West Ada principals train with nationally recognized author and educator

A new school year brings to mind throngs of children with backpacks, but it’s not only students who benefit from instruction. Today, 58 principals from West Ada’s public schools will gather at the District Service Center to discuss “observable impact” and “rigorous learning” with Michael McDowell, an author and educator with 18 years of experience who has given leadership presentations to thousands of teachers and leaders all over the United States and the world.

District officials like Chief of Staff Nicole Scheppers hope the training will empower principals to focus on this year’s theme, “Anchored in Instruction.”

“We’re asking principals to challenge themselves…to focus more on the how of instruction and achievement and less on…the managerial tasks that they do every day…that play a role in the building but don’t necessarily contribute to student success or student achievement,” she said.

Aligned with this goal, McDowell encourages leaders to focus on “observable impacts,” changes that can actually be observed for every learner including principals, teachers, staff and students.

Thus, leaders see real change and recognize the culture of learning they help create in their schools.

West Ada holds yearly training sessions for principals but does not always bring in special speakers. McDowell will give a talk and remain for the rest of the day to participate in discussions with principals and address their specific needs and questions.

The conference material focuses on McDowell’s book, “Navigating Leadership Drift: Observable Impact on Rigorous Learning,” which also addresses the tough reality, that we are losing educational leaders.

He writes: “When it comes to our current education system’s must win game of retaining the best and brightest educational leaders, it’s midway through the fourth quarter and the education system isn’t simply losing the game- it’s getting blown out.”

Scheppers agrees that leaders face long hours and difficult jobs, asking, “How do you manage…all of those small managerial tasks but also focus on student success? [How do you] focus on climate, focus on culture, and focus on teacher success and well-being, [all] while balancing your personal plate at home?”

One solution is to hold meetings like this one, which help principals see all the good they can do as leaders of their schools. Scheppers expressed her confidence in McDowell’s ability to guide principals, providing concrete and actionable “to-dos” to help empower them as leaders.

Written by Katie McGuire, a freelance reporter for Idaho EdNews. 

Katie McGuire

Katie McGuire

Katie McGuire is a freelance reporter for EdNews. She lives in Meridian with her husband and their two children. She has a bachelor's degree in secondary education social science teaching from Brigham Young University and a master's in history from Kent State University.

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