Navigating The Illinois Teacher Evaluation Processes For Principals

Written By: Principal Andy Jordan, Ed.S.

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

In Illinois teacher evaluations are required by law per Illinois Senate Bill 7.  There are some rules and steps that Illinois administrators need to make sure they follow to ensure they are conducting their evaluations properly and legally.  

When evaluating teachers you need to give them notice by the first day of school in writing that you are going to evaluate them that school year, according to Principal Andy Jordan.   Remember that non-tenured teachers are those teachers who are in their first four years of teaching and have not earned tenured rights.  

All non-tenured teachers must receive two formal evaluations and one informal evaluation.  If you are evaluating a tenured teacher they only need to receive one formal and one informal evaluation.  With each formal evaluation you need to have a pre-conference meeting and a post conference meeting with the teacher according to Principal Andy Jordan.  Most districts work out a timeframe with the teachers union and/or the PERA Joint Committee to ensure that the post conference happens within ten days of the evaluation date. 

Due to Senate Bill 7 part of the evaluation is based on the performance rating (informals and formal evaluation(s)) and the other part is based off of student growth rating.   The percentages of the performance rating and student growth ratings is set by your PERA Joint Committee.  If you are unsure what your percentages are check with your superintendent.  

Student growth practice: depending on the parameters set by your PERA Joint Committee your teachers will either have to complete a type I, type II, or type III assessment(s) to determine their student growth rating for part of their evaluation.  

Once you have completed the student growth practice ratings and the performance evaluation you pull it into a summative rating where you give your teacher a final rating.  This is where they are rated overall as a teacher.  This can be confusing for a first year administrator if you have any questions feel free to reach out to me on twitter @principa_andy or by email at principalandyjordan@gmail.com  

Three Steps to Improve Your Basketball Game

Experienced school administrator Andrew Jordan most recently served as principal of West Carroll Primary School, overseeing daily operations at the pre-kindergarten through fourth grade elementary school. As a principal, Andrew Jordan has an impressive record of success, decreasing school suspension rates and improving test scores by as much as 20 percent. Outside of his educational career, Mr. Jordan enjoys a number of sports, including golf and basketball.

Basketball is an excellent pastime, both for the social aspect of the game and the great workout you receive. It requires speed, strength, and coordination to be truly great at the game. If you’re looking for ways to improve your basketball game, here are a few tips that might help.

Spend Some Time in the Gym
Most professional basketball players will advise you to keep up your basic conditioning level before you get into your basketball season. That means pushing yourself regularly, whether it’s running on a treadmill or in the great outdoors. Cardio conditioning will help you stay equipped with the stamina and speed you need to play your best on the court. While you’re working on cardio, add some weightlifting to your workout as well. During the offseason, spend some time building up your overall strength, as well as working on agility.

Use the 5 Percent Rule
Find an area of your basketball game that you consider a weakness, whether that’s in your core strength, conditioning, ball handling, or even your diet. Make a plan to focus 5 percent of your energy each day on improving just that single weak aspect of your game. It won’t take up too much of your time, but it will be enough to improve your weakness little by little every day. The results over time can be extraordinary!

Try Some One-on-One Games
This is one of the best ways to improve your game. Look for a friend who is just a little better than you at basketball and schedule some time to play them one-on-one. This type of play will help you work on every aspect of your basketball game.

Remote Learning In Education Doesn’t Work

Photo by energepic.com on Pexels.com

Remote Learning In Education Doesn’t Work

Written by: Principal Andy Jordan, Ed.S. School Administrator- 10-19-20

Many schools are starting the 2020-21 school year in full remote learning and/or hybrid models.  As we enter November 2020 we are seeing many schools switch back and forth between different models and switching back to in person learning.  

I am currently in quarter two of my first semester and we have successfully completed an entire quarter of in-person learning.  It has had some challenges and there are many different pros and cons but according to Principal Andy Jordan in person learning reaps far more benefits than remote or hybrid learning.  

