Teacher support, using data to improve student outcomes among topics at Principals' Retreat

Teacher support, using data to help students improve and more were on the table during a two-day retreat for St. John the Baptist Parish Public School District principals.

The retreat is a chance for principals to share ideas about what’s working at their schools, take a look at what they could do better, hone their leadership skills, make sure practices are aligned across the district, ask questions in an open environment and examine more closely the things that will have the biggest impact.

“This is an opportunity to take a deeper dive into data so that they know what they need to do to improve performance all the way down to the student,” Interim Superintendent Cory Butler said.

Executive Master Teacher Angela Davis encouraged principals to use that data to identify the students who are not on track so principals and teachers can intervene and get them where they need to be.

“We want to make sure everyone is focusing on the things that are going to have the biggest impact,” she told principals. “You’re putting out fires every day and we want to make sure you’re putting out the ones that will have the most impact.”

Among the presenters was Theresa Hamilton, senior program specialist for the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, who focused on the importance of teacher support.

“Weigh heavily on support,” she said. “Support should be heavier than the accountability piece.”

She encouraged principals to monitor the quality of support and think about how they determine the type of support they provide.

“Support is not about quantity. It’s about quality, especially at this time of year,” Davis said. “It’s not about throwing everything away. It’s about being focused and intentional.”

With six principals who have less than two years of experience, Butler said it’s important for the district to focus on developing them into effective leaders.

“We have to grow our principals to be able to grow our teachers,” Butler said.

First year Garyville-Mt. Airy Math and Science Magnet School Principal Corey Lambert said the retreat helped him better understand what he can do to move his school ahead.

“It’s been very eye-opening, some of the things we can do,” he said. “It’s helping me to look at the specifics to grow students. It’s not the big picture. It’s the little things we can focus on.”