Recommendation Two:
Reexamine and modify the work of principals allowing them sufficient time for effective and ongoing communication with teachers. Communication should include a shared vision for success, clear performance expectations of the school community and regular updates on emerging policies and initiatives shaping education.


Role Group Strategies

Conduct a leadership assessment, evaluating the level of shared decision-making and community involvement in the school.

Broad Creek Middle School, Carteret, NC
The Real D.E.A.L. Schools
Broad Creek Middle School is one of eight schools honored by North Carolina Governor Mike Easley as a school that leads the state in both student achievement and teacher working conditions. Parental involvement and volunteers are an integral part of the school’s success. Volunteer programs include tutoring, mentoring and a partnership with a group of local marines.

Interactive Case Study:  System Wide Change
The George Lucas Educational Foundation.  (2003).
This site provides an in-depth look at the successful school reform efforts of Union City Public Schools in New Jersey.  The contents are organized around five key factors in reform: leadership, curriculum/assessment, professional development, technology, and community.  Under leadership, the authors explain how the district assessed and addressed their unique needs, in addition to describing the new curricula written by a teacher and the importance of empowering teachers and district administrators.

Initial School Self-Evaluation Instrument
North Central Regional Educational Laboratory
Any reform effort should be based on a firm understanding of the existing conditions within the school and community.  This tool allows users to evaluate their schools in four areas:  learning and teaching, governance and management, school improvement and professional development, and parent and community involvement.  This instrument provides an excellent starting point for any community interested in school reform.

Leadership Folio Series:  Guiding Comprehensive School Reform
Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning.  (2000).
This resource details eight key steps to school reform in individual “folios” that include background information, role descriptions for district and school leaders, key challenges to effective implementation, and resources for further study.  Topics covered include:  research-based innovations, comprehensive design, resource allocation, evaluation, staff support, family and community involvement, external support and assistance, and professional development.

Standards and Rubrics for School Improvement
Arizona Department of Education.  (2003).
The State of Arizona’s Department of Education has created a detailed set of rubrics that schools and communities must use to examine their improvement efforts.  These rubrics cover four standards of school improvement:  School and District Leadership, Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Development, Classroom and School Assessment, and School Culture, Climate and Communication.  Also included is an evaluation record and an action plan template.  While oriented towards Arizona’s school improvement program, these rubrics would be of value to any community interested in evaluating the improvement efforts of their schools.

Encourage teachers to fill leadership roles at the school level.

My Mentor, Myself
Kellaher, A., and Maher, J.  (2003, Fall). Journal of Staff Development, 24(4).
It is critical that schools and districts develop effective mentor programs to provide support to teachers new to the profession.  Monitoring the effectiveness of mentor programs is often difficult.  In most programs, mentors are classroom teachers who take on protégés with little additional time or salary stipend.  As a result, the quality of the mentoring experience can be questionable. This article outlines the efforts of the Prince George’s County Public Schools to provide mentors to their new teachers.  Mentors are experienced teachers who serve as full time coaches for a cohort of 10-15 new teachers.  Mentors provide support through model teaching, assisting with planning, and providing advice.  Mentors meet regularly with one another and with their protégés, focusing on issues of immediate concern.  This program could be adapted by any county looking to provide alternate career paths for experienced teachers.

Principals who Know How to Share Leadership
Alabama Best Practices Center.  (2004, Spring).
The Spring 2004 issue of "Working Toward Excellence" profiles several principals who've discovered (some late in their careers) the power of teacher leadership to revitalize teaching and learning. The issue also describes the Alabama Reading Initiative's principal coaching program, which is helping dozens of principals gain the confidence, skills and knowledge they need to lead reforms in literacy instruction.

Redefining the Teacher as Leader
Usdan, M., McCloud, B., and Podmostko, M. (2001). Institute for Educational Leadership.
This report examines the potential power in enabling and encouraging teacher leadership.  It discusses roadblocks to teacher leadership, shares promising practices from districts around the country, and provides a list of “Suggested Questions” that communities can use to start discussions related to teacher leadership within their districts.

