Lessons Learned through Partnership

We were very pleased to see the National Center for Literacy Education’s focus on the importance of leadership and school culture with its 2012 report Remodeling Literacy Learning:  Making Room for What Works.

Governors State University has had the opportunity to work closely with high need school districts in the south suburban region of Chicago on various initiatives with a focus on collaboration. We have had several grants which have played a central role in our induction and mentoring initiatives and our alternative certification program.

Our main focus has been preparing high quality teachers and working with school districts to provide support through comprehensive induction with intensive mentoring. It did, however, become increasingly clear over time that we needed to work more closely with district administrators, particularly principals, to enhance the strong partnership and have the greatest impact on student learning. Hallinger and Heck (1998) noted some time ago that which is so often highlighted today—that school principals are second only to classroom teachers as the most influential factor related to school achievement.

The Principal’s Role in Induction and Mentoring

We received a state induction grant that provided a great opportunity in this area. We included administrator learning communities as part of this initiative with 15 partner districts. We realized that we had effective principals who were working very hard, but they did not have a strong grasp on certain concepts related to supporting new teachers, particularly new teacher development, the role of the principal in supporting them, and the research on new teacher attrition related to leadership and school culture (Moore Johnson, Kraft & Papav (2012).

As a part of this grant, each principal developed an action plan with a goal in each of these areas:

  1. Personal support of the district’s induction and mentoring program
  2. Personal support of the new teachers in the building
  3. Facilitation of support for all new teachers by the entire faculty
  4. Facilitation of alignment of mentor/protégé work with building initiatives.

Because of this focus on working with administrators over the three years of the state funding, we were very proud that when the funding ended, our partners continued their induction programs. We do not think this would have happened without this important work with the administrators.

On October 29 in Washington, D.C., NCLE will be participating in the event Building Capacity for Literacy Learning: Principals and Teachers Unite. As part of National Principals Month, NCLE stakeholders are shining a spotlight on the importance of the principal's role in leading professional learning and establishing a collaborative culture.

Read the full narrative from Governors State University to see examples of NCLE survey findings evident in their experiences partnering with district leaders. In addition to new teacher induction, Karen Peterson describes the pilot of a performance-based principal evaluation process that incorporates key components of shared leadership and professional learning communities. Also, ten school-based leadership teams establish goals and actions plans focused on strengthening student achievement outcomes.

Most Recent: October 29, 2013
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    Dor Fitzgerald

    Bravo Dr. Peterson!

    Bravo, Dr. Peterson!  Yes, building trust takes time and endurance.  School District partners trust Karen Peterson because she patiently guides administrators maintaining high expections while encouraging each person to stretch out of her/his comfort zone to maximize individual professional growth.  She clearly demonstrates Dr. Joe Murphy's research validating the need to keep one eye focused on academics while the second eye focuses on relationships and building supportive cultures.  

    By going to the schools on District time Dr. Peterson models respect for each school's unique needs.  Her ongoing interactive professional development is providing a network of support for partners.  This eloquent article summarizes her strong passion to help improve schools and student growth one administrator at a time.  I am proud to serve on her dynamic team!