Ignite '16 Conference

Re-Framing the Narrative

Guest post by Michael Hannon:

It can be easy to overlook specific student populations when the overall student body seems to be doing well. When important metrics have met yearly progress goals, college-going rates are high, and the local National Honor Society chapter has an awesome incoming cohort, it warrants appropriate acknowledgement and celebration. That celebration cannot happen in lieu of school leaders taking steps to more deeply understand the students who may NOT be meeting yearly progress goals, who may NOT be confident in their post-secondary career or educational plans, or who may NOT be eligible for National Honor Society. It’s even more disconcerting if or when those students generally align to a certain racial or ethnic profile.

Many African-American and Latino male students confront educational challenges that school leaders can take an active role in addressing, mitigating, and hopefully eliminating in their school communities. Some of those challenges include overrepresentation in special education, underrepresentation in student leadership/extracurricular activities, overrepresentation in disciplinary referrals, and underrepresentation in honors and/or advanced placement courses. One important question for principals and other school leaders is: “What are we doing about these trends?”

Supporting African-American and Latino male students has been especially rewarding in my career as an educator. The opportunity to engage with them as their counselor is filled with moments of extreme satisfaction, and, at times, significant challenge. Making connections while visiting classes, conferencing with parents, and facilitating student-teacher meetings to clarify misunderstandings have all been par for the course as a high school counselor. This work, OUR work, is not for the faint of heart. School leaders, especially those in principal, assistant principal, and supervisor roles, assume the mantle of leadership to facilitate the educational success of ALL students, including those who are most vulnerable.

One of the best pieces of advice a principal mentor shared with me as a school counselor was to treat every students as if he or she were my own. That is, if a student is acting inappropriately, I should address him or her with the same concern (and intensity) I would if he or she was my own child. If a student isn’t taking advantage of opportunities, I should support him or her in identifying and experiencing those opportunities the same way I would if he or she was my own child.

The Narratives of Success session at Ignite’14 in Dallas will help school leaders gain insight into what over 400 African-American and Latino male students report are the most supportive educational practices and attitudes by school leaders that help them be successful in high school. Their reflections are thoughtful, timely, and noteworthy. I’m excited—and I hope you are, too.

Michael Hannon (@mdhannon) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of School Psychology, Counseling, and Leadership at Brooklyn College. He will be presenting Narratives of Success: School Leadership Implications from the NYC Black & Latino Male Achievement at Ignite ’14 on Saturday, February 8.

Upcoming Webinar: Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times

Join noted educator, author, and social media leader Eric Sheninger for a free webinar examining digital leadership and how it can bring sustainable change and real transformation to your school.

Digital leadership is a strategic mindset and set of behaviors that leverages resources to create a meaningful, transparent, and engaging school culture. It takes into account recent changes, such as ubiquitous connectivity, open-source technology, mobile devices, and personalization, to dramatically shift how schools have been run and structured for more than a century. In his presentation, Eric will discuss the “Pillars of Digital Leadership,” a new conceptual framework for leaders to begin thinking about changes to professional practice.

This one-hour webinar is intended to start a conversation on digital leadership that attendees can continue during Eric’s “Digital Leadership–Change for Now and the Future” session at the Ignite ’14 conference in Dallas, February 6-8, 2014. For more information on Ignite ’14, visit www.nasspconference.org.

Motivating Students to Success

I was first introduced to attribution theory when I took a class from Madeline Hunter back in the mid-80s. The concept that we tend to attribute our successes or failures to reasons that fall within four categories – task difficulty, luck, innate ability/talent, and effort – was intriguing. I still remember Dr. Hunter emphasizing that in working with students, effort was key, as it is the one attribute over which individuals have control. If a student tries hard to succeed and then fails, he or she begin to blame his or her lack of success on one of the other three categories – e.g., “it’s too hard for me,” “I wasn’t lucky enough to get a good teacher,” or “I’m just not good in math.” Her point: We as educators must do all we can do to ensure that student effort is met with success.

I was delighted to find that Debbie Silver expanded on this theory in her book Fall Down 7 Times, Get up 8; Teaching Kids to Succeed. In the book, Silver explores how educators often unknowingly impact what students believe about their successes or failures. Beginning in the early 1970s, parents and teachers were often told that the best way to build student self-esteem was to “make every kid feel like a winner.” The supposition was that if we helped kids feel good about themselves regardless of their accomplishments, their positive perceptions would translate into better school work. However, effusive praise for work that does not result from significant effort has little positive effect on behavior. It may seem incongruous, but many theorists believe inappropriate praise can do more harm than good.

Debbie will be speaking twice at Ignite ’14. During the Middle Level Viewpoint on Friday, February 7 at 3:45 PM, she will explore what schools must do to ensure that students become the independent, resilient learners they need to be in order to succeed in today’s globalized, digital, Common Core world. Attendees will leave with a better understanding of internal motivation, along with myriad ideas for helping students become lifelong learners.

On Saturday the 8th at 2:15, she will present “The Power of Words—It Is About What You Say!” with a focus on giving feedback that promotes student growth. As a preview of her presentations, enjoy Silver’s article “Freedom to Fall (and Get Up and Succeed)” from the January issue of Principal Leadership.

Upcoming Webcast: Understanding Mindsets: An Interview with Carol Dweck

In her book Mindset, author and researcher Carol Dweck suggests that “we are what we think,” an idea with very real implications for the work of school leaders. As we define and explore the impact of working from “fixed” or “growth” mindsets in our schools, we learn that our mindsets have powerful implications for principal leadership, teacher expectations and practice, school culture, and ultimately, the success of the students we serve.