Coaching Moves Beyond the Gym:  Successful Site-Based Coaching Offers Lessons
Galm, R., and Penny, G.S. (2004, Spring). Journal of Staff Development, 25(2).
This article from the Journal of Staff Development outlines the growing practice of using teacher-leaders within a building to provide on-going professional development and support to teachers and highlights the benefits of coaching on student achievement.  A description of five keys to developing quality coaching programs provides communities with a starting point for establishing their own site-based professional development programs.

‘Making Our Own Road:’ The Emergence of School-Based Staff Developers in America’s Public Schools
Richard, A.  (2003, May). The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation
School-based staff developers are becoming increasingly common in America’s public schools.  These professionals, often former teachers looking for an opportunity to advance within teaching, are charged with serving as instructional leaders within their buildings.  This guide from the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation outlines the role of school-based staff developers.  It provides an overview of the need for such positions, a description of the kinds of people filling school-based staff development jobs, several suggestions about the types of roles that school-based staff developers can fill within a school, and an examination of the benefits of school-based staff development programs.

Principals’ Readiness for Reform:  A Comprehensive Approach
Schiff, T.  (2002, February 29). Milken Family Foundation
While much recent discussion has focused on the importance of principals serving as instructional leaders, a survey conducted in the fall of 2000 by the Milken Family Foundation and the National Association of Secondary School Principals revealed that principals spend less than 30% of their work week addressing the curriculum or learning environment of their schools.  The majority of their time was spent on issues related to discipline, community relations and school management.  The Milken Family Foundation sees this as an opportunity to create leadership positions for teachers interested in remaining in the classroom, but hoping for more responsibility.  This article, originally printed in the January, 2002 issue of Principal Leadership, discusses how principals can benefit by sharing responsibilities with teacher-leaders through the Teacher Advancement Program.

The Teacher Leaders Network
The Southeast Center for Teaching Quality
This website, an initiative of the Southeast Center for Teaching Quality, provides an electronic home for educators interested in leadership.  Providing resources in areas from coaching and mentoring to NCLB and action research, this link can connect teachers to a wealth of professional resources that empower them to act as leaders in their schools.

Create efficient and effective school improvement teams representative of the entire faculty, and empower these teams to lead fundamental site-based reform.


Brevard Elementary School, Transylvania, NC
The Real D.E.A.L. Schools
Brevard Elementary School is one of eight schools honored by North Carolina Governor Mike Easley as a school that leads the state in both student achievement and teacher working conditions. At this school, all teachers serve on one of the school’s “priority teams” so that leadership is shared and teachers have a voice in school decision-making.

A Handbook for School Leadership Teams
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.  (2004).
This handbook, developed by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, is a valuable tool for any school attempting to evaluate and define the work of their leadership teams.  Sections cover guidelines for the operation of school leadership teams, roles and responsibilities of members of leadership teams (including parents), the process of developing a school improvement plan, and a checklist for tracking school improvement planning.

Making Shared Leadership Work
Southwest Educational Development Laboratory.  (2000). CSRD Connections.
This article highlights the experience of several principals who have successfully encouraged shared leadership within their buildings.  It outlines ways in which principals can encourage shared leadership, how leadership capacity can be developed within all staff members, and how leadership can be shared with students, parents and community members.  Developing these skills could be a significant first step in modifying the work of principals to improve student achievement.

Sustaining School Improvement: Communication
Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning.  (2003).

Breaking down these communication barriers is critical to identifying best practice within a building and focusing the efforts of an entire school community. This four-page document outlines the key elements of communication within a schoolhouse, offers strategies that school leadership teams can use to promote effective communication, provides a rubric for evaluating communication practices, and shares a ‘success story’ from Singing Hills Elementary School in Elizabeth, Colorado.

