Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Coaches for Principals

Tiger Woods has a coach. Several, in fact.

And nobody bats an eye when he or other athletes call in specialists to help improve their skills. Ditto for many CEOs of today's Fortune 500 companies.

Why should school principals be any different?

That's the stigma AWSP hopes to break with the development of a new coaching program just for school principals. Yesterday, about 20 veteran (and mostly retired) principals from around the state gathered in Renton to help the Association flesh out what this might look like. This year, AWSP received a grant from The Boeing Company to conduct a needs assessment for this project and conduct some preliminary training of coaches.

Right now, AWSP provides varying levels of service to administrators, including:
  • The Assessor/Mentor Program: Available to principals in the first three years of their principalship, participants receive two days of intense one-on-one skills evaluation with a trained assessor at no cost to them (thanks to continued support from the Washington State Legislature).
  • School Improvement Assistance: Principals involved in OSPI's school improvement program receive targeted leadership training and assistance from AWSP.
  • Coaching Triage: Principals who call AWSP's office in need of career guidance and support as a result of an incident or specific action.
In the coming months, AWSP Executive Director Gary Kipp and Principal Leadership Development Director Don Rash will be working to develop a pilot program that makes available coaching services to all members, at all stages of their careers, who want to take their skills and abilities to the next level.

"We see the work AWSP is doing is just so critical," said Anne Marie Tripps, project director for Seattle University's Program for New Principals, and one of Monday's Coaching Summit participants.

One of the questions asked at the summit was, "What are the essential skills for all coaches?" What do you think? What does it take to be a leadership coach for a school principal? And would you like to have a coach?

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