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Instructional Supervision: The Principal’s Role in Modeling Professional Development Standard; ELCC 2.4

Module by: Bret Range. E-mail the author

Summary: This simulation is used in a class entitled Personnel Development and Communication, an introductory class in the graduate level principal preparation program. The simulation focuses on the importance of modeling the implementation of high quality professional growth plans that show a commitment to lifelong learning. The educational leadership students will identify the strengths and weaknesses within a pseudo faculty survey concerning the performance of a pseudo principal. The educational leadership students will then write a professional development plan (PDP) for that pseudo principal that could be shared with the staff. Also embedded in this module is an example of how to gather input from teachers concerning job performance utilizing a quality tool called a Plus/Delta (Byrnes & Baxter, 2006; Fauss, 2000).

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Note:

This Instructional Module has been peer-reviewed, accepted, and endorsed by the National Council of Professors of Educational Administration (NCPEA) as a significant contribution to the scholarship and practice of education administration. In addition to publication in the Connexions Content Commons, this module is published in the International Journal of Educational Leadership Preparation, Volume 5, Number 4 (October - December, 2010), ISSN 2155-9635. Formatted and edited in Connexions by Theodore Creighton and Brad Bizzell, Virginia Tech.

Introduction

The theoretical framework for the teaching module is fixed within three distinct bodies of literature: (a) the principal as an instructional leader concerning professional development, (b) the importance of individual professional development plans as a means for continuous improvement, and (c) the principal's role in modeling professional development in his/her own actions.

As the standards based movement has gained momentum across the nation, public pressure has forced school leaders to revaluate their own roles in schools (Mullen & Hutinger, 2008). Specifically, instructional leadership redefines the principals’ role in planning and implementing professional development as a medium for increasing student achievement (Graczewski, Knudson, & Holtzman, 2009). Moreover, professional development can be viewed as a two tiered model, namely school wide professional development and individual teacher professional development plans (Zepeda, 2007). Regardless of the tier, the focus of professional development is to ensure educators become life-long learners (Cranston, 2009). However, a direct link between professional development and student achievement is difficult to make due to the complexities of school settings (Guskey, 1998). Expanding on this view of professional development, Speck and Knipe (2005) argued that when practitioners analyze data, they are better able to eliminate unnecessary professional development activities.

Consequently, the principal’s role in working with teachers to write and monitor their own professional development plans is a vital role in becoming an instructional leader (Zepeda, 2007). The principal is a crucial factor in the success of professional development plans that result in changed teaching behaviors (Drago-Severson, 2004). Moreover, these professional development plans typically outline objectives, strategies, timelines, and resources teachers will need to meet their broad professional goals (Fenwick, 2004). Professional growth plans require teachers to align their goals to demonstrated needs (Byrnes & Baxter, 2006). Furthermore, these needs might be identified by the following means: (a) teacher interest, (b) student achievement data, or (c) informal and formal recommendations by the principal (Mullen & Hutinger, 2008; Zepeda, 2007).

Additionally, DiPaola and Hoy (2008) argued that perhaps the most important role school principals assume is that of the “teacher of teachers.” The principal must model inquiry, collaboration, and reflection in his/her own practice. By exhibiting these behaviors daily, principals not only learn alongside their teachers but also act as a catalyst for professional learning (Mullen & Hutinger, 2008). Moreover, modeling allows principals to demonstrate the importance of continuous improvement (Byrnes & Baxter, 2006). For example, Graczewski, et al. (2009) found that school wide professional development efforts were much more effective when the principal was able to articulate clear goals and strategies for themselves. Furthermore, principal preparation programs cannot train principal candidates concerning all the complexities of the job. Therefore, specific attention to principal professional growth plans should be valued as an improvement effort to expand learning in daily practice (Woods, Woods, & Cowie, 2009). As described in this teaching module, this professional growth can be generated through critical reflection around areas ripe for continuous improvement.

This module is meant to serve as an example of how a principal might write an individual professional development plan. Furthermore, data in this teaching module is generated from qualitative feedback collected from the staff utilizing a Plus/Delta quality tool (Byrnes & Baxter, 2006; Fauss, 2000).

Goal

To ensure the educational leadership students have a clear understanding of the importance of professional development as a trait for instructional leadership.

To ensure the educational leadership students have a clear understanding of the principal’s role in modeling effective professional development in the school.

To ensure the educational leadership students have a clear understanding that professional growth plans should be written based on data, in this case, qualitative survey data.

To provide the educational leadership students a quality tool (Plus/Delta) than can be used to solicit feedback from stakeholders.

