Leadership Development

This past school year I developed and implemented Beaufort County School District’s (BCSD) 1st Leadership Institute, designed to provide aspiring school principals with increased school leadership capacity. By all measures, our inaugural year was a huge success. The participants demonstrated excellent leadership growth throughout the institute. Direct feedback as well as anonymous survey feedback was extremely positive; and last but not least, members of the inaugural Leadership Institute filled each of the principal openings for this coming school year!

As an educational leader, it was a true pleasure to develop and implement the Leadership Institute. When asked what I enjoy about providing leadership development training, three specifics always come to mind. 1. School leadership has been cited as the #2 variable on student achievement, second only to teachers. So, if I can help develop excellent school leaders then I’m having a significant influence on student success. 2. It allows me to “give back” to all my mentors and professors by passing on lessons learned, and assisting in developing our next generation of excellent school principals. 3. It’s all about students: better school leaders lead to better students.

The Institute consisted of group sessions as well as field-based assignments for direct instruction and real-world learning. The Institute is design to incorporate practical application of leadership behaviors for effective school administration.

Session topics included:

Understanding and Developing Your Vision as a Leader

Building a Shared Vision

Curriculum Management

Instructional Leadership

Clinical Supervision

Assessment and Reporting of Student Learning

Program Assessment and Evaluation

Effective Management: Smooth Operations for an Effective Learning Environment

Building a Climate of Team-Based Accountability and Collaborative Support

Ethical Behavior: Trust and Trustworthiness

Relationship Building and Engaging a Diverse Community

Providing for Staff Development and a Collaborative Learning Culture

Understanding Change; Leading a Digital Learning Culture

Effective Communication: Written, Oral, and Other

Personnel Management

Organization, Time Management and Building your Leadership Team

Building a Master Schedule

Financial Management and Fiscal Resources

Reflective Practice: Leading Life-Long Learners

New standards, new opportunities, new challenges

As new ELA and Math Standards are developed in South Carolina this year the ability to ensure high expectations for what students are required to know and be able to do should be paramount. The development of the new standards provides an opportunity and a challenge to the people involved in the process. Will SC students still be expected to cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support an analysis of what a text says explicitly? Will they still be expected to make inferences and analysis? It will be interesting to see how the committee given the opportunity to develop the new standards addresses the challenge.

I created this presentation to show the current reading literature expectations for students in Kindergarten to 12th grade. It shows a vertical sequence of expectations as a student progresses each year in school. What, if any, of the current reading literature expectations would you change, and why? Perhaps that question should drive the ELA standard development process.

English Language Development Standards

Educators across the Untied States (and across the globe for that matter) are immersed in aligning curriculum, instruction, and assessment to new standards with the goal of increasing student achievement and preparation for successful military, workforce, and university participation. A call for adopting rigorous standards in the US is nothing new.  Educational organizations in areas such as technology, mathematics, and English have supported standards-based instruction for many years. In fact, the standards movement can be traced back past the National Commission on Excellence in Education’s Nation at Risk report received by President Reagan probably to Sputnik.

In the area of teaching English as Second or Other Language (ESOL), over 35 states, include South Carolina, have adopted new standards for English Language Learners (ELL’s) through The World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) Consortium. WIDA welcomed South Carolina via Twitter on Feb. 7, 2014. WIDA’s website provides information regarding the Consortium, such as its mission and history so I will not reiterate that information. However, I would like to highlight the English Language Development (ELD) standards as a way to draw attention to the ongoing need to provide differentiated instruction and assessment so that all students achieve ACADEMIC success so that they are prepared to successfully participate in careers or college upon graduation.


The WIDA Essential Actions Handbook describes how WIDA’s framework for English Language Development (ELD) Standards are aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) as well as content standards from states that did not adopt CCSS and/or NGSS but made attempts to replicate the rigor of the CCSS and/or NGSS. In short, the WIDA ELD Standards align with current State Standards to provide a robust level of expected learning for English Language Learner’s (ELL’s).

WIDA provides five English Language Development (ELD) Standards. The ELD Standards require that English Language Learners (ELL’s) communicate information, ideas, and concepts to be successful in the four core academic areas of ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies.

The Five WIDA English Language Development (ELD) Standards

ELD Standard 1: English language learners communicate for Social and Instructional purposes within the school setting

ELD Standard 2: English language learners communicate information, ideas and concepts necessary for academic success in the content area of Language Arts.

ELD Standard 3: English language learners communicate information, ideas and concepts necessary for academic success in the content area of Mathematics.

ELD Standard 4: English language learners communicate information, ideas and concepts necessary for academic success in the content area of Science.

ELD Standard 5: English language learners communicate information, ideas and concepts necessary for academic success in the content area of Social Studies.

WIDA ELD Standards

WIDA provides five levels of English language proficiency: Entering, Emerging, Developing, Expanding, and Bridging; and includes Model Performance Indicators (MPI’s) to distinguish proficiency levels along a scale.

