of writing time is essential. If you are an early bird, for example, write in the quiet morning hours before your family rises. Or you can put fingers to the keyboard at night when other household members are occupied with their own pursuits. You can build writing time into weekends, holidays, and vacations. If you create a writing schedule and stick to it, your book will slowly but steadily emerge.

Don’t Give Up Connecting with other writers can be a big help, both for getting started and for seeing your project through. Join a local writers’ group to share ideas and get feedback on completed projects. Finding an author to serve as a mentor is another smart idea. This is not as hard as it might seem, since most articles and books include author contact information, such as email and website addresses. Most published writers are eager to help guide new writers. So, does the idea of writing a book tug at you? If you would like to join the principals who are revitalizing their careers—and the careers of others—by writing books, make a commitment to investigate the possibilities.


Crafting a book requires a few “must-have” resources: • An up-to-date dictionary; • A substantial thesaurus; and • Current versions of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association and The Chicago Manual of Style. In addition, Amy Einsohn’s Copyeditor’s Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communications will take the mystery out of grammar and punctuation usage, as well as provide an insider’s look at publishing.

Cathie E. West, a former principal, is an education writer and consultant.

Principal n May/June 2017



Principal n May/June 2017



Leaders Redefine the Principalship In Philadelphia, a spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and well among principals—and it’s reaping big rewards for schools and students. By Tim Matheney


he entrepreneurial spirit has been alive and well in Philadelphia for centuries. As any student of history knows, Benjamin Franklin was an outside-the-box thinker before there was even a box. Franklin and his compatriots shaped a spirit of innovation that persists today. Philadelphia’s thriving, tech-driven culture has proved enticing to many young adults, making it one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation for millennials. But entrepreneurship isn’t just appealing to the 20-somethings working in startups. Another group of entrepreneurial thinkers is making an impact on the city—and its schoolchildren. Spurred by necessity and their own creativity, a number of Philadelphia principals are finding ways through and around the challenges of school leadership in an urban setting, redefining what it means to be a principal. Challenged by the lean budgets resulting from the Great Recession and the needs of students affected by generational poverty, Philadelphia principals have taken on some of the most difficult school leadership challenges in America. But some of them, like principal Sharon Marino of Alexander McClure School, still find a way to serve SIPHOTOGRAPHY/THINKSTOCK

students well with an entrepreneurial approach. Despite the Huntington Park neighborhood’s relentless struggle with poverty, McClure is making significant strides in providing a safe, academically focused environment for students, ensuring that McClure’s climate is among the best of comparable schools in the city.

Leading With Vision An entrepreneurial principal must build a clear, compelling vision of what he or she wants for the school—student success—and how to achieve it. “An entrepreneurial leader,” Marino said, “seeks out the resources, funding, partnerships, and relationships to realize the vision and ensures (those resources) are aligned to the vision.” Consistent student attendance is a critical element of the McClure vision, and that focus has paid great dividends. In just one year, McClure reduced the number of chronically absent students by 7 percent. In 2015-2016, three-quarters of McClure students attended 90 percent of the school year. Marino, however, wasn’t satisfied with the progress; she continued to seek additional resources to help her students. For 2016-2017, McClure was awarded a team from City Year Philadelphia,


Principals Sharon Marino, Pheng Lim, and Bill Griffin are Neubauer Fellows in Educational Leadership, a highly competitive program that provides bestin-class leadership development to principals in Philadelphia. The program seeks to enrich the leadership of principals in three key areas: vision, collaboration, and entrepreneurship.

Principal ■ May/June 2017


which provides AmeriCorps members to highpoverty schools. City Year staff work directly with students to address the obstacles that impede their ability to get to school and learn. Marino and McClure teacher Sarah Bower-Grieco also applied for and won one of 13 Teacher-Leader Collaborative Grants awarded by the Philadelphia Academy of School Leaders. This $14,000 grant provided funding for attendance initiatives such as mentoring and parent meetings, and incentives to support strong attendance.


Want to become a more entrepreneurial leader? Answer these questions about your school and leadership style. • What is the vision for our school? If there isn’t one, how do we want to develop it? • What kind of partners and resources will we need to help achieve the vision? Think big and get creative. • What is the best way to get the word out so that the vision can be achieved? • Are there areas in the school or community that could keep the vision, resources, and partners from being in alignment? How can we address these areas?


Marino said. “I’m learning more about how to say no to opportunities that may be great—but it may not be the right time.”

Focusing on Alignment

An entrepreneurial principal with vision and the right partners needs to find ways to make everything work together. Principal Bill Griffin, who leads The Hancock Demonstration School General J. Harry LaBrum Middle School campus in northeast Philadelphia, has embraced an entrepreneurial spirit in leading school redesign, one that’s all about alignment. Finding the Right Partners Another Teacher-Leader grantee for 2016-2017 is Griffin has approached the redesign initiative the Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures Charter School with the belief “that our traditional middle school (FACTS). The school is recognized for a having was not preparing our students for the 21st censtrong school vision supported by thriving partnertury. As a result, we choose to focus on fostering a ships. The school, which has strong ties to the city’s community of caring, project-based learning, and Asian-American cominquiry learning.” munity, “was founded After building a new on the idea that the vision for the middle The school is also grounded in students, staff, and fam- the entrepreneurial spirit of its school, Griffin and ilies of our school are his leadership team community and continues to cultural treasures” that “looked at resources, thrive because of it. inform our identity, determined needs, and curricula, programs, set goals.” They then and community, said principal Pheng Lim. vigorously advocated for resources within the school district, eventually winning a significant The school is also grounded in the entrepregrant to pursue their vision. neurial spirit of its community and continues to Alignment of vision, resources, and implementhrive because of it. Living out the school’s mission, tation was critical to the success of the LaBrum FACTS teachers partner with community master redesign, which resulted in the creation of a artists to develop lessons that integrate African new space that fosters student creativity. LaBrum dance, Liberian storytelling, and Chinese shadow students now benefit from a makerspace where puppetry in content areas. These partnerships they have the tools and materials for projectare supported with funding from various sources, based 21st century learning in the arts, humaniincluding a matching grant from the Neubauer ties, and sciences. Family Foundation. The school’s success in pursuing its unique misWith compelling visions, strong partnerships, sion is clear: For 2015-2016, the school was rated and alignment of goals, resources, and implementhe second-best K-8 school overall among the 138 tation, entrepreneurial principals are making a schools on the citywide School Progress Report. difference in the lives of students in Philadelphia and in schools across the nation. Innovative prinEssential to maintaining strong, productive cipals approach obstacles to student learning with partnerships like those at FACTS is a trait that the tenacity, creativity, and perseverance of the might be overlooked by some entrepreneurial finest entrepreneurs. Ben Franklin might always leaders—listening. Lim insists that an entrepreepitomize Philadelphia’s early spirit of innovaneurial principal needs to be the “messenger and tion; but today, principals including Marino, Lim, ambassador for the mission of the school,” one and Griffin are proving just as entrepreneurial who listens intently to the stories of students, paras they provide high-quality learning for their ents, community members, and staff—even those students, some of whom just might be the heirs who “may have a differing approach to meeting to Franklin’s legacy. the (school’s) goals.” Marino and Lim emphasize the importance of making smart decisions about the right partTim Matheney is the executive director of the nerships. You have to “know when to say ‘No,’” Philadelphia Academy of School Leaders.

Principal n May/June 2017

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Social Media or Social Life?

Technology can work wonders in keeping principals in touch with stakeholders. But too much of a good thing can overwhelm even the most tech-savvy leader. By Jody Capelluti and Anita Stewart McCafferty Illustrations by David Vogin


t was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” When Charles Dickens wrote this phrase in A Tale of Two Cities in 1859, he was talking about the differences between London and Paris during the French Revolution. But if he had written that novel today, he could have been referring to the dilemma principals confront around using social media and technology to communicate with their stakeholders and how that affects their personal lives. For the past several years, we have been conducting research around this topic. Our results

have raised serious questions about the conflicts principals face. The merits of increased communication are clear. Principals who told us that they use a variety of channels to communicate noted that stakeholders reported an increased connectedness to school, increased parent engagement, and an increase in families moving to their districts. Parents told the principals they feel more involved, more attached to the school, and generally more satisfied with the school’s efforts. But principals also reported a downside: They are working more hours and are expected to be available more often. At times they feel there is no escape from work and say that issues have arisen around personal time or the lack thereof. One principal noted: “The more platforms you use, the higher the expectation that you will add more. You could easily become overwhelmed with maintaining the various social media options.” Principal ■ May/June 2017


Where Do You Stand?

