September 2017 Print

Welcome New Members

Long time MASSP members know that MASSP ensures that membership means being connected to colleagues all across the state.  We ensure your voice is heard regarding important policy decisions, and we keep you informed of important issues throughout the year.  Add to this our workshops and conferences that facilitate important face to face networking, and the resources of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and you have a recipe for success.  There are few dollars that our members spend that reap such concrete benefits.  Thanks for joining 650 colleagues across Maryland as members of MASSP.

Take advantage of that new membership by following us on Twitter @mdmassp.  Like us on Facebook (we post lots of pictures here), and register for one or more of our workshops throughout the year.  NASSP has the best leadership journal around. 

But possibly most importantly, we thank our new folks for joining your colleagues across the state as a collective and unified voice for school administrators.  Legislators in Annapolis, State Board of Education members, and MSDE staff seek out our input on all issues related to our schools.  MASSP is a critical stakeholder

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Calendar of Events

Register for all the conferences listed below at the MASSP home page.  Spring activities will be available beginning in December


October 3, 2017 at the Maritime Institute in Linthicum

MD Summit for Blended Transformations: Personalized Learning Environments for Students, Teachers and Administrators (Free workshop sponsored by McGraw Hill Education)


October 17, 2017 at Overhills Mansion in Catonsville

MASSP Assistant Principals conference featuring Jason Markey


November 1, 2017 at Overhills Mansion in Catonsville

Teaching for Understanding with Jay McTighe


November 11, 2017 at JHU Applied Physics Lab in Laurel

Aspiring Leaders Workshop designed for new AP's and teachers looking for advancement


March 15 - 17, 2018 at the Cambridge Hyatt

MASSP/MAESP Spring Conference featuring Rick Wormeli

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MASSP Steering Committee sets Executive Board meeting dates

All MASSP members are invited to exec board meetings.  Each one is announced via email a week in advance.  We always begin with a full breakfast at 8:30 AM


September 16, 2017 at Century High School in Eldersburg (ESSA plan fully explained)

November 18, 2017 at Pikesville High in Baltimore County

February 10, 2018 at Arundel Middle School in Anne Arundel County

March 15, 2018 in Cambridge at 5:00 PM prior to the start of the spring conference

May 12, 2018 at Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy in Baltimore City


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Ass't Principal Highlights

AP's are the future of our organization.  Please get involved, and there are six perfect ways to do that:

1) If you are reading this, you are already a member.  Make sure you renew every year AND bring a colleague into the organization--that is how most of us got started in MASSP and NASSP.

2) Attend the Assistant Principals conference each year.  This year it is on October 17 in Catonsville

3) Become at Assistant Principal At-Large member on our executive board.  Requirements are quite easy only requiring you actually be involved which allows you to put this on your Resume.  Being involved means attending teh five executive board meetings (most are on Saturday mornings), attend the AP conference and Spring Conference, and serve on the AP conference planning committee.

4) Attend the spring conference each year

5) Attend the NASSP conference each year, this year to be held in July in Chicago

6) Apply for one of the MASSP grants reserved for Assistant Principal Leadership experiences.  Check out the article in this newsletter or under the awards tab on the website.


It is all about networking.  And these steps allow you to do that.  Most of what I learned that helped me be successful as a principal did not occur in formal settings.  Rather, it was my involvement in professional organizations that provided me more ideas than I could ever steal in one career!

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Funding for Ass't Principal Leadership Experiences and other important info.

The Exec Board set aside $2000 to assist Assistant Principals in their quest to be an instructional leader.  We have crafted this year's approach NOT as a scholarship program, but rather as a set of potential experiences that create a broad definition of what instructional leadership might look like in a school.  Don't see something in the examples below that quite fits what you had in mind?  Then create your own.  A committee from our exec board will review and award proposals in the fall.  Go to the AWARDS tab on the MASSP home page to download an application.  Deadline for application is November 1, though some funds may be awarded prior to that date.

Click on this application link to view and complete the application.  Completed applications including a copy of the applicants resume and the letter of endorsement by the applicant's principal must be sent electronically to the MASSP office by November 1, 2017 to

A committee of assistant principals will review applications and select multiple award winners using the following criteria:

  • Connection of the activity to the outcomes stated in the application
  • Years of membership in MASSP/NASSP and participation/involvement in activities
  • Quality of the application in stating a compelling need for the activities described and the impact the proposal  will have on the outcomes stated in the application.
  1.        Leadership Library: Create a personal professional library with titles from ASCD, NASSP, and other sources.  Up to $350 available here.


