Administra P A L M E T T O
South Carolina Association of School Administrators
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SCASA STAFF Beth Phibbs Interim Executive Director Hannah Pittman Associate Director Jay Welch Director of Finance and Technology Jonathan Rauh Director of Governmental Affairs Jessica Morgan Coordinator of Membership, Managing Editor April Griffin Coordinator of Member Recognition and Student Services
SCASA BOARD Dr. Christina Melton President
Administra P A L M E T T O
Built to Last - Leading Change from the Classroom • By Angie Rye, Cherlyn Anderson, and Gregory D. MacDougall
Effective Tools for the Staff Developers Toolbox • By Dr. Beyonka S. Wider
Expanding Your Relational Capacity Toward Difficult Students • By Timothy Scipio, Ph.D.
Dr. Scott Turner President-Elect
22 First Things First - Build the Leadership Team • By Mary B. Martin, Ed.D. and Mary Chandler, M.A.
Dr. Rose Wilder Past President
Five Smart Ways Educators Can Save Money on Benefit Costs • By Carey Adamson
Merit Pay and Teacher Recognition • By Hans A. Andrews
Preparing for SLO Implementation with Data Teams • By Sarah C. Longshore
Professional Study - A Different Kind of Staff Development • By Felicia Oliver
Seeing the Big Picture and Removing the Fear of Data • By Everette H. Workman, Ph.D.
Setting the Stage for Excellence• By Katie Barker and Vernisa Bodison
Dr. Russell Booker Dr. David Mathis Mr. Robbie Binnicker Mr. Ozzie Ahl Mr. Steve Garrett Ms. Carole Ingram Ms. Ingrid Dukes Mr. Norris Williams Mrs. Denise Barth Dr. Charlene Stokes Mr. Phillip Jackson Mrs. Sandy Andrews Mrs. Nancy Verburg Dr. Marthena Grate Morant Mr. Bill Briggman Dr. Arlene Bakutes Mrs. Katinia Davis Dr. Julie Fowler Dr. Sheila Quinn Dr. Lemuel Watson Mr. Chuck Saylors Ms. Beth Phibbs
A Message From the Interim Executive Director • By Beth Phibbs
A Message From The President• By Christina Melton, Ph.D.
The Palmetto Administrator is published annually by the South Carolina Association of School Administrators, 121 Westpark Blvd., Columbia, SC 29210, (803) 798-8380 http://www.scasa.org.
2014-15 SCASA Division Presidents
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Publication Policy: Articles should be written in an informal, conversational style, where treatment of the topic is interesting, insightful and based on the writer’s experience. The editor encourages the use of charts, photos and other artwork. To be considered for publication, articles should be submitted electronically, preferably in MSWord, using one-inch margins. The cover page should show the author’s name, position and complete contact information. The article’s working title and a one or two sentence summary should appear on the title page. Submit article proposals or completed articles for consideration to the Managing Editor, Jessica Morgan, firstname.lastname@example.org. Articles submitted to Palmetto Administrator may be edited for style, content, and space before publication. Articles may not be reproduced without consent of the publisher.
SPRING 2015 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR
MESSAGE FROM THE INTERIM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR By Beth Phibbs
appy New Year and what an exciting year we have ahead of us! We are extremely fortunate that our former executive director, Molly Spearman, has moved into her new role as South Carolina Superintendent of Education. With Molly’s vision for public education, and our support, the possibilities for what we can achieve together are limitless. Our state seal contains two Latin phases: Animis Opibusque Parati, meaning “Prepared in Mind and Resources” and the more familiar, Dum Spiro Spero, “While I Breathe I Hope.” As we prepare to work with Molly, our hope is at an all time high for a brighter future
for public education in our state. Together, we will continue to transform education in South Carolina for our most precious resource, our children! Great schools have great leaders, and great leaders constantly find ways to elevate their effectiveness. Our staff will continue to work diligently to provide you with many leadership development opportunities that support and guide you in enhancing your capabilities as a school leader, as well as developing the capabilities of your staff. Thank you for being a member of our association and I look forward to continuing to work with you, and Molly, to accelerate the transformation of public education in South Carolina!
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We are very excited to have Dr. Jonathan Rauh return to the SCASA staff as Director of Governmental Affairs. Jonathan was our first legislative intern and worked with us from 2007-2009. He left us to work for the South Carolina Department of Education in the E-Learning Division and most recently served as the Senior Legislative and Regulatory Coordinator for Aflac. Jonathan received his Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration from the University of South Carolina and served in the United States Marine Corps.
PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • SPRING 2015
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A MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT By Christina Melton, Ph.D.
“How to Expand the Capabilities of Your Staff”
t isn’t just a new year…it’s a NEW DAY in South Carolina! Congratulations to our new South Carolina State Superintendent of Education, Molly Spearman! Molly and her transition team bring great enthusiasm and a commitment of support to partner with our Association to advance public education in South Carolina. We look forward to Molly’s leadership that will assist us in our efforts to prepare students to be college and career ready. It is also exciting to envision that the work ahead will be influenced by the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate as created by our Superintendents and State Chamber of Commerce. On behalf of our membership, I would like to extend a special note of thanks to the SCASA staff for their ability to remain committed to the focus of our association during this time of transition. We are fortunate that Beth Phibbs has accepted the responsibility to serve as interim Executive Director until the process has been completed for a permanent replacement for this position. I am pleased to announce that our SCASA board unanimously supported the recommendation of Beth to ensure continuity for the Association to complete the goals established for the 20142015 school year. Now that the spring of 2015 is in the foreseeable future, the changes we have waited for, wondered about, and sometimes even worried about, are now here. This semester brings with it new assessment instruments that will affect all levels of public education. As I look ahead to the spring, I am reminded of our State motto, “While I breathe, I hope.” This new year and beyond promises to bring much hope for the students in our state. This edition of The Palmetto Administrator is entitled, “How to Expand the Capabilities of Your Staff.” As leaders, I believe it is our responsibility to create structures, create opportunities, and participate in coaching conversations that expand the capabilities of our staff at all levels. “Growing our own” is no longer a novel thought, it is essential to the health of an organization and also essential to our
PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • SPRING 2015
profession. As Ralph Nader once said, “The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” As you enjoy this edition of The Palmetto Administrator, I hope you will reflect upon how you are creating capacity and how are you producing more leaders, not more followers? According to Ron Edmondson (March, 2011), “Leaders create capacity in an organization so the organization and people can grow.” Furthermore, Edmondson said, “When the leader leads the way for others to lead, the organization and the people in the organization increase their capacity to grow.”
Edmondson describes “Great leaders” as those who demonstrate the following characteristics: 1. Paint the void – Allow others to see what could be accomplished… How do you as a leader cast your vision or create an atmosphere where innovation can occur and responsibility can spread to others to create or expand capacity?
2. Empower the team – Give the tools, resources and power to accomplish the task… What tools or resources do you share with those you assign responsibility? What authority do you extend to allow them decision-making “power”? What additional resources might you offer to your team to ensure their success?
3. Release – Let go of the control so others can lead… Prior to releasing “control”, how do you establish your expectations? When you release “power” or “authority” what kind of support do you offer? Do you practice reflective questioning as benchmark events are met?
4. Repeat - As often as possible… After a project has been completed, how do you reflect upon the overall effectiveness of the performance of the person or the team? How do you reflect upon your support of those you are “growing”?
According to Edmondson, “If you are always the doer and never the enabler then you are not a leader. More than likely you are simply an obstacle of all your team could accomplish if you got out of the way” (2011). I hope you enjoy the articles written by our peers of how they are choosing to “get out of the way” as Edmondson challenged. Perhaps their experiences can affirm your work or offer new ideas to consider. I also encourage you to consider using the various professional development opportunities offered by SCASA to support your “creating capacity” efforts. Be sure to visit http://www.scasa.org/ leadershipdevelopment to decide which offerings would support your efforts. At the i3 Conference in June 2014, I shared one of my favorite quotes with you “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi. I issue the challenge once
again, for us to be the change that we wish to see. Let’s learn from each other, create capacity within our organization and lift public education in South Carolina to a new exciting level! #BeTheChange @chrimelt Christina S. Melton, Ed.D.
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SPRING 2015 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR
DIVISION PRESIDENTS Superintendents’ Division District Superintendents
Career & Technology Education Administrators’ Division District and school-level leaders of career and technology education
Dr. Russell Booker Spartanburg District 7
Education Deans’ Division Higher education deans and professors
Brooks Smith Aiken County Career & Technology Center Aiken County Schools
Dr. Lemuel Watson University of South Carolina
Secondary Principals’ Division Principals and assistant principals of high schools
Steve Garrett Walhalla High School Oconee County Schools
Adult Education Division State, district and school level directors of adult education
Instructional Leaders’ Division Assistant and Deputy Superintendents for Instruction and other district instructional leaders
Personnel Division State and district level personnel/HR administrators
Christy Henderson Lexington District Two
Dr. Sheila Quinn York District 2
Bill Briggman Charleston County Schools
Middle Level Principals’ Division Principals and assistant principals of middle schools.
Elementary Principals’ Division Principals and assistant principals of elementary schools
Education Specialists’ Division Directors of special ed, technology, guidance, business, information, etc.
Norris Williams Dutchman Creek Middle School York District 3
Phillip Jackson Kingsbury Elementary School Sumter County Schools
Dr. Katinia Davis Richland District 2
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Built to Last: Leading Change from the Classroom Angie Rye, Cherlyn Anderson, and Gregory D. MacDougall
exington County School District Three is a small, rural district encompassing the towns of BatesburgLeesville and surrounding areas. Four schools comprise the district: a primary school, an elementary school, a middle school, and a high school. In September 2013, S2TEM Centers SC began working with a small cadre of selected teachers and Assistant Principals from each school. The group was named LEAD 3. At the first meeting, there were smiles all around, but also some perplexing stares when the first learning session began. The teachers, one from each school, and the Assistant Principals were unsure as to why they were there, and most importantly, what were they going to be charged with doing! In later reflections, some thought they were there to learn more about becoming STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) schools. Little did they know that the journey upon which they were about to embark would change their professional careers.
The initial planning with district leadership included the use of a logic model to determine inputs, activities for LEAD 3 participants, short-term outcomes, and long-term outcomes that would allow the two goals to be met. A graphic was created that was used at the beginning of each LEAD 3 learning session. The graphic provided a powerful visual that gave directionality and reiterated the expected outcomes of LEAD 3.
The Process Planning had begun earlier in the spring with the Districtâ€™s Chief Academic Officer and two Education Specialists from S2TEM Centers SC. The district had previously identified three priorities for instruction in all classrooms: collaboration, engagement, and rigor. It was the desire that through the development of efficient and effective professional learning teams, each school would become a professional learning community that would work toward meeting the three priorities. The goals of this collaborative endeavor were simple: (1) build internal school capacity for teacher and administrator leaders through study, application, and reflection of best practices that would increase student achievement and (2) provide a structure for leadership teams that would facilitate the implementation of district and school priorities in all classrooms.
PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR â€˘ SPRING 2015
Figure 1. LEAD 3 Logic Model The school leadership team initially included one teacher and the Assistant Principal from each of the four schools in the district. The District Instructional Coach also attended each session as a member of LEAD 3. The first short-term outcome was that each school team would have a clear mission and vision for their work. Inputs required for this to occur included literature on professional learning communities (PLCs) and professional learning teams (PLTs). Another short-term outcome was for each school team to create differentiated learning outcomes. While the district priorities were collaboration, engagement,
and rigor, each school team had to determine a specific desired state for each school based on the current needs and existing state of the school. Inputs for this to occur included the use of the S2MART Steps for Continuous Improvement. The S2MART Steps, developed by members of the S2TEM Centers SC, is a continuous cycle of improvement that is similar to the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle. The S2MART Steps cycle is aligned to the Professional Teaching and Learning Cycle (PTLC) from the Southwest Educational Development Laboratories (2005) and strongly emphasizes a school-wide cycle of continuous improvement that is aligned to a cycle of classroom improvement. The third short-term outcome included efficient and effective team meetings with teachers. As noted by MacDougall (2009), two heads are not always better than one. Therefore, the LEAD 3 participants were expected to learn facilitation skills, group process and planning tools and apply their learning as facilitators of team meetings with peers at their schools. Inputs that supported this outcome included the S2MART Steps, literature on PLCs and PLTs, as well as facilitation protocols. The fourth outcome was that teacher leaders of LEAD 3 would work to create differentiated and rigorous classroom instruction. The LEAD 3 participants not only experienced collective learning at the monthly sessions, but were asked to apply their learning in their classroom as well as with teacher teams. Inputs that supported this outcome included the S2MART Steps and research-based best practices in classroom instruction. One of the first steps in developing a cohesive team was to establish the team’s vision and purpose for their work. A team’s vision is the manifestation of their hopes and dreams and becomes the cornerstone for their work. While this task is often difficult, it is a natural outcome of a well-planned meeting that emphasizes teacher collaboration, teacher engagement, and rigorous work of the team. Figure 2 shows the LEAD 3 vision statement.
