In my previous article (4 High-Impact Tools for Leaders), I shared a few of my favorite digital resources to support school leaders. This time, I want to share a few additional tools that school leaders and district leaders will find helpful as they transform their classrooms, their schools, and their districts. All of the tools referenced here are aligned to the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders from the National Policy Board for Educational Administration. The purpose is simple: when school leaders reflect on their practice, they can align their strengths and growth areas to the tools found in this list.
I hope you find these additional both informative and actionable as you work diligently to support the success of your entire school community, and district!
1. Professional Readings (Mission, Vision and Core Values)
I have found through my experiences that I have so much professional literature to read, but not enough time. Much of it helps me in gaining clarity around mission, vision, and core values. There are two resources I consistently use to help me stay relevant in research, best practices, and trends. The Marshall Memo ($50/year subscription; 50 issues/year) is designed to keep principals, teachers, instructional coaches, superintendents, and other PreK-12 educators well-informed on current research and best practices. The Main Idea ($39-$49/year subscription; 9 book summaries/year & 125 books in the archives), is an 8-page summary of a current education book. The summaries include core ideas of the text so that the reader has a good working knowledge of the book’s content. The summary also includes ways for the reader to actualize the content from the book. Most of my ideas come from these two resources!
2. Social and Emotional Intelligence (Community of Care and Support for Students)
When determining how to continue to grow the social and emotional health of your students (and staff), CASEL is a one-stop-shop with respect to resources, support, and implementation. The CASEL Guide to Schoolwide SEL is a step-by-step process for school-based leadership teams, helping them coordinate and build upon SEL practices and programs to create a school environment that ensures high quality SEL practices show up in all elements of the school for students. I have found that their rubric is extremely helpful!
3. Instructional Coaching (Professional Capacity of School Personnel)
When trying to find a complete package of materials to support a cycle of improvement that includes observations, student work, lesson plan review, and feedback, the Instructional Practice Toolkit (IPT) is a great resource. It is designed to build understanding and experiences with instructional practices, and includes facilitation guides, materials, classroom observation videos, and teacher interview videos. It is an excellent resource for your own learning, the learning of leadership teams, parents, other stakeholders, teachers, and support staff. I highly recommend it!
4. An Agent of Continuous Improvement (School Improvement)
Efforts to improve a school require consistent opportunities for leaders to reflect, disrupt, adapt, and expand their thinking. The Together Leader helps leaders do this reflective work and then take action on that work. The Together Leader training helps leaders develop competencies, skills, and practices that turn ideas and learning into action. For example, Meeting with Myself is a practice in which a leader will take stock of the week that just happened and plan ahead for the upcoming week. The leader then transfers this reflection into to-do’s for the next week. Many materials are free on the site and several training sessions are offered throughout the year (starting at $475/person). It has changed the way I lead and support myself and my team!
Dr. Brandy Nelson is Executive Director, Learning and Teaching, Secondary, for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina, and the founder/CEO of Nelson Roots.