Here are a few reasons why hybrid and remote learning are not as effective as in person learning and why administrators should be fighting to stay in person learning.  

Students are a creature of habit.  They need to be in the classroom and have their daily routines.  Students that have A/B or A/B/C or partial schedules are unable to manage it successfully and they are receiving less instructional time and support.  Other students are lacking the social emotional learning and the ability to connect with their peers and have a someone normal social life during this pandemic, which for some students is much needed after a total shutdown.  

Teachers do not have the time nor the resources to teach both in person and remotely during these times, according to Principal Andy Jordan.  Teachers are not prepared to equip with all the moving parts that are included with remote and hybrid learning.  Let alone how far behind they are since being shut down in March.  How can we expect to catch students up from March who are behind and also do so with less instructional time on a hybrid or remote learning schedule?  It simple can’t be done and it is not the fault of the educator, student, or parent.  

Schools should be operating for in person learning and finding solutions to make it happen.  Being able to adapt and be creative as administrators is what our communities need right now.  Being able to keep our students and staff safe is priority number one, but we should find solutions to make our school safe during these times.  

Teaching during COVID 19 and operating a school is difficult and almost impossible but we owe it to our students to be able be in person for this school year.  In some cases that is not possible, but according to Principal Andy Jordan we should turn over every stone and do our best to accommodate our students as their learning is more important now than it ever was.    

How To Turn Your School Culture Around

Written by: Andy Jordan, Ed.S. School Administrator- 10-16-20

When I took over as a building administrator I found myself in distain with what I was seeing my first couple of weeks.  Culture was rock bottom with students using profanity towards each other and even at staff members with no redirection from staff.  Here are some tips that Principal Andy Jordan used to turn around his school culture. 

  • Be visible all the time and get out of the office.  This means every passing period you are in the hallways, lunch time you are walking around the cafeteria, and before/after school you are meeting and greeting students and staff.
  • School wide assemblies monthly.  Use monthly assemblies to highlight the positives that are happening in the school and highlight individual students and staff members.  You should make these fun and include games and competitions along with music.  You can sprinkle in a guest speaker once a semester to keep the momentum going.
  • Utilize Facebook and social media to highlight what is actually happening inside the school with your students and teachers.  This will incite buy in from your community members and give your parents something to talk about with their children.
  • Send out positive weekly emails to all staff members.  Make sure to highlight a different teacher or staff member each week.  Send pictures as attachments through the email and stay positive.  According to principal Andy Jordan keeping your staff informed will go a long ways for keeping them in the loop and making them feel like they are apart of the school.
  • Highlight only the positives in your board report with pictures and lots of great information about the improvement of your building and highlighting your students and staff members.  Giving something positive for the board members to talk about while out in public is always a positive and they will appreciate it. 

Turning a school around can be tough but it can easily be done by following these five simple tricks, according to Principal Andy Jordan.  Being able to stay positive and take the hits early on as a leader will be important as staff will see your leadership and they will know that you will not waiver when it comes to school culture.   

5 Strategies for Serving your First Year Superintendent

Photo by Julia M Cameron on Pexels.com

5 Strategies for Serving your Frist Year Superintendent

Written by: Andy Jordan, Ed.S. School Administrator- 10-18-20

The world of education spans far and wide and so do its leaders who take the helm as superintendent.  How do embrace your new boss as a school principal makes all the difference how your relationship will go that year and beyond.  Here are five quick strategies for principals to use when getting a new boss.