This vision was included on each month’s agenda to remind the team of the challenge they had given themselves. It may seem that in a small district, establishing a leadership team would be a simple task. This is not always the case. As previously mentioned, the initial LEAD 3 teams included one lead teacher and one Assistant Principal from each school. The challenges of trying to facilitate school wide team meetings and follow up with only two team members from each site proved to be a daunting task. Beginning in January, an additional lead teacher from each site was added and the real “a-ha’s” began to unfold! During the remainder of the school year, the LEAD 3 team moved through the phases of forming and storming. By the end of the school year they had begun the process of performing. Using the framework of the Teacher Leader Model Standards (2008) as a tool for guidance, self-assessment, and reflection, the teacher leaders in the building and at the district level were starting to become more comfortable in their roles. The process and planning tools that were provided in the monthly learning sessions allowed the team members to be more at ease with facilitating learning with their own school teams. In this process, the traditional teacher teams that existed at each school evolved, albeit at different rates, to professional learning teams.
Key Factors for Success Tools and Strategies Best practices and a variety of process and planning tools and strategies were infused during each of the LEAD 3 sessions. These tools, such as the Norms of Collaboration (The Adaptive Schools) provided structures for active participation, dialogue and discussion. More importantly, reflection time was included in each session for participants to consider how a strategy or process tool was used to facilitate their learning and how they might employ these strategies in their classroom and in meetings. To assist with this process, a handout called Triple Track was employed. See Figure 3.
Figure 2. Vision of LEAD 3
SPRING 2015 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR
Figure 3. Triple Track LEAD 3 participants kept track of the tools and strategies to create a facilitator “toolkit.” Additional resources included protocols from the National School Reform Faculty (http://www.nsrfharmony.org) and books such as Handbook for SMART School Teams (2002) and The Adaptive School A Sourcebook for Developing Collaborative Teams (2009) With the tools in hand, LEAD 3 participants helped create true professional learning teams with and for teachers. These “Active Learning Strategies,” originally intended for use in facilitating school-wide meetings, were also being implemented in the LEAD 3 teachers’ classrooms. As these strategies and structures were modeled during school-wide meetings, other teacher’s became aware of the successes being seen in the classroom using these same strategies and began adopting them as well. With the long-term goal of greater student achievement, both teachers and students were “living the learning.”
Results-based Agenda A significant tool that the LEAD 3 team learned was a results-based agenda. In all schools, the district witnessed a dramatic shift from agendas that simply listed topics of discussion to agendas that explicitly state the team vision, purpose, meeting goals, and specific results of each and every meeting. The results-based agenda transformed how teams approached all meetings and professional development sessions.
Understanding of Change In the process of becoming teacher-leaders, many teachers often think that other teachers are much like they are, only a little different. Therefore, a key learning
10 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • SPRING 2015
point for LEAD 3 participants in the process of becoming teacher-leaders was understanding that change is a personal process. Many professional articles were used in the LEAD 3 sessions. However, participants continued to talk about an article they read early in the year that related teachers in school reform to trailblazers, pioneers, and settlers on the frontier (Schlechty, 1993.) Additionally, participants learned about the levels of change and personal challenges associated with change (2003) through the Concerns Based Adoption Model. For example, modifying how students are graded may be a Level I change for a “trailblazer,” but may be a Level II change for a “settler.” The process of continual improvement involves change. Teacher leaders who do not understand processes of change often get frustrated. As a result, these teacher leaders can become impediments to change by going counter to the culture of the school.
Reiterative Reflection for Planning of Key Leaders Perhaps the most important key factor that led to the success of LEAD 3 was the reiterative reflection process of the Specialists and District Administrator. At the end of each LEAD 3 session, a Plus/Delta was employed where participants anonymously listed in a T-chart items they liked about the session (Plus) and things that they would like to see in the next session (Delta). The Specialists used this information to make adjustments to the overall storyline when needed. Each session began with a review of the agenda in which Specialists explicitly pointed out specific topics for the day that were based on their Plus/Deltas. This gave participants a sense of personal ownership in the process of becoming teacher leaders. Additionally, the District Administrator’s input into planning each month’s learning session was instrumental. The District administrator had critical insight into district and school issues that were unknown to the Specialists and could be incorporated into the sessions.
Key Learning Points • Even in small districts, coherence and focus can be unclear without collaboration and use of data to guide the priorities. • Teachers want ownership and input in professional development, but they have to build their capacity and be given structures that will help guide the work.
• In the words of Ellen Glasgow, “All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward.” In the case of movement though, sometimes you have to take a step back in order to be able to move forward. • Sometimes, slow is fast. Mindset changes, culture shifts, and growth in beliefs and practice take time and multiple opportunities for practice. • Continuous improvement is a state of mind. • It is critical for District Leadership to become models for the learning they want to occur with their teachers by becoming active learners themselves.
Conclusion June, 2014: Lexington County School District Three’s School Board Meeting. As each school team shared key learning and growth that took place during the first year, one LEAD 3 teacher shared, “I have grown as an individual, a teacher, and a teacher leader because of this process…” The team also recognized that one of the greatest “aha” moments came during one of the debrief sessions in late spring when the teachers collectively realized that we were working through the continuous improvement process in all of this. One of the teachers said, “We get so busy in our work that we can’t see the forest through the trees. This work will help us see how the initiatives we are implementing fit together and allow us to live the learning of effective teaching we are trying to achieve.” Change in classroom practice does not occur without a level of disequilibrium for everyone involved. However, getting focused on data, defining clear results, and modeling the type of learning that will support students from a variety of backgrounds and levels has allowed the LEAD 3 team to engage all teachers in the district in a continuous school improvement process.
Conzemius, A, & O’Neill, J. (2002). The handbook for smart school teams. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press. Garmston, R. and Wellman, B. (2009) The adaptive school a sourcebook for developing collaborative groups. Norwood, MA. Christopher-Gordon Publishers, Inc. Holloway, Karel. (2003) A measure of concern research based program aids innovation by addressing teacher concerns. Tools for Schools. National Staff Development Council. Retrieved from http:// learningforward.org/docs/tools-for-learning-schools/ tools2-03.pdf?sfvrsn=2
MacDougall, G (2009). The role of local and state science leaders in developing professional learning communities. In S. Mundry & K. Stiles Professional Learning Communities for Science Teaching: Lessons from Practice. Alexandria, VA: National Science Teachers Association. National School Reform Faculty. http://www.nsrfharmony.org Schlechty, P. C. (1993). On the frontier of school reform with trailblazers, pioneers, and settlers. Journal of Staff Development, 14 (4). Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (2005). The professional teaching learning cycle: Introduction. Retrieved from http://txcc.sedl.org/resources/working_ systemically/ptlc-intro.pdf Teacher Leadership Exploratory Consortium (2008) teacher leader model standards. Retrieved from http:// www.teacherleaderstandards.org/
About the Authors Angie Rye Chief Academic Officer Lexington School District Three 338 West Columbia Avenue Batesburg, SC 29006 803-532-1778 Angie Rye is Chief Academic Officer in Lexington School District Three. Prior to that, she was a middle school principal for thirteen years. Cherlyn Anderson Education Specialist S2TEM Centers SC Midlands Regional Center 1041 George Rogers Blvd., Columbia, SC 29201 803-917-7062 Cherlyn Anderson has taught middle level science and ELA. She has won numerous awards including the Milken National Educator and an Albert Einstein Fellowship. Gregory D. MacDougall Education Specialist S2TEM Centers SC University of South Carolina Aiken 471 University Parkway Aiken, SC 298091 A former district administrator, Gregory is ABD from the University of Virginia and holds a M.Ed. He specializes in helping schools become high functioning schools.
SPRING 2015 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 11
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Kids shouldn’t have to miss school. You shouldn’t have to miss work.
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SPRING 2015 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 13
Effective Tools for the Staff Developer’s Toolbox Addressing the Urban Teacher Retention and Quality By Dr. Beyonka S. Wider
mproving K-12 education is a major priority for the Obama Administration. The administration has highlighted teacher retention and quality as key elements in efforts to enhance K-12 education for America’s youth (Dwitt, 2012). Teacher turnover is a perplexing challenge facing many school systems in the US (Ingersoll, 2005; Ingersoll & Smith, 2004). New teacher turnover rates have increased by 50% over the past 15 years, with the national rate increasing to over 20% more for urban schools (National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, 2007). Worthy (2005) notes the teacher deficiency rate is continuing to rocket as stated in the United States Department of Education report (2004) which forecasts that over the next 5 years schools systems will not have enough educators to fill current teaching vacancies in the nation. Many districts face the challenge of successfully hiring and retaining urban teachers. Berry and Hirsch (2005) agree that school administrators serving low economic students report a great level of difficulty attracting and retaining quality urban teachers. Guarino, Santibanez,
14 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • SPRING 2015
and Daley (2006) estimate approximately 30% to 50% of teachers leave the profession within 5 years, with attrition or turnover highest in schools serving high-poverty areas or urban areas. While teacher turnover in some cases may be accredited to transfers or promotions, it is most often associated with novice minority teachers who are not prepared sufficiently to meet the challenges in the urban school setting, and who experience negative situations with urban students, parents, and administrators. Strong (2005) explains that in high-poverty urban schools serving minority students, novice teachers face the most formidable challenge in reaching and teaching urban students and understanding how to effectively work with urban parents (Wider, 2012). Another complication cited by Neapolitan and Berkeley (2005) is that lowachieving schools or urban schools have the least amount of experienced teachers in the building, the highest teacher turnover rates, the highest administrator turnover rates, and the largest proportions of minority students. Additionally, a serious area of concern in teacher turnover in the public school system is the fact that often the
trained and competent teachers are the ones who leaves the urban school setting or the profession entirely (Strong, 2005). Urban schools face the greatest challenge of all schools in finding ways to retain or to keep hiring new teachers with the hope of being able to retain high quality teachers to support and improve student learning outcomes. In addition to needing a highly qualified staff, urban schools face continued challenges in meeting reform efforts and continuing to enhance student learning outcomes for all students (Berry & Hirsch, 2005; Guin, 2004). Researchers including the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, 2006; Bess, 2006; Cantor and Scharr, 2005; Wong, 2005 confirm that new teachers need a support system that includes mentoring and guidance offered by a veteran teacher and other ongoing professional development in order to be prepared to meet the various challenges of improving school reform efforts. Urban teachers need more on-going specialized training, especially with regard to reaching and teaching culturally diverse students in order to meet the challenges of improving student academic achievement in the urban school setting (Wider, 2012). In the field of education today, school district adoption of a teacher induction and mentoring program has become the predominant strategy selected to help address teacher quality and retention (Wider, 2012). With the quality of teachers depending significantly on recruitment efforts, education leaders endeavor to know the many ways they can address this critical challenge (Dewitt, 2013). One way that education leaders have tried to address the issue of teacher quality and retention has been to offer new teachers training and support via a teacher induction and mentoring programs. While this is still is one of the most efficient and effective ways to train, support and retain new teachers. A daunting statistic is the fact that teacher turnover rates are still continuing to escalate in many schools across the nation in spite of the implementation of teacher induction and mentoring programs (Wider, 2012). Education leaders and staff developers should continuously evaluate the programs used to train and develop new teachers and to ensure that the programs are effectively enhancing teacher retention and quality. A recent study was conducted by Beyonka Wider (2012) on the impact of teacher mentoring programs on urban teachers. The purpose of the qualitative case study was to examine teachers’ perceptions of the induction and mentoring program used in an urban school system. The study addressed the following research questions:
1. How do novice school teachers perceive the effectiveness of the current new teacher mentoring program with regards to teacher satisfaction?
2. How do novice school teachers perceive the effectiveness of the current new teacher mentoring program with regards to teacher retention?