Over-View of the Module

The module is currently utilized in a class entitled Personnel Development and Communication, which is designed for entry level educational leadership students. The class is designed to acquaint the educational leadership students with the various aspects of instructional supervision. Topics covered include the formal observation, the informal observation, Classroom Walk Throughs (CWTs), interviewing, hiring, and professional development.

This module is used within the context of the discussions surrounding effective professional development. The instructional methodologies utilized in the class include simulations, case studies, selected readings, field based activities, and instructor led presentations.

This simulation can be covered in about one hour, depending how long the instructor gives for group work. Ideally, the time devoted to this activity should be spent in individual and then group reflection. The intent of the module is to show the educational leadership students the importance of modeling the professional development process in one’s own actions.

Activities

Session 1: After a discussion on the characteristics of effective professional development, including writing individual professional development plans, the students are given the pseudo survey results (Appendix A) from a pseudo faculty. The students are told that a principal asked for staff feedback concerning his performance and these were the results. The survey is formatted into what is called a Plus/Delta. A Plus/Delta is a quality tool that provides an individual with instant feedback from respondents and is used for continuous improvement (Byrnes & Baxter, 2006). Although the Plus/Delta is used in this module, any survey format would serve the same purpose.

The educational leadership students are told that they will first work individually to look over the staff survey results. They are told they should answer the following questions. Answers should be documented on the Individual Professional Development Plan (Appendix B).

  1. What are 2 areas in which the principal is doing a good job as perceived by the teachers?
  2. What are 2 areas in which the principal needs to improve as perceived by the teachers?
  3. Write 2 specific goals to address these areas of improvement (Document on Appendix B).
  4. Under each of those goals, write the strategy by which the principal should take to achieve the goal (Document on Appendix B).
  5. Under each of those goals, provide a timeline for completion of the goal (Document on Appendix B).
  6. Under each of those goals, list the resources needed to complete the goal (Document on Appendix B).
  7. Finally, document what data will be collected to prove the goals have been met (Document on Appendix B).

After giving the educational leadership students several minutes to work individually, break the students into groups of 2 or 3 (depending on class size). As a group, ask the students to compare their individual professional development plans. Direct the students that they will need to come to consensus and write one plan for their group. After several minutes, ask the groups to share with the class their individual professional development plan for this principal. Conclude the activity with a class discussion of the best way to present this plan to the staff to model continuous improvement.

Instructor Responsibility: To prepare for the simulation activity, the instructor will need to frontload this activity with a lecture/discussion on the principal’s role in supervising effective professional development in schools. The instructor will also need to either use Appendix A, make-up, or get access to teacher survey data concerning the individual performance of a building principal. Furthermore, the instructor should ensure survey data is anonymous. Copies of this survey data should be provided to the educational leadership students. Finally, the instructor will need to provide copies of the professional development plan to the students and model how to fill it out correctly. A model is included in this module (Appendix C).

Note:

To preserve the original formatting of the author's Appendices, the NCPEA Editors suggest viewing in PDF. Click here to view APPENDICES

References

Byrnes, M. A., & Baxter, J. C. (2006). The principal’s leadership counts: Launch a baldrige-based quality school. Milwaukee, WI: ASQ Quality Press.

Cranston, J. (2009). Holding the reins of the professional learning community: Eight themes from research on principals' perceptions of professional learning communities. Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, 90, 1-22.

DiPaola, M. F., & Hoy, W. K. (2008). Principals improving instruction: Supervision, Evaluation, and Professional Development. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Drago-Severson, E. (2004). Helping teachers learn: Principal leadership for adult growth and development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Fauss, K. (2000). Continuous improvement in the primary classroom: Language arts. Milwaukee, WI: ASQ Quality Press.

Fenwick, T. J. (2004). Teacher learning and professional growth plans: Implementation of a provincial policy. Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 19(3), 259-282.

Graczewski, C., Knudson, J., & Holtzman, D. J. (2009). Instructional leadership in practice: What does it look like, and what influence does it have? Journal of Educational for Students Placed at Risk, 14, 72-96.

Guskey, T. R. (1998). Professional development that works: What makes professional development effective? Phi Delta Kappan, 84, 748-750.

Mullen, C. A., & Hutinger, J. L. (2008). The principal's role in fostering collaborative learning communities through faculty study group development. Theory into Practice, 47, 276-285.

Speck, M., & Knipe, C. (2005). Why can't we get it right? Designing high-quality professional development for standards-based schools (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Woods, P. A., Woods, G. J., & Cowie, M. (2009). ‘Tears, laughter, camaraderie’: Professional development for headteachers. School Leadership and Management, 29(3), 253-275.

Zepeda, S.J. (2007). Instructional supervision: Applying tools and concepts. Second Edition, Larchmont, NY: Eye On Education.

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