  1.        Conference Package:  This would be for the MASSP spring conference and would include the cost of conference, hotel, and mileage OR attend the NASSP Principals conference in July, 2018 in Chicago.


  1.        Professional Membership Package:  Would include memberships to the professional organizations you choose such as ASCD, MASSP, subscription to Edweek, or other 


  1.         Servant-Leader Package:  Bring a PD experience to your school; cost for a speaker, on-line experience/webinar for staff, or fund 3 - 4 teachers from your school plus yourself to attend a future aspiring leaders conference.


  1.        General Scholarship-Use funding for un-reimbursed expenses for graduate work or other PD experiences you select.


  1.       Customize you own experience--Design your own experience to fund with this program

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Executive Director Report

1) Summer National Principals conference seemed to be a great success.  Too bad elementary and secondary will be separate for the next two years.  NASSP moves to Chicago July 11 – 13 in 2018 (Registration is already open with a $100 discount), and then to Denver the year after that before coming back to National Harbor and joining with the elementary folks again.  Our dinner along with Lifetouch was a huge success I thought.  I don’t think we can do this in Chicago unless Lifetouch repeats.  Much depends on the budget this year, how membership renewals run, and conference attendance

2) Membership was down about 60 folks or 7% last year.   OUCH.  Please talk us up. 

3) Check the website for our upcoming workshops.  The Personal Learning one is totally run by McGraw Hill.  Let’s hope the AP conference attracts a few more registrants this year.  Several years ago we were close to 100, and last year less than 50!  Jay McTighe is always a great presenter, coming up on November 1.  Anyone who attends the events Jay runs in the summer will pay more than double.  What a deal MASSP is providing.  Finally, Tom Evans will run two aspiring leader workshops, one November 11 and the other in February.  We have gotten rave reviews each time so send your teachers looking to be administrators along with new AP’s.  NASSP is supposed to release a new suite of content merging breaking ranks, ten skills, personalized learning, and the assessment center and if they do, we will try to run a workshop sharing all of this with Maryland folks.

4) Any reaction from you regarding the NASSP rebrand of NASC, Now NatStuCo???  Email Scott Pfeifer with any feedback.

5) Congratulations to Christine Handy, NASSP President-Elect.  It is kind of cool that NASSP has only had two African American presidents, and both come from Maryland.

6) Let me pitch, along with Nick Novak, to sign up for the Federal Grass Roots Network.  Go on line and check it out.  They run a great meeting in the spring that doesn’t cost a bunch and all our participants last year found the activities and day on the Hill to be valuable

7) Not sure you read what I send regarding the state board meetings.  Honestly the whole feel so different than in the past.  Check out my editorial in the upcoming newsletter.  I honestly believe that many of them do not understand that teachers and administrators are important stakeholders along with parents.  Yet it appears that there is little interest to look at positives but great interest in highlighting negatives with our schools.  At least at this next meeting they will celebrate our principals of the year.

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Federal Grass Roots Network in Action on Capitol Hill

Take your advocacy efforts to the next level


As a school leader, you advocate on behalf of your students and staff every day with the decisions you make. We need you to share your expertise and on-the-ground experiences with policymakers so they are better informed when making decisions on education policy. If advocacy is especially important to you, one way for you get more involved is to join the NASSP Federal Grassroots Network!


NASSP's Federal Grassroots Network brings together individuals who want to build close relationships with their members of Congress to inform them about how policies they create in Washington impact education in their districts and states. Members of the FGN can tap into the following resources:

  • A community of advocates who commit to regularly meeting with their federal representatives to discuss state and federal policies that will benefit schools and students nationwide
  • A monthly FGN email newsletter highlighting recent changes in federal education policy
  • Weekly advocacy update blog posts on the School of Thought blog with the latest news and resources regarding federal education policy
  • The opportunity to attend the annual NASSP Advocacy Conference, a unique event that brings like-minded education professionals together to share ideas and discuss the top education policy issues of the day
  • Resources to become more effective advocates at all levels of government, including a basic guide on advocating on behalf of schools and principals

There has never been a more crucial time for you to voice your insight on effective school leadership and education policy. Join NASSP's Federal Grassroots Network today at the NASSP website

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Editorial: A new state board

As executive director, I attend the state board meetings and provide a summary to our executive board.  Over the past two years, I have witnessed a dramatic change.  Indeed, I once worked at MSDE and spearheaded the implementation of the initial bridge plan program.  I delivered testimony before the board on several occasions.  In those days, I faced very pointed questions and was often asked to focus on particular issues in future testimony.  However, I always felt that Dr. Grasmick, her staff, and the board members were always on the same page, looking to ensure the best quality education for all of Maryland's children.


