1-Case Study 4-7
The reading curriculum in your district is 10 years old and no longer effective. There are no supportive materials for the ELL students or students who are struggling. There are also no materials to enrich the higher achieving students. Students are falling further and further behind especially in the younger grades. During the last adoption, 10 years ago, teachers were asked for their input but then the assistant superintendent went against their recommendations and purchased a different series. While some teachers are new to the district, there are some that are still upset about the former assistant superintendents decision.
As the principal, I would approach the new assistant superintendent with the request to purchase new materials. I would also mention how the last adoption did not go well. With the assistant superintendents support, I would go back to my teams and ask them for the criteria they would like to see in the new reading series. I would ask for volunteers and let everyone know that they can be as involved in the early stages as they feel comfortable, but you may call upon everyone once it is time to pilot. The committee would use predetermined criteria and select the top choices to look at deeper. This would include speaking to company representatives, other schools using the series and piloting. I would have all teachers fill out an anonymous survey at the end of the pilot and also ask for any feedback that they might want to share with the group. I would make certain to address the problems we have had with the high/low students as well as the ELL and make sure that thi curriculum will be of value to them.
Case Study 4-1
You are the principal and were the chair member of a committee that purchased a new reading textbook series and resources 2 years ago. Last year was the first year of implementation and you have reassured your teachers to take their time and explore the resources available. You did not make anything required to be used this first year. In December of that first year, you updated the board members and superintendent. You shared your plan on letting the teachers explore and become more comfortable with the new series. In April, the superintendent meets with you and asks how you will present a year-end report on the new curriculum. You are surprised as you have already told the board that teachers are still getting to know all of the components of the new series. You tell the superintendent that you had planned to debrief the teachers at the end of the year and make changes and recommendations for the fall. The superintendent moves your presentation to the fall but now wants you to include test data.
As the principal, I would meet with my staff for that year-end debriefing as soon as possible. I would also tell the teachers that you will be collecting test data. I would reassure them that this is the first year and you do not expect to see great scores. Experts say it takes at least three years before seeing true results. Time is needed for students to get use to the change and staff needs time to learn how to use the resources. We can call this baseline data. I would also include much of this in the presentation to the board as well as the recommendations that the teachers have come up with. I would be sure to share all of the positives though be prepared to answer for any scores that may have dropped.
A principal in a junior high school is in a wealthy district with 2 other junior highs and 10 elementary schools. The board of education has taken over the task of renovating a different school each year. That school is moved to a vacant elementary building during renovations. This principal is proud of his innovative staff that embraces change. The principle suspects that his school will be chosen to be the first junior high to go through renovations because he and his building are seen as “easy going”. The superintendent announces that renovations will take place at all 3 schools at the same time but only during the summer months. In exchange for this plan, which means staff will not have to move to a new building, the superintendent is looking at this principal to be the first to change his junior high into a middle school. This is going to be a huge change in philosophy as well as class design. The principal agrees to visit a school already implementing this and a board member rides to the school with the principal. Along the way, the board member states that she does not agree with this change and will do her best to vote it down. The principal is now in the positions of choosing sides.
If I were in this position as the principal, I would have to look more into recent research on the topic of middle school philosophy to make sure that I have the most current information. I need to make sure that all the junior high principals share the same views and would ask for them to also visit the school that is already implementing this approach. I don’t feel that this change can happen before the school year starts. I think all of the administrators need to sit down and discuss what they are looking for while keeping the success of students as the goal. Next, we would come up with a plan and timeline on how to unroll this. Teachers will have to be provided with staff development and materials need to be purchased. With the support of the team, I hope the superintendent will see that a change this large is going to take time if it is going to be successful.
As the principal, I would not get involved with the board member and superintendent’s differences. I would focus on what is best for my students and staff and let them iron out their own problems.