My last post, I spoke of 2012-13 school year being my leap year. This year 2013-14 I made the transition from Assistant Principal to Principal. With alot of hard work, prayer and staying abreast of current trends in school and instructional leadership has finally paid off. Read more here. Roxboro is in Person county,a small district about 30 miles from Durham,NC. It was a 3 year quest that was full of hard challenges,happy celebrations, difficult conversations and courageous decision-making. My last year as an assistant Principal was focused on high-level teaching & learning for students and teachers. Professional development and honest feedback helped solidified my my vision of school leadership. I also had some Principal preparation training that was very beneficial. Slla practice exam also helped. If you are just starting your journey to school leadership, I got good news for you. I’m gonna tell you how I did it in the hopes that you can get some take aways and make the leap yourself>
It’s a different view from the Principal’s desk! Stay tuned.
2nd Qtr assessments are in and there’s some data to go through. What I’m looking for here are trends in student performance and item analysis. Conversations with teachers are centered on What instructional strategies were being used and what do we need to do differently to get better results. The district is pushing the research-based strategy of Summarizing to improve literacy. Our 4th grade teachers have been trained, and I am monitoring it’s implementation. There’s also information about focusing on the “Tested 7”. Seven Reading Comprehension Strategies?
1. Activating background knowledge to make connections between new and known information. In many classrooms, this instruction is divided into three categories of connection as defined by Colleen Buddy – text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world (Buddy quoted in Keene and Zimmerman, 2007).
2. Questioning the text. Proficient readers are always asking questions while they read. Sticky notes (post-its) have become ubiquitous in classrooms in part because they are such a useful tool for teaching students to stop, mark text, and note questions as they read.
3. Drawing inferences. Proficient readers use their prior knowledge about a topic and the information they have gleaned in the text thus far to make predictions about what might happen next. When teachers demonstrate or model their reading processes for students through think-alouds, they often stop and predict what will happen next to show how inferring is essential for comprehending text.
4. Determining importance. In the sea of words that is any text, readers must continually sort through and prioritize information. Teachers often assist readers in analyzing everything from text features in nonfiction text like bullets and headings, to verbal cues in novels like strong verbs. Looking for these clues can help readers sift through the relative value of different bits of information in texts.
5. Creating mental images. Readers are constantly creating mind pictures as they read, visualizing action, characters, or themes. Teachers are using picture books with students of all ages, not necessarily because they are easy to read, but because the lush and sophisticated art in these books can be a great bridge for helping students see how words and images connect in meaning-making.
6. Repairing understanding when meaning breaks down. Proficient readers don’t just plow ahead through text when it doesn’t make sense – they stop and use “fix-up” strategies to restore their understanding. One of the most important fix-up tools is rereading, with teachers demonstrating to students a variety of ways to reread text in order to repair meaning.
7. Synthesizing information. Synthesis is the most sophisticated of the comprehension strategies, combining elements of connecting, questioning, and inferring. With this strategy, students move from making meaning of the text, to integrating their new understanding into their lives and world view.
Starting my 3rd year as a Assistant Principal, I want this to be my leap year. I’ve had two solid years demonstrating, instructional leadership and increasing student achievement. We set and met a goal of 80% proficiency on state assessments. I continue to build and grow relationships with teachers, students, parents and community partners. The new common core curriculum is a win-win for students and teachers. I’m feeling more confident about leading in an era of Next Generation Assessments. Careful analysis of the data continues to drive instruction and make teaching and learning more relevant.
Our 4th qtr end of grading testing results indicate 80+ % of our 3rd, 4th and 5th graders are proficient. That may not be a big deal to some school leaders, but it is to us. We are a urban magnet school with 80+ percent of our student receiving free or reduced lunch. What we just accomplished kills the notion that poor students cannot learn. What it took was innovative teaching & learning combined with focused leadership, dedication and high expectations for all. Now we begin a new quest, The Common Core. I am excited as this will include more rigor and relevance. We will also implement a heavy dose of tech integration, to promote and demonstrate those higher order thinking skills. Sorry for the delay in post, but I will try to update more frequently. A lot going on, you know I’m sure. Feel free to leave a comment!
Spring break is here, and the testing season is upon us. We’ve had several things to celebrate, but now comes the final test. Doesn’t matter how many awards you’ve won, or how many visitors from other schools who’ve came to see what it is your doing. According to our quarterly assessments, we are about 68-70% proficient in our testing grades of 3rd-5th. Our goal started out as 80%, but we recently adjusted that goal higher? We are getting started early in our test prep, and have instituted a new strategy. I will tell you how successful this strategy is, when we get our final results in 7 weeks. On a brighter note we did win a National award for Urban Schools. You can read more about it here. We have a Ipad cart of 20 Ipads, which the students are really excited about. I am researching the effectiveness on student achievement, by how often they are used by teachers, students and the use of certain applications. I am also continuing to strengthen my skills as a Instructional Leader. I attended the ASCD conference in Philly last week, and returned with some new skills and strategies I plan on implementing at RN Harris. Lastly, in whatever free time I have left, I am developing some new mobile applications that hopefully increase student engagement with literacy. I will keep you posted.
Halfway point of my 2nd yr. as a school admin, what have I learned so far?
1.Say what you mean, mean what you say and follow through with what you expect.
This is for managing & coaching teachers and staff, communicate up front your expectations, get buy in and have accountability with implementation and outcomes.
2. Update staff regularly on routine polices and procedures. One slip up or mistake can be costly.
3. Students need authentic, engaging instruction. Continuous PD with teachers will help achieve this goal
4. Have a set of Non-negotiables, everyday in relation to instruction, teaching and learning. Research-based strategies that are proven to increase student learning and achievement.
5. Celebrate & acknowledge your staff’s & student’s successes daily. Let them know that you appreciate their hard work & effort.
Our goal is 80% or higher proficiency and high growth for our students. Halfway point data dig in next post!
Leadership Excellence Award to R.N. Harris administrative team that achieved the highest percentage of Scorecard Growth Goals for 2010-11. The school received a check from the Business Advisory Council for $2,500 for leadership development.
Pictured:R.N Harris Elementary Integrated Arts and Core Knowledge Magnet Elementary School, with Principal Carolyn Pugh and Assistant Principal Adriese Williams.
Harris surpassed all but one of their growth goals in reading and math, made High Growth on the ABCs and met 100% of their AYP goals. RN Harris’s overall percentage of goals met was 70.8 percent. Read more here
School is in full swing, and teachers and students are settling into routines. Our district is using the AFL framework (Assessment for Learning) which helps helps teachers and administrators monitor & track student achievement. PLC‘s are a big part of AFL, so I decided to share two PLC meetings conducted this week to give some insight and gather some feedback. You will hear our Instructional Facilitator, Catherine Long, our 4th, 3rd Grade Teachers ,EC Teacher and myself. Ms.Pugh is our Principal at RN Harris.