3. From these general questions, the following sub questions emerged.
4. How does having a mentor help novice teachers’ fulfill their job satisfaction and emotional needs as a teacher?
5. What specific strategies were effective in the mentoring program?
6. Wider (2012) offers five recommendations for action to staff developers and educational leaders to aid them with addressing teacher retention and quality:
Recommended Action # 1: The first recommendation that staff developers should consider is to improve the organizational structure of the program with regards to the professional development trainings sessions in particular. Some specific areas for organizational improvement include making the scheduling of the trainings and meetings more convenient for the new educator (not after a long day of work) and reducing the repetition in the trainings (e.g., too many repetitions of the classroom management training). Other specific strategies that are required for teacher satisfaction pertain to receiving more training on urban students, urban families, and culturally relevant teaching practices with a particular focus on how to reach and teach urban youth (e.g., low income, African American males, etc.). In addition, the induction program and the training on classroom management strategies were very relevant, but there may be a need to improve their delivery (more organized and less repetition). A secondary recommendation is to also improve the district’s role in the process. Staff developers should also ensure that the district’s role is improved in order to increase participant satisfaction with the mentoring program overall program.
Recommended Action # 2: The second recommendation for staff developers to consider is to improve the teacher mentoring program to impact teacher retention by continually supporting teacher and mentor/co-worker relationship building. The results suggest that the relationships that the teachers
SPRING 2015 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 15
built with their co-workers via collaboration, and the relationships that they built with their mentors, had a positive impact on urban teachers’ decision to remain in the district. While the actual mentoring program itself may not have had much of an impact on teacher retention, the relationships and experiences that the participants had with their mentors helped to retain them in the field and the district.
increasing teacher quality, and most importantly, promoting social change as well as improving student learning outcomes. Mentoring has the probability of enhancing assistance for new teachers’ professional development and growth, the feasibility to sustain confidence, and the support of novice teachers through orientation to the local school system.
About the Author
Recommended Action #3: The third recommended action for staff developers to consider is to continually support job satisfaction and emotional needs of new teachers. The results suggest that the strongest and most positive aspect of the mentoring program was the emotional support and encouragement that teachers received from their mentors (or co-workers) throughout the program. Teacher satisfaction may be increased if the mentoring program included more extensive training with regard to urban students, urban families, and culturally relevant teaching practices so that novice teachers can be better equipped to reach and effectively teach urban youth.
Recommended Action #4: The fourth recommendation that staff developers should consider is to have targeted specialized topics for urban teachers. The program should target specialized topics such as urban students, urban families, and culturally relevant teaching practices so that novice teachers can be more effective in reaching and teaching urban youth. Furthermore, the professional development training should not repeat the types of things that teachers have already learned within the classroom, but instead provide more specialized and applied training.
Recommended Action #5: The fifth and final recommendation that staff developers should consider is to provide target specialized training to mentors. The program should provide targeted specialized training to mentors on topics such as urban students, urban families, and culturally relevant teaching practices so that they can support novice teachers to be more effective in reaching and teaching urban youth. The recommendations described will be tools to aid in the process of positive social change in re-designing teacher induction and mentoring programs for urban teachers across the nation. Educational researchers advocate teacher mentoring as having the likelihood of decreasing teacher turnover rates, hence raising teacher retention numbers, decreasing district recruitment dilemmas,
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Dr. Beyonka S. Wider Educator Richland County School District One firstname.lastname@example.org
References Ingersoll, R. M., (2005). Teacher shortages and education inequality. Research Brief National Education Association. www.umi.com/proquest. Ingersoll, R. M., & Smith, T. M. (2004). Do teacher induction and mentoring matter? NASSP Bulletin, 88, 28-40. www.umi.com/proquest. Leimannn, K., Murdock, G., & Waller, W. (2008). The staying power of mentoring. Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, 74(3), 28. National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future. (2007). The High Cost of Teacher Turnover. Washington, DC. Author. Smith, T., & Ingersoll, R. (2004). What are the effects of induction and mentoring on beginning teacher turnover? American Educational Research Journal, 41 (3), 681-714. www.umi.com/proquest U.S. Department of Education, International Affairs Office, Attracting, Developing and Retaining Effective Teachers, Washington, D.C., 2004a. Author. Wider, B. S. (2012). The Impact of Mentoring Programs on Newly Hired Teachers in Urban Middle Schools, Walden University. www.umi.com/proquest Wong, H. (2005). New teacher induction: The foundation for comprehensive, coherent, and sustained professional development. American School Board Journal, 189(12), 41. www.umi.com/proquest Wong, H., Britton, T., & Gasnor, T. (2005). What the world can teach us about new teacher induction. Phi Delta Kappan, 86(5), 379. www.umi.com/proquest Worthy, J. (2005). “It didn’t have to be so hard”: The first five years of teaching in an urban school. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 18, 379-398. www.umi.com/proquest
Why measure student growth? South Carolina educator shares how powerful growth data empowers results Check out
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Expanding Your Relational Capacity Toward Difficult Students By Timothy Scipio, Ph.D.
ita Pierson, a forty-year veteran teacher, once had a colleague tell her that, “They don’t pay me to like the kids. They pay me to teach a lesson. The kids should learn it. I should teach it. They should learn it. Case closed.” Her response was, “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.” Rita’s statement is an in-yourface reality that must be recognized for what it is, the foundation of education. The premise for the education of children is based on the truth/fact that humans were created for relationship. True education of students happens in an environment where there are healthy student-teacher relationships. It is imperative that every teacher be equipped with the tools to strengthen their relationships with all of their students. As a high school assistant principal, it is not uncommon for me to hear from students that they do not like Ms. Z because she does not like them. She’s always picking on them. They get more referrals from her than any other teacher. Some readers may be saying, “Well then you ought to get your act together in Ms. “Z’s class so she stops writing you up.” I agree that these students, who
18 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • SPRING 2015
are the focus of the negative reinforcement from Ms. Z due to their inappropriate behaviors, should get their act together. However, I also believe Ms. Z is setting herself up for a rough year with these students if she does not have a systematic way of strengthening those student-teacher relationships. The research reports that negative reinforcement without consistent positive reinforcement of desired behaviors will dramatically limit the success a teacher will have in modifying negative behavior (Solomon, Klein, Hintze, Cressy, & Peller, 2012). Positive behavior supports are necessary tools for teachers if they desire to reach all of their students. I know that reaching all students is not always possible. However, the probability of reaching all students increases and our percentages improve when there are supports in place that systematically reward students’ positive behaviors. In this article, I am emphasizing the need to develop strategies of strengthening strained student relationships which will aid teachers and administrators in creating a positive behavior support system within the classroom
and school. On most days, a strained student-teacher relationship leads to distractions in communication with the particular student. Those distractions may be his/her beliefs about your perception of the student which will color every form of discipline leading the student to feel you are out to get them. Excessive referrals mean you focus more on them than anyone else. The reality of those statements is that they are somewhat true. You do focus on that student more than any other because he/she is being disruptive, so your focus is on the studentâ€™s negative behavior. When you see negative behavior, you address it with negative reinforcement. Sometimes it works and sometimes it does not. Certainly, every time you have these encounters there is an erosion of the student- teacher relationship. The teacher will need to correct the negative emphasis before the relationship is totally lost. How is this done? Shift your focus. Your focus must shift to rewarding and supporting the studentâ€™s positive behaviors. This may begin as a huge challenge because you have not been able to identify positive behaviors that were demonstrated by this student. But practically speaking, that student usually does more right than wrong in your classroom. Even when this student is demonstrating approximations of good behavior there must be a strategic acknowledgement of his positive efforts. For example, if he came to class without his book, but had his notebook and pen/pencil, positively acknowledge what he did bring. Allow him go get his book if he needs it. Put more emphasis on what he did right than what he did wrong. Should he receive discipline for not being prepared? Do whatever your discipline policy affords. However, your emphasis is not on the discipline for being unprepared for class. You are strategically focusing on strengthening your student-teacher relationship. In my study of two Type II Alternative Schools for youth that display disruptive behavior (Scipio, 2013), this specific strategy was an essential theme in the schools for creating a learning environment that is positive yet firm. Several of the teachers that I interviewed in my study
acknowledged the need to have an intentional strategy for developing and maintaining healthy relationships with their students. They discovered that healthy relationships gave them greater ability to manage their classrooms and also empowered them to handle conflicts that surfaced within classrooms. Moreover, those healthy relationships were a catalyst for true student learning to occur. Most students in primary, middle and secondary school tend to have a difficult time receiving instruction from teachers whom they perceive do not care for them. Usually, with the support of parents and others many students can plow through those negative perceptions and still get something of significance from the class. However, the learning experience usually is not a pleasant one. As educators, we should thrive to make the learning experience enjoyable. Demonstrating care toward our students is one way to establish an enjoyable learning experience for students. Most of the students I interviewed in my study had positive things to say about the quality of their relationships with their alternative school teachers. Many of them favored their alternative school teachers over their traditional school teachers. One reason for that was the ability of the teachers to give individual attention to students because of the small student-teacher ratios. Nevertheless, that type of personal attention made them feel important and gave them inspiration to work for those teachers. This was not the case for all the students I interviewed, but 95% of the students were very positive about their student-teacher relationships. Moreover, a veteran teacher of over ten years was in her first year as a teacher in one of the alternative schools I studied. She recognized the need for a greater emphasis on improving the relationships with her students. The stronger the relationships were with the students, the more likely student responses to behavior modification within her classroom improved. As mentioned above, a shift in focus is imperative to creating healthy relationships with students, especially difficult ones. Teachers and administrators must add to their classroom management and discipline policies a systematic way of identifying positive behaviors they want the students to continue to demonstrate.
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Once those behaviors are identified, then strategic positive reinforcements need to be established that will encourage the consistency of these behaviors. To give a personal example, my wife and I have been potty training our three-year-old son. He currently is about 99% trained. He is even staying dry during the night. Our initial efforts for training him were heavy on negative reinforcement hoping that if he experienced a little pain when he wet his pants during the day that he would change his behavior. It did not work all the time. What did happen is that it began to make him more stressed and afraid about using the potty. So, when we recognized the negative impact our behavior was having on him, we decided to change our method of training. We established a system of reward in which we gave him creative stickers for every time he used the restroom on the “potty”. We also developed a “happy dance” that was done by daddy to show our approval of his behavior. There was prior knowledge that he liked to put stickers on his face and body. The sticker reward for using the restroom on the potty seemed like a good fit for him. To our great delight, he bought into the reward system and became motivated to use the restroom in the potty. Moreover, my frustration with him over soiling his clothing dispersed because I was experiencing more positive behavior than negative behavior. So, if he had an accident in his clothing I just said, calmly, “no stickers for that. We have to use the potty.” This story was shared to emphasize that it was our adult behavior that had to change before our son’s behavior would change. Thus, it will be the teacher or administrator’s behavior that will need to change in order to strengthen the student-educator relationship. I am convinced that a shift in focus, coupled with a strategic positive behavior support system, will increase the likelihood of positively educating difficult students. One of the keys to this paradigm shift is understanding the significance of relationships. George Washington Carver said, “All learning is understanding relationships.” Therefore teachers and administrators must develop strategic ways of strengthening their relationships with students to increase students achievement.
References Scipio, T.L (2013). Alternative Education: A Comparative Case Study of the Behavior Modification Programs of Two Upstate South Carolina Alternative Schools for Youth who Exhibit Behavior that is Disruptive. A dissertation submitted to the Graduate Faculty of The University of South Carolina in partial fulfillment
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of the requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Ted talks education. Retrieved October 17, 2014, from http://www.ted.com/talks/rita_pierson_every_kid_ needs_a_champion?language=en
About the Author Timothy Scipio, Ph.D. 710 Cross Anchor Hwy Woodruff, SC 29388 864- 476-7045( work) email@example.com Timothy Scipio is currently an Assistant Principal and Special Education Liaison at Woodruff High School in Spartanburg School District #4. He has a Ph. D. in Educational Administration from the University of South Carolina.
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First Things First: Build Capacity Across the School’s Leadership Team By Mary B. Martin, Ed.D. and Mary Chandler, M.A. In some schools, the team may consist of only the principal and assistant principals. Or the team may include instructional coaches and facilitators. Deans and coordinators are sometimes involved. And still others consist of administrators, along with teacher leaders, department chairs or grade level team leaders. In other words, the team becomes unique to each school. When selecting members for the leadership team, several criteria must be considered. Without these factors in place individuals might hold the entire team back from accomplishing its work.
f there is one consistent lesson that emerges from studies of the principalship, it is that no one can handle the job alone. No leader has the energy or the expertise to run a school without help. At the top of the list of solutions for building instructional leadership and school success is establishing a widely dispersed form of leadership and building capacity in others. While this shared leadership model distributes the work, the challenges are still massive. A school leadership team must balance the agenda of getting the daily, routine work done, while also finding time to address complicated problems, resolve major issues, monitor the performance of teachers and students, and strategize for continuous positive change. Richard DuFour and Michael Fullan (2013) contend that “a strong leadership team or a guiding coalition with shared objectives is essential in the early stages of any organization’s improvement process” (p. 24). Pam Mendels (2012) presents pivotal practices that shape instructional leadership. One of these is cultivating leadership in others. She states that the more open a principal is to spreading leadership around, the better it is for student learning.