Reflect on These Answers

There are some principals, however, who seem to have figured out how to use technology and social media effectively without sacrificing their personal lives. They have been able to manage technology, not the other way around. How do you stack up? Are you in charge of social media, or is social media in charge of you? Do you have a life outside school, or are you “in” school all the time? Do you feel you have to choose between social media and a social life? Take this brief quiz and then check the answers to see how you compare:

Question 1: Availability. Almost two-thirds of principals reported they are working six or seven days per week, cutting into time spent with family and friends. One principal commented that when her spouse expressed concern about her missing too many Sunday family gatherings, she was in denial until the specific events were described. Another said that technology on occasion has come between him and his family, noting that it is difficult to be present when checking messages. Question 2: Workload. Three percent reported a decrease in workload, 48 percent said it remained the same, and 49 percent saw an increase. Those in the 48 percent category seem to have a good handle on appropriate usage, and the 49 percent who said it increased their workload are among the majority of elementary principals who enjoy using social media but have found it has not made their workload lighter and are struggling to find balance. Question 3: Tech-Savviness. Thirteen percent were moderately savvy, and 87 percent said they were very savvy. Principals are knowledgeable about technology and its benefits. They are struggling, however, with what types to use, and when and how much to use them. Question 4: Effective Communication. Ninetythree percent of principals believe that face-to-face conversations are effective for communicating with stakeholders; in fact, in our focus group interviews, principals see it as most effective. Seventy-eight percent find phone conversations effective, 71 percent view emails as effective, 31 percent report social media tools as effective, and 21 percent indicate text messages are effective. While elementary principals feel pressure to use social media, they strongly believe talking to people, in person or on the phone, is most effective. Question 5: Checking Email. This is a key question. During a focus group we conducted with approximately 30 principals, we asked, “How many of you will check your email or smartphone during our presentation or when you are out to dinner with family or friends?” The majority raised their hands. One principal said: “I feel like I am always on the clock. I have my cellphone with me everywhere and find myself checking school email so often I wonder if there is something wrong with me.” Question 6: Balance. Your response to this question is the only one that matters. It needs to be “Strongly Agree.” If it’s not, how do you get there?

1. How many days a week are you available to your stakeholders? 5 days/week 6 days/week 7 days/week

78% Principals who find phone conversations an effective means of communication

2. How has the use of social media affected your workload? Decreased Remained the same Increased 3. How tech-savvy are you? Not at all Moderately savvy Very savvy 4. What strategy do you consider the most effective for communicating with stakeholders? Face-to-face conversations Social media tools/platforms Email Phone Texts 5. While at an event with family or friends, how likely are you to check your school email or social media account? Never Sometimes Too many times 6. Do you agree with this statement? My home life and my work life are in balance. Strongly agree Strongly disagree


Principal n May/June 2017

Finding Balance We asked principals to tell us their best strategies for successfully taking care of their lives outside school while tending to the needs of others at work. Here is what they told us: Set boundaries. There comes a time each day or week that you need to stop working. When you say “yes” to more schoolwork, even if you are home, you are saying “no” to something else. That something else could be dinner with your significant other, playing with your child, or exercising to help maintain your health. Know your limit and stick to it. You can’t get time back. Don’t try to do it all. Savvy principals have learned that the job is never done. Your school was open before you arrived and will remain open long after you leave. You are important to the daily function of the school, but only if you realistically and effectively manage your time and what you can do. What tasks are you doing that someone else could do, maybe better? Encourage your district to define your work schedule. Have a serious conversation with other administrators and teachers about what days and hours are expected. Teachers, superintendents, and other principals are facing the same issue. Yet, it seems that people don’t want to talk about it. Our hypothesis is that most districts do not want to set a firm policy because doing so would force school boards to define when teachers and administrators are on the clock and deserve to be paid. For example, does

“24 hours to return an email” mean 24 clock hours or 24 work hours? There is a big difference. Social media and technology are tools. Use the ones that are most effective. Knowing which technology to use for what purpose and when are key. There is an explosion of platforms, and it can be challenging to reach everyone. One principal lamented: “It is hard to keep up with everything. Some people want me to be on Twitter, others on Facebook, and then we also have to update our website. It is too much of an expectation to be proficient at using all of these sites and yet do a good job.” The right platform sometimes depends on your stakeholders’ knowledge of and access to technology. Find out what tools are best for your message. Be creative and be in control. Remember that the most effective way to communicate is in person. Despite all the attention focused on social media, talking to someone directly is still the best option to make sure what you are trying to communicate is understood. It is hard to build a relationship or read facial expressions and body language via email. Often more work is created by trying to take a shortcut. Use technology when it will save time rather than when it will create more work.

Make Your Stand The proliferation of social media platforms and their impact on the work life of the principal is unparalleled. In many ways it has enhanced the capacity of the principal to connect to those they serve and with those with whom they work. It has also created significant and challenging obstacles for the principal who wants to excel at work while maintaining a healthy, productive life outside the workplace. Drawing a firm line between home and work affords the best opportunity for principals to succeed. If you are forced to choose between a balanced life and work, choose the former. Is it time to revolutionize your work-life balance? Shedding light on the use of technology is a start. With wisdom we can successfully navigate life and work in this season of social media, making it a tale of the best of times. Jody Capelluti, a former principal, is a professor of educational leadership at the University of Southern Maine. Anita Stewart McCafferty, a former principal, is an assistant professor of educational leadership at the University of Southern Maine.

Principal n May/June 2017


Systems Change for

Literacy Gains

Strong literacy programs can be the foundation for improved instructional practices and better student outcomes schoolwide. By Gerry Brooks, Nayal Maktari, Karen Scott, and Jeffery Williams


Principal n May/June 2017



yoming principal Jason Hillman was determined to transform his belowaverage elementary school. His passion and commitment to team-building helped turn it into one of the highestperforming schools in the state. A Michigan elementary school principal credits consecutive increases in state rankings to a collaborative process that focuses on student assessment data, timely interventions, and flexibility to meet student needs—nearly a third of the student body are English learners. In a Kentucky elementary school where over half of the incoming kindergarten students are identified as not ready for instruction, the principal relies on specially trained teachers to help improve the instructional practices of the entire Spanish immersion team. These schools have something in common: a strong leader and an intense focus on improving literacy to improve outcomes schoolwide.

Assessing School Needs Sound instructional decisions are the result of sound literacy assessment. School leaders must ensure that there is a schoolwide, seamless assessment system with multiple measures to gather information about the students and guide instruction, built on the premise of constantly monitoring and adjusting instruction using formative assessment rather than waiting for a once-a-year statewide measure. Assessment and instruction work together to ensure literacy growth. According to authors Billie J. Askew, Gay Su Pinnell, and Patricia L. Scharer in Promising Literacy for Every Child: Reading Recovery and a Comprehensive Literacy System, certain assessment characteristics must be met. The assessment must: Be easily understood by school professionals, match the school’s beliefs about literacy learning, and inform instructional decisions; n Provide baseline information about a student’s literacy achievement n

and enable teachers to understand their students as readers and writers; n Ensure ongoing monitoring of student progress and provide a systemic process to observe literacy behaviors; n Provide authentic reading and writing tasks; n Show teachers a path of progress and help them develop a common language; n Document progress across the year and improvement through the years; and n Enable educators to predict student performance on standardized or state assessments. The comprehensive literacy framework provides the most effective and efficient delivery possible whether whole group, small group, or individual. The best instruction is planned with the needs of the students at the center with the intent of creating selfregulated independent learners.

Principal n May/June 2017


Systemic change requires the development of district- and building-level literacy leadership teams. Systemic Change To develop systemic change within a school or district, teachers and administrators must examine practices and seek to grow as learners. They understand that learning is reflective of needs—not reactive. In Systems for Change in Literacy Education: A Guide to Professional Development, authors Pinnell and Carol Lyons stress that learning must be continuous and self-renewing if schools desire to progress, listing these characteristics of effective systems: The responsibility of professional learning is shared; ■ There is a commitment to ongoing learning; ■ Learning is grounded in the work of students and teachers; ■ Learning takes place in an atmosphere of inquiry; ■ Learning is accomplished through conversation; ■ Data are used for practical purposes; and ■ Communication takes place within and beyond the community. ■


Principal ■ May/June 2017

Strong literacy interventions for students who struggle are a foundational element of a comprehensive systems change model. Diligent attention to implementing early interventions that work can be the difference between minimal or large-scale success with struggling learners. Reading Recovery is one such effective early intervention. In Reading Recovery, first-graders who are in the lowest 20 percent of their class work one-to-one with a highly trained Reading Recovery teacher for 30 minutes daily until they reach their classroom average on literacy measures. The lessons can last from 12 weeks to 20 weeks, and the program offers more than 30 years of data showing success across all demographics and types of systems. It has been praised by the National Center on Response to Intervention, the National Center on Intensive Intervention, and the U.S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse, where it received the highest possible rating

for general reading achievement of all beginning reading programs reviewed.

Developing Literacy Leadership Another consideration for systemic change is the development of districtand building-level literacy leadership teams. At the district level, the team might include the curriculum director, Title I coordinator, language arts coordinator, principals, literacy coaches, and Reading Recovery teacher leaders. This team oversees district literacy initiatives—creating protocols and resources, setting expectations for instruction and assessment, and analyzing data to determine the effectiveness of programs and policies. Equally important are building-level literacy leadership teams that might consist of the principal, guidance counselor and psychologist, and special education teachers, Title I, English language, and Reading Recovery teachers. This group creates and monitors the school’s literacy plan for classroom instruction and assessment, sets shortCREATAS/THINKSTOCK

and long-term goals and monitors results, for both the school and the students. Such leadership teams are critical to systemic change because they establish ownership and responsibility.

