August 2016

Onward Leaders Blog: Cohort 1

From the Director:  August finds our Onward Leaders at their sites working with their Master Principals and faculty, coaching training, attending Deanery meetings, DCS facilitated Professional Development in CIP, STAR Assessment, and Technology Planning. Studying budgets, real and contrived. Planning faculty meetings, imagined and real.  Working with parents, role-plays and real life. Providing effective and actionable feedback, written and oral. And then the day to day- robberies at sites, inadequate internet, loss of teachers, faulty plumbing, parent concerns, finding subs. And learning to go with the flow and not let these annoyances derail one’s joy in the work of creating a culture where everyone is still learning even when the toilets aren’t all working and the internet goes out and a teacher decides to take another job.  Catholic school communities that work know that their purpose is realized through the collective not the individual. So the lead learner rolls up his/her sleeves; calls a plumber, teaches a class or two, phones a parent to set up a meeting to discuss concerns, does walk-throughs and decides that the learning can and does happen without the internet.


Meg Samaniego, Onward Leaders Director

Onward Leaders Reflections on Learning: Working with faculty and families.

When I was presenting to the faculty, I noticed many people were at different stages of understanding the new website for lesson plans. While I moved through things step by step, and set up examples with the faculty, I realized in working with a new group of teachers, I did not know their familiarity with technology and the use of this website. I also was uncertain of their learning styles. It would have beneficial to know both of these things when presenting something large like a new lesson plan template to the faculty.  Especially when we will expect the teachers to have a deep understanding of this new tool.

The opportunity to lead a prayer that would be both meaningful and beneficial for the teachers was great. I really enjoyed this task. While the prayer was not interactive, I would like to continue to research different prayers for this group to discover what would they benefit from the most.

Being in charge of setting up, cleaning up, and selling the books at the book fair was important for me to be a part of promoting literacy and engaging with the students and parents. I was eager to talk to the students about the books they were purchasing and even followed up with students the next day or so to ask how they were enjoying their books.

Crucial conversations (especially with tuition) – meet with families to build the relationships with the families, always remember to go in with data, important to utilize something like the tuition formula to negotiate.

It is important as an administrator to always bring it back to student learning. If a connection cannot be made to student learning, then it needs to be re-thought. As I listened to each teacher explain what they felt a good discipline policy was, I had to bring them back to student learning. It was a good experience for me to be given this facilitation role.

As a new principal (next year), what safeguards should one set in place in response to the possible push and pull that will result due to possible changes in tuition costs, tuition collection, etc.? What approach/mindset should a new principal have in regard to these difficult conversations?

I am interested in learning more about how the staff collaborates. How they have collaborated before? Are there/have there been existing structures in place for collaboration for the faculty? I will engage in discussions with colleagues on collaboration and observe how the faculty engages in different meetings/PDs.

What are the most effective methods to give feedback on unit plans? Choosing a focus? (obj-assessment alignment, methodology, level of blooms/dok). What is the best approach when looking at the completed plan? Or maybe making it goal centered to their focus area?

Is it more beneficial to give teachers the unpacked standards from which they can use to unit plan or have them go through the process of unpacking themselves? The response might look different from teacher to teacher or based on experience or learning goal for that teacher, but I’m thinking in regard to helping support the progression and evidence of all skills (aligned to standard) in the unit. What is an effective way to support the unit planning process?

As I want to prioritize supporting teachers, I think it is important to determine ways to provide constructive feedback. The OLs were sharing and discussing how to provide this feedback in the use of a google form. We have a template that could be adjusted to each OLs school site and intended purpose. I am eager to share this with my master principal to see how we could utilize something like this or research additional options to provide more specific support for our teachers.