Principal - May/June 2021 - 35

APs have to be prepared to soak up
new information to address situations
appropriately. " You will have challenges.
Be ready with tools and resources that
will help you get good at this, " says AP
Alicia Flores.

living in the world of adaptive
change, because they are learning how to lead and handle new
responsibilities. "

New Responsibilities
Adaptive challenges may be sudden,
like last year's transition to virtual
and hybrid learning, or they might
involve a planned effort to alter
existing norms, such as pursuing an
equity initiative or installing a new
curriculum. Whereas a technical
challenge might have an obvious
answer, an adaptive challenge must
be met head-on with new strategies
and structures. APs usually take a
hands-on role in such situations,
even though they may be unfamiliar.
Adaptive challenges are often
issues that preparation programs
can't predict or address. " We get
the theory, but we don't get the
practice until we're at a site and
faced with a challenge, " says Alicia
Flores, associate principal at Vista
Square Elementary School in Chula
Vista, California, part of a district
that participated in The Wallace
Foundation's Principal Pipeline
Initiative (PPI). " The things you learn
in a preparatory program really can't
prepare you for real-life situations. "
Effective principal pipelines concentrate on growth and instructional leadership, she notes, helping address any
shortfalls in prior leadership training
in order to develop new talent within a
district. " We want to make sure that APs
really see themselves as instructional

leaders and not just managers, " Flores
says. " With the pipeline, I know I'm not
going to be an AP until I retire; the goal
is that I will become a principal. We're
being set up for success. "

Special Skills
According to " How Principals Affect
Students and Schools: A Systematic Synthesis of Two Decades of
Research, " a report released in
February by The Wallace Foundation,
leaders who have a positive impact
on student outcomes have three
categories of skills in common:
*	Skills and expertise to support
instruction. Effective leaders possess
skills " that enable them to provide effective, structured feedback to teachers with the goal of motivating them
to refine their practices, " and they
orchestrate high-quality professional
development (PD) opportunities.
*	Skills and expertise in managing
and developing people. Effective
leaders develop caring relationships,
communication, and trust with teachers, staff, parents, and the community.
Trust is especially important: One
study found that trust must precede
any collaborative effort at reform.
*	Skills and expertise in organizational management. Though
organizational management often
involves plenty of technical challenges,
research says that adaptive skills such
as goal-setting and strategic thinking
are also helpful.

These attributes align with PSEL
standards, Wilson says, and " APs
have to demonstrate these actions
to be effective. Adaptive change is
hiring the right people, providing a
supportive work environment, and
building a culture around teaching
and learning. Managing people and
talent is an important skill set they
have to learn. "

Willing to Grow
A " growth mindset " is important to
the development of adaptive leadership skills-APs have to be prepared
to soak up new information to
address situations appropriately. " Be
ready for anything. You don't know
how your day is going to go, " Flores
says. " You will have challenges. Be
ready with tools and resources that
will help you get good at this. At the
end of the day, people are looking to
you to know what direction to take in
a matter of seconds. "
To smooth transitions, adaptive
APs must strategize, learn, and grow
collaboratively alongside their principals and staff. Last fall, Flores learned
about the new virtual learning apps
that would enable distance learning
alongside her teachers. " It really made
an impact with them, " she says. " I feel
we are in a trusting relationship. "
Amanda Michael, assistant principal at Lewis Elementary School in
Forney, Texas, says to anticipate,
articulate, and communicate issues
to prevent adaptive " casualties " -
students, staff, or parents who feel
shut out by a sweeping change.
" You have to be able to work with
anyone, " she says. " It's OK if you
don't know; you just have to be able
to figure out who to ask for help. I've
seen people not ask for help, and
things go terribly wrong. "

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