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Getting Everyone Involved Change systems that focus only on schools, teachers, and students cannot succeed; families and communities must be part of the process. The school team must reach out with resources, information, and increased communication about expectations and results. Ideas to invite the larger community include: Sending books into homes for parents and children to read every night; n Designing school events for families to learn about literacy initiatives and ways to support students; n Creating a volunteer program for parents, businesses, and other community members that begins with high-quality training; n Highlighting achievements and efforts in local media; and n Designing summer institutes for families to help prevent “summer slide.” n

The first step to becoming a learning community is taking time to assess the current status of literacy teaching and learning in your school. Examine your beliefs and expertise. Be the catalyst for change and school improvement.

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Gerry Brooks is principal of Liberty Elementary School in Lexington, Kentucky. Nayal Maktari is principal of Pleasant Lake Elementary School in West Bloomfield, Michigan. Karen Scott is the director of Elementary Learning and Federal Programs for Ozark Public Schools in Ozark, Missouri. Jeffery Williams is a K-12 literacy coach for Solon Public Schools in Solon, Ohio, and a Reading Recovery teacher leader.

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Principal n May/June 2017


Providing “Generation Appropriate” Support What new principals need to know about working with baby boomers, Generation X, and millennials. By John F. Eller and Sheila A. Eller


s a new principal, one of your primary tasks is to build relationships with your teachers and help them grow as professionals. Your staff likely represents multiple generations or age groups. Your most experienced personnel, most likely baby boomers, have different needs than your least experienced (Generation Y or millennials). Those in the mid-career stage (most likely Generation X) have different needs than the baby boomers and millennials. While generational diversity is a positive attribute, it also presents a challenge to new principals. A strategy that helps a baby boomer grow might not work well for a millennial. Each generational group requires a slightly different approach for motivation and growth.


Principal ■ May/June 2017




Part of a Yearlong Series Providing Essential Strategies for Early Career Principals

A Multigenerational “Cheat Sheet” Let’s look at some general information about the various generations represented in most schools, and how to support them. Baby boomers: Born between 1946 and 1964 Members of this group are also known as the Sandwich Generation; they are often responsible for taking care of their growing children and their aging parents. Motivations: Service and team spirit. They are dedicated and find great satisfaction in making a difference with their students. In addition, asking them for their thoughts and involving them in discussions about their teaching during instructional conferences can be highly motivational. They Value: Meaningful feedback and also like to have a voice in analyzing their own work. In the professional growth process, baby boomer teachers value being able to share their perspective and have some input into their own professional growth. How to Engage: Baby boomers might also benefit from being able to use team, grade- level, or department goals to help guide their growth. Because baby boomers are committed to the school and their colleagues, principals can reinforce this commitment and use it to motivate them to continue to grow as professionals. Generation X: Born between 1964 and 1982 Members of this group are sometimes considered “the Slackers,” but this is not entirely accurate. They Value: Generation X employees tend to be informal, but they also value autonomy and are looking to balance their home life and work. Motivations: Their supervision and growth process should include opportunities for engagement and decision-making. How to Engage: In developing professional growth plans, principals might want to set general parameters, then have the personnel generate their specific goals and activities. In the conferencing process, principals might find some benefit in providing feedback, then allowing Generation X teachers to “talk through” their plan to implement the ideas or strategies.

Generation Y: Also known as millennials, born between 1982 and the late 1990s. Since Generation Y workers are the newest in the workplace, their characteristics are still emerging. They enjoy fun in their work, have the ability to multitask, and are comfortable using social media. They Value: Millennials value a fun and engaging workplace, getting regular positive feedback, and having access to instant communication. Since they are still developing their “frame of reference” around their teaching, they can benefit from feedback from their principal about their performance. Motivations: Many millennials have received praise and positive feedback while they were youngsters, so principals might want to provide simple, tangible rewards and verbal praise for their efforts, and check in frequently and ask them how they are doing. How to Engage: You might find it helpful to share the connections between their strategies and the impact on the learning of the students. Millennials need to see the effects of their teaching.

Meeting the Needs of Your Teachers Schools benefit from a faculty with a balance of teachers from all three generational groups. Principals should understand the general needs of teachers within each generational group to help them grow and better impact student success. But, even though teachers fall into separate generational groups, be careful not to make assumptions. Talk with them individually to find out how best to support them and their professional growth. For example, asking a baby boomer, “How can I best support you as we work together this school year?” can go a long way toward establishing a positive relationship, while sharing specific feedback after observing a millennial teach a lesson lets them know exactly what is expected from them. John F. Eller, a former principal, is a professor of educational leadership at St. Cloud State University and is president of Eller and Associates, which provides support to education leaders. Sheila A. Eller is principal of Highview Middle School in New Brighton, Minnesota.

Principal ■ May/June 2017



New Jersey Principal Moonlights as Mayor L

odi, New Jersey, principal Emil Carafa knows a thing or two about leadership. On top of being named a National Distinguished Principal in 2015, he was elected mayor of his town that same year. One might expect challenges for someone with so much responsibility, but Carafa says “the work I do in the public is an extension of my work at my school.” Having served as principal of Washington Elementary School for 26 years and in the school district for 40, he’s certainly earned the trust of Lodi’s residents. “The people in the community respect my work as a principal, and they know I have an open-door policy any time at the end of the school day,” says Carafa. On deciding to become a school principal:

I truly enjoyed teaching, but I believed I had something to offer as a principal. Education was changing, and I wanted to be part of the voice as an instructional leader. I was very involved with the teachers’ organizations on the local, county, and state levels. I enjoy working with people and advocating for educators. I believed that being a


Principal n May/June 2017

school principal would expand my knowledge of education. I would be able to share my passion for education with students, teachers, and the school community. On how the principalship has changed:

I always viewed the work as an instructional leader. I was a bit dismayed by the amount of noninstructional but important work that had to be done. I adjusted the managerial aspect of the job to meet the needs of my vision of an instructional leader. On the best lesson he’s learned:

The best lesson I have learned as a principal is to be honest. This work is all about the children. Sometimes, we lose our focus. Teachers, administrators, parents, and children need to realize that what we do for them is to help them succeed in the future. The lesson learned is not to lose focus. When change is made on a national, state, county, or even the local level, we need to keep our eye on the children. That is why we are here!

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Principal ■ May/June 2017


PA R E N T S & S C H O O L S

W I L L I A M F. R U S S E L L

Helping Children Deal With Failure H

elping our children become the caring, competent learners they all can be is more challenging today than at any other time. Modern society’s adoration of “success” and “achievement” at all costs—in academics, sports, business, arts, etc.—has made failure unacceptable. The reason this is so challenging is because failure plays an essential role in all real learning. Parents, and even principals, will do almost anything to prevent their children from experiencing the pain that failure can bring. “Helicopter parents” are commonly found today interceding on their children’s behalf with principals, teachers, coaches, and even college professors. While we all want to protect our children from themselves, if we prevent them from developing a healthy way to look at failure, we are increasing the likelihood that they will avoid any task or challenge that might cause them to fail. Failures happen. That’s just a fact of life, and we need to help our children understand that they will fail in all sorts of ways throughout their lives. The key lesson to impart is that how they look at those failures and how they respond to them make all the difference, and both are completely within their control. Failure is one of the most common and most powerful ways that human beings of any age learn anything. A baby will try hundreds of different methods to stay upright while learning to walk, discarding the ones that fail, and trying others to find the one that leads to walking. Student writers arrange words into sentences and paragraphs only to reconstruct them again and again until the result meets the standard that they, or their teachers, have set. Think about it this way: If “fail” and “learn” are so closely tied, a parent who says “I don’t want my child to fail” might actually be saying “I don’t want my child to learn.” The same goes for principals. Children are going to experience failures at school—on assignments, on tests, on


Principal ■ May/June 2017

an athletic field, on stage. We and they must adopt an attitude that sees those failures as a way of discovering what needs to be learned. Incorrect answers on tests show us precisely where the holes are in our knowledge and sometimes in our instruction. That’s a healthy, growth-oriented way to look at mistakes, as opposed to focusing only on the grade (whether poor or high). The key is to remember that we will need to change our children’s attitude about failure before we will see any change in their behavior. Here are three steps to take. 1. Make your values clear. Children need to know that you, as a leader, have a special appreciation for people who persevere and stick to a task in spite of setbacks. Whenever you see examples of people who overcome obstacles rather than give in, make it a point to praise this tenacity as you talk with children.

Athletes who experienced failures yet overcame them through dogged persistence should be the ones who are held up as models. (For example, basketball great Michael Jordan was cut from his high school team; soccer star Lionel Messi was told that he was too small to play the sport well.) Historical figures (such as Abraham Lincoln, Walt Disney, Dr. Seuss, and many others) who rose to greatness in spite of repeated failures should become heroes in your school. 2. Build memories. Today’s students are tomorrow’s adults, and many will look back fondly upon favorite sayings, poems, and stories they hear or read in school. So why not include some that deal with the proper responses to failure? For example, Henry Ford once said, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” Thomas Edison described the 10,000 failures he experienced in trying to invent the light bulb this way: “I’ve learned 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Coaches often encourage their athletes with an Oliver Goldsmith quotation (frequently misattributed to Vince Lombardi or Confucius): “Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail.” 3. Share stories. We can’t always model the attitudes and behaviors we would like children to adopt, but we can provide these models every day by praising the admirable traits of characters in the stories that are read aloud to and with children. There are many wonderful stories in which characters struggle with failure but learn from it. Tallulah’s Tap Shoes, by Marilyn Singer and Alexandra Boiger, and Rosie Revere, Engineer, by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts, are great for children ages 5-9, while kids in the middle grades will enjoy the novel Fish in a Tree, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. William F. Russell is an author and co-founder of the Family Learning Exchange. MOTOED/THINKSTOCK

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J E N N I F E R N . D A LT O N

Discovering Strength in Tough Times E

xcitement was in the air among our small administrative team as we entered August 2016 and the beginning of another academic year. Mulberry Elementary School is a small gem within the large, bustling Gwinnett County, Georgia, school district. Principal Jonathan Day first came to Mulberry Elementary in 2006 as a fifth-grade teacher, and later moved into the role of assistant principal, then principal.

