LEADERSHIP TEAMING: THE SUPERINTENDENT-PRINCIPAL RELATIONSHIP WSU FIELD-BASED SUPERINTENDENT’S PROGRAM COHORT SEMINAR February 6, 2009 Mary Lynne Derrington, Ed.D.
Develop an Effective Leadership Team
The team that collectively impacts the education of every student in the district - The Principals
Skill in developing and supervising this team impacts achievement, morale & culture district-wide - The Superintendent
Purpose, to understand and consider:
The superintendent’s role in developing the leadership team
The superintendent’s ability to learn and lead together with the team
The superintendent’s need to create an effective system for job embedded professional development through evaluation
Application of the concepts in an entry plan
Building Team Relationships
“ Very little in our lives is more important and more persuasive than our relationships with those we care about and with whom we work. And very little is more inscrutable and problematic. Relationships can be as taxing and toxic as they can be replenishing and fulfilling.”
Roland S. Barth (2003, p. xi)
Cosmetic Teamwork (Nadler & Spencer, 1998)
What characterizes an effective relationship between the superintendent and a principal?
What positive and not so positive experiences have you experienced as a member of a leadership team?
If positive, what were the contributing factors? If not so positive, what changes would you suggest to improve team functioning?
Effective leaders have better than average
interpersonal skills. They communicate a
clear vision and build trusting and
supportive relationships to work as a team
in accomplishing the vision.
A solid relationship between a
superintendent and principal underlies
genuine and effective teaming. Successful
superintendents create authentic teams by
tuning into their principal’s needs and concerns,
knowing their schools and programs,
collaborating in a trust-building manner.
West & Derrington (2009)
Let’s consider a system for job embedded professional development through evaluation and supervision
A clear picture of the desired outcome is necessary for both the evaluator and the principal.
Determine desired competencies,
Describe performance in terms of the desired competencies,
Make judgments based on the gap or fit between competencies and performance.
ISLLC Standards in Evaluation
Washington – one of 43 States using ISLLC in principal certification.
Continuing(Professional)is job embedded
Disconnect with supervision and evaluation on the job
Survey e-mailed to 296 Washington State superintendents, 80% response rate
16% use ISSLC standards exclusively to evaluate principals
Telephone interviews conducted with each
Principals in these districts, n=98, were sent a survey developed from the superintendents’ responses. Strength of agreement or disagreement tabulated (46% response rate).
Figure 1 Strengths of ISLLC Standards for Evaluation. Comparing Superintendents and Principal Rankings Item Superintendent ranking by most frequently mention Principal rating of importance of superintendent responses Current/in alignment with school reform and leadership 1 1 Provides specific criteria/performance indicators 1 5 Focus is impact on students 2 5 Comprehensive 3 6 Provides common language 3 3 Provides direction, focus 3 2 New principals familiarity 3 4 Nationally comparable 3 4
Skills/Attributes Needed to be an Effective Evaluator of Principals Superintendent Response (Ranked by frequency of mention) Principal Ranking (1 = Highest) S uperintendents All Principals Understand responsibilities of a principal (1) (experience at several levels) 1 Good interpersonal skills (1) (honesty, caring, trust, respect, integrity, be a good listener) 2 Familiarity with the school (2) 5 Expertise in evaluating principal performance and assessing school climate (3) 4 High developed skills as a professional educator (well read, life-long learner, high level of professional development) (4) 6 Ability to articulate expectations and standards clearly to principals (5) 2 Informed leadership in providing direction and feedback to principals (6) 3
Good Interpersonal Skills Principal Comments
Trust and frequent on-going communication listed most often in
comments. Examples follow:
We need to develop the trust, respect and caring attitude before we can have any true impact on student performance.
I want more of a coach and have regular, on-going helpful communication.
Frequent, on-going and supportive communication with one’s supervisor is most essential.
The most helpful discussions that I have with my supervisor occur when we engage in mutual problem-solving.
Evaluation needs to be collaborative and built on a trust relationship between the principal and the superintendent.
Empathy and effective communication skill support helpful dialogue.
More and frequent meetings with the superintendent is importance as is open communication and giving the same message to all groups.
It all comes back to interpersonal relationships.
Understand Responsibilities of a Principal
Many principals mentioned the challenges for a principal today particularly the tremendous work and time demands placed on them. Equally important to them is that the superintendent understands this challenge as the following comments illustrate.
My supervisor needs to understand my job. He was a high school principal but that was years ago before NCLB and state reform. He thinks he knows how to do it but he doesn’t know how to do it now.
