OCT OEEO

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Great leaders know their purpose is to serve those they lead. Award-winning principal Chris Woodcroft, OCT, shares his favourite management strategies for vice-principals and principals. BUILD RELATIONSHIPS Learn names and be present in all conversations. Take the time to greet your students and staff throughout the day, and celebrate a job well done. KEEP IT REAL Be true to your priorities, no matter what challenges you find yourself up against. Woodcroft's include God, family, personal health and career responsibilities. STAY POSITIVE The way you carry and conduct yourself does not go unnoticed within your school community. Your attitude, demeanour and persona are infectious. REMAIN CALM There is no benefit to yelling, arguing, using sarcasm or a condescending tone with staff or students. Keep your cool at all times and lead by example. IT CAN WAIT Respect a 24-hour rule. Better to take the time you need to deal with an issue in an appropriate manner than make a rash decision and suffer the consequences later. BE VISIBLE This proactive approach will pay dividends in all areas, whether in the classroom, hallway, cafeteria, parking lot or during extracurricular activities. 33 September 2015 | Professionally Speaking to pinpoint deficits and invited a math consultant to offer ideas. The depart- ment adopted intentional strategies like spiralling (teaching a concept, building on it and then revisiting it before moving forward), to identify when students were missing concepts. They initiated EQAO practise testing — which now takes place boardwide. Math scores rose 13 per cent in applied categories and 18 per cent in academic ones; literacy scores broke 80 per cent for the first time. A principal's jaw dropped when she heard their results — one Doyle feeder school, for instance, typically scores in the 30s. Woodcroft modelled his high expecta- tions for quality instruction at staff meet- ings and during professional development (PD) days. "Everyone has had that one teacher who made us want to teach," he explains. "It's my job to inspire my staff to want to be that teacher for someone else." The principal began one PD session on differentiated instruction with a fun task using stacking cups that he had borrowed from various schools. He was so influential as an instructor, and the activity so engaging, that three departments in the school were inspired to order their own cups to use in lessons to connect with students. Other times, he asked individual teachers to share best practices and ushered the staff on gallery-style walks throughout the school — he knows what his staff does well because he spends so much time in classrooms. One teacher excelled at reaching students in science by asking unorthodox questions at the start of the year: How excited were they about science? How comfortable taking risks? By sharing their winning strategies and making teachers the heroes, he gives teachers the tools — and the desire — to improve. "He'd challenge you to be better than you were when you had arrived," says Temple. He'd also speak up if he saw in-class approaches that weren't up to par, asking how a particular technique was helping students to learn. "Chris did such a good job celebrating the great stuff, that when he saw something that didn't measure up, he was able to get through in a way that made people receptive," says Temple. With his trademark high energy, Woodcroft introduced new initiatives from the Ministry and the board. A few years ago, he brought staff in line with the province's new assessment framework (learning goals and success criteria) by remaining relentlessly positive and explaining how it would improve both teaching and learning. "It was his delivery," says Myers. "He had completely bought into it and explained everything in a way that showed why it made sense and why it was ultimately good for the students." A student named Joseph at Monsignor Doyle certainly tested Woodcroft's commitment to doing whatever it takes to help others succeed. In Grade 9, for example, he was barely passing and his hot temper was getting him kicked out of class. The principal reached him by staying calm, while for- giving and offering the teenager a fresh start after every misstep: "You made a bad choice," Woodcroft would say. "It doesn't make you a bad person but let's move forward and make sure it doesn't happen again." When the student was sent to the office, the principal helped him cool off by inviting him for a walk or for lunch. Woodcroft showed Joseph the value of pausing to think, instead of blowing up and saying something he'd regret — a skill the young man began to use at school and at his part-time job. "He helped me see where I'd made mistakes but he focused on the solution rather than the problem," says Joseph, whose letter was one of a stack submit- ted to support the principal's award. "Mr. Woodcroft was always positive. His attitude made me want to achieve things, and he helped me see how I could improve. He never let me quit and never accepted anything less than my best effort. He taught me how to be the best me." PS The OCT featured in this department has been recognized with a national teaching award and exemplifies the high standards of practice to which the College holds the teaching profession .

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