The close-knit community consists of individuals, young and old, who are proud to be a part of the Mulberry family. Each morning Mulberry Elementary’s 750 students are welcomed with handshakes and hugs from Mr. Day, who truly admires this community and the families he has grown to love over the past 10 years. On Sept. 30, 2016, Mr. Day’s youngest son, Owen, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, an aggressive blood cancer. The diagnosis was shared on a Friday night, and he was hospitalized and began intense chemotherapy within 48 hours. To say that the news of Owen’s cancer hit the community hard is an understatement. The 12-year-old had been a Mulberry Meerkat all of his elementary years. With talent in drama and art, Owen lights up every room he enters. His contagious spirit continues to inspire each one of us, even in a small hospital room in Atlanta. As Mr. Day’s assistant principal, my heart ached for his family. There were many hard days that began with the hope for positive news but ended in silent tears. There was only one constant that could be controlled: striving for excellence day in and day out at Mulberry Elementary. This was the greatest support I could offer, and weathering this storm has led to some important realizations. Relationships are key. Investment in humanity is the most important value we can share as leaders.


Principal ■ May/June 2017

Tears might flow one minute, but would be wiped away to greet a classroom full of students who are worthy of the very best instruction. Keep the focus on teaching and learning. Be visible and take time to greet students by name. Laugh. We are honored to work in schools, where children give us something to smile about on a daily basis. Ups and downs are normal. Through the good days and those days when teachers felt broken, our staff continued to exhibit true resilience. Tears might flow one minute, but would be wiped away to greet a classroom full of students who are worthy of the very best instruction. Keep the focus on teaching and learning. Raising leaders from within is vital. When a principal steps away both emotionally and physically, the true test of a school is whether the work continues despite the absence. At Mulberry Elementary, we learned to better delegate tasks in order to share the load. We tapped into

future leaders to take on new roles and responsibilities. Teacher leaders within each grade continued to focus on intentional collaboration with the same goal in mind: for all students to learn effectively. Community investment will pour back into you. Within hours of Owen’s diagnosis, the community had stepped into action to support the Day family. Hundreds of mothers, fathers, students, community stakeholders, and even dogs turned out for a prayer circle led by local church officials. Families decorated the Day home for the holidays, they continue to maintain the lawn, and they have provided endless meals to show their love for the principal and his family. When the local Chick-fil-A restaurant hosted an evening of support, lines of patrons wrapped around the store. Supporters are wearing orange bracelets and shirts in honor of Owen’s fight. As a leader, I admire that Mr. Day has allowed the community to walk with him in this journey. His openness has brought everyone great hope. A solid school culture can carry staff in the hardest of times. Climate might change, but culture is the foundation for success. Take time to invest in a clear vision and mission, and make sure everyone is on board. Owen’s fight against leukemia continues. The Mulberry staff and community are hopeful for healing, and they are strong. We will keep supporting the Day family, the school, and each other. My advice: Never take for granted the family members who greet you at home each night. The role of school leader can take every ounce of your energy if you allow it to do so. Find balance. Spend time with those who matter most. Take time for yourself, too. We will only be our best at school if we feel effective at home. Jennifer N. Dalton is the assistant principal at Mulberry Elementary School in Auburn, Georgia.

One of the best professional development opportunities for new principals. EDUCATION WEEK NATIONAL PANEL OF NEW PRINCIPALS




Insights from new principals

Your Game-Changers:

Are you new to the principal role? We’ve got a special invitation for you! If you are in your first two years as a principal, you qualify to take part in a one-of-a-kind opportunity: the National Panel of New Principals. It’s the only program that is exclusively open to new elementary and middle-level principals across the nation. It’s totally free, and both NAESP members and nonmembers are welcome.

Sharing what worked at your school this year. A year of full immersion and on-the-job learning produced a profusion of good ideas! Here’s a quick roundup of some that you shared: ORGANIZATION AND COMMUN ICATION TOOLS n Try Google Classroom and Google Docs: Mentioned by numerous panelists as an easy-to-use, free suite of tools that greatly enhances time management, staff collaboration, tracking and record-keeping, and overall communication. To get started, you need a Google Apps for Education account, which is also free. -tools/ n Check out Voxer: A free mobile app that allows you to send voice or text messages to individuals or groups – can be a great way to connect with colleagues across the country. n Use Survey Monkey to collect ideas in ways that make them easy to organize and can be confidential, if desired. surveymo STAFF MANAGEMENT AND TEAM-BU ILDING n Hold team meetings during non-school hours: Increase opportunit ies for your teachers to collaborate in a focused way by setting aside uninterrupted time for grade level, special task force or full staff meetings, either before school (such as a weekly “late start” hour) or after school. n Use teachers for peer-to-pe er coaching and professional developm ent: Identify staff with expertise in different areas who can give their fellow teachers opportunit ies to observe them in action or provide consultation. n Flip faculty meetings and PD: Allow staff to identify issues and lead discussions, or try an “Ed Camp” format to make staff learning personal and relevant. n Use the Meetings on Paper (MOP) idea to allow for more productive collaboration time at faculty meetings, and to keep support staff informed. STAFF MANAGEMENT n Implement PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support): Dozens of panelists report that introducing this approach helped their school make real progress in creating a positive school environment and culture for students, teachers, and families. Learn more at

And lastly, a big thanks! We asked for your feedback on your experience with the National Panel of New Principals this year, and are glad to hear that you’ve enjoyed the panel – 96% rated it excellent or good. You also supplied some greatOF NATIONAL PANEL NEW PRINCIPALS NOVEMBER 2016 SURVEY HIGHLIGHTS ideas for improving for next year! it – so stay tuned

As a panelist, you’ll gain insights into how your experiences as a new principal compare to your peers, share ideas and get access to resources that will help you succeed in your new role. And your voice will be heard by top education policymakers. Your time commitment is minimal and the rewards are big! • Participate in four to six online surveys during the school year on relevant topics. Each survey takes less than 10 minutes. After every survey you’ll get the results and recommendations from your peers in the Rise & Shine brief.

• •

AND A FEW OTHER CREATIVE IDEAS... n Change up the cafeteria experienc e: To reduce behavioral or logistics issues, consider staggering lunchtimes by grade level, or allow classes or grades to earn dining privileges at specially decorated tables. Another idea is to start a Parent Lunch and Learn, inviting parents to eat alongside their student and then visiting their classroom for side by side lessons. n Show appreciation throughou t the year to your teachers with seasonal treats, birthday cards – and at one school, they loved getting a ‘years of service’ pin!

You’ll also receive invitations to special webinars, Twitter chats, and virtual book talks with top education authors, scheduled throughout the year.


Rise&Shine Insights from new principals

Welcome to the Rise & Shine brief! In the year’s first survey we asked you to report on how the year started at your school, along with your thoughts on what you hope to accomplish in 2016-17. These survey results reflect responses from hundreds of new principals, from all across the nation.

Who’s on this year’s panel? 25% of the respondents to this survey were brand new principals – just starting your first year. And 75% are comparatively old pros, with at least a year under your belts. Gen Xers are still the majority, but Millennials are on the rise! n 3% are under 30 years old n 34% are in your 30’s n 46% are in your 40’s n 17% of you are over 50


There are more routes than ever to the principalship.


This year, only a little more than half of you followed the “traditional” path of serving as an Assistant Principal, and there was an increase in those who came straight from teaching, compared with last year’s panel. There are numerous other posts you held within the education community – from Instructional Coach, Curriculum Director, Dean of Academics, Preschool Director, and even Psychologist, and Athletics Director.




MOST RECENT POSITION This year’s panel


Last year’s panel


What are your schools like? n About half your schools

25% 20%

now include Pre-K n Almost two-thirds – 64% – of you are leading Title I schools



How was your school opening?



6% 5%



7% 8% OTHER


For most, your buildings opened fairly smoothly, though there is always room for improvement. Just over half of you report that your schools opened with “very strong” scheduling and staffing in place. Almost 40% were on solid footing with your student data management systems, which looks like a positive trend compared with past years. The school readiness of your students, teachers and parents was not considered “strong” by most of you, and for schools with mental health specialists, there were gaps in getting that staff in place. So, there is clearly room to grow as the year progresses!


Panelists who complete multiple surveys will receive a special Thank You gift from NAESP or one of our sponsors.