Who is the leadership team? By definition, the leadership team is a dedicated group of knowledgeable, skilled leaders, who are committed to building a successful school culture, collaborating in a true partnership, and producing successful results for students.
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• Members must be committed to school-wide change and positive growth. Their focus can never shift away from continuous school improvement.
• Each person must be respected by colleagues. Their expertise as an instructional leader must not be questionable.
• They must all have strong leadership skills and effective interpersonal skills. Every member must be able to build and maintain positive relationships with others.
• Each member must be able to initiate special projects and “get things done”.
• All members must appreciate the diverse nature of the community and be able to address the needs of all stakeholders.
• While working to increase the motivation of everyone in the school, members must be about encouraging and inspiring others.
Why is the leadership team the key to school success? With a heavy focus on collaboration, the leadership team must become the model team for the school. Being the model team means embracing the idea that working
and planning together will produce a wealth of knowledge and skills to accomplish success in meeting identified goals. Teachers need to see the cohesion and clear direction from school leaders as well as how the process of working together leads to a greater outcome. Teamwork, then, becomes a choice, and with that choice, comes hard work. The hard work is only accomplished when the team is effective. Spending focused time on developing and strengthening the leadership team is an absolutely necessity.
Build a Solid Team of Trust Teams begin by getting to know each other on a deep level, both personally and professionally. Building the element of trust becomes crucial to operating as a team. Once this trust has become the norm, teams can then begin to examine strengths and growth needs of its members while also establishing team values. Values, such as honesty, integrity, loyalty, responsibility, tolerance, and unity, provide a shared core of beliefs, upon which the team builds a common language and a relationship of trust. Additionally crucial to maintaining the health of a team is a frequent check of “team temperature”. Several signs should be apparent if a team is functioning in a healthy manner:
• The team operates with a shared understanding of team dynamics in an atmosphere of trust and caring.
• Members value the diversity of different perspectives and explore these to help make better decisions for the school.
• Members of the team are committed to the work and give equal effort.
• Members know and appreciate each other’s strengths. • The team seeks commitment from everyone prior to decision-making and remains committed to follow-up plans.
• The team’s work includes reflection upon the school’s current state and sharing dreams for the future. Interest in each other goes beyond the work day, in “acts of kindness”, concern for each other, spending time together, and even finding opportunities to “let your hair down”. It is equally important for the principal and the team to encourage the playful and light-hearted spirit among the staff, as it is to call for a strong work ethic in order to achieve goals. In other words, the team needs a
time to play together, as well as work together, a time to celebrate success and laugh with one another when the going gets tough. If this is not in place, can you REALLY be surprised when commitment levels are low, frustration levels are high, and survival seems impossible?
A Clear and Shared Purpose for the School DuFour and Fullan point out “The world’s best school systems ensure that all stakeholders understand the purpose, priorities, and goals of the system. The effectiveness of educational systems at all levels is diminished without clear communication from a cohesive team of leaders” (p. 25). Leaders must clearly, repeatedly, and enthusiastically review the goals. In other words, the team has created, with the help of the total school community, a vision, understood and accepted by everyone, with a specific plan for making it happen. Priorities and non-negotiables are clear and there is a relentless effort and determination for students to be successful. The leadership team knows that teachers make the real difference with student success and provide constant support to validate their work. The team establishes a climate, where teachers work together and “row” in the same direction, to make learning happen. “In essence, how organizations address their core goals and tasks with relentless consistency, while at the same time learning continuously how to get better and better at what they are doing” is a key component to building capacity (Fullan, 2008, p. 76).
The Lead Learners in the School Moving from a clearly defined vision, the principal must then begin to work with school teams, including the leadership team, to model the life-long learning that is required in a culture of collaboration. Likewise, professional growth across the school must be directed toward research on current effective teaching practices. Fullan stresses the need for leaders to be “committed to putting in the energy to get important things done collectively and continuously (ever learning.) This is a tall order in complex systems, but it is exactly the order required” (p. 57). In order for the leadership team to get to the real work, they must be seen as working in the trenches with teachers as learners, “lead learners.” As school teams see the value in becoming constant learners and sharing new knowledge, the principal allows a gradual release of responsibility. According to Fullan, “the principal’s role is to lead the school’s teachers in a process of learning to improve their teaching while learning alongside them about what works and what doesn’t” (p. 55). Time must
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be freed up for principals to be the lead learners so that the status quo is never accepted. Principals must maintain a schedule for being visible in classrooms and managing efficient processes in the school in order for this to occur. In a true learning community, people learn not only from our experiences, but from talking about their experiences. When the principal or the team creates time for staff to study together as researchers, attend professional development, reflect upon teaching practices or other learning experiences, everyone’s tools are sharpened while providing a deeper understanding of how improved teaching practices lead to improved student learning. By participating together in learning experiences, a common language evolves from which the staff begins to operate and evaluate growth. Roland Barth (2001) summed up the need for lead learners in the school this way: “I’ve yet to see a school where the learning curves of the youngsters are off the chart upward while the learning curves of the adults are off the chart downward, or a school where the learning curves of the adults were steep upward and those of the students were not. Teachers and students go hand in hand as learners – or they don’t go at all” (p. 23).
Systems of Communications Are Clear As with any organization, the means by which communication is handled and the degree to which it is open and transparent will make or break the climate and culture of its members. Members of the team must align their own behavior and the processes of the organization with its stated goals and priorities. In making that happen, the team must be open and receptive to honest dialogue with staff. Candor, with careful choice of words, must become the norm in daily conversations. Knowing when to provide details to the team or when to do the Reader’s Digest version will save time for dealing with real issues. Respecting confidentiality cannot be stressed too much. In team meetings, effective communication strategies must be regarded by all members. When working together, active and attentive listening, including the use of nonverbal cues are essential. Gravois, Rosenfield, and Gickling (1998) suggest other communication skills that leaders must tap frequently:
• Paraphrasing. Repeat in your own words a portion of the information that another team member has relayed to you. For example, “So what you are telling me is that the benchmark data show that sixth graders are having difficulty with the scientific method.”
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• Perception checking. Reflect back an emotion that may have been communicated in the conversation. For example, “I’m hearing that your frustration stems from the fact that teachers are not providing all the information that you need.”
• Asking clarifying questions. Gain a clearer picture, in observable terms, by clarifying what you have heard. For example, “Are you saying that lack of common planning time is making it difficult for teachers to plan appropriate interventions?”
• Requesting clarification. Use questions that ask for clarification of what has been said. For example, “Can you tell me more about what you think we could change to make student data more accessible to teachers?”
• Asking relevant questions. Ask questions related to the topic at hand that expand the discussion. For example, “What evidence or data do we have to show that our writing curriculum is working?” In order for the team to work efficiently, key points need to be restated and summarized near the end of a conversation. Then, creating a timeline of checkpoints and check-ins will provide a vehicle within the organization for regularity in keeping communications open and clear. Follow-up to information that has been shared or received, new concerns, and unresolved problems might all be reviewed during these checkpoints. Face-to-face meetings should allow for discussion, deliberation, and resolution of difficult problems. They should facilitate decision-making and promote planning and strategizing. Because the work of the team has such an impact on the school, no one should be allowed to interrupt or distract from the purpose of these meetings. However, this should be a time to have candid dialogue and genuine questioning when there is disagreement or uncertainty. Conflict should be viewed as a positive piece. These conversations need to take place behind doors for the purpose of creating and clarifying a single focus but a unified effort should be agreed upon and viewed in the public. Time for the important business will take place if the team has prepared well for the meeting: preparation and distribution of the agenda ahead of time, established time limits for each agenda item, assigned roles for participants (facilitator, recorder, time-keeper, etc.), and established lines of communication among all factions of the school.
Everyone Focuses on Results: All of Our Students Will Learn The number one priority of any school should be student achievement. The entire school community should share in this vision and it is the leadership’s responsibility to move the staff and other stakeholders in that direction. “The focus must be on improving classroom instruction and adopting processes that will create a more precise, validated, data-driven expert activity that can respond to the learning needs of individual students. This requires the school to engage diagnostic practitioners (teachers) who have a solid core of beliefs and understandings and a deep moral purpose, and who can develop highly personalized classroom programs” (Fullan, p. 81). Do teachers in the school agree that all of the administrators know good instruction when they see it? Do they know which administrator is the toughest as an evaluator and which one is the most lenient? Do teachers say that the formal observations conducted by every member of the administrative team contain specific feedback to direct or encourage professional growth? Do they expect to see all administrators in classrooms frequently? If the answer to any of these questions is no, the team is not yet focused solidly on instructional leadership. Every member of the leadership team must be seen as an instructional expert. Members of the leadership team must work with each other to calibrate their observations in classrooms. By doing joint observations and walkthroughs together, leaders are able to have instructional conversations to determine coaching points for helping teachers reflect on their practices. Next, the team needs to reach out to teachers and involve them in this process. By providing direction, creating conditions for peer interaction and intervening along the way when things are not working well, the leadership promotes purposeful peer interaction. These instructional conversation move teachers into instructional leaders as well, and they are able to use their expertise to help each other.
Positive attitudes at all times Maintaining an attitude with a positive spirit is probably one of the most difficult tasks of the group. Sometimes a positive nature is evident naturally. For example, we see it in individuals who have a passion for the work and in those where teaching is more like a mission, than a job. We observe it in high energy, optimistic and resilient individuals. But, how do we develop this sense of the positive within individuals who may not have it naturally? How do we remain positive
when the job becomes more difficult or takes a downward turn? In order to build capacity in members of the team, as well as the school, several processes should regularly be built into the system.
• Keeping things in perspective. Keep the overall goals and timelines in place and be able to see the forest, beyond the trees.
• See the glass half full. Focus more on the success of what has been accomplished as you begin to work on what needs to be done next.
• Communicate the good in people. Pay attention to the efforts and commitment to the work by teachers and students.
• Celebrate the successes big and small. Always take time to recognize both the small wins and major accomplishments across the school.
How will you measure whether the leadership team is effective? So, what does a school leadership team look like when it is successful? Evidence that a team is working effectively, is healthy and vibrant, and moving in the direction of identified goals, can be measured by looking at several data sources, including student achievement and teacher efficacy. Efforts to continuously model effective teaming must start. Perhaps the following acronym might serve to remind team members or anyone watching the team, whether or not the leadership team is meeting the goal of cohesive school leadership: S – Shared Vision and Priorities – The team leads with a united front because of a clear purpose of the work. The work gets done because everyone is on board with the set direction for the school. Each person is able to set an agenda for the day that keeps the focus on teaching and learning. T – Trust Established – The trust level within the leadership team must be solid. This trust is only built with clear systems of communication. Different views need to be appreciated and openly considered. Respect is a constant. People on the team exchange information and then clarify any points that could cause confusion. The commitment level is such that each person on the team pulls his own weight and is also willing to help others in time of need. Everyone is accountable for the team’s work. A – Attitudes stay positive and upbeat. Even in times of chaos, the leadership team must pull together and
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About the Authors
let others know that teams are stronger when they endure rough times. Successful teams operate with common agreement of a familiar quote from Lou Holtz. “Virtually nothing is impossible in this world if you just put your mind to it and maintain a positive attitude.” The school benefits from the can-do attitude of the leadership team. A consistent message is that this hard work “can be done.” R – Results Oriented – Results Achieved. Data will tell the story. Schools have all the data that is needed. We can look at student learning data, teacher performance data, and perception data to determine needed priorities. Resource data, demographic data, and survey results project school needs. When the team uses data to drive the entire system, participants come to realize results that were never before thought possible. T – Time is of the essence. The leadership must be continuously learning to stay current with best practices that result in student achievement. A sense of urgency pushes the leadership team to share learning, be reflective, and model the need for ongoing, job-embedded professional growth. If we look at practices in light of what is best for students, how can we deny what the research is telling us about what works for our students? Schools often credit student growth to teacher collaboration. Administrative teams can no longer expect teachers to collaborate and work together without doing the same. Leadership teams must take the time necessary to establish themselves into a successful team that others will follow. As the tide of education has changed, so must school leadership make the sweeping changes necessary to meet the challenge of the 21st century. Let’s get started.
