Today I had the opportunity to visit some local schools. After talking at length to Rochelle, who is a deputy principal in a small school in Queenland, I immediately recognized the impact of the power of the principal. In Queenland, schools with more than 150 students receive deputy principals. There have been many changes in the leadership at Rochelle's school of 400 students. As a result, programs and attitudes are taking a positive turn at the school. Rochelle is hoping the school continues to progress throughout the leadership transition.
I also met Jenine, who is a deputy principal at a large school of 1,000 in Brisbane. At her school, there are three deputies, a head principal, and a curriculum director. The staff also includes ESL teachers and assistants for the students who speak native languages. The student population is made up of many ethnicities, including a large Asian population. Though students are very successful on state tests, as a whole, Queenland has not performed as well as other states. Australia is looking to combine state curricula into one country curriculum. Does that sound familiar? Government officials from each state would help determine the country curriculum. It really is a small world!
I think I am finally adjusting to the time change; Australia is a day ahead of the U.S. We lost a day coming, but will gain it back on the return trip. I am fascinated that we have traveled so far and still hear English spoken everywhere. It’s like we never left the country, except everything is in metrics and you hear “proper” English. I was excited to find that Australians look and dress like Westerners and that there are many Pacific Islanders and Asians who live here.
People here are friendly and know immediately that you are an American. I’ve talked to many educators who have traveled to the states and have relatives and friends who live in America. One principal told me she taught one year in North Carolina as part of an exchange program, and that she made life-long friends there. I invited her to our convention in Houston. My hostess, Janice, is a principal from Canberra. I found out that her brother is a professor in Columbus, Ohio—it really is a small world!
While Diane is taking a personal trip to Australia, she agreed to represent NAESP and elementary and middle-level principals at key meetings and events, and to share her observations.
This week I attended the 2009 Australian Primary Principals Association (APPA) Conference. The APPA is the national professional association for primary schools in Australia. I’m here to participate on a panel with educators from the UK, Canada, and New Zealand.
The conference began Tuesday evening with a spectacular opening ceremony that featured hundreds of elementary students who sang, danced, and recited to surfing tunes as well as to a Michael Jackson song, “We are the World.”
The program also featured a solo by an Aborigine and accompanist who played a native instrument. Her Excellency Ms. Quentin Bryce AC, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia addressed the delegation as did the Minister for Education and Training Geoff Wilson, who represents Queenland in Parliament.
As I travel this year in my role as NAESP president, I’ll be checking in with you, right here on the Principals’ Office blog. To keep you in the loop, I’ll be updating the “Where’s Diane?” blog to share with you all that I learn as I represent NAESP, you, and your fellow elementary and middle-level principals.
Stay tuned … my first stop is Australia!
Take a break from your normal routine tonight and watch The Principal Story, a PBS documentary that chronicles the challenges principals face in turning around low-performing public schools and raising student achievement. Supported by The Wallace Foundation in partnership with NAESP, the show will air on PBS stations tonight; check local listings at www.pbs.org/pov.
You can record this documentary to show in your school or you can borrow the film for free by registering at www.amdoc.org/outreach/events/.
Here are tips on how to use the documentary to tell your story, including discussion prompts to use with students, community members, principals and other educators, and the media.
Never been to a convention in Houston? No problem. Here are the top 10 reasons why you should make a beeline to NAESP’s 89th Annual Convention and Exposition, which is being held in Houston, April 8-11, 2010.
- NAESP’s convention is the choice meeting for pre-K-8 principals to learn, share, and get re-energized. Nowhere else will you find thousands of like-minded leaders who are committed to making our nation’s schools better.
- Houston is a world-class city, the fourth largest in the United States, with a robust economy, diverse population, and thriving cultural scene.
- The convention features top notch general session speakers: Christopher Gardner, author of The Pursuit of Happyness; Marlee Matlin, award-winning actress and advocate for the disabled; and Greg Mortenson, co-author of the New York Times best-seller Three Cups of Tea.
- Enriching professional development in the form of 3-hour workshops and pre-convention workshops can earn you valuable PDUs.
- Concurrent sessions on topics that will help you lead effective learning communities.
- The Bayou City is known for its eclectic mix of cuisines. Prepare to loosen your belts as you dine on barbecue, Tex-Mex, soul food, Gulf Coast seafood, Cajun and Creole favorites, and a Texas steak.
- Space Center Houston welcomes visitors interested in exploring the nation’s space flight activities.
- Get a little sun at Galveston Beach, less than an hour away.
- Make a lasting impression on Houston schools by participating in NAESP’s Service Day.
- You can save on convention registration and housing with early bird rates—Offer Ends Sept. 30 Use the $100 you’ll save to bring another team member. Teams of three or more members register for just $130 per person!
Visit www.naesp.org/2010 to register and to learn more about the latest happenings before, during, and after the convention. You don’t want to miss this dynamic event that has been developed just for you.
A U.S. Government Accountability Office study on the use of seclusion and restraint in schools reported hundreds of allegations that children have been abused, and some even died, as a result of inappropriate uses of these practices. Further, the GAO study claimed that the practices were used disproportionately on children with disabilities.
To provide additional insight to principals, Principal featured an article summarizing key points and recommendations made by the Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders about proper use of seclusion and restraint practices to help students who have lost control and are endangering themselves, other students, teachers, and staff.
How do you handle these situations at your school? What do you think of seclusion and restraint policies and practices?
In the Speaking Out article published in the September/October issue of Principal magazine, author Tamera Moore, an assistant principal in North Carolina, raises concerns about the inconsistency of the assistant principal’s role from one school to another. “I believe establishing more uniformity among our positions, especially within the same district, would increase productivity and establish more consistent norms,” Moore writes.
Is this feasible given the differences between the needs of various schools? What are the specific responsibilities of the assistant principal in your school? It would be interesting to read your responses about how the role differs from school to school and state to state.
In the September/October issue of Principal magazine, we asked principals to respond to the following My Two Cents question: How has the recession affected your students and staff in your school. Here are a few responses we received:
Teachers and support staff are feeling the effects of the recession and are looking at additional ways to earn income to make ends meet. Last year, we had more teacher applicants for the summer school program than any previous three years combined. Students, on the other hand, have been affected as their parents/guardians are faced with cutbacks and, ultimately, layoffs. We noticed an increase in outbursts that were not as significant at the start of last school year, possibly due to the added stresses in the home environment.
Robb Malay, PrincipalMachananao Elementary SchoolYigo, Guam
Recession impacts everyone—schools as well as businesses. As one would expect, we see more multifamily homes and increases in free and reduced-price lunches. Enrichment activities, such as field trips, are being limited or eliminated. Teachers are also impacted, as teaching positions have been eliminated due to budget cuts resulting in class size increases, which impacts student achievement.
Phyllis Jones, PrincipalBaker Elementary SchoolAcworth, Georgia
Have you noticed a change in your faculty and students that can be attributed to the current state of the economy?
The beginning of the school year marks the end of our summer hiatus on the Principals’ Office, so as you prepare for the new year we are standing by to begin discussions on such topics as restraint and seclusion, H1N1 flu, NAESP’s new initiatives, the issues that keep principals up at night, and much more. We also plan to launch a new blog series featuring NAESP President Diane Cargile.