We are now recruiting – so join today at




Flipping the Script With Staff H

ow do the “best of the best” administrators retain the “best of the best” educators over the long haul? What innovative methods are used to keep staff motivated, and what is the school environment like? Do administrators just happen upon a great staff, or do they purposefully build one? To really delve into these questions, we examine the culture surrounding staff meetings in a middle school in western Wisconsin that has flipped traditional meetings to fulfill a new level of professional development expectations. Go from Good to Great

It is not a secret that good administrators really know their staff and take the time to talk to them as people—daily. These talks could be a conversation about their families or what they did on their weekend. It could be a brief commentary about a favorite TV show or a joke about the latest workout trend. Whatever the conversation, the connection is genuine and shared freely. Great administrators take relationship-building to the next level by using their knowledge of each educator to fortify the system. For instance, if after getting to know Lily Lee, a recent charter school hire, one determines that she has a knack for presenting innovative ideas in front of staff, by all means utilize her talent to enhance staff while providing Lily with a growth opportunity. Or, if one finds that Calvin Grand, who just completed his administrative license while working as a sixth-grade teacher, wants to become a principal, acknowledge this and aid him in his endeavors by asking him to substitute as a principal whenever the current administrators are out of the building. Daniel Pink, in his book Drive, states, “Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, selfdetermined and connected to one another. And when that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives.” Administrators who use their relationships with their staff to fuel that innate inner drive ultimately empower their educators to become teacher-leaders in the school.


Principal n May/June 2017

In a flipped staff meeting, the principal is not the center of staff conversations. Instead, it is a collegiate atmosphere in which innovative ideas are shared by educators.

Get Out of the Chairs

To further the goal of developing teacher leaders, staff meetings at the school in Wisconsin have been radically altered to represent current staff dynamics. No longer are there 75 minutes of a “sit and get” monologue as administrators spew out the upcoming weekly activities or latest district mandates (all of which could be relayed in an email). Instead, a group of educators, along with administration, decided on a new structure, something the 21st century educator would want to attend. The meeting begins with a relationship-building strategy. One might get to see a staff member try to take a cookie and move it from her forehead to her mouth while her colleagues cheer her on. During another meeting, groups of teachers might form a “Fairy Tale Freeze

Frame” as other staff members guess what fairy tale they are depicting. Rather than filling time, these activities are part of teaching strategies that are immediately usable in classrooms. Next, staff members are presented with data points that are directly related to a school goal. Feedback is sought from each person and provided electronically to a master document. These suggestions are then inputted into the school’s yearly goals. Finally, the meetings culminate with “Academic Share Out” sessions. These sessions are led by any member of the staff, from an administrator to a classroom teacher, instructional coach, or specialist. All have knowledge to share. Topics for these “Share Out” sessions are taken from informal surveys that seek input from educators on sessions they want to learn about or are willing to speak on, all aligned to current school goals. Academically, the school’s goals center on both literacy and mathematics, which led to sessions on developing a mathematical mindset, and to technology integration to enhance reading skills. Behaviorally, classroom management, student motivation through growth mindset, and mental health encompass the school goals. Sessions have been offered on classroom structures that work, building the tools to work with difficult students, and mindfulness and yoga. At staff meetings, several session topics are offered, allowing staff to choose what best meets their classroom or individual interests. In Start With Why, Simon Sinek recognizes, “The role of a leader is not to come up with all the great ideas. The role of a leader is to create an environment in which great ideas can happen.” In a flipped staff meeting, the principal is not the center of staff conversation. Instead, it is a collegiate atmosphere in which innovative ideas are shared by educators. This enhances their role as leaders

and has a positive influence on student outcomes. • Cubbies

Take the First Step

Think about how many meetings you have sat through at a table where you barely knew the colleagues around you. How productive were those meetings? How invested were you in the outcome? Now, imagine that same meeting after you have worked with that same group to get a hula hoop around a circle of linked hands, or you have played vocabulary hopscotch using a shower curtain filled with letters spread out on the carpet. The bonds formed through relationshipbuilding activities such as these translate not only into laughter during the game, but also a shared experience that ensures lasting collegiality. This time, think about how often you notice the same team of teachers sitting together at the same table, meeting after meeting after meeting, rarely interacting with teachers from other grade levels, or specialists or teacher aides. In the flipped staff meeting, these educators have found common ground by choosing to attend similar “Share Out” sessions centered on school goals, recognizing that they have a passion for technology or for determining which reading strategies lead to the greatest learning. Their relationships with each other develop to the point that they are able to listen to others’ suggestions for the betterment of all students. The flipped staff meeting has created dynamic relationships between staff members who used to interact infrequently, moving the school culture toward a more unified team of educators. They all experience what we hope our students experience: Connections and choice leading to learning. Penny A. Reedy is principal of Longfellow Middle School/La Crosse Design Institute in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Maggie L. McHugh is a teacher at La Crosse Design Institute.

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I T ’ S T H E L AW

P E R RY A . Z I R K E L

Who Is Really Accountable? T

he accountability movement based on student test scores became prominent under the No Child Left Behind Act and continues under the successor legislation, the Every Student Succeeds Act. More and more principals and teachers face the challenge of standardized student achievement test scores being a factor in their continued employment. For principals, the unit of analysis is their school; for teachers, it is the students in their classes. The latest variation of this accountability approach is value-added measures (VAM) for performance evaluation. The following case illustrates the legal issues of principal accountability based on school performance and the legal issues and trends in applying variations of this approach to teachers. The Case

In fall 2002, the Natchez-Adams School District in Mississippi promoted Ms. I, who had been a thirdgrade teacher, to principal of West Elementary School. She is Caucasian. In July 2012, the superintendent and deputy superintendent, who are African American, renewed her contract for 2012-2013, which was the first school year that the school participated in the Mississippi Statewide Accountability testing. In the previous year, the school had been part of a districtwide grouping limited to pre-K and kindergarten, but for 2012-2013 the school was reorganized into a K–5 configuration. However, the building did not have sufficient classrooms, and the district was slow in arranging for portable classrooms, causing continuing disruption to students. According to Ms. I, as part of the reorganization, the superintendent and associate superintendent subjected several of her good teachers to involuntary transfer and replaced them with subpar teachers from the school of an African American principal. In October, the central administration reassigned Ms. I’s experienced assistant principal, who was African American, to another


Principal n May/June 2017

school in place of a white principal, filling the vacated slot at Ms. I’s school with an inexperienced assistant principal, who was African American. During the first part of second semester that year, the district renewed Ms. I’s contract. However, in June 2013, the superintendent and deputy superintendent summoned her to a meeting regarding her assignment for the coming year. They informed her that based on the test scores in her school, she could be subject to transfer or termination. Her subsequent version of the meeting, which they disputed, is that they gave her the choice of early retirement or a demotion based on the preliminary results of the accountability testing, which amounted to a Failing (F) rating for the school. In early July 2013, Ms. I submitted notice of retirement. The final results were an F for her school, but it had the second-highest score in the district. Her replacements at the original school and the one where she would have been transferred were African American. She alleges various other acts of reverse racial discrimination by the central administration, including a reprimand, unannounced visits, and rude, intimidating and “constantly belittling” treatment that similarly situated African American administrators did not receive. In May 2014, after exhausting the procedures of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities (EEO) Commission, Ms. I filed suit in federal court,

alleging racial discrimination under Title VII of the EEO Act and various claims under the Constitution and state law. At the foundation of her claims was her argument that her resignation amounted to a constructive discharge, which arises when an employer makes working conditions so intolerable that a reasonable employee would feel compelled to resign. Ms. I named the school district, the superintendent, and deputy superintendent as defendants. The defendants responded with a motion for summary judgment, which would, if granted, dispose of her claims without a trial. The Ruling

Here’s a closer look at the court’s ruling on the district’s and individual defendants’ motion for summary judgment for Ms. I’s claims. (a) Racial discrimination under Title VII The court denied the district’s motion for summary judgment, preserving this claim for trial. As the first step of the applicable flowchart-type three-step analysis, the court concluded that Ms. I’s allegations met the threshold criteria under Title VII: A prima-facie case of discrimination requires that the plaintiff show: (a) membership in a protected group—includes, on a reverse basis, the racial majority; (b) qualification for the position at issue—her principal’s certification regardless of the school’s F rating; (c) adverse employment action—meeting the criteria for constructive discharge; and (d) replacement by an employee, or less favorable treatment than other similarly situated employees, outside the protected group—here, both. Moving to the second step, the court reasoned that poor performance based on the accountability approach, “especially after being given an opportunity to improve, is a legitimate, non-discriminatory justification.” Thereby reaching the third step, the court concluded that her allegations of disparate treatment ELODIE_SARACCO/THINKSTOCK

were “sufficient to create a jury question as to whether the proffered reasons for [Ms. I’s] constructive discharge were a mere pretext disguising the School District’s discriminatory motive.” However, the court granted the superintendent’s and deputy superintendent’s summary judgment motion for this claim because individuals are not liable under Title VII. (b) Racial discrimination under the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause The court denied the district’s motion for summary judgment, concluding that Ms. I’s allegations sufficiently equaled a municipal policy of reverse racial discrimination. The court postponed deciding whether the individual defendants were entitled to qualified immunity. (c) Violation of 14th Amendment procedural due process The court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment for this claim, finding that Ms. I did not meet the applicable precedent, which requires at the threshold an allegation that the reason for the forced discharge was to avoid a pre-termination hearing. (d) Intentional infliction of emotional distress The court granted the district’s motion but denied the individual defendants’ motion for summary judgment for this claim because of the boundaries of the state’s governmental immunity legislation. (e) Defamation The court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment because Ms. I failed to provide the factual foundation for defamation, which in Mississippi requires not only dissemination to others of false information but also specificity. Here, the school board member’s deposition showed that any implication that Ms. I was constructively discharged for incompetence was merely conjecture. (f) Breach of contract The court granted summary judgment for the individual defendants because neither was a party to the contract, but it denied summary