Mary B. Martin, Ed.D. Associate Professor Educational Leadership Program Withers Building Winthrop University Rock Hill, SC 29733 704-258-2585 Mary B. Martin previously served as an elementary principal and Elementary C&I Director in the CharlotteMecklenburg Schools. Mary Chandler, M.A. Director of NetLEAD Educational leadership Program Withers Building Winthrop University Rock Hill, SC 29733 803-984-2814 Mary Chandler previously served as an elementary principal in the Rock Hill School District. LEAP Ad.pdf
26 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • SPRING 2015
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References: DuFour, Richard and Fullan, Michael. (2013). Cultures Built to Last. Indianna: Solution Tree Press. Mendels, Pamela. (April, 2012). The Effective Principal. Learning Forward. Retrieved from http:// www.wallacefoundation.org/knowledge-center/schoolleadership/effective-principal-leadership/Pages/TheEffective-Principal.aspx. Fullan, Michael. (2008). Six Secrets of change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Barth, Roland S. (2001). Learning by Heart. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Gravois, T., Rosenfield, S., & Gickling, E. (1998). Instructional consultation team training manual. (Available from the Virginia Department of Education, 101 N 14th St., Richmond, VA 23210.) Holtz, Lou. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/l/ lou_holtz.html.
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Five Smart Ways Educators Can Save Money on Benefit Costs By Carey Adamson, Vice President, Public Sector Market Services Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company
as saving money ever been more top-of-mind in the education industry than it is today? I doubt it. The rising cost of health care continues to drive up benefit costs. For instance, employees paid 89 percent more in 2013 than they did in 2003 for the family health coverage they got from their jobs. Whereas employers paid 77 percent more toward their employees’ health insurance than they did in 2003. While public organizations, including school districts, have been slower to pass along these additional costs to employees, they haven’t avoided the financial pinch. State and local governments continue to face significant financial stress even though revenues are starting to recover. Revenues climbed more than 8 percent from 2010 to 2011, accounting for an additional $265.3 million in government coffers. Yet, at the same time, state and local government spending on insurance benefits grew by $2 million, or 0.6 percent. It’s no wonder educational institutions are looking at all means possible to help them save money on benefits costs. The good news is that many effective cost-containment strategies are readily available, are proven to work and can be implemented at no direct cost to the employer. Let’s take a look at five smart ways educators are saving money on their benefits costs.
Strategy #1: Implement wellness initiatives. Many employers today are implementing wellness initiatives — efforts to improve the overall health of their employees —to help reduce health care costs and increase productivity. These efforts range from health care assessments to onsite fitness centers. A survey of government finance officers shows wellness initiatives are one of the most widely used cost-savings strategies. Nearly 80 percent of respondents in the survey have added them to their benefits programs recently, and 90 percent of the respondents say they would recommend the strategy to others.
Strategy #2: Move noncore benefits to employee-paid voluntary benefits. One underutilized solution to saving money on benefits costs is to move noncore benefits to employee-paid voluntary benefits. This option gives employees access to expanded benefit choices that meet their unique family situations,
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providing coverage that’s typically more affordable than plans offered outside of work. This strategy can also help employees pay for some of the increased out-of-pocket costs that come with higher deductible health plans. And voluntary benefits add no direct costs to the employer’s budget. Although only a third of public sector employers in the survey report having moved noncore benefits to employee-paid voluntary benefits, 87 percent of them would recommend this cost-savings strategy to others.3
Strategy #3: Conduct a dependent verification audit. How much money do employers spend insuring dependents on the company’s health plan who aren’t actually eligible for coverage? The cost can be substantial. Health plan audits, also referred to as dependent verification, ensure you’re investing your benefits dollars where you intend for them to be used. School districts in the non-Monroe County Municipal School District Program, a consortium of 38 school districts
in New York, uncovered more than $2 million in estimated cost savings after an audit of their health plan in 2011. Their audit of more than 11,000 policyholders discovered 7 percent of the insureds were ineligible for coverage, mostly due to divorced employees who continued to include their spouses on their health plans after they were no longer eligible. The industry average for ineligible dependents in these audits ranges from 5 to 8 percent, and can result in substantial savings for the employer. While many public employers find dependent verification costly and a drain on scarce resources, some benefits providers offer this service at no charge as part of the enrollment process.
Strategy #4: Increase employee participation in pretax benefits programs. Establishing Section 125 plans and maximizing employee participation in pretax benefits programs can result in considerable cost savings to educators. In fact, 77 percent of respondents in the government finance officers’ survey used this strategy to save money on benefit costs, and 86 percent of them would recommend it to others. Pretaxing benefits gives employees the option to buy qualified insurance coverage with before-tax dollars. This makes coverage more affordable by reducing the taxable portion of an employees’ pay, so they pay lower income taxes. Section 125 plans allow employees to make beforetax contributions to personal spending accounts that can be used for qualifying health care or child care expenses. Because these plans reduce the employer’s overall payroll, they can also reduce payroll taxes, including FICA, Social Security and Medicare matching taxes.
Strategy #5: “Right source” benefits communication and enrollment. Almost all employers (81 percent) agree it’s important for employees to understand their benefits, but barely half of the respondents (58 percent) in one recent survey agree their employees actually have a good understanding. Few employers have the resources to handle benefits communication themselves, and using enrollment firms only adds to their costs. Fortunately, these services are available at no direct cost to the employer from some benefit providers. Though the need for good benefits communication seems obvious, employers can’t assume that offering a strong benefits package means employees will actually understand and appreciate their benefits. Educating employees about the myriad benefit choices available to
them and how to select the benefits that work best for their lifestyles takes expertise. Educators that wish to source this service should consider vendors that take a personal approach to benefits counseling. Employee satisfaction rates with this type of service can be impressive. A 2014 post-enrollment survey by Colonial Life found that virtually all employees (97 percent) surveyed say personal benefits counseling improved their understanding of their benefits and that this type of communication is important (98 percent).
Be smart about your benefits partners. The five solutions identified above can help educators save significant dollars in their employee benefits budget. And many of these solutions can be implemented without a lot of outside support. But when it’s time to reach out to an expert, look for a partner with extensive experience in public sector business, a proven track record of success and a reputation for excellent customer service. Choosing a partner with a long-term relationship in mind can pay for itself both now and later.
About the Author Carey Adamson is vice president for public sector for Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company. Colonial Life is a market leader in providing financial protection benefits through the workplace, including disability, life, accident, cancer, critical illness and hospital confinement insurance. The company’s benefit services and education, innovative enrollment technology and personal service support more than 80,000 businesses and organizations, representing more than 3 million of America’s workers and their families. For more information about Colonial Life’s products and services, contact Adamson at (803) 798-7000, e-mail him at CLAdamson@ColonialLife.com or visit www. ColonialLife.com. Kaiser/HRET Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Benefits, 2013. State and Local Government Finances Summary: 2011, U.S. Census Bureau, July 2013. 3 Government Finance Officers Association, “Containing Health Care Costs,” 2011. 4 Waynepost.com, “Schools’ health care costs audit saves millions, May 16, 2011. 5 Government Finance Officers Association, “Containing Health Care Costs,” 2011. 6 ADP, Healthcare Programs, Employee Benefits Selection Can be Made Easier Through Technology, 2012. 7 Colonial Life Benefits Post-Enrollment Survey, 2014. 1 2
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Merit Pay and Teacher Recognition Programs: They can co-exist! By Hans A. Andrews
here are far too many of our very good teachers going wanting in terms of recognition from their supervisors. Expanding recognition programs will go a long way in better meeting the ‘intrinsic needs’ of many more excellent teachers at a time when meritperformance pay is being expanded. While some states and school districts are moving into merit and/or performance pay there are many other outstanding things that the teachers and others in the school systems do beyond producing improved student testing outcome scores. In addition, counselors, librarians, special education teachers, physical education, art, curriculum specialists, and music teachers as well as some others do not necessarily fit the ‘merit – performance pay’ mold as they do not have national or state tests for their students. The results of student scores on these tests are to be used fairly extensively to determine which teachers should qualify for ‘merit pay’ raises. Therefore, there are many areas
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of teaching that special recognition programs will help in meeting ‘intrinsic needs’ of these teachers and the other important school workers.
Merit Pay and Teacher Recognition defined Merit Pay: In 1987 the National School Board Association (NCBA) defined merit pay as a program linking teachers’ salaries to periodic assessments of the teachers’ performance. Bonuses in a merit pay program are awarded to the salaries of the teachers of those who receive the highest ratings. In the national Race to the Top funding models being promoted and developed in 2014, merit pay is found being favored as an award for those teachers whose students can be linked to the improvements of their test scores on state and/or national standardized tests. The NCBA saw these bonuses being “based on their students’ test score gains”. How much these test score
gains will contribute to the evaluation scores or teacher evaluation decisions is still being debated by states and local schools across the United States. Politicians, teacher unions, administrative organizations and others are all part of this discussion. It does appear that a significant percentage of the teacher merit pay plans will include results of standardized test improvement of the students of those teachers whose subject areas are being tested. What happens in the ‘merit pay arena’ for those teachers who are not part of the Common Core subject areas and/or included in the standardized tests is presently left out of most discussions on the merit pay issue.
Merit pay by results: These are merit pay programs that base individual teacher bonuses on their students’ test scores gains. Recognition programs: These programs provide public recognition for outstanding teachers. These may be Teacher-of-the-Year programs in a school district, state or at a national level. Recognition programs are usually not set up to provide salary increases but, rather, provide small one-time bonuses from $100 to $1,000 in most cases. Some of the other options in recognition programs for teachers include, but are not limited to, special recognition for the teacher(s) at a meeting of the governing board, letters of commendation from the board and administrators involved in evaluation of the teachers, a plaque, public information releases, travel funds for state and national meetings, speaking opportunities with other teachers and/or conferences, and possibly special suppers where the persons being recognized with peers, administrators and board members. It should be noted that this special recognition for teachers goes beyond the special awards for the teachers and helps to meet the ‘intrinsic’ needs of the teachers. Some merit pay myths While merit pay is expanding quickly across the states it is important to look back at Dunwell’s (1986) summary of the myths about teacher acceptance of merit pay: Myth 1: Teachers favor merit pay. This statement contrasts with a number of findings in other studies and surveys. Teachers were found to favor other rewards rather than merit pay. Myth 2: Money is a motivator – more money produces more work. Research studies did not support this. Money was only found to motivate some people in some circumstances, eg. where salaries were below market value. Myth 3: Merit pay will persuade highly qualified
people to enter teaching. There is no research to support this. Teachers do not enter into teaching primarily to make money. On the other hand, money is a ‘dissatisfier’. Many people do not leave teaching because of low salaries. Myth 4: Merit pay promotes competition, and competition promotes excellence. Dunwell asserted that competition will not necessarily promote excellence but cooperation probably will. Myth 5: Motivating teachers is a simple matter of offering an extrinsic reward. The researcher documented that motivational needs vary from one individual to another. Merit pay can actually depress the intrinsic motivation of some teachers.
Recognition meeting ‘intrinsic needs’ Harris Interactive (1999) presented the results of the Gordon S. Black Corporations (GSBC) research that found recognition to be one of the top three drivers of satisfaction among teachers. On the other hand, they found out of a group of 23,569 teachers surveyed that their schools lacked any teacher recognition programs. In a national research (Andrews, 1986) conducted in 1987 - 1988 for the North Central Association the following were the key core outcome elements in the recognition programs for teachers: • They were outgrowths of faculty evaluation systems conducted primarily by instructional administrators. They avoided the ‘merit pay’ issues by offering the alternative of ‘recognition’ to outstanding faculty members. • The faculty, administrators and governing boards found them to be acceptable ways to recognize their teachers. • They were usually based upon motivational theories of well known theorists as Maslow (1954) and Herzberg (1966). • They were considered successful in accomplishing the goal of improving instruction and faculty recognition for outstanding work (pp.45-50). Million (2004) summarized the value of recognition to teachers from a survey conducted by the National Elementary School Principals (NAESP). Some noted that after not receiving any recognition in places that gave little to no recognition for efforts of their teachers they were gaining a new sense of pride and a boost in self esteem from the schools now giving special recognition: • It renewed confidence in their teaching. Teachers felt that it reinforced what they had been doing and also encouraged other teachers.
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• It gave them a voice in their profession. • Some were not being asked to speak, write, and people wanted to know their thoughts on educational issues. • It spotlighted their areas of expertise. • It inspired them to work harder. One teacher observed that the award “made me see that people expected more of me, and I began to expect more of myself”. • It validated their ideas. • One teacher said, “More than anything the award just reinforced what we have known all along. We are doing the right thing for kids”.
