professional development

School Leaders Joining Hands Across All Levels

Remember when student learning took place in a one-room school (think “Little House on the Prairie”)? There was a time when all students were together—learning in one culture and one environment.

But as communities got bigger, we started separating students by developmental stages. As a result, students now have to transition from school to school—experiencing different cultures and curriculums each time. And there is no doubt that those transitions can be difficult. (more…)

Teacher Evaluations—Creating a Comfort Zone

Guest post by Matthew Younghans

In the ever-changing world of Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR), significant value has been put on teacher evaluations. While once a narrative write-up process, our current systems are a far cry from the past. The power and control of such processes now lie within the domain of state regulation and at the collective bargaining table, which can even differ by district. I have found that creating a comfort zone regarding the process, inclusive of clear expectations, will help to defuse some of the normal teacher anxiety that can be present during these times.  (more…)

Lining It Up: Using Principal Areas of Influence to Improve Student Performance

Guest post by Kevin Grawer

A school leader must know the answer to the following question: “What do I as the principal actually have control over?” Throughout my time as principal, I have had complete or partial “authority” over the following:

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Fostering an Environment for Teacher Growth

Guest post by Michele Paine

An area of passion for me as a school leader involves facilitating teacher growth. One way I work on this is by hosting several professional book studies during the school year.

Our district pays teachers for two days of flexible professional development time each contract year. Teachers can choose from a variety of options, including conferences, regional training, and state-led events. With all of these choices, however, I feel it is important to foster collegial discussion and professional reading. (more…)

Strengthening Our Capacity to Lead

Guest post by Michele Paine

On the Fourth of July, I had the opportunity to reconnect with a colleague who had just finished her first year as a K–6 principal in a small rural partner school in the Greater Flathead Valley area, where I serve as assistant principal in one of its high schools. Over margaritas, we laughed about our school year, each of us sharing “lessons learned” during the year. While she serves an elementary school and I serve a high school, we found that our lessons could apply universally. (more…)

Getting New Teachers off to the Right Start: The New Teacher Jump Start

Guest post by Rachel Heide

What support can districts provide to new teachers to help them adjust to the school community and the demands of the profession?

Two vital components for producing positive student outcomes are recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers. According to a 2015 U.S. Department of Education study on public school teacher attrition and mobility rates, as new teachers move toward their fifth year of teaching, the rate of attrition nears 20 percent (IES, 2015). When nearly one in five teachers is leaving the profession by his or her fifth year of teaching, schools run the risk of losing talented teachers who could be making the needed impact toward positive student outcomes. Finding ways to retain the talented teachers we hire has become an imperative, and this was identified as a key ingredient for meeting the needs of students during a period of population growth at Erie Middle School.

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30 Questions from Principal Interviews (Plus More)

Guest post by William D. Parker

Each year, I partner with other school leaders through our state principal association to work with aspiring principals or new principals as they begin their journeys in school administration. After one workshop, a participant asked, “What kinds of questions can I expect in an interview for assistant principal or principal?”

I gave a few examples, but as I thought about the question later, I began to write down the questions I remember answering in my own interviews. (more…)

Building Leadership Skills for Administrators Through ‘Manufactured’ Experience

Guest post by Ken Spero

There is a silent crisis undermining school reform. The data below paint a stark picture of the challenge facing the education space today. In any major organizational change effort, especially in a context as complex as the education system, leadership is a key ingredient to success.

Of course “leadership” can be defined in many different ways, and it is clear that different forms of leadership are required for different situations. However, the ability to communicate, coordinate, and make decisions is key under any circumstance. What makes the education leadership job so challenging is that those abilities are rife with “painful” trade-offs that make them difficult to do under the best of circumstances. (more…)

How Ignite Has Enriched My Career

Being a principal, at any level, requires a diverse array of skills to ensure effective strategies are in place to meet the unique needs of all our students. Gathering this knowledge and these new strategies requires outstanding principals to learn from a variety of resources; we must maximize every opportunity we have to improve and develop our professional practices.

Two excellent sources of principal professional development are conference learning and peer networking. NASSP’s Ignite conference offers both of these sources at high levels in a jam-packed three days of professional learning.

First, Ignite is the only national conference focused solely on secondary level principals and the unique challenges we face. Ignite presents the highest level of recognized experts on a dynamic range of topics to enhance your learning. (more…)

Senate Passes ESEA Reauthorization Bill, Sets Stage for Conference Committee

Less than two weeks after the U.S. House of Representatives moved to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) by passing the Student Success Act (H.R. 5), the Senate followed suit by passing the Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177) by a vote of 81 to 17.

This historic achievement comes seven years after No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was due for reauthorization. The bill was opposed by 14 Republicans who felt the bill did not go far enough to restore local control in education and three Democrats because of concerns over missing civil rights provisions.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) issued the following statement after the bill passed the Senate:

“Last week, Newsweek Magazine called this the ‘law that everyone wants to fix’—and today the Senate’s shown that not only is there broad consensus on the need to fix this law—remarkably, there’s also broad consensus on how to fix it.”

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