The Trends

The recent trend in law concerning performance evaluation of teachers has been deferential to evaluation systems that are based, in part, on student achievement. Whether the significant role that student test scores play in the evaluation of principals or teachers continues to expand will depend more on federal and state policymaking than litigation.

judgment for the district, because the constructive discharge, if proved, could be a violation of her express or implied contract. The Verdict

After a five-day trial in 2015, the jury rendered a verdict in favor of Ms. I for all of the remaining claims, awarding damages of $271,737 plus 3.5 percent postjudgment interest against the district for Title VII and 14th Amendment race discrimination; $75,000 against the superintendent and $25,000 against the deputy superintendent for intentional infliction of emotional distress; and $84,500 against the district for breach of contract. Subsequently, the court upheld the district’s verdict and awarded $175,210 (in response to the requested amount of $245,340) in attorney’s fees, $12,474 in expert witness fees and court costs, $108,495 in front pay and retirement benefits, and postjudgment interest.

Ms. I’s judicial success, which was more extensive in dollar amount than legal claims, was relatively unusual in light of case law concerning principal accountability based on school performance. In general, principals have largely found the slope too steep for race and other discrimination (e.g., disability and age) claims in relation to performance evaluations. Similarly, such accountability systems have posed a high hurdle for suing principals. For example, in YoungGibson v. Board of Education (2011), an Illinois appellate court upheld the district’s removal of a principal from her position because of her lack of progress in correcting the probationary status of her school, including the students’ low test scores. And in Giles v. Shaw School District (2016), a federal appellate court rejected the sex discrimination suit of a principal in the wake of the nonrenewal of her contract because of “failing” ratings of her school. The recent trend in law concerning performance evaluation of teachers has been deferential to evaluation systems that are based, in part, on student achievement. In State v. Skandera (2015), New Mexico’s highest court rejected a challenge, based on state legislation, to new state regulations for performance evaluation that included student performance as a measure of teacher competency. Federal courts have also rejected constitutional challenges to Florida’s and Tennessee’s value-added approaches to teacher evaluation. So, whether the significant role that student test scores play in the evaluations of principals or teachers continues to expand will depend more on federal and state policymaking than litigation. Principals can collectively play a key role in the shaping of such laws, but individually, the judicial odds generally depend on which side of the suit the principal is. If the principal is the plaintiff, the odds are not favorable. But if the principal is at the defendants’ table, the odds are against the teacher. Perry A. Zirkel is professor emeritus of education and law at Lehigh University. Principal n May/June 2017



Personalizing 21st Century Education: A Framework for Student Success. Dan Domenech, Morton Sherman, and John L. Brown. Josey-Bass, 2016, 122 pp.


ith chapters titled “Personalizing the System, Not Just the Classroom” and “Making Assessment Meaningful in 21st Century School Systems,” this book is genuinely positive and helpful. The closing chapter, “Transforming the System, Not Just the School,” brings the collection of ideas proposed by the authors into focus using final suggestions from essential questions posed throughout the book. With their careers as superintendents and curriculum director of large districts, their firsthand knowledge about what’s involved in this

When School Policies Backfire: How Well-Intended Measures Can Harm Our Most Vulnerable Students. Michael A. Gottfried and Gilberto Q. Conchas. Harvard Education Press, 2016, 222 pp.


hat happens when wellintended educational policies go wrong, really wrong, exacerbating the very problems they are aiming to solve?” asks Amanda Datnow, professor of education studies at the University of California, San Diego, in the foreword of this book. Good question, although the answer that is spelled out through case studies might not be an easy pill for policymakers and education leaders to swallow.


Principal ■ May/June 2017

process is offered at a granular level and from the satellite view. “There has never been a Golden Age of Education,” the authors write. “Let’s dispense with any misleading nostalgia for a time that never was.” They continue, “We need a moral awakening and we need it now, in order to offer personalized education to each student.” I appreciate the permission to abandon nostalgia! That’s the first step to embracing true curriculum compacting, tiered lessons, learning centers, and learning contracts for personalization. Performance-based assessment is easy to talk about and easy to implement … poorly! The approaches to assessment are presented clearly and give the reader can-do courage. Realworld examples, presented in parallel to strictly school-based examples, provide a sense of the immediacy educators need to begin personalizing 21st century education. The examples about retail responding to the need

for excellent customer service made the idea easy to translate to an educator’s vernacular. Spoiler alert: The authors distinguish between individualizing and personalizing education a third of the way into the book, providing plenty of time to think about the differences while there’s still two-thirds of the book left to settle into and try the ideas on for size in relation to your own school and beliefs. If you are not yet convinced this is a book for you, then perhaps knowing the authors value “creativity and self-expression as biological necessities” will help. If you believe that, and appreciate Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Daniel Pink, then this book will become a go-to manual to help you transform your school organization and classrooms to places of true personalization.

The various case studies described in this book address a wide range of areas of education reform. Topics such as accountability, school closure, and technology programs are discussed in detail. Throughout each of the five chapters that focus on the case studies, we learn how and why specific policies have backfired. While each case study is unique, they share a common problem: Policies that were intended to help our most vulnerable students not only failed, but actually made the situation worse. Why study policy backfire? This book certainly supports the adage that hindsight is 20/20. We must learn from these significant mistakes. When you analyze the case studies in this book, there are common themes that emerge, including lack of communication, the disconnect between theory and practice, and insufficient agencysupport systems. It is clear that everyone involved in education policies needs to remember to communicate intent to all

stakeholders involved and to continually evaluate the effectiveness of the policy while it is being implemented. The simple yet powerful message that is at the heart of this book, “first, we must do no harm,” needs to be shared with education leaders and lawmakers. When an education policy fails, as some do, that is one thing. But when an education policy backfires and hurts students, that is something entirely different. This book is a reminder that we need to learn from our mistakes and fix them so that we are not harming our most vulnerable students. Hopefully, policymakers, education leaders, and community members will read this book and learn a valuable lesson. Our students are counting on all of us, and we cannot let them down.

Reviewed by Cris Blackstone, principal of Alton Central School in Alton, New Hampshire.

Reviewed by Liz Garden, principal of Florence Roche Elementary School in Groton, Massachusetts.

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When to Lead, When to Learn T

he premise that great schools have great leaders can lead to a vision of the principal as a heroic leader working alone to save the day. Yet, the notion of a principal leading in isolation is outdated, and the need for effective leaders has never been more pressing. Today’s schools must serve an increasingly diverse student body in an era of high-stakes accountability with rigorous standards, utilizing technology that is expanding exponentially while preparing students to be ready for jobs that haven’t been invented. A quick internet search will uncover a list of research-based attributes a principal should hold and practices to carry out that have elicited high levels of student achievement and a healthy school culture. Most leaders can recite it—communication, integrity, shared values, delegation, etc. The process of living out the attributes is complex and unique to each principal and school. It is in the bridging of research and practice where a chasm often exists. An imperative early step is for a school leader to gain self-awareness in order to identify a starting point and to know when to lead and when to learn. Get to Know You

Self-awareness is quite possibly the most crucial skill a school leader holds. Self-awareness means having an understanding of your personality, strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, tendencies, and emotions. Even more, it includes understanding how other people perceive you, your demeanor, and your interactions. Self-aware principals are mindful of what they are good at and recognize what they still have to learn. Schools benefit more from leaders who are transparent about weaknesses than from leaders who pretend to know it all. Lead learners take responsibility for mistakes and admit when they don’t have the answer. (It is not a FAIL, it is a First Attempt In Learning.) In education’s high-stakes culture, this can seem risky. Many


Principal n May/June 2017

Effective leaders don’t pretend to know everything. They hire people who have more expertise in specific areas than they do. They ask questions and humbly ask for help.

asking yourself, “How did that staff member react to me? How well was I able to collaborate with the custodial team?” Given limited time and what seems to be an unlimited to-do list, though, it can be a challenge to set aside time for reflection. Some people seem to be born with perceptive ability; they display a natural inclination to attend to actions, emotions, and reactions, while other people have to work at it. One strategy to improve is to use a journal. Mental notes fade, but blackand-white notes provide a more accurate record. The adage “hindsight is 20/20” holds true. If principals spend time documenting and reviewing the small things, such as staff engagement at a meeting, tone of responses to an inquiry, or the types of concerns raised by parents, they might notice a larger trend, uncovering areas of strengths and areas for improvement. To gain the greatest benefits from journaling, principals can enlist a partner, a trustworthy and growth-minded colleague with whom to discuss journal entries and what insights can be gained. Be Authentic

school leaders attempt to operate as though they are all-knowing, as if anything less would diminish their effectiveness. In reality, the opposite is true. Whether leaders acknowledge weaknesses or not, everyone still sees them. So, the leader who tries to hide growth areas actually highlights them, creating the perception of a lack of integrity. When principals identify strengths and growth areas, they are showing that in their school it is OK to make mistakes and it is OK to ask for help. These principals serve as models in schools with learning cultures, and these schools are eager to improve and better equipped to adjust to advances and demands in education. One of the simplest ways to gain self-awareness is through introspection. It can be as easy as taking time to reflect on the day’s events and

In 21st century schools, one person cannot do it all. Each principal has a unique leadership approach, and types of work for which he or she is best suited. Effective leaders don’t pretend to know everything. They hire people who have more expertise in specific areas than they do. The most successful leaders have self-awareness so that they surround themselves with the right people. They ask questions and humbly ask for help. Having self-awareness amounts to being better advised. In the process, principals show vulnerability, respect for the skills of others, and a willingness to listen. That is leadership at its best. Tracy Reimer, a former principal, is the assistant director, Administrative License and Doctoral Program at Bethel University.



