Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Principal Submits... Observations from the Perfect Dysfunctional Storm - Point #7

The following is the last of a multi-point field report from a LYS Principal.

SC,

A truly, student-centered principal who wants to improve instruction and learning must manage the following truth. 

Removing bad teachers in an acceptable school is a matter of constant visibility and broken record communication.  This will likely wear out the weak teachers who will either improve or leave.  Use growth plans and directives to address severe issues, such as no instruction.  I have yet to find a teacher who will defend another teacher who refuses to teach at all.  Teachers engaging in no instruction are easy targets with little repercussion for the principal.  Removing them builds confidence and support among the teachers who do their jobs.

SC Response
I learned early in my career that if you want to improve staff morale, remove the slackers on the campus (and yes, everyone knows who they are at every school).  To not do so, makes a fool out of every teacher who is shouldering more than their fair share of the load.  Your staff may not publically support you, but behind closed doors, everyone wants leadership to do their job and remove the people that make their jobs more difficult. 

Think. Work. Achieve.
Your turn...

  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on Amazon.com!  http://tinyurl.com/Fundamental5 
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Timer (Fundamental 5 Delivery Tool); PowerWalks CLC (Networked Formative Observation Tool) 
  • Upcoming Presentations: Illinois ASCD Fall Conference (Multiple Presentations), Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association Fall AP Conference, The Fundamental 5 National Summit (Multiple Presentations) 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Principal Submits... Observations From the Perfect Dysfunctional Storm - Point #6

The following is the sixth of a multi-point field report from a LYS Principal.

SC,

Once a school has decent optics (see Point #2 from 7/16/15) and gets one student over the minimum accountability requirement (see Point #3 from 7/21/15), the use of growth plans and directives is likely to rapidly exceed the pushback tolerance level in many districts.  If these ultimate weapons of mass destruction must be used, use them sparingly.

SC Response
The use of growth plans and directives are the tools of last resort, or worse, hacks.  Anyone can come in and issue commands with the threat of firing.  But I have found that very few educators are purposefully ineffective. The number is less than five and interestingly, all were union members (but this IS NOT a reflection of teacher union membership).

With this being the case, clear expectations, coaching, observation, and feedback are the practices that support rapid and continuous improvement.  This is what I advocate for and coach the school leaders I work with to do.  To do anything else is counterproductive.  

But surprisingly, this highly effective course of action flies below the radar.  This was driven home when Former Secretary of Education, Dr. Rod Paige pointed out that of the major schools improvement organizations across the country, LYS is by far the least disruptive.  For us (LYS), scorched earth tactics are an option that we have never had to exercise, even after our competition had given up.   

Think. Work. Achieve.
Your turn...

  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on Amazon.com!  http://tinyurl.com/Fundamental5 
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Timer (Fundamental 5 Delivery Tool); PowerWalks CLC (Networked Formative Observation Tool) 
  • Upcoming Presentations: Illinois ASCD Fall Conference (Multiple Presentations), Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association Fall AP Conference, The Fundamental 5 National Summit (Multiple Presentations) 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Monday, July 27, 2015

Top LYS Tweets From the Week of July 19, 2015

If you are not following @LYSNation on Twitter, then you missed the Top 10 LYS Tweets from the week of July 19, 2015 when they were first posted.  And if you are on Twitter, you might want to check out the Tweeters who made this week’s list.

1. Congratulations to LYSer, Dalia Benavides! She is the new Superintendent in Culberson County-Alamore ISD!! Who will be next? (By @LYSNation)

2. Congratulations to Old School LYSer, Doug Killian! Region 13 Superintendent of the Year!!! (By @LYSNation)

3. Congratulations to Old School LYSer, Dr. Mike Seabolt! He is the new Superintendent in Marlin ISD!! Who will be next? (By @LYSNation)

4. “Education is not – nor has it ever been – a problem.  Education is always an opportunity.” (By @DrRichAllen)

5. Vouchers--and all their deceptive policy disguises--turn education into a private commodity bought only by people who can afford it. (By @pastors4txkids)

6. Visiting good classrooms helps you to imagine what's possible - Lucy Caulkins (By @rbohlman_dasd)

7. People labeled "smart" at a young age are less likely to challenge themselves later in life. (By @TheAtlantic)

8. Private religious education is a voluntary and protected civil liberty. It does not need and should not want public tax support. (By @pastors4txkids)

9. Preparation creates opportunity. (By @josephgrenny)

10. I'll take Wikipedia over a textbook every single time... (By @justintarte)

Think. Work. Achieve.
Your turn...

