New Administrator Seeking Knowledge? Let MASSP Help You!

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Written by Donna Boughner, Principal, Grayling High School; Region 2 Representative, MASSP Board of Directors

"To know what you know and what you do not know, that is true knowledge." - Confucius

True knowledge is the key to surviving the principalship. How do you find out what you do not know? I used MASSP.

Every day principals are inundated with mail containing products selling knowledge: "Better professional development for the common core!" "Highly effective instructional leader strategies!” and "Increased ACT scores!" As a new principal, the barrage of information I received on a daily basis overwhelmed me. I wanted to have the answers to everyone's issues. I was eager to make sure I had “true knowledge,” so I gave all questions, suggestions, and every piece of mail the same priority.

By early August, I was drowning in sales pitches, professional reading, and duties. I was in a general state of panic waiting to see what was expected of me next. Something had to change. I needed to work smarter. I signed up for the MASSP Principal Bootcamp as the first step in discovering the unknown. I received much comfort from veteran administrators and insight while validating with my cohorts that I was not alone in my panicked state.

I participated in as much professional development as I could attend; EPAS training, Evaluation training, EdCon, the Mid-Winter Summit, and many other sessions MASSP had to offer. Soon, I was dismissing unneeded sales calls and emails with a push of a button. Through the professional development provided by MASSP I was aware of what I needed to know and was developing ideas on how to keep increasing our student achievement. When trainings were not feasible, I used educational articles to stay current. I had several professional magazines piled behind my desk to read, but I found Weekly Weblines and Marshall Memo convenient to access and easy to share. The MASSP website was also an excellent resource and it was my go to for news, contacts, ideas, position postings, networking, and every other aspect of my job. I wouldn't have survived my first year without the Principal's Toolbox and the monthly Principal's Checklist. I had the information about operational duties and educational topics covered.

With this increased knowledge, I had the confidence to share my vision and become a better instructional leader. Evaluation training led to better observations and more meaningful evaluations. Using MASSP resources and trainings we distributed information to our staff, which increased staff knowledge, led to substantive conversations, productive PLCs, meaningful school improvement goals, and increased student achievement. Many have also taken advantage of the Path to Leadership program to become certified in administration. MASSP is helping grow future leaders in our district.

As I continue my involvement in MASSP, I am most appreciative of the networking opportunities and the knowledge to be a contributor. In conversations with my fellow principals I have gained insight and ideas. I am able to use my increased knowledge to help make changes at the ISD and at all levels of government. I was helped immensely in my first year as a high school principal and, as the years go by, I continue to use my membership and the benefits provided in my quest for true knowledge.