Engaging teachers, students and your community By David Young “I pay attention to math and reading scores, but I want and activities that weave global concepts and culture into core our kids to think critically, creatively and solve problems,” says learning or begin an intensive foreign-language immersion Dr. Jason Van Heukelum, superintendent of Winchester (Va.) program, or both. “You want a global education company that gives you the Public Schools. “And dual-language immersion is an excellent room to follow your agenda,” says Till. problem-solving activity for a child’s brain.” According to Dr. Van Heukelum, global education is the Understanding the costs: According to Harrison, infusion of an “international mindedness” into the curriculum, or DNA, of a school. With global education, administrators tap “Money is already spent on PD. Preparing faculty to teach into technology to train their faculty or invite international globally doesn’t have to be an add-on; it can replace what’s exchange teachers (some teaching in the target language) to already happening. “You can even train teachers with projrelate everyday lessons in math, science and “Our graduates ect-based learning embedded in a global reading to what’s happening abroad. learning mindset,” adds Harrison. “Some “When you explain global education, will compete and say, ‘We already do global education in soparents know it’s an economic advantage for communicate and cial studies.’ But global education creates their kids,” says Dr. Frank Till, superintena school culture that appreciates many dent of Cumberland County (N.C.) Schools. collaborate with perspectives, gets kids excited to learn and “Our graduates will compete and comgraduates from builds critical thinking.” municate and collaborate with graduates from around the world,” says Dr. Bill Hararound the world. Putting a program in place: With Particrison, superintendent for Alamance-BurlThey need a cultural ipate, school leaders receive coaching, impleington (N.C.) Schools. “They need a cultural mentation plans, professional development understanding.” understanding.” and curricular resources to ensure that their Van Heukelum, Till and Harrison have — Dr. Bill Harrison, superintendent for teachers can teach any subject with a global first-hand experience running global eduAlamance-Burlington (N.C.) Schools perspective, infusing global themes across the cation programs developed in partnership with Participate, an organization specializing in intensive standard course of study. Using Participate’s dual-language imlanguage, learning, global competence, cross-cultural expe- mersion programs, elementary students commonly outperform riences and education technology. In fact, they’ve seen glob- secondary students in traditional language programs in proficienal education become a catalyst for increased engagement of cy tests of reading, speaking, writing and comprehension. Global education has, for decades, been a hallmark of priteachers, students and the community. vate and elite public schools nationwide. Why would we not What does global education look like in practice, what does offer it to all students? At Participate, we work with districts to scale these offerings, cost-effectively, for all students. It’s it cost and how can principals put in place a program? Defining a program: Till says, “Teachers are learners.” enrichment for all students, not just the lucky few. Our future With help from Participate (an organization of global educa- leaders need this type of education if our country is to comtors), a school can train its teachers to build lesson plans, units, pete in a global economy and society.

David Young, CEO of Participate, has dedicated his career to inclusive, equitable learning for all. Participate partners with schools and districts to provide leading-edge technology, comprehensive frameworks and support services that impact student outcomes through teacher learning. Mr. Young is also chair of the executive board for the Partnership for 21st Century Learning. Contact him at

Participate is a Sustaining Partner of NAESP. Look for them at the National Conference in Philadelphia this July.



Can Students Search for New Staff? W

ith guidance, elementary students can help make major decisions about the future of their school—specifically, hiring new staff. At Fletcher Elementary School, sixth-grade students are deeply involved in the process of hiring new staff. They conduct every aspect of the job searches, from crafting the job postings and reviewing applications to writing questions and conducting interviews. Their work isn’t complete until they’ve made a hiring recommendation to the superintendent. This is one of many efforts we make to promote student leadership and engagement at the sixth-grade level. We emphasize strong communication and collaboration throughout our curriculum, and students practice these skills during events such as classroom meetings and debates. Over time, students assume more responsibility for their own learning. When a technology support position opened at the school midyear, it seemed only fitting that students should participate in the search process. Responsibilities and Tasks

With adult support and guidance, students studied the job description, wrote questions, and joined hiring committees that met with candidates. This opportunity was open to any sixth grader, and over half of them opted to participate. For many students, this was the first time they’d seen a cover letter or resume. Following the interviews, the students discussed their perceptions of the candidates’ strengths and challenges before making a recommendation. We successfully found a technology support specialist, Connor Allen, who says the process was positive for him. “Having students interview me made me think more about the type of users I would be servicing and the kinds of interactions I would have, not only with teachers, but also with the students,” he says. With one successful hiring round complete, students took on even more responsibility when vacancies for


Principal n May/June 2017

When a technology support position opened at the school midyear, it seemed only fitting that students should participate in the search process. music and special education teachers opened. They crafted job ads that were posted electronically. Students scrutinized all 12 sections of each applicant’s online application, including their cover letter, resume, background questions, transcripts, test scores, references, licensure status, extracurricular interests, and the required application essay questions. In preparing for interviews, students were expected to adhere to the same search committee etiquette as adults. This included having a thorough understanding of the hiring process, the role of the committee, expectations for confidentiality, consistency, being a committed member of the group, keeping an open mind, and being professional and courteous. Students were also expected to dress the part. Ultimately, students spent about two hours preparing for each set of interviews. As they spoke with candidates, the principal and at least one teacher observed from afar and provided support as necessary (which was minimal).

Lessons for Students and Staff

Helping with interviews and hiring processes gives students a taste of the professional world and gives them a voice in school decisions. “These student leadership opportunities let students know that they are important and that they don’t have to wait to be grown-ups before they can do meaningful work,” says Sandi Simmons, our school counselor who participated in the special education interviews. “They also learn what it means to be professional and confidential.” Here are a few testimonials from a few of our sixth graders: “I realize now that there is a lot more to the process than just showing up for an interview. You have to prepare an application that is neat and looks as professional as you can make it look.”—Matthew n “I learned that in order to really know somebody you can’t just look at a paper and what they wrote. You have to talk to them, and you have to see how they interact and their social skills.”—Sirena n “When I have to interview somewhere, I will have this experience. Now I know how an interview goes. I know what questions are asked by the group and get asked by the candidate. I learned that there are times when you really have to be professional and mature if you want to be taken seriously.”—Brianna n “I was responsible for a major decision, and I took that very seriously. I helped my school, and I helped myself at the same time.”—Ashley n

Ultimately, students aren’t the only learners in this model. Our staff has learned the value of giving students authentic leadership opportunities. Our students are capable of anything as long as we give them support, feedback, and practice. Chris Dodge is principal of Fletcher Elementary School in Fletcher, Vermont.


Reflections of a 21st Century Leader Our thanks to NAESP Executive Director Gail Connelly for a decade of transformational leadership.


hroughout its 95-year history, NAESP has called upon its leaders to hold true to its mission, while astutely assessing and acting on the specific challenges and opportunities of their times. By any measure, the past decade has been a momentous period: Demographic tipping points are fundamentally altering society and the workplace, the digital revolution continues to accelerate, and repercussions are still being felt from a historic economic recession. And public school leaders, committed to educating every student, are experiencing unprecedented pressures on multiple fronts that make their jobs more demanding than ever before. It goes without saying that any successful nonprofit leader must be