Sustaining School Improvement:  Data Driven Decision Making
Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning.  (2003).
This document outlines the skills necessary for data-driven decision making, offers strategies that school leadership teams can use to support this process, provides a rubric for evaluating data-driven decision making within a school and shares a ‘success story’ from Jeanette Myhre Elementary School in Bismark, North Dakota.

Sustaining School Improvement:  Professional Development
Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning.  (2003).
This document outlines the key elements of effective professional development programs, offers strategies that school leadership teams can use when establishing professional development programs, provides a rubric for evaluating professional development within a school and shares a ‘success story’ from Witters/Lucerne Elementary School in Thermopolis, Wyoming.

Sustaining School Improvement: Resource Allocation
Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning.  (2003).

This document outlines the key elements of school budgeting and resource allocation, offers strategies that school leadership teams can use to monitor and support responsible resource allocation within a building, provides a rubric for evaluating resource allocation, and shares a ‘success story’ from Huntington Elementary School in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Asking the Right Questions:  A School Change Toolkit
Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning
This website encourages reflection on the effects of individual school improvement efforts on the school system as a whole.  It  outlines the predictable phases of school improvement and provides information as well as questions to ask during each step of the process that allow leaders to pause in the act of reform and think about the "big picture."  

Leadership Matters:  Building Leadership Capacity
Barkley, S., Bottoms, G., Feagin, C.H., and Clark, S.  (2001).
This guide outlines practical strategies for building leadership capacity in schools that pertain to administrators, teachers, students, parents, and the community.  It also includes a description of the importance of establishing a shared vision and a checklist that can be used to evaluate the supports that a school has in place to encourage risk-taking by teachers and administrators.

Leading Your School Through a School Improvement Process:  Organizing a School Improvement Team
School Improvement in Maryland
The development of school improvement teams allows leadership within a school to be shared.  This website provides score sheets to evaluate the effectiveness of their school improvement teams in the following five areas: team building, strategic planning and follow through, leadership, data utilization and analysis, and managing change and measuring progress. 

 Increase school-wide capacity to use data in decision-making.

Data-Based Decision Making:  Resources for Educators
AEL and the Council of Chief State School Officers.  (2001).
This site identifies key steps in data-based decision making and provides a variety of resources, including success stories from real schools, to guide educators through each step.  The six steps are: establish a school improvement team, develop a hypothesis, gather data to assess needs, use data, develop a data-based plan, and monitor progress and document sucess.

The Toolbelt: A Collection of Data-Driven Decision-Making Tools for Educators
North Central Regional Educational Laboratory
This website provides a variety of resources and action tools for improving schools through data-driven decision-making.  The site contains a data use primer, a searchable database of resources, a matrix of tools organized around various district needs, and a step-by-step guide to using data in school improvement efforts.

Establish a Professional Learning Community

Sustaining School Improvement:  Professional Learning Communities
Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning.  (2003).

This article describes the shared vision, shared leadership, and collaborative activity of professional learning communities.  The authors rate the relative effectiveness of different strategies and highlight the efforts of Lewis and Clark Middle School, in Jefferson, Missouri, to increase the level of active teaching and learning at their school.

Building a Professional Learning Community Toolkit
Eisenhower National Clearinghouse and the National Staff Development Council
This site provides an outline of the process involved in establishing a Professional Learning Community and links to articles written by leading advocates of the model, which are accompanied by a discussion and reflection tool.

Launching Professional Learning Communities:  Beginning Actions
Southwest Educational Development Laboratory.  (2000).
This tool provided by SEDL outlines the efforts and steps taken by several schools in the Southwest to establish professional learning communities.  It focuses on the initial steps necessary for ensuring that the implementation of the PLC model will result in fundamental change.

