Development for Principals
Seven Core Beliefs
Paula Evans and Nancy Mohr
M. EVANS is the director of professional development at the Annenberg
Institute for school Reform, Brown Unviersity, Providence, RI.
NANCY MOHR was formerly a principal in New York City and is currently
a consultant on leadership there.
PRINCIPALS' professional development truly improve practice?
Can we encourage new behaviors that allow principals to make a
genuine difference in their schools? Can we support principals
as they strive to be grounded and focused, bold and unafraid?
Ms. Evans and Ms. Mohr share answers to these questions -- answers
learned through their work at the Annenberg
Institute for School Reform.
PROGRAMS IN school leadership
abound. Participants often remember the workshops as stimulating
and productive and assume that their own effectiveness will
improve more or less automatically as a result of their attendance.
Too often, however, the workshop experience seems to fade surprisingly
quickly. The principal returns to school with little more than
a few insights that have already begun to dim.
have asked ourselves, "Can principals' professional development
truly improve practice? Can we encourage new behaviors that allow
principals to make a genuine difference in their schools? Can
we support principals as they strive to be grounded and focused,
bold and unafraid?" At the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, we
have learned how to help principals become much more effective
in their schools. Moreover, our experience has taught us how to
support the principals' growing effectiveness once the formal
workshop has drawn to a close.
Annenberg Principals, all in the midst
of substantial efforts to improve their schools, are drawn from
schools across the country. They work in urban, rural, and suburban
settings and in schools with all grade-level combinations. Participants
make at least a year's commitment to the group. The seminar meets
four times per year, and we encourage regular communication between
meetings. Each seminar group is no larger than 35.
PRINCIPALS how to lead schools by
giving them predigested "in-basket" training
hardly leads to new thinking about
leadership, teaching, or learning.
expect participants to read and write in preparation for each
session, to articulate their own goals and dilemmas, and to
be constructively critical of their own work and that of their
colleagues. The learning experience promotes patterns of behavior
and new habits that we hope to see brought back to the school.
We also know that the learning experience for principals must
be intellectually rigorous and must provoke the questioning of
long-held assumptions. Reinforcing old patterns and hearing speakers
who mouth familiar platitudes about the "effective"
principal may make people feel comfortable, but it does not lead
to substantive change. We deliberately encourage principals to
question their practice, attempt change, and hold one another's
feet to the fire. Our work is consciously shaped by a set of seven
beliefs. These beliefs are complex -- they are conundrums not
to be resolved but to be wrestled with. Their very complexity
mirrors that of principals' daily dilemmas and long-term challenges.