“I believe that principals make a tremendous difference in the lives of teachers and children, and I just as strongly believe that NAESP makes a difference in the lives of principals.” —Gail Connelly

equipped with vision, integrity, and dedication. But as NAESP Executive Director Gail Connelly has so ably demonstrated in her 10 years at the helm of NAESP, maintaining the relevance and viability of a professional association in today’s challenging environment requires that more be brought to the table. Asked to reflect on the subject, Connelly articulated a few guiding principles that she has strived to model and implement during her tenure: Share leadership, collaborate with others, and create a culture of inclusion. As Connelly explains, it was the shift to a shared leadership model with NAESP’s Board, together with the grass-roots engagement of members and the active support of NAESP state leaders and affiliates that Principal n May/June 2017


led to the creation of Vision 2021, which has become the seminal strategic framework for the Association. And as NAESP continues to expand its alliances and partnerships, she credits the commitment to seeking diverse opinions, and working through challenges and developing joint solutions, with increasing NAESP’s overall influence and impact. Actively listen to your members. Solicit their ideas and develop innovative, accessible solutions. As one example, after field data alerted NAESP that principals’ careers were becoming dramatically briefer, the Association responded with increased focus on supporting new and aspiring principals. This included an array of strategies, from university partnerships to providing cutting-edge training, launching the National Panel of New Principals to gather and disseminate peer best practices, introducing NAESP Radio, and organizing Twitter

chats and webinars that fit seamlessly into a principal’s day. Having an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and staying current on industry trends and issues through ongoing formal and self-study is essential for developing winning strategies in today’s business environment. Be fearless, and stay positive. Never waver in standing up for what is right for elementary and middlelevel principals and their students. Keep testing and learning, and never doubt that a solution can be found. It was determination, savvy, and collective action that carried NAESP through recessionary times. Despite a scarcity of resources, NAESP stayed strong in advocating for principals and students, which brought us to the table to help craft the new Every Student Succeeds Act. This intensive effort resulted in recognition and support for principals to act as instructional leaders, and will enable them to focus on the things

that matter most in delivering a wellrounded, high-quality education for all children. Seeking and nurturing coalitions among mission-aligned organizations such as the Learning First Alliance and the Arts Education Partnership further strengthens NAESP’s entire advocacy agenda, garnering up to 10 million supporters for shared positions and policies that are favorable to our nation’s public schools, principals, and students. Gail Connelly has clearly been the right person, in the right place, at the right time for NAESP. Having led the organization through a recession and turbulent times, today Connelly leaves an Association that is poised for sustainability and future success. Soon she will embark on a richly deserved new chapter with the knowledge that her friends and colleagues are forever grateful for all that she has done on behalf of America’s children, and the principals and educators who serve them.


2007 Gail Connelly, former Florida educator, NAESP deputy executive director, and honorary National Distinguished Principal, is named NAESP’s sixth executive director. The Board of Directors commits to a shared leadership model; leads the development of Vision 2021 Strategic Framework and Goals. NAESP launches the news aggregate

2008 NAESP publishes researchbased Leading Learning Communities—reinforcing the revolutionary concept of principal as instructional leader. Association issues the eighth 10-year Study of the K-8 Principal, reporting that most principals work 56 hours a week, earn $74,000 annually, have a master’s degree—and 61% are women.

Before the Bell.


Principal n May/June 2017

2009 Initiates the Power of the Principal campaign, including the television documentary The Principal Story, supported by The Wallace Foundation. Produces Principals’ Perspective series of advertorials in Education Week. Advances Learning First Alliance position on the federal role in education that promotes multiple measures of accountability. Principal magazine wins prestigious EXCEL award for publication excellence, going on to win three more EXCEL awards and four APEX awards.

2010 For the first time in its 90year history, NAESP introduces legislation to the U.S. Congress to support specific professional development for principals. Convenes a task force to study strategies to align early childhood learning with kindergarten and the primary grades.

2011 NAESP’s advocacy team presses for reauthorization of ESEA on Capitol Hill, urging adequate professional development for all principals. Develops with NASSP Rethinking

Principal Evaluation: A New Paradigm Informed by Research and Practice. Develops the Roadmap to Rigor professional learning workshop.

2012 NAESP sharpens focus on three priorities: serving early career principals, developing and sustaining high-touch membership strategies, and adopting and leveraging new technology to find, engage, and retain members. The Association’s first-ever $1 million protected reserve fund is established. Serves as Learning First Alliance Board chair, representing more than 10 million educators.


ALAN MICHELSON NAESP Past President, 2006-2007 Gail may not have been expecting the question I asked her over dinner in Alexandria, that night in 2006. I had known her since 2002 when as a key staffer, she helped mentor me through my rookie days as an NAESP board member. Now I was in the middle of my term as NAESP president and we were losing our executive director. I always remember bolstering my request that she consider the position by saying, “Your Association needs you.” She stepped up with energy and purpose, and the rest is history.

STEVEN D. GEIS, ED.D. NAESP President, Principal at North Trail Elementary, Farmington, MN

MARY KAY SOMMERS, ED.D. NAESP Past President, World Education Forum, Secretary/Treasurer Gail’s vision of a collaborative leadership model was an emerging idea, especially at the national organizational level, when we hired her as executive director. As NAESP president at the time, Gail and I chatted almost daily so she could bring such a model to our leadership, and along the way we developed an enduring personal friendship. She has been willing to ask the tough questions, and has been relentless as a voice for the profession through ever-present challenges. As a result, our organization continues to evolve in new directions that will help to create a “preferred future” for NAESP, principals, children, and education.

Gail’s charismatic personality made me feel like a long-lost friend the very first time we met. I was attending my first NAESP annual conference, and she inspired me to learn more about NAESP. I can attest to her energy in leaving no stone unturned to ensure clarity and transparency in all her dealings. As NAESP president, my travels take me across the country. And wherever I go, I see how highly regarded, valued, and appreciated she is, and the stellar reputation she has built. So along with my own, I bring her the well wishes of every state I have visited.


2013 Establishes National Outstanding Assistant Principal of the Year Program; Takes the lead in addressing gun violence, school safety, and mental health issues. Collaborates with University of Pennsylvania to develop state-of-the-art leadership simulations for principals. Develops Leading Pre-K-3

Learning Communities: Competencies for Effective Principal Practice, funded by VINCI Education. Expands the National Mentor Certification Training Program.

2014 W.K. Kellogg Foundation awards $1 million grant to support pre-K-3 training and development for principals over three-year period. NAESP launches new, signature program, the National Panel of New Principals, enrolling nearly 1,000 new principals from every state. NAESP renews its commitment to the Arts Education Partnership. Overhauls NAESP’s Bylaws for relevancy. Celebrates the 30th anniversary of the National Distinguished Principals Program.

2015 Years of efforts by NAESP’s advocacy team result in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), signed into law by President Obama, which includes significant provisions for principal recognition and support. Develops through NPBEA the 2015 Professional Standards for Educational Leaders. Charles Stewart Mott Foundation funds afterschool and summer learning initiatives.

2016 NAESP is acknowledged as a national expert on ESSA implementation, provides guidance to U.S. Department of Education, launches a yearlong program of comprehensive education, training, and consultation to states, district officials, and NAESP members throughout the country.

2017 NAESP rolls out the ESSA Toolkit—a complete, interactive guide to ESSA implementation and advocacy for principals. Association gathers and analyzes research for the ninth edition of the10-year

Study of the K-8 Principal, to be issued in 2018.

I’d like to recognize the contributions of thousands of volunteer leaders and all those who have filled staff positions with NAESP over the years. All have served the organization staunchly through thick and thin, and many have made highly significant contributions that are reflected in the current well-being of the organization. I extend my heartfelt appreciation to each and every one and my very best wishes for the future. —Gail Connelly

Principal n May/June 2017


DEBORAH B. REEVE, ED.D. Executive Director and CEO, National Art Education Association Gail has given me a gift of friendship and collegiality that has continued for almost 30 years.

So often we look upon leaders as people who develop rules and policies, but Gail is a leader’s leader.

DAN DOMENECH, PH.D. Executive Director, AASA, The School Superintendents Association Our associations have cooperated on many activities, and Gail has become a loyal and supportive friend who will be missed.

JOANN BARTOLETTI Executive Director, National Association of Secondary School Principals

KAYLEN TUCKER, PH.D. NAESP Associate Executive Director, Communications

ERNIE MANNINO, H.ED. Deputy Executive Director, CEO, NAESP Foundation

Gail is a champion for developing women leaders, urging me personally to “know my worth” and to talk about my accomplishments.

Without fail, when faced with a challenging situation Gail is determined to find a win-win solution.

L. EARL FRANKS, ED.D., CAE Executive Director, Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools, and incoming NAESP Executive Director

KELLY POLLITT NAESP Chief Strategist, Policy & Alliances

RUSSELL QUAGLIA, ED.D. Chief Executive, Quaglia Institute for School Voice & Aspirations

Gail is leaving an amazing legacy by leading NAESP’s agenda to help principals address the aspects of student education that matter most to them, and reconnect with their passion.

I go to so many meetings and frankly dread them—but a meeting with Gail is completely different.

Gail Connelly established an extremely high bar of leadership during her tenure as NAESP executive director; she exemplifies a servant’s heart and sincere passion for the organization and its mission. I sincerely thank her for her service and leadership.


DEB DELISLE CEO and Executive Director, ASCD, former U.S. Department of Education Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education

Principal n May/June 2017

I met Gail when I became executive director of the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association 25 years ago, and we have been professional colleagues and friends ever since.

Leave your own tribute to Gail Connelly at


Collaborate. Innovate.Transform.

UNCONFERENCES Nothing beats conquering the challenges that keep you up at night. And that’s exactly what you’ll do in these unstructured, self-directed interactions at the National Principals Conference.




Sunday, July 9 and Monday, July 10 7:30–9:00 a.m. With guidance from digital experts, harness the power of social media to get the most out of your #NPC17.

Sunday, July 9 and Monday, July 10 2:00–3:30 p.m. With no preset agenda, you can drive the conversation and discuss your most pressing concerns.

Sunday, July 9 and Monday, July 10 7:00 p.m. Meet up with your colleagues to continue strand discussions in designated off-site locations.

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Manifest principal 20170506