Creating a Professional Learning Community: Cottonwood Creek School
Hoard, S.M. and Rutherford, W.L. (2001). Issues about Change, 6(2).
Cottonwood Creek Elementary School is a K-5 building located in the Southwest.  In the late 1990’s, Cottonwood Creek began to move towards establishing itself as a professional learning community.  Their intent was to partner with a local university in creating a community of learners with a shared vision.  This case study, based on interviews with teachers, administrators, school leaders and community members, documents Cottonwood’s efforts and provides valuable insight into the process of creating a professional learning community. 

Multiple Mirrors:  Reflections on the Creation of Professional Learning Communities
Hoard, S.M. (2000). Southwest Educational Development Laboratory.
This website shares seven “stories” from administrators and teacher leaders related to the creation of professional learning communities in schools across the Southwest.

Develop trusting relationships with teachers based on open communication.

Sustaining School Improvement: Communication
Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning.  (2003).

Breaking down these communication barriers is critical to identifying best practice within a building and focusing the efforts of an entire school community. This four-page document outlines the key elements of communication within a schoolhouse, offers strategies that school leadership teams can use to promote effective communication, provides a rubric for evaluating communication practices, and shares a ‘success story’ from Singing Hills Elementary School in Elizabeth, Colorado.

Building Trusting Relationships for School Improvement:  Implications for Principals and Teachers
Brewster, C. and Railsback, J. (2003, September). By Request. Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory
This booklet addresses issues of trust between principals and teachers and among teachers themselves as an element of school improvement.  The authors draw on recent research and highlight several schools working on trust building, including a “critical friends group” established at Southridge High School in Beaverton, Oregon. 

Consensus: Arrive at Agreement…Agreeably
Richardson, J. (2004, April/May). Tools for Schools.
This document outlines a plan for developing consensus and for tackling school reform initiatives agreeably.  The process is broken into four well-defined sections:  The Preparation Phase, in which the group decides how they will work together, The Possibilities Phase, in which the group proposes as many options as possible,  the Probing Phase, in which the group discusses and eliminates options, and the Declaring Phase, in which the group ensures everyone is heard and agrees to move on to implementation.

Taking the High Road
Bond, S. (2004, April).  Principal Leadership, 4(8).
One step that schools can take to improve communication is to establish a set of “operating principles” that guide how people work with one another and provide standards by which actions can be judged.  This article, by Suzanne Bond, a former high school teacher and principal and current professor at Seattle Pacific University, outlines a four-step process for the shared development of school operating principles as well as the recommended content for such plans.  Suggestions for implementation are also included.

Listen Carefully:  Good communication skills build relationships that foster school improvement.
Richardson, J.  (2002, October/November). Tools for Schools.
This article, from the October 2002 issue of Tools for Schools, provides strategies for successful communication within a school.  Without effort in this area, the author contends, school culture cannot change because it is based on relationships built through communication.

A Measure of Concern:  Research Based Program Aids Innovation by Addressing Teacher Concerns
Holloway, K. (2003, February). Tools for Schools.
 It is critical to any reform effort that administrators understand the concerns of their faculty before pushing forward.  Outlining a Concerns-Based Adoption Model, the article describes the seven stages of concern that educators go through when confronted with change.  The article goes on to describe ways in which administrators or staff developers can determine someone’s stage of concern as well as what can be done to address this.

Create communication systems that are efficient and easy to access.

Creating Online Surveys
Hobgood, B.  (2002, May). The North Carolina Teachers Network
The development of a shared vision is critical to a school’s success.  Creating this vision takes input from all stakeholders in the school community, and online surveys provide an easy way for administrators to receive this feedback.  This article outlines the advantages of online surveys and provides a link to Zoomerang, a popular and free online survey tool.

Discuss it with Discussion Boards and Forums
Hobgood, B. (2003, April). The North Carolina Teachers Network
Electronic discussion boards and discussion forums are an increasingly powerful tool for generating feedback and developing a shared vision in schools because they allow for participants to share input about particular topics from different places at different times.  This article outlines the various uses for discussion boards and provides links to free web-based discussion board services.

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