Historical data on merit pay in the U.S. In a fairly recent study of motivation Pink (2009) presents some summary information from his work on motivation, money and intrinsic motivation: • The starting point for any discussion of motivation in the workplace is a simple fact of life: People have to earn a living. Salary, contract payments, some benefits, a few perks are what I call “baseline rewards.” • If someone’s baseline rewards aren’t adequate or equitable, her focus will be on the unfairness of her situation and the anxiety of her circumstance. You’ll get neither the predictability of extrinsic motivation nor the weirdness of intrinsic motivation. You’ll get very little motivation at all. • The best use of money as a motivator is to pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table. • Once we’ve cleared the table, carrots and sticks can achieve precisely the opposite of their intended aims. Mechanisms designed to increase motivation can dampen it. • Programs to promote good deeds can make them disappear. • Instead of restraining negative behavior, rewards and punishments can often set it loose – and give rise to cheating, addiction, and dangerously myopic thinking (33). This last statement on negative behavior such as cheating can readily be observed in some of the widespread ‘cheating’ in improving students test scores of students by both teachers and administrators in some states the past couple of years. A 1979 study by the Educational Research Service (ERS) looked at merit pay across some 3,000 U.S. schools
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and summarized that only 6.4 percent had attempted a merit pay program and most, at that time, had dropped them for the following main reasons: • problems in figuring out how to evaluate teachers fairly • teachers disliked merit pay and declining teacher morale • some schools reported their faculty had negotiated merit pay out of their contracts. The Dallas Morning News (Stutz, 2009) looked at the $300 million that had been spent on implementing merit pay for teachers in Texas. The program, titled Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, had 140,000 or more students included. The program was dropped after only three years as it did not provide the ‘big boost’ the state had anticipated in student achievement. The conclusion was that there was no systematic evidence the TEEG had impacted student achievement gains. In addition, it was considered too expensive for the results obtained by the political leaders. A review of performance-pay for Chicago Public School teachers found no difference in improvement of math or reading tests between schools paying performance-pay and those not paying it (Sawchuk, 2010). Middle school mathematics teachers in Tennessee volunteered to be involved in a three-year study with Vanderbilt University (Moran, 2010). The study was designed to show that large monetary incentives for some chosen teachers in a randomised approach of choosing the teachers would produce significant boosts in student scores. It was also supposed to encourage teachers to become more effective. The most basic question they wanted answered in the program was whether the providing of the bonus pay possibility would alone improve student outcomes. Teachers in the program were recommended to receive from $5,000 to a maximum of $15,000 for the very top teachers. The average actually paid was $10,000 and involved 300 teachers in Nashville public schools during the school years of 2007-2009. Vanderbilt researchers summarized the Project on Incentives in Teaching as having accomplished ‘two’ small positive findings. The fifth graders in the second and third year of the experiment showed some small improvements. On the other hand, there were no effects shown by the students in grades 6-8 in any one of the three years (pp. 1-2).
Summary This presentation on teacher merit pay and teacher recognition programs provides an attempt to clarify the two movements presently taking place across the U.S. education landscape. Both are being touted as ways to both motivate and to reward excellence in our teachers’ performances. The outcome desired by both systems is improved teaching and improved student learning outcomes. There is a history of research on merit pay that has not found it to provide the student learning outcomes desired. This was documented recently in Texas, Tennessee, Chicago and in a number of earlier studies over a 30-35 year period. It has been my intent to show the concerns that both state and local school educational leaders, teachers and their union leaders, and legislators interested in improving learning for their students that caution must be taken in trying to find the path that will produce improved outcomes in learning for student and help keep the teachers motivated. Recognition programs that utilize the motivational theories of key researchers developed over the years have shown significant positive responses from teachers. One of the elements that have helped these programs has been that of including teachers and their leadership in developing such programs. The intrinsic needs of teachers appear to be better met in these recognition programs if the base salaries and benefits are good enough to not make them non-issues in providing for ways to motivate good teachers. Recognition programs will also reach out to those teachers and other school personnel who are not part of the Common Core and/or state and national standardized tests. What better way is there to promote the public schools than through expanding teacher recognition programs. What if every school highlighted at least one teacher or more a month in area media outlets? This would make much more visible the quality teachers in each school district to the parents, students, board members and business community as well as the general public.
References Andrews, H.A. (1986). Merit Pay and Merit Recognition Plans in Community and Junior Colleges. Journal of Staff, Program, and Organization Development, Stillwater, OK., 4(2), 46-50. Andrews, H.A. (2014). Recognition vs. Merit Pay For Our Best Teachers. Ottawa, IL. Matilda Press.
Dunwell, R.R. (1986). Merit, motivation, and mythology. Teacher Education and Practice, 3(1): 17-21. Harris Interactive. (1999, March 19). Teachers recognized for excellence rate career satisfaction higher. Rochester, N.Y. Retrieved from http://www. harrisinteractive.com/news/printerfriend/index. asp?NewsID=303 Herzberg, W.W. (1966). Work and The Nature of Man. Cleveland and New York: World Publishing Company. Maslow, A.H. (1954). Motivation and Personality. New York: Harper and Row. McDonald, T., & Staff (May 24, 2010). Teachers say best work not rewarded. ABC News. Retrieved from http:// www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/05/24/2907219.htm Million, J. (2004). Honor your teachers. National Association of Elementary School Principals, January 2004, 27(5), pp. 5-6. Moran, M. (2010, September 21). Teacher performance pay alone does not raise student test scores – New Vanderbilt study finds. Vanderbilt University News. Retrieved from http://www.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/ ncpi_point_findings.xml Pink, D.H. (2009). Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. New York: The Penguin Group. Sawchuk, S. (2010, June 1). Performance-pay model shows no achievement edge. Education Week. Retrieved from: http://www.edweek. org/ew/articles/2010/06/0f1/33tap.h29. html?tkn=QWUF3dP6X%2Bq8 Stutz, T. (2009, November 4). Study: Texas’ teacher merit pay program hasn’t boosted student performance. Dallas news.com: The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved from http://www.interversity.org/lists/ arn-l/archieves/Nov2009/msg00020.html
About the Author Hans A. Andrews 1019 Lakewood Drive Ottawa, IL 61350 Phone: (815) 431-8934 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Dr. Hans A. Andrews has been a secondary school and community college teacher, counselor and administrator. His specialization areas are teacher evaluation, teacher recognition and dual-credit. His recent of seven books is titled: Recognition vs. Merit Pay For Our Best Teachers at Matilda Press.
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Preparing for SLO Implementation with Data Teams By Sarah C. Longshore Paving the Way with Data-Driven Decision Making and Teacher Collaboration As South Carolina teachers prepare to meet the challenges presented by a new evaluation system, data driven decision making and teacher collaboration are more necessary than ever. Beginning in 2015-2016, all teachers of non-tested grades and subjects will create Student Learning Objectives (SLOs); for most of us, this will be the majority of our teachers. South Carolina is joining the ranks of countless other districts and states making the shift from measures of achievement to measures of growth. Achievement is the extent to which students have mastered the content and the skills in the standards. Growth, however, measures the extent to which students have shown improvement or gained new knowledge over a period of time. The primary purpose of a SLO is to measure student growth over the duration of an entire course; however, SLOs also aim to improve professional practice, to reinforce researchbased instructional strategies, and to promote teacher collaboration. The collaborative process that SLOs demand is one that the teachers in District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties have been engaged in since 2011, unwittingly preparing them to transition into South Carolina’s new teacher evaluation system. Our teachers use the data team process to focus on research-based instructional strategies that lead to student growth.
Data Teams: The New Face of Teacher Collaboration Education expert and founder of The Leadership and Learning Center, Dr. Douglas Reeves reminds us that collaboration is “not a gift from the gods but a skill that requires effort and practice.”1 Our teachers were introduced to data teams in 2011, and while some teachers embraced data teams immediately, other teachers needed more encouragement. Three years later, collaboration across our district is experiencing a renewed focus. It has been the result of tireless effort and practice, gentle but relentless pressure, coaching, and supporting teachers as they move beyond their inhibitions. As a result of this persistence, our teachers are better prepared for SLO implementation.
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Data teams require much more of teachers than mere sharing or cooperating; they require authentic collaboration. Until data teams, our teachers eagerly shared lesson plans and resources with each other but seldom shared assessment results. Teachers meet together to plan their instruction as they always have; however, teachers now use student assessment data to inform their instructional decision-making and to improve their own teaching. The rich discussions that result from this new type of sharing bring teachers to a higher level of collaboration and understanding of what truly works. Successful data team meetings infuse teachers’ innate creativity and passion for their subjects, as well as an analysis and evaluation of teaching practices. Teachers share expectations for student learning and reach a deeper understanding of students’ individual needs. This collaborative process also builds trust, which will be important moving forward with SLOs. As teachers begin to receive scores, we can anticipate a tendency to compete with colleagues. However, teachers would be wise to forego that competition and engage in collaborative structures that support one another. Participation in data teams has prepared our teachers to focus on collaboration rather than competition. Although the purpose of any data team is to improve student learning, it more importantly encourages selfreflection. Students’ grades become less important when teachers ask themselves these questions: Did our chosen instructional strategies impact student learning? Were our own professional practices effective in increasing student learning? The data collected and analyzed by teachers during the data team process is used to determine which strategies work best with individual groups of students. Assessment results are simply a measure of how effective teachers’ instructional strategies actually were when implemented by the team. This requires a great deal of transparency and vulnerability, and many teachers are not accustomed to this. In order for this kind of collaboration to occur, norms must be established, trust must be developed, and teachers must feel comfortable using a multistep process to analyze data.
What Is a Data Team? A data team is a small, collaborative grade-level, department, or like-course learning team that collects, examines, and uses student data generated from common formative assessments (CFA) to improve teaching and learning.2 The process begins with a formative assessment, or a pretest, that all members of the data team create and collaboratively score. Each assessment is narrowly focused on one or two priority standards. Using the information from this pretest, teachers identify students who are already proficient, who are close to proficient, who are progressing, and who are in need of more practice. They analyze the strengths and prioritize the needs of each group of students, set a goal for student learning, select common instructional strategies for each identified group of students, and determine results indicators. After taking some time in their classrooms to implement the agreed upon instructional strategies, the teachers reconvene to examine posttest results. They reflect on not only their students’ progress but also the effectiveness of their own professional practices. This cycle is repeated throughout the school year, focusing on one or two priority standards at a time. Data teams provide teachers with a structure that focuses on the unique needs of their particular learners, uses relevant data to inform decision-making, and fosters true collaboration.
high school English class where the standard is to “cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text?” The team might agree on the following proficiency levels. Supports a coherent thesis with evidence from the text Close to Supports the thesis with appropriate Proficient textual evidence Uses the text to frame an apt response Progressing to the prompt Needs More Provides no real textual support to Practice the prompt Proficient
The Data Team Cycle Several tasks must be completed during a data team cycle. Before anything else, the teachers must first create a common formative assessment (CFA). While most SLOs will be based on data from multiple sources, such as standardized tests, student portfolios, or district benchmark assessments, the CFAs used by a data team are teacher created and narrowly focused on one or two priority standards. Taking the time to unwrap a standard is essential to the process as it helps teachers to identify exactly what the students must know or be able to do. All standards will eventually be taught; however, our teachers prioritize their standards during the data team meetings. To unwrap a priority standard, teachers identify the key concepts (nouns) and the skills (verbs). Essentially, the concepts are what the students will need to learn, and the skills are what the students should be able to do. The teachers also identify the level of rigor (Bloom’s or Depth of Knowledge) and determine the big ideas or essential understandings. Once this priority standard has been identified and unwrapped, the teachers define proficiency levels. For example, how might the team define “proficient” in a
After these proficiency levels have been determined, the team creates a rubric or a multiple choice assessment addressing the particular priority standard. The results from this pre-assessment are used to complete the five step process. After the teachers have implemented the agreed upon instructional strategies that were determined during the five step process, they give a post-assessment to get a measure of student growth. Finally, they reflect and evaluate their own professional practices. If the strategies were effective, they will replicate them in the future. If the team’s goal was not met, however, the teachers must identify the cause and decide what needs to be retaught and which strategies were not effective in increasing student learning. Although the following five steps are only one component of the entire cycle, it is typically the most difficult for teachers to learn and master.
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Step 1: Collect and Compile Data This first step is completed prior to the start of the actual meeting. The students’ pre-assessment scores are disaggregated by teachers and include the number, percentage, and names of students at each performance level (proficient, close, progressing, and needs more practice). It is important for the team to note their starting percentage of proficient students. This number will be used again in Step 3 to create a SMART goal.
