A lot of non-LYS’ers ask me what exactly we do and why do principals use us. My answer is always the same, “We believe in successful schools, teachers and principals. We build that success though coaching and honest dialogue.” Below is one example of what this looks like. It is a conversation between me and a good, young principal who has the potential to be great. Principal X, Here is the problem with comparing yourself to other schools in your district. For every campus in your district that takes the formative data process seriously and is working to create an accurate picture, there is another campus that is skewing the data out of fear of Central Office. Plus, formative data is formative data. It is now the end of the year, summative data time. What you look at is TAKS data. Did our scores go up or did our scores go down? You had overall improvement in everything but science. Why? What worked? What didn’t? What will be different next year? Reading, writing and math improved, but not by much. Why? What worked? What didn’t? What will be different next year? Here would be the outline of our summative conference, if you worked for me. 1. Good job for a Rookie. You did not exceed my expectation, but you did meet them. 2. Though I’m proud of your activism and overall inquisitiveness, I’m concerned that it distracts you from what you were hired to do, making our school (yes, it belongs to both of us) an exemplar campus. Why can I say that? Your overall results this year barely moved the needle. 3. Next year, work to transform your “fox” like tendencies into “hedgehog” like tenacity. 4. There is no question you are one of my smarter principals, I expect you to be one of my most successful ones. I will measure that success by the performance of your students. Both School A (richer) and School B (poorer) outperform you. If you are to exceed my expectations, exceed the performance of both of those campuses. Reflect on this a little bit, but don’t obsess over it. And remember, all I see is your data, your posts, and just a few visits to your campus. On the other hand, that is more attention than most supervisors are able to give. But here is the important thing; I want you to remember that for a rookie principal, you did a good job. You took the school out at the beginning of the year and brought it back in safely at the end of the year. The degree of difficulty for that task is only understood by principals. But from here on out the rating scale gets much more difficult, you are now a veteran principal I appreciate your passion for public education. Principal X Response As always, you have given me one extra dose of reality to think about and consider before my ego explodes. (My Supervisor) does not always offer good opportunities for self-reflection, nor do I even know, at this stage in my career, which questions to even ask myself to move forward. However, given the cultural situation of this campus, it really took half the school year to get the pieces of the puzzle turned over before we could put the thing together. Many teachers needed the freedom to teach with coaching and guidance. It just took too long to get there. With that, we had to make moves in November to get people in the right grade levels, which I do not regret. It paid off. But, you are absolutely right. If not School A, because of their demographics, School B is definitely in a tougher situation than us. I use them as a comparison campus and we need to be doing it better than they are. So, in that respect, it is disappointing. Hard data is hard to defend without excuses. All I can offer is excuses, but they would not come to you without a lack of effort to move forward. In truth, what we did was not enough or it wasn’t the right thing to do. That is for me to decide as we move forward. Thank you for the feedback and for the data. I appreciate the honesty and you have given me something larger to think about going into my summative conference, which is Thursday morning. Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn… Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on Amazon.com! http://tinyurl.com/4ydqd4t Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation