From Good Schools to Great Schools: What Their Principals Do Well

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How are positive, respectful relations among students supported? Will each student have a personal life story of mixing broadly with students from diverse social, cultural and religious backgrounds? Or is the school not representative of the broader community?

If this is the case, how does the school support students to have a mix of cultural and social experiences? To what extent does the school bring together teachers', parents' and students' knowledge and insights? Are parents informed at the beginning of each year about what will be covered in subjects and the expectations about student attendance, homework and participation? What is the policy for telephone contact with individual teachers so that contact can be handled efficiently and effectively?

10 Things Great Principals Do Well | School of Thought

To ensure that teachers are not overloaded, how is this handled? Does the school promote information in its newsletter or on its website about what volunteer help is needed? When was the last time the school held a forum in which teachers, parents and students were involved in developing school values or a strategic plan or exploring key questions such as:. To what extent is the school developing its own broad, 'joined-up' approach to educational change? Evidence may include:. Does the school have strong teams and partnerships?

Is it, for example, part of a learning community or cluster of primary and secondary schools to share ideas and resources and develop a P model of schooling? Is the school an integral part of the local community? Do students take part in a variety of activities including after school community-based sports and other local community activities? Are these local community links listed on the school website? Is it involved in local community renewal e. Do students routinely have opportunities to learn through action orientated, hands-on experience to conserve local biodiversity?

Are students able to walk and bike to and from school? Or do students need to be driven to a school away from their local community possibly harming the environment due to increased car use and student health due to decreased physical activity? How is this communicated to the school community? Are families able to readily access up-to-date records of student performance? Is clear and informative feedback routinely provided to students? Are teachers and other staff provided with adequate time and support to enable this to happen? Is the school adding educational value to student achievement beyond that which may be predicted given the social class backgrounds and prior attainments of students?

What is the evidence for this e. School performance data systems include student outcome data, opinion data and demographic data that take into account the impact of student background. Such assessments can obviously help to reveal the real added value. Is the school supporting both the personal e.

System factors are likely to increase in importance. These issues are obviously not just matters for any one school but may reflect, of course, broader inequities in school funding.

What We Learned As Principals

Are there adequate resources and support for the efforts of staff in partnership with families and the community to improve the opportunities and outcomes of students? Are key school improvement initiatives fully funded and appropriately supported and not simply reliant on the goodwill of teachers and staff to bring about their successful implementation? Are the buildings modern and well-maintained?

Are the grounds neat and safe? Are the toilets modern and well cared for? Is there a good mix of large and small spaces for learning? Are there facilities for music, sport, technology, art and science? Does the school feel warm and inviting? Are there displays of student work and obvious signs of student participation?

What makes a good school? What makes a good teacher?

These ten areas all obviously interrelate and depend upon one another. This is what creates a great school over time. This also means that a great school has a shared framework so as to plan for real educational change and improvement. As well, it means that a school has adequate resources and support to plan for, and deliver, the things that it wants to do.

Who Can Help? Subject Areas Training Providers. Photos Videos Audio. Introduction 1. Local Decision-Making 2.

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Powerful Learning for All 3. Partnerships for Change 4.

Resources and Facilities. The short version - click here to view it now See the short version of the Great Schools Checklist. The longer version This ten-part checklist is useful as a systematic, objective way of assessing a school to evaluate what it is doing well now and the extent to which it is proactively seeking to shape the future of education.

Who created this checklist? It is: Informed by the ideas and experiences of many parents and students of diverse backgrounds - from across the government, independent and Catholic education sectors Based on the views of many principals and teachers who provided us with criteria for what comprises a great school and also helped us to understand the challenges and constraints.

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The value for you of this checklist Leadership teams, staff committees, school councils and boards, parents and friends groups and SRCs can all use the checklist to identify areas for improvement and monitor progress over time. Ten key issues Bringing together a wide range of views about great schools and notwithstanding the fundamental issue of adequate resources and support for schools to work on the many things that they would like to do , the ten issues are as follows.

Leadership and vision Is there a strong sense of really focusing on the future? Are these diverse student leadership roles formally recognised? School governance School governance refers to school councils and boards, student bodies SRCs and JSCs , parents and friends forums, staff committees and other local decision-making bodies.

Does the school council reflect the school's demographics? Does the school provide training for families to participate in the school council? Management and values Have teachers, parents and students been involved in school planning? Is the school well-managed? Are school events well-organised? Do key school leaders have good people management skills? Is there genuine warmth between students and teachers?

Is the school a safe, respectful place? Does the school greet visitors in a friendly and helpful way? Is the reception area comfortable? Are office staff able to handle inquiries efficiently? Are there hard copies of the latest newsletter readily available? What is the school's approach to student behaviour and a safe working environment? Teaching and learning Do school documents and the school's leaders convey a strong sense of continuous improvement and innovation in teaching and learning?

Do school leaders draw attention to their use of educational research? Are there positive, strongly collaborative relationships between teachers and students? What professional development opportunities do teachers have? Do teachers routinely collaborate? How is talk supported at home as well as in the classroom? Curriculum How is the school addressing a fundamental challenge: the right of all students to curriculum breadth, depth and balance , and to high standards in all learning areas, not just some of them? Deep academic knowledge and practical and applied learning? Strong guided instruction and inquiry-based learning?

Does the curriculum value all aspects of education - academic, vocational, physical and social? What co-curricular activities are available? Technology and communication What is the level of school and classroom use of information and communication technology ICT? Based on the work of schools, such a policy and plan embracing the ideas of the whole school community may include: Our shared vision, goal and objectives for ICT Learning, curriculum and ICT links Family and community partnerships Home-school communication On-line protocols and turn-around times Professional learning for all stakeholders Students' roles as technology leaders at school and at home.

What is the school's policy for teacher and family communication? Is there a practical plan to improve school communication over time? Does the school have an answering machine on which to leave messages after hours? Are e-mail and other tools and technologies used to facilitate fast, effective communication between teachers and families to: Let parents know immediately when students are absent or need to hand in work? Offer practical tips on learning? Provide other information? Are teachers and other staff provided with adequate time for supporting this?

Partnerships and community Partnerships consist of individuals - and groups and organisations - with different yet complementary knowledge or skills e. These include: The home Workplaces Community organisations Health and community services Sports, arts and recreation. Does the school use homework diaries that are seen and signed by parents and teachers? When was the last time the school held a forum in which teachers, parents and students were involved in developing school values or a strategic plan or exploring key questions such as: What are the challenges schools are facing?

What can be done to further build the school-family-community partnership? What does learning of the future and what does schooling of the future look and sound like? What is a great school? Joined-up change To what extent is the school developing its own broad, 'joined-up' approach to educational change? Evidence may include: A clear and compelling message as to why change is needed A clear, shared vision of what is to be changed and achieved Ownership of change among teachers, parents and students A shared policy framework that joins up all of the changes. Is the school developing a joined-up approach between: The vertical 'parts' of education e.

The horizontal links with the wider community e. And then there's opportunities unlike other high schools, like Fishing Club, Golf, Bowling, Medical Program, Lacrosse and many many more. Lovejoy supports all the activities and the school spirit can be really exciting when they combine in activities along side actual events, like Homecoming. Bullying exists.

It still isn't handled to my standards, but overall the school offers a "safe environment". Like most high schools these day, Lovejoy also keeps a cop on the property at all times and the presence of a cop keeps everyone in line. Read 41 Reviews. The teachers in FISD are always very encouraging and want the best for the students which is one of the best qualities of the district. The students in FISD are all intelligent and help you whenever you need it which improves cooperation and knowledge on challenging content.

There are many clubs, sports, and activities in which you can participate in which helps give you breaks from busy school work and stress and provides opportunities to create everlasting friendships with club members and teammates.

From Good Schools to Great Schools: What Their Principals Do Well

Overall, FISD is an excellent school district! They have a Health Sciences Academy that's available to apply for. I want to become a physician and I was accepted to the Health Sciences Academy. The experience is amazing! The curriculum covers the entire human body and we are required to learn all of the bones, muscles, veins, arteries, organs, all aspects of the heart, basically every function of every part of the human anatomy.