Potential benefits from WIDA include: an alignment of ELL entry assessment with the annual re-assessment to evaluate current performance levels as well as a focus on teaching English through the content area standards.

What Are You Modeling?

The world is networked. We are more connected today than ever before in our history. As educators, this connectivity represents an amazing new frontier in our journey of preparing students to be successful citizens. Re-read that last sentence. Now, ask yourself the following question: what if teachers and administrators do not embrace the connectivity that the Internet provides? Can we lead something we do not understand, let alone model? 


Beliefs, High Expectations and Student Achievement

Professional athletes often cite a person who “believed” in them as a driving force for success. Likewise, educators have postulated for many years that expectations regarding student achievement do affect teacher behavior, and in turn teacher behavior affects student achievement. Educational literature is full of information motivating us to understand that we must believe in our students and the power of education to change our world, one young person at a time. In fact, the impact of teacher expectations on student achievement is one of the most widely researched areas in education. “Expectations regarding student achievement do affect teacher behavior and teacher behavior then affects student achievement” (Marzano as cited in Umphrey, 2008, p. 17).  The following question seems to be at the heart of the reflection we need to engage as educators: what behaviors are exhibited on a daily basis in your realm of experience, which exemplify high expectations and a belief in all students (and here is the kicker) AND are yielding higher levels of student achievement and a culture of excellence?

Motivation and work ethic are keys to success. Educators must motivate the unmotivated and teach students how to set goals and work toward accomplishing goals. A research study conducted by the ACT found that “academic discipline” accounted for 61 percent of the predictive strength of academic behaviors (ACT, 2008). The study defined “academic discipline” as “the skill component of motivation, such as the degree to which a student is hardworking and conscientious” (p. 26). The implications of these findings indicate that teaching students how to be “conscientious” and engaging students so that they are “motivated” and “hardworking” is essential to successful career and college readiness (i.e. effective citizens).  According to the ACT study, “college and career readiness does not occur at a single point in time but is the result of a process extending throughout the K-12 years” (p. 36).  As educators, we constantly remind ourselves that we prepare our students to be effective citizens by believing in our students and our abilities to reach them – and then actualize those beliefs through sound teaching practices each and everyday.

Do your students contribute to your learning and the learning of others? How do you differentiate instruction and assessment for your students? How do you lead for differentiation and student success? Do students apply their learning?

Tech Visioning PD Days

In the real world, Internet enabled devices are used everyday, by A LOT of people, in a variety of situations. In fact, people seem to be more connected today than at any other time.  Beaufort County School District (BCSD) began a 1:1 iPad program last school year in Grades 6-8 and is working to expand the program this school year. Last week, principals and district leadership spent time with education technology expert Jeff Utecht and this week district leadership and coaches began working with all 3rd grade teachers in the district in what we have termed, Tech Visioning PD Days. Our Tech Visioning PD days are intended to provide initial training to teachers preparing for our 1:1 expansion as well as a chance to “rally back” to our core beliefs and continual training for teachers currently in the program.

I have been very pleased to be able to spend time with teachers this week, and I look forward to the weeks ahead, as they receive additional training to prepare for expanding our 1:1 program to eventually include all 14,600+ students in our district grades 3-12. I have been very impressed and motivated by the depth of conversation, questions, and insights shared by teachers over the first few days of training. Indeed, BCSD is blessed with some amazing educators. Educators who are wiling to embrace change and carry out the difficult work of educating children everyday.

Truly, we live in an amazing time. Technology has allowed unbelievable amounts of information to be at our fingertips and to be accessed in literally seconds.  As we continue to support our current 1:1 program and its expansion, we need to remember that it is not about the device.  Rather, it is about how the device is used to increase student understanding, creation, critical thinking and collaboration.

As educators, we must continually reflect on our work to ensure that our students are prepared to be successful in a globally competitive career marketplace. To that end, students need to be appropriately taught and provided opportunities to safely, ethically, and effectively use technology to gain understanding at the highest levels of any taxonomy (Blooms, Webb’s DOK etc.). Such a use of the device aligns to what Alan November described as a Digital Learning Farm model. In the model, teachers “guide students in the complex tasks of innovation and problem solving, and in doing work that makes a contribution to the learning processes of others” (November, 2012, p. 18).

Tech Visioning Page

BCSD 1:1 Technology Program Overview:

  • iPads in grades 3-5
  • Dell Venue 11 in middle and high schools.
  • Technology “visioning” training for all Principals and Instructional Services Department team members.
  • Technology “visioning” training and collaboration for teachers began January 21 with follow-up training at schools.
  • Support each elementary Principal to create an implementation plan.
  • Redistribute all iPads during summer.
  • Rollout iPads to elementary students starting in September 2014.
  • Rollout Dell’s to secondary schools once iPad rollout complete.
  • Continual review of student learning.