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May 1, 2017
Vol. 74
No. 8

Double Take

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Leadership
School Culture

Online Only

Leadership Blogging

In his blog "A Principal's Reflections", Eric Sheninger shares insights on school leadership, with a focus on creating student-centered, technology-enriched learning environments. Sheninger, senior fellow at the International Center for Leadership in Education and former award-winning principal, posts weekly on topics ranging from getting a "return on instruction" with technology to "idea voodoo." In a recent post, he discussed on-the-ground strategies for giving teachers greater voice, choice, and agency to drive change.

Research Alert

Should More Principals Have Coaches?

Leadership coaching can help principals become more strategic and responsive in their work, according to a research brief from the Consortium for Policy Research in Education.
The brief is based on a randomized study in which 52 middle school principals were divided into two groups—one that received feedback from teachers and one that received coaching in addition to feedback.
The researchers found that the principals in the coaching group gained a greater capacity for self-reflection and strategic focus. The coaching component "helped principals clarify and prioritize issues in their schools, interpret feedback from teachers, and [gain] skills … to enhance their overall leadership," the brief says.
The findings suggest, according to the researchers, that school leaders need support in translating teachers' feedback into positive change—and even in overcoming their own resistance to such input.
At the same time, the study found that coaching had "no noticeable impact on principals' efforts to support teachers' individual instructional development." The researchers say this may be because principals tend to work with teachers in group settings like staff meetings as opposed to providing targeted individual support.
They add that eight to ten coaching sessions over the course of a school year may be sufficient to produce noticeable changes in leadership style and skills.
Changing Principals' Leadership Through Feedback and Coaching is available at www.cpre.org/principalfeedback.

Relevant Read

Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity
by Kim Scott (St. Martin's Press, 2017)
What do Silicon Valley executives and school administrators have in common? For one thing, they both face the dilemma of how to build positive relationships with their colleagues while also providing frank, sometimes critical feedback.
Kim Scott, an executive who has worked for both Google and Apple, writes that these two leadership responsibilities are not in opposition.
Great teams, she writes, are built on trust—and trust requires both personal care and professional challenge. It starts with encouraging everyone who reports to you to bring their whole selves to work. Scott recalls a time early in her career when she complained to a mentor that her employees at a tech start-up expected her to listen to their personal problems. Such "babysitting," she felt, was taking up too much of her time. Her mentor replied, "This is not babysitting. It's called management, and it is your job!"
But trust also requires that leaders provide—and welcome—honest feedback. "It turns out that when people trust you and believe you care about them," Scott writes, "they are much more likely to (1) accept and act on your praise and criticism; (2) tell you what they really think about what you are doing well and, more importantly, not doing so well; (3) engage in this same behavior with one another, meaning less pushing the rock up the hill again and again; (4) embrace their role on the team; and (5) focus on getting results."
With radical candor, Scott shows, an organization can become humane and productive.

Numbers of Note

Principal PD Opportunities

In addition to working 60-hour weeks, 99 percent of regular public school principals report participating in professional development during the school year, according to a U.S. Department of Education report. Some types of PD, however, are more common than others.

Figure

Source: Institute of Education Sciences. (2016). Principals' Time, Tasks, and Professional Development: An Analysis of Schools and Staffing Survey Data.

Screen Grab

Lessons in Leadership

Education Week has released its annual " Leaders to Learn From" report, which includes short video profiles of 14 high-impact education leaders. Here's a sampling:
  • Trise Moore, director of equity and family engagement for Federal Way Public Schools in Washington, explains how she empowers parents to advocate for their children.
  • Walt Griffin and Jeanette Lukens, the superintendent and a school psychologist in Seminole County Public Schools in Florida, discuss how they've diversified the district's gifted program.
  • Bilal Tawwab, superintendent of Flint, Michigan's public schools, describes how his district faced the city's water crisis.
  • Clyde McBride, director of career and technical education in Kayenta Unified School District in Arizona, discusses his agriculture science program to prepare Navajo students for college and careers.

Page Turner

"Every situation is best approached by listening first."
Cathy A. Toll

EL’s experienced team of writers and editors produces Educational Leadership magazine, an award-winning publication that reaches hundreds of thousands of K-12 educators and leaders each year. Our work directly supports the mission of ASCD: To empower educators to achieve excellence in learning, teaching, and leading so that every child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. 

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