Step 2: Analyze Strengths and Prioritize Needs Based on a direct analysis of student work, the team identifies the strengths and prioritizes the needs of each proficiency group. If this step is done correctly, the teachers go beyond identifying the areas for improvement by inferring the root cause. For example, you will often hear novice teams conclude, “A weakness of this group is that they were unable to answer question #3.” However, expert teams will go beyond the what to infer the why: “They struggled with question #3 because they are weak in the prerequisite skill of factoring.”
Step 3: Establish a SMART Goal A SMART goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. In the data team process, it is simplified using a formula. To determine an appropriate
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goal, the team begins by adding the first three proficiency groups together and dividing that number by the total: PROFICIENT + CLOSE + PROGRESSING TOTAL In the pictured example, 44 proficient students + 39 close to proficient students + 16 progressing students, divided by 113 total students, gives them a goal of 88%. A SMART goal might sound something like, “The percent of English 1 students scoring proficient or higher in citing textual evidence will increase from 39% to 88% as measured by the Copper Sun essay administered during class on March 20, 2015.” This is a starting point for teams, but it is more important that the teachers have a conversation about how many students in the “needs more practice” group they think they can move to “proficient.” Teams are always able to revise their SMART goal at any time during the process.
Step 4: Select Common Instructional Strategies Teachers use the strengths and weaknesses of their students identified in Step 2 to select common instructional strategies. Data teams across our entire district use the research of John Hattie to determine the strategies that have the greatest impact.3 The teachers’
chosen strategies should describe the actions of the adults that will change the thinking of the students. The strategies should also be specific enough that they can be replicated and be differentiated for each proficiency level.
Step 5: Determine Results Indicators Finally, teachers describe what success will look like. What will the teacher be doing if the strategies are being implemented? What will the students be doing? And what should be seen in student work? In this last step, the data team describes the anticipated change in student performance if the strategies are having the desired impact on the prioritized need.
Using Data Teams to Support SLO Implementation Data teams and SLOs fit “hand in glove.” Whether working as an individual or as a part of a team, the data team cycle provides teachers with a structure and a process for monitoring progress throughout the school year.
For example, one of the dance teachers in our district plans to incorporate data teams with SLOs in the following way. For her Dance 1 class, she will give a pretest at the beginning of the course that will be a combination of a floor roll, chasse (locomotive step), grand jete (leap), and projection. Students’ proficiency of these four skills will be assessed using a rubric, and this will give her baseline data. She will go through the data team cycle four times, concluding each one with a benchmark assessment. The final posttest will require students to perform a dance routine that includes a floor roll, chasse, grand jete, and projection; students will be assessed with the same rubric that was used at the beginning of the course. This will give the teacher a measurement of growth, which will be reflected in her SLO score. It has taken several years for teachers in our district to become comfortable with data teams, but it has been worth the effort. Although this process is not new to our
district, I remain unsure how measurements of growth will be incorporated fairly into an individual teacher’s evaluation, and that will, of course, require further study. In the meantime, data teams equip our teachers with a collaborative process and a structure for monitoring student growth throughout the school year which can only prove beneficial.
References Reeves, D. (2010). Transforming professional development into student results. Alexandria, VA: ASCD. 2 Peery, A. (2011). The data teams experience: A guide for effective meetings. Englewood, CO: Lead and Learn Press. 3 Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. New York, NY: Routledge. 1
About the Author Sarah C. Longshore 1400 Old Tamah Road Irmo, SC 29063 (803) 476-3317 email@example.com Sarah C. Longshore is the Assistant Principal for Instruction at Dutch Fork High School in District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties. She has seven years of administrative experience and is currently working on her Ed.S. at the University of South Carolina.
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Professional Study: A Different Kind of Staff Development By Felicia Oliver
fter forty plus years in education, I have spent countless hours sitting in professional development sessions. Most of these were one-day seminars, with every teacher in the school or district in attendance. They were often conducted by outside “experts” who knew little about the problems teachers faced when planning for effective learning environments. There was usually minimal participation on the part of administrators, and follow-up support was rarely provided. In spite of all of these drawbacks, many administrators have continued to spend large amounts of money on this type of professional development without considering whether it has provided any systemic growth. As the district ELA coordinator, I began to take a close look at what the district and I, as the ELA leader, were offering in the way of meaningful, sustained professional development. Working in a district with a small instructional department, I knew that we had to be very
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creative and cost effective. We began our professional development make-over by partnering with a local college to offer year-long training in the form of a series of threehour graduate courses.
Our goal was to design courses that would address the needs of our teachers, with very specific guidelines as to their content and delivery. We wanted to form a cohort of teachers and literacy coaches who would study the best practices in literacy instruction. They would read and discuss information from current researchers in the field of literacy, pose questions, and reflect on teaching practices. These teachers and coaches would share this information with other teachers by creating professional learning communities at their schools. Our first cohort began in 2005 with a group of twenty elementary teachers and literacy coaches. In order to create an excitement about literacy that would be apparent on the first day of school, we began with a week-long class during the summer followed by monthly sessions for the remainder of the year. This first class focused on how children learn to read, the strategies that good readers use and how to create a literacy rich environment. Each participant earned three hours of graduate credit at no cost to them, but over the years that has become less important to teachers and more about the knowledge and insight they have gained. The next year, we not only added another literacy course for the first cohort, but also added a Cohort II with principals, district administrators, and veteran teachers joining the group. The first cohort continued that summer with their second literacy course focusing on teaching writing workshop, and writing in response to reading. Cohort II participated in the same training as the previous Cohort I. The next year we added Cohort III, and the first cohort was now in their third year of literacy training. It was a natural progression at this point to design a third
course for these teachers and literacy coaches around becoming a literacy leader and ways of differentiating for adult learners. By this time they were guiding grade level planning meetings, modeling instructional strategies, facilitating book studies, and assisting teachers who wanted to do further research on the best literacy strategies. Teachers were excited about what they were learning, and this excitement was apparent in classrooms. We saw significant increases in our studentsâ€™ academic achievement, not only in ELA, but in all content areas. To date, over 400 teachers and administrators have participated in literacy cohorts and this summer we celebrated the start of our tenth cohort. I have remained the instructor of record of these classes, but over the years they have evolved into more of a teacher-directed project. The courses have changed in order to meet the new challenges, and pedagogy that educators face. Teachers, literacy coaches, and administrators who have completed the three years of cohort often come back for what they refer to as a refresher. These same teachers and coaches take on the role of instructor and often lead the classes. During the week of summer course work or during one of the monthly classes, the superintendent often comes and participates with the teachers in the class. Our plan is to begin Cohort XI in the summer of 2015. Our professional study plan is simple.We continue to look at the needs of our students, and then look at what teachers need to do to meet these needs. Finally, we establish cohorts of professionals with a desire to study the latest in best practices, collaborate with other professionals, examine their beliefs about literacy, and engage in inquiry all in an effort to create this same type of environment for students.
About the Author Felicia Oliver 400 East Park Drive Spartanburg, SC 29302 (864) 585-2113 ELA Coordinator Spartanburg District Two Felicia Oliver has been in the field of education for more than forty years. She has been a teacher, a literacy coach, an adjunct instructor at Converse College and USC Spartanburg, a reading consultant, and is currently working with teachers as a district ELA coordinator.
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Seeing the Big Picture and Removing the Fear of Data By Everette H. Workman, Ph.D.
n the last 5 years, Woodruff Elementary School moved from an Absolute Rating of Average and a Growth Rating of Good on the South Carolina Annual School Report Card to our current Absolute Rating of Excellent and a rating of 94.5 when measured by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Federal Accountability System. These gains in student achievement were accomplished by alleviating teachers’ fear of data, and by challenging our faculty and staff to view the total school program. In this article, I describe the key facets of the journey our administrative team embarked upon to build a faculty and staff that recognizes their role in the school, has overcome the fear of accountability, and is equipped with the skills needed to provide data driven instruction. I begin with our efforts to broaden the faculty’s view of their role in the school. We aimed to move teachers from a singular focus on their classrooms to a wider view of the entire school program, to see their place as a part of the whole. Next, we tackled teachers’ fears of data and public accountability, bringing discussions of teacher test scores to the forefront of professional development sessions. We continued by focusing on our students’ awareness of data by helping them to set goals and to understand why knowing their personal data furthers their academic progress. While the following explanations do not account for all of our current student achievement success, this course of action has been successful in creating a culture of continuous data analysis and reflection among the faculty, staff, and students at our school.
Out of the Classroom When I moved into administration as an elementary assistant principal, I realized that as a teacher, I knew little about what happened in the rest of the school building. I planned my day, shut my door, and lived in a world of history, civics, and research papers. This was the world I knew and rarely did it extend beyond the doors of my classroom. As an assistant principal, I encountered the realization that I need to have a wide view of the classrooms, subjects, and grade levels in my building. Having this view as a classroom teacher would have made me a better teacher and employee. My focus would have shifted to the whole school and the role I could play. My students would have benefited from this view of the school as I worked to bolster the entire program and not just one classroom. Thus, as a new member of the administrative team, I sought to build a faculty capable of seeing the big picture. Reflecting on my years in the classroom, I lacked a solid understanding of the ways in which data could be utilized data to drive classroom instruction. I made every effort to teach the standards and identify student weaknesses, but having real conversations with my peers about data was intimidating. Like many of my teaching colleagues, I was fearful of being perceived as a poor teacher if my students’ scores on statewide assessments did not measure up. I had not yet overcome the fear of public accountability and its power to help me grow.
Knowing What Others are Doing In 2010, to strengthen our school program and enhance the capabilities of our teaching faculty, our
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administrative team began organizing faculty meetings that were teacher led and conducted as discussion sessions. These professional development sessions were designed to provide the faculty with a new view of our elementary school. We asked each of our three grade levels to present their program to the rest of the faculty. For example, our eight 3rd grade English Language Arts teachers presented to our 4th and 5th grade teachers. They shared their standards, techniques, resources and classroom structure. They described discipline procedures, parent contact methods, technology usage, and student misconceptions they discovered. Teachers talked with one another about lesson planning, teaching methods, and use of materials. They discussed anecdotal and hard evidence in designing strategies tailored to our student population. Each of our three grade levels, in turn, presented to the others. The buzz from these sessions was amazing. Conversations were sparked that led to a deeper understanding of our goal as a school. Teacher confidence was bolstered as they shared stories of successes and failures. Ultimately, these conversations strengthened our entire school program and led to greater teacher collaboration and the sharing of ideas. Each teacher is responsible for the success of the students in their classroom, but the faculty, staff, and administrators working together define the school’s ultimate success.
Discovering the Value of Data A second area in which we expanded the capabilities of our staff was in analyzing student data. Schools have many resources for gathering data and the idea of analyzing data to improve instruction remains a current topic in education. The problem we found in trying to discuss data is that many teachers lacked the training needed to examine the data for themselves. This was not due to apathy or incompetence. This was largely due to the rapid rise of multiple data sources and a dearth of staff development in this area. During this process, we also discovered that our students lacked an understanding of their scores on the Palmetto Assessment of State Standards (PASS) and the Northwest Evaluation Association’s Measures of Academic Progress (MAP), scores. We found that many of our students and their parents did not understand the meaning of terms such as “Not Met” “Met” or “Exemplary”. Students could not talk about their learning progress and of their learning goals, thus they could not take ownership of their academic path. We decided to tackle this problem on two levels.
Public Accountability We began our focus by collecting data. We required teachers to keep a data notebook. Inside their notebook teachers keep a variety of data on their students for the year; PASS scores, MAP scores, Lexiles, and data collected from Edmentum’s Study Island. Along with their student data, all teachers keep our school wide performance data. This collection of data in one location enables the teacher to access a wide range of information, builds teacher confidence in discussing data with parents, and serves as the starting point of curriculum conversations between administrators and peers. The teacher data notebook has become a staple of faculty meetings at our school. Our next step was to remove the stigma and secrecy that in the past had obscured teacher test data. Previously, school wide data may have been shared, but teacher names and rankings of homerooms were kept hidden. Understandably, many teachers were afraid of being compared to their peers and there was a fear of being labeled a bad teacher if your scores were low. The administration did not want to risk embarrassing teachers whose classes did not perform as well as their colleagues. Because of this, our teachers could not know how their teaching methods measured against others in the same school. Our administrative team made the decision to share teacher classroom mean scores from PASS and MAP with the entire faculty. Student names were kept confidential to protect student privacy. At first, teachers
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were apprehensive, but quickly they realized the value of comparison to their peers. By removing the secrecy of teacher test data, our school began to move from a fear of failure to a culture that celebrated the successes of great teachers and inspired others to grow. The highest performing teachers received validation for their efforts and continued successes. Struggling teachers could now seek out mentors and “pick the brains” of our best teachers. The faculty became comfortable discussing data amongst themselves and asking for assistance from peers. It was a win-win for all.
