District Administration March 2018 - 72

ProfessionalOpinion
Heeding the voice
of experience
Everyone benefits when leaders coach leaders
By Elyse Doti Cohen and Matthew Pearson

P

rincipal retention is a national
issue. According to The School
Leaders Network (DAmag.me
/sln), "25,000 principals (one-quarter
of all principals) leave their schools each
year, leaving millions of children's lives
adversely affected. Fifty percent of new
principals quit during their third year in
the role."
In New York City, the nation's largest school system, addressing principal
turnover across more than 1,800 schools
is critical to student achievement. In
2014, the New York City Department
of Education's Office of Leadership created the New Principal Support (NPS)
program to reduce turnover and help
experienced principals grow.
NPS principal coaches enhance
their own capacity as leaders through
their visits to new principals and their
schools. They are energized from the
coaching work and their professional
learning, while new principals have
non-evaluative support in an often
lonely and demanding position. The
program impacts retention for both veteran and new principals. Coaching benefits everyone, especially our students.
The model and the coaches
To ensure that our roughly 150 new
principals each year receive the best
possible support, the Department of
Education assigns them either a fulltime coach, coaching fellow or master
principal. Full-time coaches are princi-

DAmag.me/heed
72 March 2018

The coaching model
reinvigorates veteran
principals and addresses
two factors impacting
new principals: feeling
isolated and feeling
overwhelmed.
pals who leave their schools to join the
program and commit to coaching up to
new 12 principals across the city.
Coaching fellows leave their schools
for one year to coach up to 12 new
principals. Then they return to lead
their own schools bolstered with new
expertise and insight garnered from the
coaching experience.
Master principals are sitting principals who coach three newcomers within
their districts. Each coach provides
72 hours of support, or eight hours of
coaching per month over the course of
the first year for each new principal.
The new principals' perspective
The program is built on the idea that no
one knows the job of a principal better
than a principal. Coaches are tenured
principals in good standing, or have
been within the last three years.
One new principal recently wrote:
"Having the NPS coach is invaluable. It
is important to me to be supported by
someone who is also doing the job. My
coach has provided me with all the support necessary to help me continue to
grow as a principal and a leader."

Coaches' professional learning
There is job-embedded support for the
coaches as well. All coaches get more
than 60 hours of professional learning
yearly, and additional coaching support
as part of small teams.
All professional learning is grounded
in the International Coaching Federation Core Competencies, with an intention toward building each coach's racial
equity lens. Blended Coaching: Skills and
Strategies, edited by Gary Bloom, and
Courageous Conversations About Race, by
Glen Singleton, serve as foundational
texts. NPS co-directors and full-time
coaches develop the curriculum and
facilitate team meetings using a variety
of techniques: readings, role-playing,
discussions and presentations.
Proven results
The NPS coaching model reinvigorates
veteran principals while addressing two
significant factors impacting new principals' retention: feeling isolated and
feeling overwhelmed. Job-embedded
support increases the capacity of both
the coach and the principal.
In New York City schools, the program has had great impact. Among
new principals in 2014-15, 75 percent
are still on the job in their fourth year.
Creative conceptualization and implementation of new principal coaching
could be an approach where everyone
benefits, especially students who are
served by strong school leaders. DA
Elyse Doti Cohen and Matthew Pearson
have both served as teachers, assistant
principals and principals in New York City
public schools.

District Administration


http://www.DAmag.me/sln http://www.DAmag.me/sln http://www.DAmag.me/heed

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration March 2018

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