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June 2010, Volume 33, Number 10

How to Foster Change When Change Is Hard

That’s the topic addressed in the latest segment of NAESP Radio. Host Gail Connelly interviews best-selling author Chip Heath, whose latest book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, examines the intrinsic conflict between what he labels the rational mind and the emotional mind and how this conflict acts as the primary obstacle to change. “We’re all a little schizophrenic about change,” Heath says. “We may know intellectually and analytically that we need to change, but there’s a big part of our brains that responds emotionally and responds emotionally to liking the comfort of the existing routine.”
In the interview, Heath discusses how principals are in an optimal position to change the culture of the schools they lead and to encourage their staff members to treat change as a gradual process that is not without ups and downs. “Cultures that embrace change as a process are more effective, and part of change is that there are going to be setbacks, there are going to be hard times,” he explains.
Heath also says that in order to break patterns of ineffective behavior, individuals must stop focusing on problems and how to solve them and instead focus on successes and how to replicate them.
“In a school setting, even in times of struggle, there are places where things are going right,” he says. “The lesson for all of us is: By breaking down what’s succeeding, we’re going to find insights that allow us to succeed more often.”
The point of this approach, Heath explains, is that focusing on successes appeals to individuals’ emotions and inspires them to work harder to foster and maintain change. “Don’t speak to people just analytically when there’s a change that needs to be made. You have to reach their emotion.”
Listen to the full interview as Heath discusses why change is achievable for everyone and gives concrete examples of how teachers have used innovative methods to bring change into their classrooms.
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Principals’ Buyers Guide: A Hidden Gem of Membership

It’s a virtual exhibit hall all year long, plus a lot more. It’s also more than just a list of companies.
The NAESP Principals’ Buyers Guide is your one-stop place online to find the products and companies that can supply your school’s needs. You can follow up on and learn more about a company you saw in the exhibit hall at NAESP’s 2010 convention in Houston and also learn about others that weren’t able to attend this year.
The Principals’ Buyers Guide organizes 500 companies into 11 categories of service need, ranging from audiovisual to school equipment and supplies. You can search by company name or obtain a list of suppliers for a particular need. If you need to dig deeper, links go directly to company Web sites, and full contact information is provided, including a quick way to send an e-mail query to each company.
Be sure to explore this hidden gem of membership. It’s a benefit you will use again and again.
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Free Mentoring Program for RTI Leaders

The RTI Action Network is offering NAESP members a chance to participate in a free year of its Leadership Network, which was created to support district and building leaders in the effective implementation of response to intervention. Designed to accommodate busy educators with full schedules, the Leadership Network will provide important guidance on how to proceed to get results for improved student achievement.
The Leadership Network will support school leaders at any stage of RTI implementation. Members of the network receive mentoring from an experienced RTI implementer, free resources such as monthly tips and a subscription to a monthly newsletter, involvement in an online community, and much more.
During the 2010-2011 school year, the RTI Action Network will be offering this opportunity to 250 building and district leaders, free of charge. Membership is limited and the application process closes July 30, 2010, so sign up today!
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What’s Your Story? The Nation Needs to Know

During the past year, NAESP’s advocacy efforts on behalf of elementary and middle-level principals have intensified, keeping pace with the current high-stakes “reform” era in education characterized by measures that often seem draconian.
Last month, we invited members to tell us how they have been affected by the overall school improvement debate, the four turnaround models that result in the dismissal of principals, the movement to adopt common standards, the proposal to connect Title I funds to the adoption of Common Core State Standards, and so on.
The responses we received provided insight into how federal policies and discussions in Washington affect principals in the field, and they provided our advocacy team with valuable information. “Common core standards are positive, as long as there is flexibility in how they are taught,” said a principal from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. “We need to teach deeper, not wider, so the standards need to be narrowed so that teaching is not just skimming the surface but going deep so students can learn the processes and skills which can be transferred to other areas of learning.”
Respondents expressed their views on a variety of topics and shared anecdotes from their own buildings. “The turnaround models have done nothing to improve teaching and learning other than contribute to the stress levels in schools,” said a principal from Carrington, North Dakota. “The added stress has been an unhealthy thing for staff and students as well as parents.”
As talks for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act heat up in the coming months, we want to hear more so that we can continue to share principals’ stories in meetings with Education Secretary Arne Duncan, in the halls of Congress, in coalitions of national associations, and on the pages of NAESP’s publications. Our goal is very simple: to make sure the voices of K-8 principals are heard loud and clear in school improvement debates.
Visit “What’s Your Story?” and tell us how you have been affected by the school improvement debate.
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See Your Name and Story in Print

If you’ve ever thought “I could write a book,” now is the time to write it!
The NAESP Foundation, in cooperation with Charlesbridge Publishing, invites you to participate in its Children’s Book of the Year Contest
This is a perfect opportunity to put your manuscript into the hands of a nationally known publisher. Picture and chapter books written for children from 3 to 16 years of age will be considered. Five picture-book finalists and five chapter-book finalists will be chosen, and one winner’s book from each category will be published. Manuscripts will be selected for creativity, storyline, and originality.
The deadline for submitting manuscripts is Feb. 15, 2011, so you have plenty of time this summer to get your manuscript together and submit it in the fall. Learn more about the contest and download an entry form.
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Success Starts With Reading

The Annie E. Casey Foundation is focusing attention on the critical importance of achieving grade-level reading proficiency for all children by the end of third grade, and its special KIDS COUNT report, Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters, introduces the Casey Foundation’s call for a renewed emphasis on reading success.
“Until third grade, children are learning to read. After third grade, they also are reading to learn. When kids are not reading by fourth grade, they almost certainly get on a glide path to poverty,” said Ralph Smith, executive vice president of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “Poor reading test scores are profoundly disappointing to all of us who see school success and high school graduation as beacons in the battle against intergenerational poverty.”
Two out of every three fourth graders are not proficient in reading according to the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress. Worse, four of five fourth graders from low-income families are also not proficient in reading. The failure to help children from low-income families reach this milestone cements educational failure and poverty into the next generation. The ability to read is central to a child’s success in school, lifelong earning potential, and the ability to contribute to the nation’s economy and its security.
Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters has identified four steps to close the gap and raise the bar:
  1. Develop a coherent system of early care and education that aligns, integrates, and coordinates what happens from birth through third grade so children are ready to take on the learning tasks associated with fourth grade and beyond.
  2. Encourage and enable parents, families, and caregivers to play their indispensable roles as co-producers of good outcomes for their children.
  3. Prioritize, support, and invest in results-driven initiatives to transform low-performing schools into high-quality teaching and learning environments in which all children, including those from low-income families and high-poverty neighborhoods, are present, engaged, and educated to high standards. 
  4. Develop and use solutions to two of the most significant contributors to the under-achievement of children from low-income families—chronic absence from school and summer learning loss.
NAESP is an outreach partner of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Read more details about the KIDS COUNT report.
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President’s Perspective: Your Stories, Your Messages, Your Impact

My year as president has been about you! Read more.
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Federal Report: NAESP Members Testify Before Congress About ESEA

Since April, the congressional education committees have been holding hearings on various topics surrounding ESEA, and two NAESP members were invited to testify on different panels to discuss the role of the principal in reform and instructional leadership. Read more.
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Mentor Center: Seeking Tips for the Hiring Process

Our Mentor Center principal seeks your best practices for interviewing and hiring new staff members, especially when you’re flooded with candidates. Read more.
Copyright © 2010. National Association of Elementary School Principals. No part of the articles in NAESP magazines, newsletters, or Web site may be reproduced in any medium without the permission of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. For more information, view NAESP's reprint policy.