Principal, November/December 2010

My Two Cents

Which model for middle schoolers do you think works best? K-8? 6-8? 6-12?

During the last 20 years of being a 6-8 grade middle school principal in Coppell, Texas (suburb of Dallas), I have found that a variety of relationship building activities that pro­mote social growth and responsibility, as well as a curriculum which differentiates learning for our 6th graders transitioning into middle school, has worked best to prepare our 6th graders for healthy mid-level learning experiences. Likewise, our 8th graders have spent three years in the same safe and challenging environment and have developed strong friendships and grown in a variety of leadership opportunities while being engaged in a curriculum that provides many challenging high school and pre-AP classes. The grade 6-8 model has my support.
Vern Edin, Principal, Coppell Middle School West, Coppell, Texas

7-9. I believe that most 6th graders are not ready for middle school. They are still quite immature both physically and emotionally, and they need another year in a self-contained classroom found in most elementary schools. Additionally, the same argument could be made for 9th graders, many of whom are not mature enough for the typical American high school setting.
David Sherman, Principal, South Park Elementary School, Deerfield, Illinois

Read more responses—and submit your own—by visiting the Principals’ Office. click on “My Two Cents.”

Research Digest

Technology in the Classroom
"Educators, Technology and 21st Century Skills: Dispelling Five Myths,” debunks what it labels as five common misperceptions about the role of technology in today’s classrooms. Based on a survey of more than 783 K-12 teachers and 274 K-12 principals and assistant principals, the report finds that principals and assistant principals are strong proponents of technol­ogy use and most are cognizant of the connection between technology in the classroom and the development of 21st century skills.

One of the five myths refuted in the report, commissioned by Walden University’s College of Education and Leadership, is the notion that princi­pals and teachers share an understanding about the role technology plays in the classroom. The report finds that principals and assistant principals strongly support integrating technology into school curricula, and that prin­cipals believe teachers are also supportive of using technology. But the survey finds that teachers are not as supportive of using technology as principals believe they are. The survey also finds a disconnect between prin­cipals’ and teachers’ views on why classroom technology use is limited. Forty-nine percent of teachers say the reason they do not use technol­ogy is because it is not necessary for their lessons, whereas only 27 percent of principals say this is the main reason. Principals say limited access to new technologies is a big reason why technology use in classrooms is limited, but a small percentage of teachers agree with this assessment.

To remedy the disconnect between principals’ and teachers’ views on technology use in the classroom, and to increase technology’s educational benefits to students, the report makes several recommendations. For exam­ple, one of the reasons teachers do not use technology as much as their principals would like is that teachers report feeling unprepared to inte­grate technology into classroom instruction. Teachers place a high value on advanced technology train­ing programs, and the report recom­mends that principals provide teach­ers with job-embedded professional development to help them learn and practice strategies for using tech­nology in the classroom. The report also suggests that principals spend time in classrooms to get a better understanding of how teachers are integrating technology and using it to develop 21st century skills in their students.

Promising Practices

For the past 10 years, our music teacher has invited community members to join the school chorus for several months in the spring. Eight to 10 community members, primar­ily senior citizens, join the students each year. After four to six weeks of rehearsal, the chorus goes out into the community to perform at area nursing homes, senior centers, and area elementary schools. We sell a CD of one of their performances to help fund their trips. The choir celebrates with a lunch for all its members.
Michael E. Friel, Principal, Oak Grove School, Brattleooro, Vermont

At each monthly leadership team meeting, teachers share decisions and actions they had taken to influence the work of others and the work of the school. This allows time for each teacher leader to reflect on his/her actions and make visible the challenges the grade level or department faces. If the problem continues, the other team members assist and support their colleague in resolving it.
Carmielita A. Minami, Principal, Waikele Elementary School, Waipahu, Hawaii

Learn more promising practices at

National Board Certification Program Update

Success stories are beginning to emerge from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) regarding its Take One! program. The program can be used as stand-alone professional development for the entire faculty in a building— not just those seeking National Board Certification.

Through the Take One! program, teachers and principals can build professional learning communities to collaborate in advancing student success by:

  • Developing and demonstrating content knowledge and effective pedagogy;
  • Using video to analyze and reflect on practice in subject and developmental areas based on the NBPTS standards;
  • Working collaboratively with a com­mon language based on the NBPTS Standards and Core Propositions;
  • Analyzing student work on multiple levels to focus instruction more effectively; and
  • Using assessment tools and student data to positively impact learning.

Program development is progress­ing for the National Board Certifica­tion for Principals, the first national certification program focused on principals. The principal certification program is the first phase of an expanded umbrella program, National Board Certification for Educational Leaders, which not only creates standards and an assessment process for principals, but also lays the groundwork for a new educator-leadership initiative for assistant principals, teachers, and other school-based educators who positively impact the culture of learning in schools. Sign up to receive updates of the program’s progress at

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