Snapshots: November/December 2013

Principal, November/December 2013

Fast Fact

First-graders below grade level in reading or math are twice as likely to go on to drop out of high school
Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University


My Two Cents

During your busiest school weeks, how do you recharge?

My favorite way to recharge is to take a long weekend and travel somewhere I haven’t been before. My goal is to visit all 50 states in my lifetime.
Sarah J. Hengst, principal of John Paul II Catholic School, Houston, Texas

Laugh! Get together with friends and share funny stories. Humor allows me to relax. Levity is key to the role of an administrator.
Ericka Guynes, principal of Earl Boyles Elementary School, Portland, Oregon

I start out each day with an All-School Assembly. It’s my selfish time with students and staff. I get to teach/present/lead, which always gets my motor revved up!

—Rod Garman, principal of North Fairview Elementary School, Topeka, Kansas

Read more responses—and submit your own—by visiting the Principal's Office Blog at Click on My Two Cents.


Research Report: Five Effective Principles of PD

Professional development should be job-embedded, but time is a big barrier.

The Common Core State Standards challenge schools to reframe learning with more critical thinking and problem-solving. To help teachers meet those demands, though, principals need to employ critical thinking, too. A new study shows that professional development for teachers is falling short.

In “Teaching the Teachers: Effective Professional Development in an Era of High Stakes Accountability,” the Center for Public Education and the National School Boards Association aggregated data from dozens of studies to uncover the tenets of effective professional development. Though 90 percent of teach­ers participate in workshop-style training, these one-off sessions don’t support teachers during the steepest part of a learning curve: implementation.

Instead, professional development should occur over time, and in an ongoing manner through coaching. Studies show that effective professional devel­opment programs require anywhere from 50 to 80 hours of instruction, practice, and coaching before teach­ers arrive at mastery.

The report outlines five principles of effective professional development:

  • Sessions have a significant duration and the process is ongoing. This allows time for teachers to learn new strategies and grapple with implementation.
  • There is support for a teacher dur­ing the implementation stage that addresses the specific challenges of changing classroom practice.
  • Sessions and activities are active, not passive. Teachers should be actively engaged to make sense of new practices.
  • The professional development process uses modeling, a strategy found to be highly effective in helping teachers understand a new practice.
  • The content is discipline- or grade-level specific, rather than generic.

The report also outlines the dual role that teachers play as technicians and as intellectuals. As technicians, teachers must implement specific, research-based skills. Workshops that explain the skills and provide coach­ing to transfer the skills to the class­room support this. As intellectuals, teachers examine broader strategies and then develop innovative class­room approaches to support those. Professional learning communities support teachers in this role.

It may come as no surprise to prin­cipals that time, according to the report, is the largest cost of effective professional development. An ideal structure for ongoing professional development is to provide teachers with time embedded in the school day—three to four hours a week for collaboration and coaching. The report, unfortunately, doesn’t reveal new ways for schools to squeeze in this time, beyond holding after-school sessions or carving out time during the week by covering classes with substitutes. Instead, it challenges districts to reconsider models, noting that effective professional learning doesn’t have to cost more—it requires juggling schedules.

Read the full report here:


Read All About It

What NAESP’s Facebook and Twitter fans are reading…


Peter Carpenter: Boundaries for Leaders by Henry Cloud
“Really terrific. He has a great way with words.”

Jill Lliteras: Focus by Mike Schmoker
“For the third time!”

Kevin O’Connor: Teaching Tolerance magazine.
“Not a book, but one of the most consistently worthwhile, regular resources available.”


CATHY KOOS (@CKOOS1): The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller

CHRISTINA DILLARD (@CALIFORNIAED411): Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J. Ratey

Member Spotlight: Mary Evans


Energizing Students Through Positive School Culture

Member since: 2009
Position: Principal, Cumberland Trace Elemen­tary School, Bowling Green, Kentucky
School mission: “Learning as much as we can to be the best that we can.”
School culture best practice: Over 400 pre-K-6 grade students at Cumberland Trace Elementary begin every single day with dancing, cheering, and encourage­ment at Schoolwide Morning Meetings. Greeted by kid-friendly tunes, students share achievements, announcements, and random acts of kindness.“It is a time to sing, dance, recognize achievements, encourage each other, see the value of working together, and feel good about being a student in a supportive community of learners,” says Evans, who’s been prin­cipal here for 17 years. “Our Morning Meeting is a positive affirmation that school is a place where everyone mat­ters. Students leave the Morning Meet­ing singing a lively song, congratulating their peers who were recognized that morning, and ready to start a new day of learning.”


Principal is Now Digital

iPad devotees, get ready: Principal has gone digital! Reading the magazine in the way that works for you just got that much simpler. The new digital edition is easy to read, searchable, and even bookmarkable. NAESP members will continue to receive the print edition, which will still be available on the NAESP website with printable PDFs.


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