  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on Amazon.com!  http://tinyurl.com/Fundamental5 
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Timer (Fundamental 5 Delivery Tool); PowerWalks CLC (Networked Formative Observation Tool) 
  • Upcoming Presentations: Illinois ASCD Fall Conference (Multiple Presentations), Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association Fall AP Conference, The Fundamental 5 National Summit (Multiple Presentations) 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Principal Submits... Observations From the Perfect Dysfunctional Storm - Point #5

The following is the fifth of a multi-point field report from a LYS Principal.

SC,

The principal who wants the most for her students must realize that no one else is as motivated as she is, once the school is perceived as being successful and the minimum requirements of accountability are met. 

Most of the world, including central office, only becomes concerned with instruction and learning if the school makes the paper by missing accountability standards. I have observed that in far too many schools and school districts, once minimum standards are met, most educators just want to be left alone.

SC Response
You are more correct than you could ever imagine.  For many, the status quo has the same effect as a narcotic, and they will attack anyone who they perceive as a threat to the “known and accepted.” This understanding lends credence to the E. Don Brown postulate that, “... the principal is the one actor in the system that can best combat the urge to coast on past and/or false performance.” 

The shorter version of this understanding is that the rate and level of continuous campus improvement is directly correlated to the drive and intellectual honesty of the principal. 

The critical factor remains... Leadership.

Think. Work. Achieve.
Your turn...

  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on Amazon.com!  http://tinyurl.com/Fundamental5
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Timer (Fundamental 5 Delivery Tool); PowerWalks CLC (Networked Formative Observation Tool) 
  • Upcoming Presentations: Illinois ASCD Fall Conference (Multiple Presentations), Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association Fall AP Conference, The Fundamental 5 National Summit (Multiple Presentations) 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Principal Submits... Observations from the Perfect Dysfunctional Storm - Point #4

The following is the fourth of a multi-point field report from a LYS Principal.

SC,

Once a school is acceptable, most of the support a principal receives for improving instruction and learning vanishes.  Very little pushback from staff will be allowed from central office administrators.  The amount of tolerable pushback varies from district to district, but invariably the level is small.

SC Response
Again you are correct.  Improvement always includes a level of gritching and discomfort.  It’s a natural by-product of the movement away from the status quo.  In systems that understand and accept this, the gritching is viewed as an indication that people are engaged in the process of improvement (an obvious good thing).  Unfortunately, though Boards, Superintendents and Central Office personnel may understand this at a theoretical level, many miss the boat at the real world application level of this concept. 

Instead, they evaluate campus leadership based on the lack of complaints that are brought to their attention.  This ensures that the informal (and in many cases the formal) principal evaluation system is based on maintaining the status quo.  This is a doom loop accelerator.  

In fact, with every struggling campus I have ever worked with (now in the 100’s), almost every employee on those campuses exceeded expectations on their last evaluation.  Or as one LYS Principal so eloquently put it, “I’ve inherited a staff of happy superstars that by any objective data haven’t done anything of merit in the last four years.”

The critical factor remains... Leadership

Think. Work. Achieve.
Your turn...

  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on Amazon.com!  http://tinyurl.com/Fundamental5
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Timer (Fundamental 5 Delivery Tool); PowerWalks CLC (Networked Formative Observation Tool)
  • Upcoming Presentations: Illinois ASCD Fall Conference (Multiple Presentations), Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association Fall AP Conference, The Fundamental 5 National Summit (Multiple Presentations) 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Principal Submits... Observations From the Perfect Dysfunctional Storm - Point #3

The following is the third of a multi-point field report from a LYS Principal.

SC,

Reality: Academically Unacceptable + 1 extra student per sub-pop = Acceptable.  This is a simple formula that will keep you out of the news.  As long as there is a good perception and no bad press due to accountability scores, the school is considered good and leadership has little to worry about in most districts.

SC Response
The formula works, if you use it to buy time to improve performance, for all students.  The formula fails when the campus loses the +1, and then blames that group of students. 

The critical factor remains... Leadership.

Think. Work. Achieve.
Your turn...

  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on Amazon.com!  http://tinyurl.com/Fundamental5 
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Timer (Fundamental 5 Delivery Tool); PowerWalks CLC (Networked Formative Observation Tool) 
  • Upcoming Presentations: Illinois ASCD Fall Conference (Multiple Presentations), Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association Fall AP Conference, The Fundamental 5 National Summit (Multiple Presentations) 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook