aPrincipal Instructional Leadership Case Example
Principal Web, Sharington Elementary School
Background
Mr. Web is in his fifteenth year as a principal and his fifth year at Sharington Elementary School, a
school with a student population of 547 K-5 students. The ethnic background of the student body is
reflected in the chart below.
Student Demographics
3%
16%
7%
Asian
10%
Asian/ Pacific Islander
African American
5%
Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander
Hispanic/Latino
12%
American Indian/Alaska Native
Caucasian
44%
3%
Two or more races
Nine percent of the student population of Sharington Elementary is enrolled in special education and
12% are categorized as ELL. Eighty-nine percent of the students qualify for free or reduced-price meals.
Mr. Web is a former elementary teacher and taught in two different schools before becoming a
principal. Throughout his career as a principal, Mr. Web has served on a variety of state-level
organizations. Mr. Web is known for his friendly and easy-going nature and was moved to Sharington
Elementary from another school to build community with staff after two principal changes in five
years. Of particular note, during Mr. Web’s tenure, the special education population that has been
reduced from 14% to 9%. Additionally, in alignment with the District Improvement Plan, Mr. Web has
focused on math achievement. He has utilized title funding to hire two math coaches to support
teachers beyond the district-wide provided training. With the exception of fifth grade, over the past
two years mathematics scores have shown steady growth and are approaching the district average.
However, the reading scores have not shown the same improvement and fifth grade reading scores
have dropped 5% from last year.
Grade Level
3rd Grade
4th Grade
5th Grade
Reading
School District
61%
70%
62%
73%
38%
69%
Math
School District
67%
69%
70%
71%
58%
66%
© 2014 University of Washington Center for Educational Leadership
Writing
School District
62%
Science
School District
67%
22%
69%
Meeting 1: Mid-August
It is your second year as a principal supervisor. These notes are from an initial summer meeting you
scheduled with Mr. Web to initiate and preview how you will work with principals during the school
year. A committee of principals and principal supervisors met during the summer to review and revise
the evaluation roadmap for the year as well as the initial data points for goal setting. You previously
sent out an email outlining the roadmap and the data points all principals were asked to review prior to
their goal setting conference in October. Accompanying that email was a schedule of visits to each
school for an initial meeting, a walkthrough, and a goal setting meeting. Your focus for the initial
meeting was to discuss each principal’s agenda for the teacher professional development days prior to
the beginning of the school year. Additionally, it was to review the student data and the evidence of
teaching practice that you asked principals to analyze in preparation for the upcoming goal setting
conferences. You also wanted to answer any questions that principals may have based on the revisions
the committee had made over the summer.
Mr. Web was waiting in his office when you arrived at the school at the scheduled meeting time. Mr.
Web jumped up and met you at the door and introduced you to his new assistant secretary. He then
walked you to his counselor’s office to meet the new intern. On the way back to his office, he stopped
in the principal assistant’s office to say hello and offered to have the principal assistant join for the
meeting. You reminded Mr. Web that this was a time set up to meet with him individually and
communicate about goal setting and your work together for the year. You stated that you will be
happy to set up a time with the principal and the principal assistant at another time. Mr. Web thought
that was a great idea and would love for you to be a part of the principal assistant’s goal setting
conference.
You shared with Mr. Web the purpose of your visit and referenced your email. Mr. Web nodded that
he knew why you were meeting and pulled out a folder with the email and a completed principal
leadership self-assessment. You did not take the copy of the self-assessment but noticed the prior
year’s date on the corner. Mr. Web also had a folder of state assessment data. He let you know he
had already met with his math coaches and they had thoroughly analyzed the results. You
complemented Mr. Web on the school’s good work in math, but reminded him that you will be
meeting at a later date to discuss and analyze the data points you would use for goal setting. You
asked him if he had his agenda for the teacher professional learning days, and if he had any questions
about what you were asking him to prepare for the goal setting conference or the process itself. Mr.
Web said that he felt like he is ready for the goal-setting meeting but if you have anything in addition
you would like him to do, he would be happy to do so. He also stated that the math coaches are still
working on the agenda for the professional development days and it is not yet completed.
You responded by reminding Mr. Web that you had asked principals to have this agenda completed for
discussion at this meeting. You also added that his staff will be looking for this agenda as the training is
coming up soon. You also asked Mr. Web when he will be meeting with his coaches to finalize the
agenda and inquired as to whether there is input from staff or the leadership team on the agenda. He
said that he listened to what the staff wants and their voice is heard on the agenda. He stated that the
leadership team will vet the agenda as well. You asked about the date of this meeting and he let you
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know he has to check with the coaches and he will get back to you. Since the agenda was not yet
ready, Mr. Web asked you to join the meeting.
Meeting 2: 3rd Week of August
This meeting is a follow-up at the request of the principal and due to the late teacher professional
learning day agenda.
Upon arrival at the school, the office staff directed you to the title office for the meeting. There was a
table with breakfast items and coffee as well as a table for the meeting. The Leadership Team was
eating and discussing their summer vacation. Mr. Web jumped up and welcomed you to the meeting
and informs you that they are doing some team building before the meeting gets started. After fifteen
minutes the team, comprised of one primary teacher, one intermediate teacher, two math coaches,
one literacy coach, the principal assistant, and the principal, get started on creating the agenda. One
of the math coaches facilitated the meeting and the other math coach charted the agenda items.
Whenever the team asked the principal for his thinking he told the team that the agenda was theirs.
He also frequently deferred to you and asked, “What do you want?” or, “What does the district want?”
At the end of the meeting, the agenda was completed and contained one-and-a-half days dedicated to
math data analysis and training, and half day dedicated to ELA data analysis and training.
Meeting 3: 4th Week of School
These notes are from a three-hour visit you had with Mr. Web. Prior to this round of visits with all your
principals, you sent an e-mail indicating that during the September and October walkthroughs,
principals should pick the 3-5 classrooms that they felt showed the range of instructional practice in the
school. In addition, you asked principals to select a content area that was an area of focus for student
growth based on current data and in their School Improvement Plan. Finally, each principal was asked
to provide a copy of observation feedback from the prior year for three of the teachers observed
representing a basic, proficient and distinguished summative score overall.
Mr. Web was in his office visiting with a math coach when you arrived. He greeted you and told you he
was just checking with the math coach on the choices he had made for the walkthrough. The math
coach left the office and you sat down to pre-brief with the principal. Mr. Web had selected two third
grade teachers, two fourth grade teachers, and one fifth grade teacher for the walkthrough. The area
of focus was math.
After the “look fors” and the student questions were established, Mr. Web took you to the classrooms
for 15 minutes each. You observed math instruction in four classrooms. In one of the third grade
classrooms, a math coach was modeling a lesson for the teacher as she took notes. While in the
classrooms, Mr. Web was very comfortable talking with students and asking questions. However, he
did not take many notes. His questions for students also tended to stray from the agreed-upon
walkthrough questions.
As you entered the final classroom, a fifth grade class, Mr. Web was very surprised to see ELA
instruction. Some students were sitting on the floor for a mini-lesson but six were in their desks. All
students had the same novel. The teacher told the students that they should read along as he read
aloud. They should stop him from reading when they recognized a section of text that provided a clue
about the character traits of each character. He started reading the first sentence and a student
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shouted out for him to stop. He asked the student what she had noticed about character traits and she
said that she knew something about the setting and wondered if he wanted them to notice that as
well. The teacher said he did not want that and continued to read. Most students on the carpet
appeared to follow along with the text and one student at his seat followed along. Six students
stopped him during the next 10 minutes and two of the students could connect the text to a character
trait of one of the book’s characters.
After the walkthrough, you debriefed with Mr. Web the noticings from each class and asked him about
his wonderings for each of the classrooms. In the debrief Mr. Web indicated strengths for each teacher
but really could not formulate wonderings that he might have for each teacher. He said things like:
“I noticed Mr. A had students working in groups and I wonder if that is working out. I noticed Mrs. H is
using the new math manipulatives the district purchased and I wonder if the kids like those materials. I
noticed the students in Mrs. D’s class were asking each other to defend their thinking. I wonder what
she plans to do next?”
When you transitioned to the fifth grade classroom, Mr. Web said that he was surprised that Mr. K was
teaching ELA. However, students seemed really excited about the book they were reading. He noticed
that two students could identify text that supported character traits and wondered why only two could
do it. He did note that the reading scores from the previous year’s fifth grade class had not been
strong. After debriefing the classrooms, you confirmed with Mr. Web his timeline for feedback to the
teachers on the walkthrough and reminded him to forward the communication to you.
The two of you then turned your attention to the observation feedback he had selected. He had two
fourth grade teachers that he said represented distinguished, and he had a third grade teacher that
represented proficient. He said that he did not have a basic teacher in the group just visited. You
asked about the fifth grade teacher you had just observed, and he said that this teacher was also
proficient. As the two of you reviewed the observation feedback, you noticed that Mr. Web as able to
identify evidence aligned to the teaching framework. But suggestions for next steps were not aligned
to the evidence or in some cases the criterion.
Other Evidence:
In your work with Mr. Web to this point and in reviewing files you have collected this additional data:
All of Mr. Web’s teachers have received a proficient or distinguished on their evaluation in past year.
The feedback that Mr. Web sent to his staff regarding the supervisory walkthrough in September had
noticings aligned to the math content but omitted any information about the ELA content. Mr. Web
included your name in the wonderings for the staff to consider. The School Improvement Plan does
not include an ELA goal and the October Developmental Reading Assessment scores for fifth grade
seem to lack alignment to the fourth grade state reading results for the same cohort.
Grade Level
DRA - % of students
at standard or
above
1st Grade
2nd Grade
3rd Grade
4th Grade
5th Grade
48%
46%
51%
58%
37%
4
5
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