Mentoring Matters for Elementary Principals: May 2016

Leadership-life Fit: How to Unplug on Vacation

Does your vacation time find you still checking email, fielding phone calls, giving up “just a minute” of your time? Learn how to unplug effectively to make the most of your vacation!

Leadership Lesson—Slow Down to Get Ahead

As you bring the 2015-16 school year to a close, set aside time to clarify your purpose, consider your ideal outcome/s, define your success, and re-focus your energy toward your vision!

As you bring the 2015-16 school year to a close, set aside time to clarify your purpose, consider your ideal outcome/s, define your success, and improve your leadership results and efficiency!

Leadership – Refocusing a Team’s Negative Outlook

Find suggestions for coaching the Negative Nancys and Neds in your school. With end-of-year Individual Teacher Professional Development Plan meetings on the horizon, you might find the perfect opportunity to help these colleagues reframe their thinking! Access the brief article here.

Leading Learning – “Scaling to the Top to Close the Gap”

Proficiency scales are a key component of an effective standards based approach to education; however, they also provide a common language and common expectations for learning and teaching. One school utilized a process for creating and using proficiency scales in order to close the achievement gap between their special education and general education students.  In a recent article from Principal (March/April 2016), two administrators share their journey. The article is summarized below.  The full article can be accessed here.

The authors’ experience begins with an acknowledgment of the gap between the achievement of their students in special education and those in general education. Having learned about proficiency scales, they identified them as a leverage in closing the gap. They then enlisted teacher teams to collaborate around a definition of “proficiency scale” and explored why this tool could help address their gap. They focused on these questions:

  • How can proficiency scales help students monitor their own progress? (an aspect of high expectations (d=1.44) –see John Hattie’s work)
  • Considering Webb’s DOK or Bloom’s Taxonomy, which words are most used in specific content areas (i.e. analyze, synthesize, create, summarize, apply)
  • What evidence is acceptable for the different levels of achievement?
  • Is this content specific?
  • What are some examples of levels of mastery?

These questions served as the catalyst for conversations among special ed, general ed, and the students regarding their progress.

Staff engaged in a day of professional learning designed to increase communication between special educators and general educators and to connect students to their own learning; proficiency scales were the core content of this professional learning. Teams of regular education and special education teachers unpacked standards into learning progressions across grade levels. Together they created a proficiency scale connected to an IEP goal for a student they shared. Pairs offered each other feedback. Eventually, all educators considered how proficiency scales might be utilized to bridge communication, modify instruction and delivery, and hold students accountable for their own progress. During follow up sessions throughout the school year, teachers developed additional proficiency scales and problem-solved implementation challenges. Leaders valued how the proficiency scales contributed to shared expectations for student proficiency, ongoing communication among all stakeholders, and student accountability for their own learning.

You can access at no charge Marzano’s database of hundreds of proficiency scales across a wide variety of content/course areas and grade levels here. You will need to provide your email address for access.

Monthly Checklist

These lists are intended as a guide—we encourage you to process in your mentor-mentee team to identify other items that may need your attention!