  • Be able to read your superintendent and figure out quickly what his strengthens and weaknesses are and what type of personality they have.  Some superintendents lead by power and complete control and others lead from afar building your skills and leading you.  If you have a superintendent that needs the attention and complete control you should be concerned and plan your days strategically. 
  • Highlight the positives and successes in your building as much as possible.  If you don’t use social media start doing so and highlighting everything that is qualitative.  According to principal Andy Jordan using Facebook and Twitter as your social media platform will quickly grow your culture in your building.  If negatives come up and they are not a district wide concern make sure to squash them and don’t let it get out of your building.  
  • Recognize and highlight the superintendent whenever you can.  For example, if you are sending a weekly update to staff say something nice about your superintendent and his leadership and make sure to BCC him on the email.  A few of those per month will start building trust and rapport with your superintendent, especially if he is a personality that needs the attention and needs to be in control. 
  • Weed out the negative.  Don’t say anything negative about him to anybody.  One negative comment or remark in the school setting could catch fire and get back to him.  Same thing goes for communication through email and chat messenger.  Don’t say anything negative about him, but instead drop a few positives with his name to different people.  This will protect you for when your superintendent decides to go through your emails and search his name.  If you don’t think this happens you are wrong, most superintendents go through their principals emails and messages to gain information about what is going on.  
  • Win the day.  Everyday in the principal position you are under fire and being attacked by many different angels.  Don’t let it get to you and do your best everyday.  If your superintendent has district wide initiatives you do them tenaciously and you win the day. 

There are many struggles as a principal, but according to Principal Andy Jordan you need to keep your head up and don’t let your highs get to high and your lows get to low.  Be able to have some other administrators on call and be ready to ask for help if needed.   There are enough people that make your job tough don’t allow your superintendent to be one of them. 

Effective COVID 19 Strategies for Administrators to Implement for In Person Learning

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Written by: Andy Jordan, Ed.S. School Administrator- 8-23-20

Since March of 2020 schools have been rocked and forced to adapt due to COVID-19 and remote learning.  One thing schools have learned is that remote learning is not as effective as in person learning and our at risk students are more likely to be left behind.  Andy Jordan school principal shares his tips and strategies that can be implemented by other small schools.  

Classroom Social Distancing

Make sure to have your desks spaced out as close to 6 feet apart as possible.  One strategy principal Andy Jordan has implemented is removing all flexible seating in classrooms and replacing it with traditional desks facing the same direction.  

Cafeteria

Remove traditional cafeteria tables and shift flexible seating from teachers classrooms into the cafeteria.  According to Andy Jordan principal this will help with storage within the school building.  If you have extra gym space convert your gym into a makeshift second cafeteria.  This will allow schools to have two lunch locations, maintain social distancing, and allow for less than 50 persons in one space.  

Hallway Traffic

Principal Andy Jordan has a middle school and high school in one building.  He was able to shift the middle school schedule three minutes later in the day to allow high schoolers to have their own three minute passing period and then the middle schoolers were able to pass after them.  This allowed for a reduction of 50% hallway traffic during passing periods.  As an extra precaution principal Andy Jordan also rotated the lockers around the building to space them 6 feet apart on three different floors increasing social distancing yet again.  

Wearing Masks

According to the Illinois State Board of Education students and staff must wear a mask that covers both their mouth and nose while inside the school building at all times, unless they are eating lunch socially distanced.  Principal Andy Jordan recommends providing school logo masks to students for free and to also allow students to bring and decorate their own mask.  This will help build trust and culture with your students and staff.

Praise the Positive

According to Principal Andy Jordan’s leadership blog, highlighting the positives will be crucial for getting through tough in person learning during COVID 19.   Being a leader that highlights positives in your building and praising you staff and students will be key to keeping morale high during uncertain times.

4 Tips for Improving Staff Meetings

Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

Written by Andy Jordan, Ed.S. School Administrator- 8-23-20

It’s the first Monday of the month, which means there’s a faculty meeting after school. As the principal, you have a laundry list of items to discuss with members of your staff. 

After preparing a PowerPoint with all of the pertinent data points and central administration directives you know that when you look out into the auditorium you will see some polite participants watching attentively from the front row, English teachers frantically grading a stack of papers, and football coaches impatiently looking at the clock waiting to get out on the field to meet with their players. 

Sound familiar? 

Unengaging faculty meetings are as ubiquitous as students with backpacks. Usually held after a long day, meetings are more like mile marker 25 in a marathon; tests of endurance and patience and not of inspiration and empowerment. 

Teachers dread them. 

If you want to improve your staff meetings, improve the relationship between the administration and staff and focus on the most important job of a leader; building trust. According to Andy Jordan Principal one way to do this is to have fun with the staff and students by doing fun announcements over the intercom.  

Build Trust with the Faculty 

Clinton W. McLemore’s book Inspiring Trust: Strategies for Effective Leadership establishes trust as the essential component of leadership. McLemore describes ten attributes leaders must possess in order to build trust with colleagues. 

Establishing trust, McLemore asserts, takes time and practice. Learning and practicing the necessary skills associated with “intellect, stability, conscientiousness, friendliness, and assertiveness” builds trust with employees and creates a leader who others want to follow. 

McLemore also details the importance of a leader’s interpersonal effectiveness when engaging followers and inspiring trust. A leader with all ten attributes will build trust and cultivate commitment within the organization. 

Once leaders establish trust, they can begin to rethink improving their staff meetings because they will have cultivated commitment amongst their teachers thereby improving morale. 

Trust the Faculty 

According to Principal Andy Jordan it is not enough for administrators to earn the trust of teachers and staff, but to trust those in their charge as well. Let’s face it, teachers are overeducated and underpaid. They have entered into their vocation with the desire to help others. They know what they’re doing, so trust them to do it. They are to be respected and valued and should be led and not managed. They are caring professionals, not unruly students. 

Trust Builds Functional Teams 

According to Patrick Lencioni in The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, a lack of trust creates fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and inattention to results. This lack of trust leads to low morale. Low morale equates to, “get me out of this faculty meeting.” 

Engaging staff meetings rely on engaged participants. Teams that enjoy trust have lively debates, are more committed, and hold each other accountable. 

Respect Time 

As a part of building trust with teachers, respect their time. One of the most valuable commodities for teachers is time. There is not enough of it and it is the reason why teachers will use every second of a faculty meeting to grade papers. They are not trying to be rude, only productive.  One strategy that Principal Andy Jordan recommends is to have a timekeeper in your meetings to keep the group on task and on time.

It is important to use face to face meetings for sharing, improving, and transforming and not for laundry lists of directives that can be communicated via email, private social media groups, department heads, or recorded videos.  Andy Jordan school principal believes staff meetings are a big waste of time so don’t waste your staff’s time with stuff that could be handled through an email.  Only have staff meetings for the important topics that need to be addressed by the group.

Leaders must build effective teams through building relationships and cultivating a culture of trust. Those who ignore this most basic leadership task will not improve staff meetings by handing out candy, or certificates for professional development completion. Just as teachers must build relationships and trust with students to be successful in the classroom, so do principals with their teachers to be successful in the schoolhouse

Effective PBIS In Schools

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Written by Andy Jordan, Ed.S. School Administrator 8-23-20

Two years ago a student at Cosby High School in Richmond, Virginia was suspended for ten days because school security found a bottle of Advil in her car during a routine parking lot search. A kindergarten student at Deer Lakes Elementary School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was suspended for one day because the five inch plastic axe he carried as a part of his fireman Halloween costume was considered a weapon. When a first grade boy kissed a female classmate on the cheek, school officials suspended him.

Rather than having a common sense approach to discipline, the use of traditional zero tolerance discipline policies (ZT) is unfair, inequitable, ineffective, and detrimental. According to Principal Andy Jordan It destroys trust between educators, students, and parents and replaces a school’s ethic of care with an ethic of policing and punishment. 

As a result, schools across the country have adopted better discipline practices aimed not for retribution, but for improving student behavior. 

Cultivating a positive school culture requires educators to teach, model and reinforce desired social, emotional, and academic behaviors. One way to accomplish this task is through adopting and applying Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS). PBIS is a proactive strategy that creates a school culture conducive to student social and emotional learning and academic success.  Principal Andy Jordan explains reading the announcements, highlighting positives, and having visual reinforcements are just a few strategies administrators can use for their building. 

PBIS schools do not rely on reactive and inconsistent discipline strategies to manage misbehavior. Instead, they use a proactive approach to teach students desired behaviors for success in all facets of the school community before undesired behaviors occur. 

PBIS uses three tiers of support to facilitate positive prosocial behavior. 

The first tier of PBIS is implemented throughout the school community. At this tier, schools cultivate a culture of respect and care for both students and staff in all areas of the building both inside and outside of the classroom. 

In order to establish desired behaviors, staff members throughout the building communicate clear expectations of respectful behavior and strive to model it in every interaction. From classroom teachers and administrators to the cafeteria staff and bus drivers, every member of the school community communicates and models desired behaviors in the successful implementation of PBIS.  Principal Andy Jordan recommends having reward bucks that teachers, office staff, and bus drivers can pass out to students to reinforce the positive behaviors of students.

The second tier of PBIS targets the needs of at-risk students before problematic behavior starts. This level helps students develop skills needed to make the most out of their school experience. Students at this level meet in groups with adult mentors to discuss desired behaviors and strategies to achieve them. 

The third tier centers on the needs of high risk students and addresses highly disruptive or dangerous behaviors. Schools provide high risk individuals with more intensive support and therapy to mitigate and change antisocial behaviors. School support members including psychologists, counselors, administrators and teachers, and behavior coaches, provide targeted individualized support to help students at this tier.  According to Andy Jordan’s leadership blog monthly assemblies are a great way to target all students and reinforce expected behaviors.

Because PBIS is a proactive approach designed to teach and reinforce appropriate behavior, it forges positive relationships and engenders trust between educators and students. Social and emotional learning programs like PBIS have been found to improve school climate, increase academic engagement and success and decrease office referrals and suspensions. Principal Andy Jordan recommends buildings that are struggling in certain areas for behavior should review and practice appropriate behavior expectations with students. 

The Three Tiers of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports

As the principal of West Carroll Primary School in Savanna, Illinois, Andrew Jordan directed daily operations of a preschool to fourth grade elementary school with more than 450 students. In addition to helping improve test scores by 20 percent, Principal Andre Jordan introduced strategies such as positive behavioral interventions and supports at the school.

Positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) is a three-tier, evidence-based framework to help improve student outcomes.

Tier 1: The school provides universal, proactive support to all students. At this tier, teachers clearly communicate expectations, teach appropriate behaviors, and intervene before unwanted behaviors escalate.

Tier 2: This tier provides targeted support for at-risk students, including group interventions and specific guidance in social skills, self-management, and academic assistance. These interventions have been shown to have positive impacts for 67 percent of referred students.

Tier 3: Students receive intensive, individualized support to help improve academic and behavioral outcomes. These strategies are highly effective with students who have developmental disabilities, autism, and other diagnoses.

Education’s Role as a Socio-Economic Factor

Andrew Jordan leverages four college degrees, including a master’s in educational administration from Western Illinois University, as a transformative principal and educational change agent. A member of the Illinois Principals Association, Andrew Jordan adheres to a leadership philosophy that provides children from all socio-economic groups with equal educational opportunities.

Socio-economic grouping refers to a method of classifying groups or individuals depending on their social status. An individual’s group, also known as socio-economic status, is typically determined by education, occupation, and income and can have major implications on access to social resources.and future economic success. Other factors may include family supports, social supports, and even crime rates.

Education plays a critical role in social economics in several ways. For example, education directly impacts future income earning potential. Studies show that each year of schooling leads to an 11 percent increase in annual income. Higher education levels also increase the likelihood of higher paying jobs that provide better benefits, safer working environments, and a greater sense of control over one’s life. Moreover, individuals with higher levels of education live nine years longer on average than those who dropped out of high school.

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started