Student Awareness Student and parent awareness became the focus of our next step. From conversations with leaders of elementary schools around the state and recommendations from Paul Bambrick-Santoyo’s work Driven By Data, student data boards were installed throughout the school. Two boards for each grade level, one for Math and one for ELA were placed in high traffic areas for students to record their progress on the MAP test. The boards were divided into three sections: “Not Met”, “Met”, and “Exemplary”, to coincide with our MAP to PASS correlations. While we have used different themes for the boards, this year’s theme is “Mapping Our WayTo New Heights”. Each student is represented by a mountain hiker, which he/she places on the data board to correspond with their score on the MAP interim assessments. Student names are not written on the “hikers” to protect the individual’s privacy and only the student knows which “hiker” represents them. (Insert photo 1) Stapling the “hiker” to the board with their own hands provides students with a concrete representation of their progress throughout the year. Student self-efficacy grows as they move their “hikers” up the mountain from “Not Met” to “Met” and even “Exemplary” over the course of the year. I have had many conversations of encouragement with students concerning their hiker and I have witnessed student led conversations with their classmates about their scores and their goals for the year. Student awareness goes beyond classroom grades and report cards. While classroom grades may be a predictor of success on PASS and state assessments, we have found the correlation with MAP and student Lexile to be a more accurate predictor. All of our students carry a student agenda, in which they write their homework assignments, important dates, and use as a hall pass. To provide students and their parents with a readily available resource a “Student Dream Card” was designed (Insert photo 2) for students to keep in the clear plastic pocket
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located in the back of their agenda. This double-sided card, one side for ELA and the other for Math, records the student’s PASS score, MAP scores for fall, winter, and spring, their Lexile, their target score for the end of the year testing, student attendance, and discipline. Teachers conference with their students and explain the connection between MAP and PASS. They help students understand academic goals and create a plan to achieve them. This card is kept and updated by the student as necessary throughout the year. The “Student Dream Card” becomes a topic of authentic conversations between students, teachers, parents and administrators.
Conclusion The changes described above were implemented by our administrative team over the last four years and led to a marked improvement in student achievement at our school. Leading teachers to view the total school program, overcoming fears of public accountability, and helping our students to understand the ways in which data affects them, has enhanced our entire program. We have a faculty and staff that are confident in discussing data with their colleagues, students, parents and administrators. Our teachers work for the betterment of all students and teach beyond the doors of their classrooms. Our students are able to talk about and discuss their data and set goals for themselves. While these ideas were not new and many were garnered from conversations with principals and teachers around our state, these changes have made a significant difference in our students’ achievement.
References Bambrick-Santoyo, P. (2010). Driven by data. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Clark, R. (2004). The essential 55: An award-winning educator’s rules for discovering the successful student in every child. Hyperion. Payne, R. K. (2005). A framework for understanding poverty. aha! Process.
About the Author Everette H. Workman, Ph.D. 2885 Trammel Road Woodruff SC 29388 864-909-2937 Everette H. Workman currently serves as Assistant Principal at Woodruff Elementary School in Spartanburg District 4.
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Setting the Stage for Excellence By Katie Barker and Vernisa Bodison “How did you do it?”
t is a question that often comes to mind when a school makes significant improvement in student achievement. We all know there is not a magic formula or a boxed curriculum or strategy that sets high expectations, improves student engagement, or automatically leads to exceptional student achievement results. Yet, there must be something that activates teachers to push students to reach their maximum potential. How exactly can a school serving high poverty children receive an Excellent Absolute Rating on the South Carolina State Report Card? How exactly can a school serving high poverty children receive a Federal Accountability Grade of A two years in a row? What did we do differently? Windsor Hill Arts Infused Elementary School is a Title I school in Dorchester School District Two. It is a high poverty school with a 2013-14 poverty index of 82%. Windsor Hill has seen years of “good” student achievement scores; in fact, since 2008, Windsor Hill has earned absolute rating scores of Average and been ranked Good. After the 2011-2012 school year, Windsor Hill earned its first ever Palmetto Gold for General Performance and Closing the Achievement Gap. After the 2012-2013 school year, Windsor Hill earned a Palmetto Gold award for General Performance and received its first Excellent absolute rating in school history and its first Federal Accountability grade of A. This phenomenal success in less than three years speaks volumes about the Windsor Hill educators, students, and parents. The faculty and staff at Windsor Hill is made up of many extremely gifted and talented educators. In the 2011-2012 school year, several new practices were implemented to expand the capabilities of our already gifted faculty. Frequent classroom observations followed by reflection conferences, clear expectations about the use of instructional best practices, and a focus on our student achievement data were practices that helped teachers sharpen their skills and attain the highest levels of achievement that the school has ever seen. By implementing these practices, the stage has been set to empower teachers to become experts in reflective thinking, best practices, and data driven decision making.
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The 2011-2012 school year brought many changes to our school. The administrative team was completely new to our roles. We worked together to set goals for the school. Our first priority was to be present in classrooms and provide specific feedback to teachers about all observations. Walkthroughs consisted of exactly what you would expect: an administrator observing a teacher for 15-20 minutes, utilizing the district Explicit Direct Instruction feedback form. However, the most powerful part of the observation occurred when the “please see me to reflect about this observation” box was checked. Powerful reflective conversations were held with each educator about what went well with the lesson and what could have made it even better. In most cases, teachers developed their own areas for growth. The key points from the dialogue were recorded and then those ideas were focus areas for the next observation. This reflective practice allowed teachers to be more thoughtful regarding
the planning process and the delivery of content. It also allowed teachers to have opportunities to dialogue with other teachers on ways to enhance instruction. Another practice contributing to the significant gains in student achievement was a focus on instructional best practices. Teachers received extensive training in writing and science from consultants and district interventionists. The consultants shared research based instructional strategies that teachers could use with students. Teachers were also given articles or video clips to review on a weekly basis that gave them an opportunity to see the current trends most applicable to educating high poverty children. Teachers had the opportunity to learn about Douglas Reeve’s work with 90 90 90 schools as well as Robert Marzano’s work on student engagement. Teachers also had the opportunity to learn about the importance of the growth mindset after reading multiple articles by Carol Dweck. By having opportunities to stay abreast of the current educational trends, our teachers were able to see the importance of using different methods to reach our students. Teachers had opportunities to discuss their new learning in professional learning communities and share input about ways that they have implemented the new learning into current practices. The opportunity to have collaborative discussions allowed teachers to grow and stretch thus having an impact on students. Teachers expanded their knowledge base and developed more ways to support struggling students. Data and making data driven decisions has always been a focus at Windsor Hill. However, during the 2011-2012 school year, data discussions were taken to another level. The administration met with teachers individually and in grade level PLC’s to discuss student achievement data. The entire faculty then reviewed data from the state test and developed data questions. Questions ranged from “What can we do to improve student achievement in reading and math?” to “Why are our students underperforming in science and writing?” After developing an extensive list of data questions, grade levels and individual teachers developed goals to address the areas of weakness. Fine arts teachers developed arts infusion lessons to address weak areas. 4K, Kindergarten, First, and Second grade teachers began reflecting on their practices and the impact as students matriculate through the grades. With all eyes on the data, the entire school could see the importance of having a laser like focus on weak areas so that they could be addressed. District interventionists for ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies also met with teachers monthly to discuss content, review
assessments, observe instruction, and analyze data. Interventionists supported teachers with developing goals and action plans. The data also revealed areas of strength thus allowing teachers to share what they were doing that made a positive difference. Teachers became “on site” experts and were critical in supporting colleagues and sharing resources, materials, and ideas. Data had always been valued and with the development of specific target goals, teachers felt more confident about helping students reach higher levels of student achievement. Frequent classroom observations followed by reflection conferences, clear expectations about the use of instructional best practices, and a focus on our student achievement data are just three of the ways that have helped expand the capabilities of our staff. Even with staff changes, we are still able to maintain high levels of achievement. Our teachers are given the opportunity to showcase their knowledge and be the educational leaders that make our high poverty school a shining example for others. We are setting the stage for excellence each day with our students and it shows.
About the Authors Katie Barker 8600 William Moultrie Drive North Charleston, SC 29420 843-760-9820 Windsor Hill Arts Infused Elementary School Assistant Principal Katie Barker has been the assistant principal at Windsor Hill for three years. Her areas of specialization are RTI and PBIS. Vernisa Bodison 8600 William Moultrie Drive North Charleston, SC 29420 843-760-9820 Windsor Hill Arts Infused Elementary School Principal Vernisa Bodison has been the principal at Windsor Hill for three years. Her area of specialization is increasing student achievement in high poverty schools.
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SCASA VOICES “My SCASA membership is extremely valuable to me. SCASA provides relevant professional development as well as opportunities to network with talented administrators across our state. We come together to share ideas in order to create a student-centered culture in our schools. I truly believe that I am a more effective administrator because of my involvement with SCASA.” —Brenda Byrd, Assistant Superintendent for School Leadership “My membership in SCASA has provided the opportunity for me to network and get to know other professionals in my field from across the State. SCASA gives a voice to educators in arenas that we may never have the opportunity reach otherwise. I believe that SCASA is a “Champion” for public education.” —George Ward, Assistant Superintendent of Student Services “SCASA is a conduit for educational leaders to expand, grow, and adapt to the organic nature of learning organizations through advocacy, best practices, and progressive concepts ultimately geared toward positive outcomes for students through effective school leadership.”
“C.S. Lewis said “the task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate desserts.” SCASA provides a deep well of resources to its members. The professional connections I’ve developed through SCASA are integral in my day-to-day work as a Superintendent. When I think about the variety of initiatives that have served to advance our district – more often than not, SCASA has helped prime the pump.” —Russell Booker, Superintendent
“To me, the best part of being a SCASA member has been the opportunity to meet so many excellent educators from all across the state. Through serving on committees, helping with events and attending sessions at at Innovative Ideas, I have been able to develop valuable contacts that have helped me be a better administrator. If I have a question about a practice, policy or trend, I can often think of a colleague I have met through SCASA who I can call on for accurate information or advice.” —James Crawford, Director of Adult Education
—Shawn Hagerty, Director of Specialized Programs SCASA has provided me with invaluable professional development that not only helps me to grow as an administrator, but allows me PD that will help me to assist my school, teachers, students, and community better. The people and resources as SCASA are unbelievable and are always willing to assist in any way they can. Through SCASA, I have learned more about what SC has to offer our state through education, advocacy, and support. —Michele Zee, Assistant Principal 52 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • SPRING 2015
“I joined SCASA because of its long standing tradition of advocacy on behalf of public school administrators across the nation and the Palmetto state. SCASA has been instrumental in serving as the collective voice of the thousands of dedicated public school administrators who tirelessly serve our children every single day.” —Dr. Claudia Edwards, Deputy Superintendent of Academics
Greenwood 51 Elementary students are instructed in water safety each spring at Saluda River located in Ware Shoals. Photo submitted by SCASA member Fay Sprouse.
Southside Middle School Principal and SCASA member Craig Washington and South Florence Senior Cheyenne Beck participated in and won the School Foundation Annual Dancing with the Stars Event to raise money for to promote student learning in Florence School District One. The event raised almost $200, 000.00 for students. Photo submitted by Craig Washington.
Abbeville County School District’s Teacher of the Year, Leslie Schaffer, and Principal of the Year, Milton Scott, are recognized at Opening Day. Photo submitted by Julie Williams.
5th graders at Pine Tree Elementary School in Kershaw County dressed in pink for “Pink Out” to observe Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Pictured is Emily Laurin, Nellie Deas, Makayla Padgett, Aliyah Allen and teacher Mrs. Debbie Christmas. Photo submitted by Renata Inabinet.
For a TOP DOG celebration at the end of the 1st quarter of the 2014-15 school year, Jesse Boyd Elementary School in Spartanburg 7 had a tailgating party for the students. Attending the tailgating party were the Tiger from Clemson (pictured), Cocky from USC and Boss from Wofford. Picture submitted by SCASA member Meredith Rose.
The Swofford Culinary Arts Competition team of Spartanburg 1 practices for competition. Photo submitted by SCASA member Cathy McMillan.
One of Lexington 3’s district-wide literacy initiatives is the summer reading celebration. Pictured is Paul McKiever, senior football player, serving as a reading buddy to primary school students. Photo submitted by SCASA member Angie Rye.
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