The overall goal has not changed.  It is clear that everyone on the state board DOES seek the best quality education for all.  But it is unclear to me that the board shares with the staff the best way to go about achieving this goal.  


Case in point was the most recent board meeting when the PARCC results where shared.  As you know, state results were disappointing to say the least.  Staff provided an honest appraisal of these poor results, but also sought to identify areas of success, examples where Maryland's teachers and administrators had actually made some gains and provided direction for the future.


Clearly, at least one board member was not interested in areas of success.  Instead, he felt staff should have more fully elaborated on negative results, and directed that future reports do so.  It was stated that parents deserve unambiguous and honest assessments of school results, no matter how bad they might be.  Indeed, it is hard to argue with such logic, but in my mind, it misses the fact that parents are not the only stakeholders in the school accountability business.


The future of our schools rests on the backs of teachers and administrators.  In the face of rising standards, sometimes difficult funding scenarios, and an increasingly diverse student population, they seek to excel in new and different ways in search of improving results.  Undeniably, the need for improvement is clear.  However, during my twenty years as a school principal, it was always clear to me that rubbing anyone's nose in poor results NEVER produced positive outcomes.  Instead, find what is worthy of praise, require honest reflection, and move forward.  Thus, it is unclear to me whether or not all members of the board understand that both parents AND staff are their stakeholders.


Some pundits argue that the current state board is most interested in highlighting schools' shortcomings to bolster efforts to create more charter schools and fund voucher programs.  And certainly, in this regard, the board acts in concert with the leadership of the U S Department of Education leadership.  It is my hope that this is currenty NOT the case in Maryland, a state with a rich history of excellence in public education.  


Attending the last state board meeting, without question the mood at the end of the meeting was dark.  I dare say that most MSDE staff went home looking for something to cheer them up.  The good news is that everyone--the board, MSDE staff, school-based folks, professional organizations like us, and parents really do share the same goal.  I have no question of that.  It is my hope that in a new era of accountability under ESSA, our policy makers don't forget thousands of teachers and administrators need all the encouragement they can get.

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National Principals Conference 2018

NPC18 Registration: Now Open

Save $100 Before October 13

The 2017 National Principals Conference was a 3-day, transformational experience. Over 3,500 school leaders across all levels came together to connect and build transition bridges to mold the course of student success.

We want to keep this collaborative momentum going—that’s why we’re excited to announce that registration for NPC18 is now open! This year, everyone is eligible for the conference rate of $495.

NASSP's National Principals Conference will be held in Chicago, July 11–13, 2018. Connect with world-class thought leaders. Innovate with your colleagues across the education continuum.

Make catalytic connections to empower your leadership for years to come—attend NPC18!

Register by October 13 to save $100.

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NASC is now NatStuCo

NASC is now National Student Council (NatStuCo)—the same respected organization, but with a new name, a fresh look, and enhanced programming to appeal to student leaders and advisers. The full launch of NatStuCo occurred the week of August 28.  Have you checked out the new website?


In recent NASSP research, we found that student council advisers wanted a way to connect with each other and to have ready access to tools and resources to help them effectively manage their councils. This endeavor led to the development of new resources and numerous enhancements for advisers and students, including the following:


Available now:



Debuting during the school year:


  •          Adviser Leadership Webcast Series
  •          Career Exploration Webcast Series
  •          Updated National Student Project Database
  •          Revamped Raising Student Voice & Participation (RSVP) Program
  •          Specialized Middle Level Resources


With robust new resources, National Student Council, or NatStuCo, gives advisers the tools to be successful in creating an enriching student council experience, and inspiring the next generation of leaders. 

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5 Perspectives for Leadership Success

5 Perspectives for Leadership Success

Here’s how principals, coaches, and other leaders can sustain the

vitality they bring to the job.


     New school leaders typically start out full of enthusiasm.  They’re going to make a difference by bringing about changes that benefit students.  They’ll support teacher growth while creating an environment of collegiality and success.  They’ll lead by sharing helpful information, data, and practices.  They are energized! 

     And then, sometime in their first year, these new leaders often find themselves disappointed, exhausted, and full of self-doubt.  Their efforts have been met with apathy or resistance.  Their initiatives have encountered unexpected obstacles.  They thought they were well-liked professionals, but sometimes they feel like they are amateurs, imposters, or monsters.

