Principal & Teacher Relationships: Behaviors Impacting Excellence


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In a three-part, 17-item school culture survey developed and refined by researchers Phillips, Wagner, and Masden-Copas, school leaders have the opportunity to assess school culture factors that impact academic excellence. Join us as we share these ideas and practices, so that principals, assistant principals, and teacher leaders will have the tools to shape culture in their building.

Learn how to promote school culture through these categories:

• Professional collaboration
• Affiliative and collegial relationships
• Efficacy or self-determination

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  • “Normative glue”Normative glue – the beliefs, attitudes, behaviorsWhat is lacking in these quotes? PeopleCulture is about the adults in the building.
  • POLL Collins: In determining “the right people,” the good-to-great companies placed greater weight on character attributes than on specific educational background, practical skills, specialized knowledge, or work experience. (p.51)Have to get the right people in the right seats on the bus.Courageous, compassionate, sometimes difficult, conversations.
  • We can’t ignore culture… We can’t put our head in the sand
  • In a three-part, 17-item school culture survey developed and refined by researchers Phillips, Wagner, and Masden-Copas, school leaders have the opportunity to assess those school culture factors that impact academic excellence.
  • POLLPhillips– 3100 school culture assessments, anecdotal evidence to suggest connection between school culture and student achievement Melton-Schutt – 66 elementary schools in KYCunningham – 61 schools in Florida – FCAT/Reading
  • POLL
  • Principal & Teacher Relationships: Behaviors Impacting Excellence

    1. 1. PRINCIPAL-TEACHER RELATIONSHIPS Behaviors Impacting Excellence 23 October 2013 Susan Abelein, Ph.D. Presenter
    2. 2. What is culture? Culture is generally thought of the normative glue that holds a particular school together. (Sergiovanni , 2007) School culture consists of “the beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors which characterize a school.” (Phillips, 1996)
    3. 3. Who is on your school’s bus? Principal-Teacher relationships are at the heart of culture and their inter-relational connections shape school culture. 3
    4. 4. Defining Culture Positive  professional,  collegial,  open to growth,  shared expertise,  trust,  caring,  bridge builders. Negative  naysayers,  pessimistic,  cynical,  drain energy,  convey a sense of hopelessness. Toxic  accept mediocrity,  poor/ineffective,  complacent,  rumormongers,  saboteurs,  communication (verbal/body language) is negative,  antagonistic.
    5. 5. Assess culture: Ensure “your gut feeling” is aligned with reality Effective leaders regularly assess school culture in order to:  address issues,  mitigate factors that detract from a positive culture, or  maintain a culture for academic success. 5
    6. 6. Assessment Tool Developers Gary Phillips: Noted author of thirteen books, numerous articles and nationally recognized speaker; founder and president of The National School Improvement Project. Christopher Wagner: Professor of Educational Administration, Leadership and Research at Western Kentucky University. Penelope Masden-Copas: Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership Studies at Austin Peay State University. Available at:
    7. 7. The Impact of Culture on Student Achievement
    8. 8. Culture Behaviors  Professional Collaboration, the degree to which teachers and staff work together on: curriculum, instruction, assessments; school schedules and team planning time; and determining student behavior/discipline codes/policies  Affiliative Collegiality, the degree teachers and staff: communicate, celebrate, appreciate one another to which  Self-determination & Efficacy, the degree to which staff are: empowered to problem solve and make decisions, proactive rather than reactive, and enjoy working at the school.
    9. 9. Shaping Culture: Professional Collaboration Principal/School Leadership Teams’ To-Do List: 2 Items 1. Create Teams • • 2. Grade Level Teams Subject Area Teams Ensure that there is “decision-making time” on every faculty meeting agenda. • Think: What about curriculum, instruction, assessments, materials, resources, discipline code, schedules, can be determined by the teachers/staff? • Say: At the upcoming faculty meeting, we will share resources and discuss ideas regarding what the writing process should look like in K2, 3-5, and 6-8 classrooms. • Do: At the faculty meeting, set the outcome… “by the end of this meeting, I would like each team to share their plan for meeting CCELA writing standard #5 for the process of writing” and allow teachers time to work.
    10. 10. Shaping Culture: Affiliative Collegiality Principal/School Leadership Teams’ To-Do List: 2 Items 1. Give the gift of time • Before school: gather teachers at the beginning of the day for prayer/inspirational message; or have “Hump Day Happiness” and provide coffee, juice, and breakfast bars • Lunch: uninterrupted time for teachers and leaders to gather; time for “storytellers” and time for teachers to bring up issues, concerns, breakthroughs, etc. • After school: make the rounds and visit with teachers in their classrooms 2. Celebrate • Traditions • Holidays • Special Occasions
    11. 11. Shaping Culture: Self-determination & Efficacy Principal/School Leadership Teams’ To-Do List: 2 Items 1. Have courageous, compassionate (and sometimes difficult) conversations 2. Develop teacher-leaders: experts in their grade/subject who engage colleagues in the work of better teaching for better learning • Encourage professional development (reading, workshops, websites) • Encourage reflective practice and problem-solving • Openly express gratitude/pride/appreciation for teachers and teams of teachers who have a willingness to change and/or take risks and/or go above and beyond Administrators are in a position to send important signals to teachers that their ideas are important and that the teachers play a critical role in improving the school’s program. (Danielson, 2005)
    12. 12. References & Resources Danielson, C. (2005). Strengthening the Backbone. National Staff Development Council. Available at: Eller, J.F. and Eller, S. (2009). Creative strategies to transform school culture. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Peterson, K.D. & Deal, T.E. (2009) The shaping school culture fieldbook (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Phillips, G. (1996). Classroom rituals for at-risk learners. Vancouver, BC: Educserv, British Columbia School Trustees Publishing. Sergiovanni, T. (2000). The lifeworld of leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Wagner, C. (2006). The school leader’s tool for assessing and improving school culture. Principal Leadership, pp. 41-44. “Relational vitality…is the foundation for a healthy school culture and maximizing student learning.” Wagner, 2006