Marcia Baldanza, the author of Professional Practices and a Just ASK Senior Consultant, lives in Arlington, Virginia, and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. She recently retired from the School District of Palm Beach County, Florida, where she was an Area Director for School Reform and Accountability; prior to that she was Director of Federal and State Programs.
January 2016, Volume I Issue I
In this monthly e-newsletter, we will examine research from multiple fields to help school district leaders improve, enhance, and increase staff and student performance. There will be some reoccurring features including the unpacking of the recently published Professional Standards for Educational Leaders 2015, School Improvement Tools and Tips, Show Me the Money, Making Meetings Matter, and What Do You Do When… ?, an exploration of a problem of practice. I will use my more than 25 years of experience as a teacher, turnaround principal, director of state and federal programs, director of school reform and accountability, supervisor of principals, and mom to offer practical strategies and insightful reflections from the field to help answer the powerful and essential questions embedded in Just ASK publications.
- What do districts, schools, and classrooms look like when they are organized around a commitment to the achievement of high standards by all students?
- What is my role in creating, implementing, and maintaining such a district, school, and classroom?
- What do districts, schools, and classrooms look like when all the adults in are committed to the success of all other adults?
- What do districts, schools, and classrooms look like when they are results oriented?
- What do districts, schools, and classrooms look like when all the stakeholders are committed to continuous improvement no matter how well they are already doing?
What are the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders 2015?
Why Do They Matter?
“A historic shift is happening in the field of educational leadership,” is a commonly used phrase throughout my tenure as an educational leader. I think I may have experienced as many as 10 “historic shifts” in my career thus far. How many have you been through? Seriously though, this shift really can have important and lasting implications on our work as educational leaders. Policy makers, parents, and other constituents of public schools are increasingly holding education leaders accountable for the academic success and personal well-being of every student. No longer is it enough to develop and implement policies, manage finances, maintain a spotless building, and keep the busses running on time. Education leaders must also provide conclusive evidence that the children in their care are being better prepared for college, careers, and life. Therein lies the biggest difference; when I began my career as an educator, “all children can learn” was the mantra that led to “all children can learn at high levels” which led to “all children can learn at high levels given the right supports” and now “all children will be college, career, and life ready.” That’s quite an evolution! What a great time to be leading this effort.
Our understanding of exemplary educational leadership has grown significantly since the 1980s and even from 1996 when the first ISLLC standards were released. They were revised in 2008 and now, in 2015, the ISLLC Standards have been recast to better incorporate the expanding body of research and best practices from the field. When compared to the 2008 standards, the new standards, now known as the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders 2015, give more prominence to certain leadership domains, such as a school’s instructional program, culture, and talent management. In addition, the 2015 standards reflect a clear vision of improvement-focused and future-oriented educational leadership.
You may be asking yourself why we need new standards now? Well, given that educators at district and school levels have a much better understanding of how and in what ways effective leadership contributes to student achievement, nine different member organizations of the National Policy Board for Educational Administration saw the gap and collaborated around the development of the new standards. As noted in the introduction of the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders 2015, the ten new standards are designed to relentlessly develop and support teachers, create positive working conditions, effectively allocate resources, construct appropriate organizational policies and systems, and engage in deep and meaningful work outside of the classroom that has a powerful impact on what happens inside it. With the growing knowledge and changing demands of the job, educational leaders need new standards that guide practice in directions that will be most beneficial to students. The global economy is transforming jobs and the 21st century workplace for which schools prepare students. Technologies are advancing faster than ever. The conditions and characteristics of children, in terms of demographics, family structures, and more, are changing. Education leaders must embrace the change. So, I believe now is the perfect time for new standards!
Given the extensive review process conducted by practitioners and nine influential organizations such as NAESP, NASSP, NSBA, CCSSO, and AACTE, the 2015 standards will no doubt soon have wide-spread impact on districts as they refine hiring processes and outline elements of leadership professional development and evaluation. To that end, over the course of the next year, one of the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders will be explored in this newsletter each month. The focus this month is on Standard 1.
Above, you will see Part I of Yesterday & Today of Leadership informed by Standard I. It is modelled after one of Paula Rutherford’s many compelling graphics that help illustrate our evolution with curriculum, instruction, and assessment: Yesterday & Today… Where We’ve Been & Where We’re Going; it illustrates the shifts in curriculum from “what is taught” to “what is learned,” in instruction from “teacher-centered” to “learner-centered,” and in assessment from “one opportunity” to “multiple opportunities.” In an issue of Just for the ASKing!, titled “It’s the Thought That Counts,” Bruce Oliver eloquently points out the Yesterday & Today of Moving to 21st Century Thinking Skills. Because of the impact this graphic has had on me and my colleagues, I will use it each month to present the changing leadership landscape.
I have used both versions of Yesterday and Today in school improvement work with principals, instructional coaches, and teachers. These tools lead to deep discussions that can have a high impact on adult learning.
Cut the look-fors/descriptors into individual statements and place them in envelopes
Give small groups an envelope with the statements and the category headings of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment.
Ask them to read each statement and place it under the correct heading and in the correct column of either yesterday or today.
As I watched and listened, I observed engaging conversation about what made a statement be categorized curriculum versus instruction versus assessment, as well as what made it a “yesterday” behavior versus a “today” behavior. (See pages 4 and 5 in Instruction for All Students.)
Resources and References
Professional Standards for Educational Leaders 2015
Alvy, Harvey and Pam Robbins. Learning From Lincoln: Leadership Practices for School Success. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2010
Barth, Roland. Improving Schools from Within Teachers, Parents, and Principals Can Make the Difference. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass, 1991
Boylan, A. Wade and Pedro Noguera. Creating the Opportunity to Learn. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2011
Deal, Terrance and Kent Peterson. Shaping School Culture: The Heart of Leadership. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2003
Oliver, Bruce. “It’s the Thought That Counts.” Just for the ASKing! e-newsletter, September 2014 Access at www.justaskpublications.com/just-ask-resource-center/e-newsletters/just-for-the-asking/its-the-thought-that-counts/
Rutherford, Paula. Leading the Learning. Alexandria, VA: Just ASK Publications, 2005
_____________. Instruction for All Students. Alexandria, VA: Just ASK Publications, 2008
Sparks, Dennis. Leading or Results: Transforming Teaching, Learning, and Relationships in Schools. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2005
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Please include the following citation on all copies:
Baldanza, Marcia. Professional Practices. January 2016. Reproduced with permission of Just ASK Publications & Professional Development (Just ASK). © 2016 by Just ASK. All rights reserved.