We get experience with actual doctor and nurses and medical environments. We have our own 8 bed hospital in the school and we have awesome teachers that will work with every student to perform at their highest level. This is due in part to their exponentially growing population, with over 3, students at the high school alone. They also have an almost comically large focus on athletics and drastically less though still sufficient attention on other extracurricular areas.

I've found this focus to lead those not involved in sports to occasionally feel less important. Over all, though, the education one receives through Prosper is well-rounded and well taught. Read 58 Reviews. Diversity is probably the weakest of Midway as there isn't much living in a small metropolitan city. Most of the teachers here at MISD are great, though I have complained about some, and the district took immediate action.

As far as safety goes, Midway is probably the best district to handle it. With always practicing drills every month and having a school officer on campus, you are ensured that you are in the safest place as possible. Music and Arts are ok, as there is every program such as, band, orchestra, choir and theatre.

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Otherwise, Midway ISD is a great school district to be apart of! Read 46 Reviews. The campus is spacious, with new facilities and plenty of resources. Literally—our school won the state championship in football last year! The best part about LTHS, though, is the faculty. The only downside about my school would be the lack of diversity at my school and I definitely hope that changes soon. Read 25 Reviews. Great education system and caring teachers.

I definitely recommend to go here if you're looking for an incredible community! Read 16 Reviews. The material isn't really deep and the teachers sometimes have to look out of the book to teach it. The atmosphere is anything way different than what you would expect at any other school. The kids and teachers are really friendly and kind to you when you meet them.

Some of the food in the cafeteria though doesn't really taste interesting.

I understand that it's not supposed to be interesting, but not everyone enjoys eating mostly junk food all year due to the limited selection on the menu. The school really focuses on its Fine Arts Department, it is a nice thing that Friendswood cares about a multitude of programs and not just sports. The parent involvement in Friendswood is intense. Read 32 Reviews. However, the problem with the school system, is in the mindset my fellow students have. By the time I realized what was going on around me it was too late, the competitiveness at the schools among the AP students is toxic and something that I feel many parents and students overlook.

This has allowed the values and traditions of this community to continue while continuing to grow to meet student needs. Moving into the LISD attendance area was an easy decision as a parent and educator. The teachers truly care for their students and treat them as their own, while the students, in the other hand, take advantage of the tools given to them in order to succeed.

One thing I would like to see change about the district is a larger emphasis on early college readiness and an increase in activities including excercises students can encounter in the real world. Read 50 Reviews. Everyone is involved in something, whether it's sports, band, clubs, academics, etc. It's also amazing how well the school does in UIL competition in almost every category. There is excellent parent support too. Read 11 Reviews. My counselor was always very supportive in my academic needs, and many of my teachers were eager to help. There's also some great events the school has to boost morale, and sports events get really exciting.

Overall, most teachers push you to be your best self and there's something for everyone at Boerne High, whether it be the art, architecture, floral design, student leadership, math clubs, and much more. I would definitely recommend Boerne High School to creative, driven students! Read 29 Reviews. The school wastes money on unnecessary things and yet the cafeteria is over-priced. A dollar won't get you anything for lunch, the parking lots are a mess wth too many unavailable spots.

The counselors are excellent however the vice principals are on a power trip and lower morale. Also major issues with racism at these schools and faculty only pretends to care. I know it can be challenging for everyone. I have never had to fight for the best for my kids because the school already provides the best!

Take 10 -- Principal Jeanie Dawson discusses effective school leadership

Read 18 Reviews. There are so many opportunities they give for me here. I feel welcomed and safe every day. They provide us rigorous classes and challenge us for the future and college. There are also so many activities here, such as sports, volunteer service, clubs, UIL, performance, and arts. Most teachers are prepared and ready to go. I would recommend to anyone!

Read 36 Reviews. I would like to see more support for the music programs and English dept. The counselor also did not give me good advice and advised me against dual credit and advanced courses and I took them and did really well in them.