Why Principals Who Need to Be Popular Are Red Flags

(PD for Principals: Why the Need to be Popular is a Red Flag)

In many respects, effective leadership can be described as a balancing act. Leaders must be able to provide both support and accountability, be directive or nondirective as the situation warrants, and have a strong, internal compass grounded in ideals and beliefs regarding what is best for students which define his or her nonnegotiables.

For principals, this includes the willingness and courage to put student needs ahead of staff preferences, always in an environment of collegiality and respect.

Signs that your principal is struggling to balance his or her leadership responsibilities

As a district leader, how do you discern when a principal is struggling to hold staff members accountable and move the school ahead in improved student outcomes? The most obvious indicator is a multiyear pattern of flattened or declining performance, not simply in test scores, but in other markers, including:

  • Attendance
  • Office discipline referrals
  • Suspensions and expulsions
  • Numbers of students taking high-rigor courses
  • Student grades

Another important indicator of a school’s progress: instructional practices

Another indicator of trouble is a notable lack of progress in keeping classroom instructional practices up-to-date. When you walk through classrooms at the school, does everything look pretty much as it did two to five years ago?

Shouldn’t things be changing, given the knowledge of more robust research and programmatic advances? Was the school once high performing? As the years have passed, has staff and leadership complacency — perhaps coupled with a lack of responsiveness to changing student needs and demographics — contributed to an overall decline?

Why needing to be popular is dangerous for principals

A leader I’ll call Lucy had been promoted to the principalship at the school where she had been Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA). In the TOSA role, the staff adored her for her tireless support. Under a positive and strong principal, she worked very hard on behalf of students while doing everything she could to make teachers’ lives easier. She was exceptionally knowledgeable about student literacy and was a truly valuable resource for the school.

Leaders who are uncomfortable in their roles can cause school decline

Lucy’s transition to the principalship, however, proved difficult; she seemed unable to put herself into the role of supervisor. Faced with the demands of assuming responsibility for the school’s achievement, her popularity quickly waned as she experienced push-back and resentment from the same teachers who had loved her as the TOSA. She would quickly back off when this occurred, and the school began to decline on all fronts.

Her communication became more and more inconsistent, and when one of the teachers filed a grievance over a minor contractual issue, she was upset to the point of calling in sick. After two years, she returned to the classroom.

What could have helped a gifted teacher become a principal who excelled at collaborative leadership?

What could have empowered this gifted educator to successfully bridge the gap from colleague to superior? She was a natural collaborator; how could she have grown from a collaborative peer into a principal with a democratic, collaborative style?

The rest of the article, read it at this link https://blog.sharetolearn.com/leaders-link/principal-popularity-red-flag/


Sometimes it’s hard for parents (and even teachers!) to determine if certain struggles or behaviors are just a normal part of the learning process, or an indicator of a deeper issue. Certain problems can serve as red flags that a cognitive skill weakness may be causing serious learning struggles and holding a child back.

Cognitive skills are the underlying mental tools that make up IQ and include skills like logic & reasoning, attention, memory, processing speed, and auditory and visual processing. If one or more of these skills are weak, reading and learning can be difficult. If a cognitive skill weakness is the underlying cause of problems in school, the struggles will not ease until those weak skills are addressed.

So, as you head into conferences, or any time you talk to your child’s teacher, listen for these red flag phrases:

“I know he’s smart, but …”

  • His work doesn’t show it.
  • It’s just not coming out.
  • He makes sloppy mistakes.

This is one of the most frustrating aspects of weak cognitive skills for parents and teachers: a smart child locked inside a struggling student. This phrase is a good indicator that several cognitive skills are very strong, while others are deficient and causing a bottleneck for learning.

“He’s below grade level in reading.”

Most reading struggles can be linked to weak cognitive skills. Studies show 85 percent of all learning-to-read problems are caused by weak phonemic awareness skills, which give us the ability to hear, blend, unglue, and manipulate the smallest sounds in a word. Reading struggles can also be caused or compounded by deficiencies in visual processing, memory, attention, and processing speed. If your child continues to struggle in reading, it can eventually lead to problems in other subjects, too.

“He takes a long time to…”

  • Finish schoolwork.
  • Answer questions.
  • Follow directions.

Some kids take longer because they’re perfectionists, but weak cognitive skills are generally to blame if a child is always the last student done with an assignment, can’t seem to complete tasks, or takes hours to wrap up standard homework loads.

“He continues to struggle with…”

  • Math facts.
  • Paying attention.
  • Following directions.

Some struggles are normal when learning anything. But if your child takes a longer-than-average amount of time to master grade-level learning, a cognitive weakness is most likely the root cause.

While ongoing struggles in reading and math are often clear signs of a cognitive weakness, other behaviors are also strong indicators. Red-flag behaviors that may come up in a parent-teacher conference include:

  • The inability to stay on task
  • Bouncing from idea to idea
  • Making sloppy mistakes
  • Turning in incomplete work
  • Not turning in assignments at all
  • Impulsiveness
  • General attention issues
  • Spelling problems (including forgetting words after mastering them)
  • Problems with if/then analogies
  • Struggles following instructions
  • Difficulty comprehending numbers, directions, answers
  • Trouble discerning left and right
  • Poor ability to use maps
  • Hesitation to read aloud
  • Poor organization skills
  • Forgetfulness
  • Avoiding prolonged mental efforts
  • Dislike or disinterest in school

If you hear any of the red flag phrases at conference time, or if the teacher says your child has several of the above signs, it may be time to schedule a cognitive skills assessment. After determining which skills are weak, you can focus on the most effective way to target and train those skills.

While certain games, exercise, and activities can help strengthen weak cognitive skills, one-on-one personalized brain training targets specific brain skills that, when at their strongest, make learning easier and more efficient.

Source: https://www.learningrx.com/free-articles/learning-disability/red-flag-phrases-for-parent-teacher-conferences/