Important for the evaluator to have been a principal. They’re more sensitive to our school schedules. The know typical school issues, understand problems and know what leadership skills are required today.
Superintendent needs to understand the complex nature of the job and how decisions at the district office impact that complexity.
Supervisor need to have an awareness of the new time demands on principals and not base supervision on the way it used to be.
The superintendent needs to understand the unique and special challenges of each school.
Trust Indicator Examples
Show confidence in team members’ abilities
Keep promises and commitments
Listen to and value statements even when not in agreement
Honest, not distorted information
Trust Buster Examples
Works own agenda, undermines decisions unfavorable to one’s cause
More concerned with own welfare than others or other issues
Jumps to conclusions
Makes excuses or blames others
Lacks transparency, does not reveal thinking
West & Derrington (2009)
Points and Discussion
Evaluating principals is a potential source of improvement.
Clear criteria is the key to evaluation The evaluative criteria for today is thought by many to be the ISLLC standards
The superintendent is in a unique position to provide continuous, job-embedded professional development to principals but he/she must know the work of the schools and be in frequent contact with the principal.
The criteria, while important, cannot compensate for lack of interpersonal skill and deep knowledge of the principals job.
What skill do you possess that will make (or makes) you an effective supervisor of principals?
What skills do you want to further develop?
Principal Autonomy: how much is too much?
Defined autonomy. “Clear, non-negotiable goals yet provide teams with responsibility and authority to determine how to meet the goals.”
Eck & Goodwin (2008)
“ Loosen and tighten administrative control based on hard evidence of quality of practice and performance.” Greater discretion follows higher quality of practice and higher levels of performance.”
Elmore (2004, p. 81)
Checklist to consider in working with the team in supervision and evaluation decisions
Have clear non-negotiable goals for student achievement.
Monitor and provide resources and support.
Determine where you are on a scale of hands off to micro managing every detail from the boardroom to the classroom and why.
Provide leadership for principals to meet the goals.
Learning and Leading-Together
For system change to occur on a large scale, schools need to learn from each other. This lateral capacity building is absolutely crucial for system reform. The bottom line is to change the culture of the system to a learning culture (Fullan).
The most powerful incentives reside in the face to face relationships among people in the organization Improvement occurs through organized social learning… connecting people with new ideas to each other. Rely more heavily on face-to face relationships than on bureaucratic routines (Elmore).
“ A strong sense of collective efficacy begins with the shared belief that all students can learn. Sups support the development of collective efficacy.” Eck & Goodwin, 2008)
School to school begins with principal to principal and only the superintendent as the supervisor of the principals can initiate and sustain these connections (Derrington).
Superintendent behaviors affects principal behavior. Want them to be collegial in schools ? Then model. The team watches the leader acts accordingly. Provide district-wide leadership and a role model for schools by engaging in continuous learning as a superintendent-principal team.
What prerequisite skills and conditions enable leaders to learn together in a leadership team?
What barriers will need to be addressed
to become a learning group of leaders?
Arlington Leadership PLC
Principals attend PLC Workshop
Time set aside
Expand previous book study to PLC work
Created norms for participation
Read, Discussed, Shared, Returned to buildings and implemented or experimented
Back to group to discuss and report
Lessons From Arlington
Superintendent becomes a peer
A different dialogue
West & Derrington (2009, p. 86)
One Application of Teaming Concepts
The Entry Plan
Purpose: Establish strong professional relationships
with principals, celebrate accomplishments, and
Establish a professional learning book study to guide our work.
Establish a leadership team to include principals.
Attend instructional level principal meetings.
Visit every school, three per week.
What other goals and/or activities could be added in an entry plan to develop a leadership team?
What application, in addition to an entry plan, might you consider?
Transform an assortment of individuals into a cohesive learning group prepared to realize its mission.
Engage principals as a team in learning
Insist on professional, positive interactions, courtesy, and a positive attitude
Focus on being a learning leader.
Work to create the condition to function as a leadership team. You can’t succeed if you can’t work together.
Create favorable conditions and develop an empowering team environment. Principals flourish when a superintendent.
Eck,J., & Goodwin,B.,(2008), Principal Autonomy: how much is too much? Changing Schools , Winter.
Elmore, R., (2004) School Reform from the Inside Out. Harvard Educational Press, Cambridge, MA.
Fullan, M., (2006). Leading Professional Learning, The school administrator, November
Nadler,D.A.,& Spencer,J.L., (1998). Executive Teams . San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.