Over the last several years, the role of the principal in a school has changed drastically. The principal is no longer just the building manager, but has duties and responsibilities that require him or her to monitor instruction and assist teachers in improving their teaching. Being held accountable for the results of their students on state and national assessments has led to the task of leading school reform in order to raise the level of student achievement.
During the 1980s and 1990s, effective school research focused on the principals and their role. “These studies consistently found that the principal was the key to an effective school.” (http://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/2333/Principal-School.html)
In response to the evolving needs of principals, the staff at KVEC has recently developed a program, Activating Catalytic Transformation (ACT), in which the principal is the pivot point. The major goal of the program is to improve the lives of students every day by building on the collective confidence of the principal and school staff that they can reach every student.
ACT is built around five key workstreams, with the first component being Facilitative Coaching. After each participating school identifies the challenge being faced in meeting expectations for student learning, a facilitative coach will be strategically matched to each location. The role of the coach will be to support the principal and shared leadership team to arrive at new learning by examining and interpreting their own data and evidence.
The second component, Clinical Professional Learning, will focus on the application, reflection, and refinement of professional learning within the team’s own school and classrooms. The needs identified in the schools’ Catalytic Action Plans will drive the professional learning experiences for each team.
Mentoring by the facilitative coaches and other principals and school teams experiencing the same challenges will provide opportunities for guidance and support. Teams will learn from each other while at the same time applying the learning and practice in their own buildings.
Formalized Networking, the fourth workstream, will promote inter- and intra-district collaboration. The teams will experience practice-based learning communities that will develop around common problems of practice. The networks, called Communities of Reflective Practice (CORPs), will allow leaders and teams to be connected to and learn from and with each other.
Performance-based learning for educators, rather than seat time or credit hours, will be the focal point of Micro-Credentials, the fifth component of ACT. Key elements of micro-credentials include being competency-based, which allows educators to focus on a discrete skill related to their individual practice. The personalization of the learning also permits principals and other educators to start and continue the process of earning the micro-credentials on their own time and at their own pace. Beginning the first of July, educators involved with ACT will be supported by KVEC in earning a micro-credential entitled “Framing a Problem of Practice”.
KVEC will be hosting a two day kickoff for the principals and a few staff members from each school selected to participate in the project through an application process. The main goal of the event will be for each school to understand the process for developing a Problem of Practice and Theory of Action and also to identify the personalized profession learning needs of the participants. All educators in attendance will be administered the DISC behavior assessment tool, which centers on four different behavioral traits: dominance, inducement, submission, and compliance. This procedure will assist the teams in understanding their personal and team strengths and how these strengths can be used to advance the work of the teams.
Schools designated to join the first cohort of ACT educators include:
- Flat Gap Elementary, Johnson County
- Highland Turner Elementary, Breathitt County
- Owsley Elementary, Owsley County
- Stinnett Elementary, Leslie County
- Louisa East Elementary, Lawrence County
- Allen Elementary, Floyd County
- Johnson County Middle School, Johnson County
- Fallsburg School, Lawrence County
- Johnson Central High School, Johnson County
- Lawrence County High School, Lawrence County
- Lee County Middle/High School, Lee County
- Breathitt County High School, Breathitt County
- Magoffin County High School, Magoffin County
KVEC staff members are confident that through the ACT project principals will benefit from learning in the setting where they can immediately apply what they have learned (Linda Darling-Hammond) and the students will be the true winners as a result.