Join NASSP Professional Development Specialist and former principal Janice Ollarvia and Carol Dweck as they dive deeper into Mindset. Also featured in this program will be Erik Burmeister, California Middle Level Principal of the Year and finalist for MetLife/NASSP National Principal of the Year, who will bring the practitioner’s perspective to the conversation.

During this live, interactive event, you can address questions directly to Carol, chat with other webcast attendees, and expand the conversation on Twitter using the #mindsetchat hashtag. All participants receive a certificate of participation following the webcast.

Title: Understanding Mindsets: An Interview with Carol Dweck
Date: Thursday, January 9, 2013
Time: 3:00–4:00 p.m. ET

Register now!

Upcoming Webinar – Improving Instruction Through Fundamental Change

Join author and national presenter Sean Cain as he kicks off the Ignite ’14 interactive learning experience by discussing instructional practices that make college-ready learning in every classroom a reality.

In this free, one-hour webinar, Cain will provide an overview of the practices identified in his book, The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction. Cain will discuss the synergy created through the execution of the “fundamental five,” which makes the improvement of both the floor and ceiling of student performance a foregone conclusion.

Sean Cain has served as a teacher, assistant principal, high school principal, and state director of innovative school redesign. He is currently the chief idea officer for Lead Your School, a confederation of successful school leaders dedicated to improving student, campus, and district performance.

NASSP invites webinar attendees to continue this conversation on instructional practices during Sean’s “Fundamental Five” session on Friday, February 7, at the NASSP Conference: Ignite ’14 in Dallas, TX.

Title: Improving Instruction Through Fundamental Change
Date: Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Time: 3:30–4:40 p.m. ET

Reserve your virtual seat now!


Upcoming Webinar – Cultivating the Principals Urban Schools Need

Join Glenn Pethel, executive director of leadership development for Gwinnett County (GA) Public Schools, for a webinar sponsored by The Wallace Foundation that will examine how six urban school districts are working to cultivate first-rate principals for their schools.

Until recently, many educators and policy makers overlooked the unique role districts can play to help principals shoulder their central responsibility: improving teaching and learning. However, with new evidence emerging about the importance of school leadership and how it can best be developed, a number of school districts are rethinking their approach to the principal pipeline.

Pethel will be joined by colleagues Michelle Farmer, director of leadership development, and Erin Hahn, coordinator of leadership development, to discuss how school districts funded through The Wallace Foundation’s Principal Pipeline Initiative are working to build a large corps of well-qualified candidates and provide support to school leaders on the job.

This webinar also will review the recent Wallace Foundation report, Districts Matter, Cultivating the Principals Urban Schools Need, which demonstrates how urban school districts can play a major role in ensuring they have principals who can boost teaching and learning in troubled schools.

Webinar compliments of The Wallace Foundation and NASSP.

Date: Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Time: 3:30–4:40 p.m. ET

Reserve your virtual seat now!

Upcoming Webinar – The School Principal as Leader: Guiding Schools to Better Teaching and Learning

Join noted author and Stanford University professor Linda Darling-Hammond for a webinar sponsored by The Wallace Foundation. Darling-Hammond will examine how principals and other school leaders can work directly with teachers and staff to improve instruction and student achievement.

During this webinar, participants will learn strategies to shape a vision for academic success, create a hospitable climate, cultivate leadership, and manage staff data and processes.

Darling-Hammond is the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University and co-director of the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education. She is the author of more than 400 publications, including The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future (2010) and Powerful Teacher Education (2006).

Webinar compliments of The Wallace Foundation and NASSP.

Date: Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Time: 3:30–4:30 p.m. ET

Reserve your virtual seat now!

Happy National Principals Month!

This October, the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) are leading the celebration of National Principals Month to recognize and applaud principals for their vital contribution to our nation’s schools and their students.

National Principals Month is about celebrating the critical role principals play in raising student achievement and improving schools, while also reminding the public of the need for greater support in leadership development to ensure principals have the resources they need to be successful.

Celebrations are happening in schools around the nation, and there are plenty of ways for all to get involved.

A number of high-ranking officials from the US Department of Education (ED) will shadow principals in the Washington, DC area. Principals are encouraged to follow their lead and invite a member of Congress or a state legislator to shadow them for a day to see the work they do first-hand.

NASSP is also urging state principal associations to encourage state elected officials to proclaim October to be National Principals Month.

Students are invited to put their multimedia skills to good use and enter a video contest sponsored by NASSP and SchoolTube. Students create one-to-two minute videos that explain why they love their principal, what their principal means to them, their school and their community, and/or anything else that gives their principal props for their outstanding commitment to education.

NAESP is also sponsoring a contest where students, educators and parents are asked to draw a picture, snap a photo or create a video, song, poem or other form of artwork that celebrates their principal. Entries can be uploaded to NAESP’s Facebook page.

Another great way to show your principal you appreciate all they do is by sending them an e-card.

There is no shortage of other ways to celebrate principals this month, and the National Principals Month website has may additional ideas on how you can join in on the fun with NASSP and NAESP and show principals they are appreciated. Be sure to add your celebrations to the interactive wall on the website.

Remember, the key to student success is a great school, and the key to a great school is a great principal. Happy National Principals Month!