Much of my time in the past month has been spent in one of three areas: organizational leadership, collaboration and communication, and instructional leadership.
One area that I have identified that needs some attention is to make sure the operation of the schools and central office is as efficient and effective as possible. We are fortunate to have highly competent and responsible people in the districts, but there is some “smoothing out” work that needs to be done to make sure we have a well-run system, particularly after the number of transitions in leadership over the past few years.
Part of this review is simply giving some attention to some routines and details, and clarifying with people what are the best procedures and processes to maintain the rhythm and flow of the thousands of details that are involved in running the organization side of school. We have started assembling administrative procedures for routine matters that will ensure consistency that is important to maintain fairness and equity, as well as provide a roadmap for the future.
Another part of the review is to clarify roles and responsibilities. The administrative team has started to look at the organizational structure of each of the schools, every facet of the operation, and the central office as a entire system, and to clarify lines of supervision and communication, Russ Holden and I have worked collaboratively to determine what is needed in a review of policies and job descriptions. Some of these need to be developed because of new requirements or circumstances, and some simply need to be updated and brought to the policy committee and personnel committee for review. Russ is be taking the lead on that work. I have reestablished monthly meetings with individual principals and directors to routinely review the status of their respective areas of responsibility, as well as identify goals and areas needing work. The administrative team has reviewed a working draft of a protocol to define levels of decision- making and will invite input from staff for many decisions, but provide clarity about who makes a final decision, and who has responsibility for implementing decisions.
The administrative team has started meeting on a schedule of two meetings a month in order to accomplish the tasks before us. We have drafted a program evaluation process for pilot programs, which principals have already planned to use to review the effectiveness of various areas of their schools. Over the past couple of months, I have worked collaboratively with administrators to revise a comprehensive system for evaluation of administrators. The administrative team has convened a review of emergency plans for each building and planned for a thorough review of the emergency plans by representatives of emergency responders including the police and fire departments.
Each School Board has now completed an individual workshop to identify priority goals for the coming year. I continue to meet with Tom Marx to plan a follow-up to the Five Town Board retreat, where we will clearly define what we mean by “standards based education” in anticipation of the reactivation of the Five Town Advisory Committee.
I have participated in a Maine Laptop Initiative webinar to obtain information about the next generation of one to one computing that will replace the Maine laptop initiative. Both Russ and I have been working with Bob Ianuzzi and the technology staff, administrators, teachers, and central office to identify ways to improve the district website and to initiate the drafting of a technology plan for the future that will be focused on improving learning and developing the infrastructure necessary to make technology an effective tool.
In the area of collaboration and communication, Russ Holden and I attended a workshop for superintendent’s and assistant superintendent’s sponsored by the Maine School Management Association and attended a law review for new superintendent’s sponsored by Drummond and Woodsum. I went to Augusta to meet with Commissioner Bowen for the purpose of opening a direct line of communication with the Commissioner and his office. I serve on the board of Communities That Care, and have met with their data team. I have met with the coordinator of the healthy initiative “Let’s Go” and attended a Wellness team meeting at CHRHS. I have met with the Americorp mentors and set up monthly meetings with administrators at the Midcoast School of Technology. I have started monthly meetings with the Associations. I attended a meeting to rollout the Maine initiative “Literacy for Me”, and will be meeting with community members to develop a regional plan for literacy from birth to adulthood. All of these communications and connections are important as we recognize that schools need to work in partnership with the wider communities in order to accomplish our educational goals.
Everything that preceded this paragraph is in support of the main mission of the schools: to educate all students to high standards. Following the workshop presented by David Livingston on the comprehensive framework of the Art and Science of Teaching and after several weeks of work in their respective buildings, members of the Steering Committee have met to discuss their progress. For most teachers, this is a planning year as they become familiar with the Art and Science of Teaching framework, which will provide a common language to describe effective teaching. For members of the Steering Committee who have advanced training, this is a year to implement “instructional rounds”, where teachers observe each other for the purpose of learning from each other. The Steering Committee will convene after each team has had an opportunity to work for several months, and will review how the instructional rounds have been progressing. They will draft a multi-year plan for bringing the instructional framework of the Art and Science of Teaching to fruition, including identifying what is need for professional development. In addition to the work with this instructional framework, we have started to plan for and organize the three curriculum committees that will work this year: science, social studies, and visual and performing arts. Union # 69 administrators and teachers have been invited to join us.
We have started a coaching process to support teachers who are new to the profession. Each new teacher had an opportunity to observe more experienced teachers. After their classroom observations, I met with teachers and they discussed several topics that are essential to effective instruction, including the layout of their classrooms to support learning, setting up routines and procedures, and engaging students in learning. The new teachers will have an opportunity several times throughout the year to observe in classroom and to meet to discuss various topics.
The NCLB performance reports and applications have been completed, and the Continuous Improvement Priority Status reports for CRES and CHRHS have been completed. Required letters have gone out to parents and are posted on the website. I am in the process of meeting with leadership teams of CRES and CHRHS to develop a school improvement plan for the coming year. The required Comprehensive Education Plans have been brought up to date, thanks to the work of Russ Holden and administrators, and are ready for Board approval.
Much work around curriculum can be accomplished through regional cooperation. I have attended several Midcoast Curriculum Leaders meetings and attended the Maine Curriculum Leaders Conference this week. We have joined a cohort for the purpose of sharing information about standards based education. Russell and I will share the leadership for curriculum.
This summary lists only some of the highlights of the past month. I have left the description of the varied accomplishments of staff and students to the building administrators to report, although I have thoroughly enjoyed the student activities I have been able to attend. However, I would be remiss if I did not mention that both Five Town CSD and MSAD # 28 are energetic districts where students, staff and parents are involved in a vast array of activities, which often occur simultaneously. It is a marvelous place for students to obtain a broad and high caliber education.