Monthly Archives: February 2014

Being a Student Driven Principal

The suggestion of a blog post this week through the #SAVMP group has an awesome title!  We all have our strengths and weaknesses as school leaders, but when I was blessed to do that work, I felt this was something I always tried to keep in mind AND demonstrate each day.  It’s important to note that I believe everyone who is an educator (by my definition anyone working in learning institutions at various different roles who impact learning of students) has a desire to see each student learn.  Sometimes, we all have to be reminded, though, including me.  I didn’t expect during my time preparing as a principal how easy it would be to forget to be mindful of being student driven in all decisions, when sometimes getting overwhelmed by the day to day happenings as a brand new administrator.  However, as I reflected regularly on my practice, I continued to come back to the idea that as a school leader, it is vital to be the example of being “student driven.”  Below is a list of some of the ways I tried to do this in various venues.

1. Observations of student learning – that title is intentional.  We often say “observations of teaching.”  But really, student learning, driven by the facilitiation of a lesson, should be the focus.  In a post-observation conference, whether it be with new or experienced teachers, I ask how they know that the students learned what they needed to learn and how the students demonstrated that to the teacher.  Also, during the observation, I ask students who may appear to be less engaged what they are learning.

2. Interacting with students in common areas – A step beyond just being visible: Talking to students in hallways, cafeterias, extra curricular activities, community events, etc. This helps you get to know them beyond the classroom student, but even more so, it sets an example for a culture of appropriate interaction between education professionals and students outside of the classroom area.

3. Instructive discipine procedures – beyond punishment: It’s important for students to feel the consequences of their behavior; it’s how they learn the difference between good choices and not-so-good choices.  However, there needs to be instruction (this is where the admin who love to teach still get to do so) to help the students know how to make better choices the next time.


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Perking up PD

This week in the Teacher’s Edition (the U.S. Dept of Education weekly update), I saw a quote pertaining to the topic of PD.  It said, “Just as teachers personalize learning for our students, principals and coaches need to identify what teachers need… [and where] they want to grow.” (Teacher, Ohio). 

In addition, in a recent post on Connected Principals from jjohnson, this appeared:

“What I am learning about professional development is:
1. It must include differentiation for staff
2. It must include deep reflection”

When I was preparing to be a principal long ago, I remember talking about providing relevant PD, but I never expected what the term “relevant” would really mean.  I’ve seen the following over the years that I would consider to be good practices in differentiating PD.  Consider the list below as some ideas. 

– time of day: At one of the schools where I was an administrator, we offered many faculty meetings and other PD session in the morning AND after school.  Many of our dedicated staff had young children to drop off in the AM or older children participating in activities after school, and the flexibility was really appreciated by many.

– topic: many school leaders I know have created questionairres for staff around the PD they a) want, and b) need.

– intensity: there are many inservice teachers who would report having a “brush up” in classroom management techniques.  However, there may be teachers on the staff who need a more intense and immediate PD session or two.

– encourage the development of PLNs on twitter and other social media.


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