The Practicum

The Working Plan | Where To Start?

This blog will chart the journey of working through my Principal’s Qualification Program practicum, focusing on using data to measure the impact of various activities on student achievement and wellness while building collaborative, professional relationships.

Summer dreaming is now becoming a reality as fall graces my neighbourhood.

The summer of brainstorming for my PQP practicum surrounded my activities in the arts. The biggest challenge was to think beyond my comfort zone of my individual department to consider the impact of school improvement plans on the entire school culture.

I mused with a variety of topics before landing on my final proposal. These topics ranged from leadership development with the heads’ group to implementation of a school wide assessment and evaluation policy.

But, if we are really looking at improving student achievement and wellness, and aligning the policies and procedures of the board with what’s happening at the school level, then what data needs to be gathered, analyzed and built upon. In the middle of leadership development and assessment and evaluation is instructional practice. At the core of that instructional practice is the learning relationship between the student and teacher.

Then I started thinking - how do we really know that we are making an impact? And if that impact is rooted in data, then which types of data are we gathering/observing, and how are we applying the lens of equity and ethics within the gathering/observing/implementing of that data?

So, what’s the plan?

Go back to the school improvement plan and go back to what’s happening in departments.

And, what if we could bounce off to the data that we gathered last spring in departments and merge that data with this fall’s urgent student needs?

And, what if we could encourage department members to champion this information. Instead of the voices that we usually hear at staff meetings and in committees, encourage voices of those teachers who are dealing with the students on a daily basis to champion the work being done in the departments? And what would that sharing look like in a way that would honour all voices in our building?

The reality in my practicum now is getting down to the work. Going to the data, engaging the voices, setting out a plan that will encourage engagement and honour what’s happening in our school community.

Below is a summary of what I submitted to the Ontario Principal’s Council in the fall. I’ll meet with the team, see what’s possible, and then go from there.

I also need to embed some clear monitoring strategies into planning. For, gathering data is the first step in building accountability, but having a plan of what to do with the data is the next step in securing accountability in an ethical manner.

Leadership Inquiry Practicum Proposal

The next year is dedicated to continuing the School Improvement work, this time with a leadership stance, to complete my Ontario Principal’s Qualification Leadership Inquiry Practicum.

The proposal to the practicum is below. In a year, the practicum aspect will be complete but I’m sure that the work will have just started.

Inquiry Question:

What types of monitoring strategies does the school time need to engage in to evaluate the impact of our School Improvement Plan for Student Achievement?

Theory of Action Statement:

If we engage in purposeful planning of SIPSA goals and monitoring tools from a variety of data sources, we will have a more holistic view of the impact of SIPSA plans on student achievement and wellbeing.  

Learning Goals:

As the leader of this project, I will be able to:

  • understand the impact of embedding monitoring strategies in SIPSA planning

  • combine monitoring research with school and board level data

  • learn in a collaborative manner, building relationships cross-curricularly and developing profession dialogue driven by multiple sources of data.

Success Criteria:

To ensure the success of this project, the school team will need to:

  • analyze the existing data, identifying gaps, next steps and revising the SIPSA theory of action

  • co-learn and co-lead, synthesizing, aligning and applying research

  • design and implement monitoring strategies that support the SIPSA activities and teacher wellness

The Practicum Breakdown According to the Ontario Leadership Framework:

Setting Directions

  • To develop a sense of collective buy-in and efficacy by developing a collective challenge of practice and monitoring strategies with all stakeholders

Building Relationships and Developing People

  • To work with a variety of team members, co-learning and leading a variety of meaningful professional development exchanges that positively impact classroom practice

Developing the Organization to Support Desired Practices

  • To model effective collaboration, including setting goals and deadlines that uphold the school’s schedule; to empower all stakeholders to be involved in the school improvement process

Improving the Instructional Program

  • To have direct impact on student achievement through the modelling of a variety of monitoring strategies

Securing Accountability

  • To probably analyze data in order to maintain a clear direction for stakeholders; to be accountable for release time by providing clear opportunities for colleagues to learn, collaborate, share and take risks within their learning

Personal Leadership Resources

This practicum will help me develop all aspects of the PLR, including practicing resilience and optimism in the face of challenges, as well as develop my social resources and adapt a system’s thinking mindset.

Monitoring the Practicum:

  • observations and conversations from colleagues

  • gathering data through focus groups and surveys

  • professional learning with check-ins from individual departments

  • online collaboration and collection of data through Google Drive and Classroom

Application of Theory of PQP 1, Along with Applicable Legislation

  • Implantation of Fullen’s 6Cs work and using technology as one of the means for gathering data

  • Using Katz’s research to develop inquiry goal

  • Application of monitoring workshop

  • Equity and Inclusive Schools in Ontario

  • PPM 159 Collaborative Professionalism

  • PPM 119 Inclusive Schools

  • YRDSB Leadership Strategy

  • Assessment Institute

  • YRDSB policies and procedures BIPSA, SIPSA, Equity, Assessment and Evaluation policies

Links to Standards of Practice:

This practicum will uphold the commitment to students and student learning by taking a collaborative approach to developing our school’s challenge of practice.  By rooting the activities in a variety of data, this inquiry will uphold professional knowledge and practice by encourage our colleagues to use direct information from their departments to address the urgent student need.  All of this work cannot exist without the fundamental ethical elements: care, trust, integrity, and respect. Throughout this process the team will be able to build effective, professional relationships through ongoing professional learning.