     When new principals, coaches, curriculum developers, special education consultants, or others in schoolwide leadership positions find themselves in these situations, they often redouble their efforts.  They send more e-mails, provide more explanations at staff meetings, work longer days, and attempt to prove their qualifications by showing extreme competence in all they do.  But these efforts often merely dig the new school leader deeper into exhaustion and despair, like a driver who tries to get the car out of mud or snow by pressing harder on the accelerator and as a result mires the car more deeply.  What’s needed is not harder work, but a shift in perspectives.

     Here are five perspectives that helped me when I was an elementary school principal, a reading program coordinator, and a literacy coach.  I have shared these perspectives in workshops, conference presentations, and publications and I find they have been helpful to other educators around the world.  Reflecting on these five shifts can make all the difference in the success of school leaders, old and new.


Perspective 1: Teaches are well-intentioned, hard-working people who care about students.            

     This first perspective often seems obvious to everyone who works in schools.  They think; “Of course teachers are good people.”  However, on further reflection, school leaders sometimes find that their everyday thoughts and actions don’t always reflect this belief.

     New school leaders sometimes spend their energies sorting out which teachers are the hard-working ones, the doers, the ones who care about students---and which teachers aren’t.  They make a mental list of the teachers who seem old-fashioned, the younger teachers (whom they assume will be more energetic), the veteran teachers (whom they assume are stuck in their ways), the teachers who need help, the teachers who don’t seem to care and so on.  This mental sorting often reflects opinions based on superficial interactions and a lot of judging.

     Although school leaders may assume that these inner thoughts are not evident to others, that’s often not the case.  School leaders may hint at their thoughts by subtly implying dissatisfaction—for instance, saying “We have a lot of work to do to bring the curriculum to life in every math classroom at school” --- or by subconscious body language, such as a shift of the shoulders or a crossing of the legs when a particular teacher is voicing an opinion.

     As humans, we’re hardwired to sense danger, which in the modern world may mean a supervisor’s lack of trust in one’s work or a colleague’s intention to reshape our practices even though she doesn’t fully understand the context of our work.  Typically, teachers and others in such situations don’t articulate their concerns explicitly, in fact, they may not even be consciously aware of them.  Rather, they experience a general sense of mistrust or dissatisfaction with the school leader, which often spirals into low morale and dysfunction in the entire school.

     The concept of “giving an A” (Zander & Zander, 2002) can be helpful to new school leaders.  With this perspective, one approaches all people with the assumption that they deserve a grade of A.  For school leaders, this means that all teachers and other staff are considered A-quality teachers, teaching assistants, specialists, custodians, and so forth.  If certain employees are not performing at their best, these leaders assume it’s because something has gotten in the way of the employee’s success, not because they are poor-quality employees.  The leader’s job, then, is to help people figure out what’s getting in the way and remove those obstacles so that everyone’s innate “A-ness” shines through.


Perspective 2:  It’s not about information

     New school leaders are often eager learners who take graduate courses, attend professional conferences, and read extensively in their field.  That’s excellent. But as a result of their own learning, new school leaders are sometimes eager to share their knowledge with others, under the assumption that if others understand what the leader understands, everyone will be onboard with the leader’s ideas.  To their disappointment, these leaders often find their well-intentioned information-sharing rejected or ignored.

     At play here is the phenomenon—recognized by researchers in fields such as cognitive science, linguistics, and political science—that people’s beliefs will often supersede information that contradicts those beliefs (Dossey, 2016).  So when school leaders share information that teachers are not ready to believe, the information is often ignored or contradicted.  Worse, the purveyor of such information may be labeled as a know-it-all or pushy. 

     When school leaders understand the limits of information, they start with beliefs and values.  They do so by focusing on a passion that virtually every teacher shares; the well-being and success of students.  By focusing on the teachers’ care for their students, leaders start with what dives most teachers to pay attention to open up to others’ ideas. Then, savvy leaders enact a problem-solving cycle that enables teachers to explore any challenges preventing their students’ successes and identify what they—the teachers want to learn to implement the strategies they believe will help (Toll 2017).  Teachers are less likely to reject new information that contradicts their beliefs when they have control over what they learn and how they learn it (Calvert, 2016).


Perspective 3:  Everyone has their own vision of success.

     Some preparation programs encourage leaders to develop a vision for their school or their program and then find ways to get others to “buy into” that vision.  In other words, the leader’s task is to market his or her ideas to others.

     Such an approach is problematic for several reasons.  First, it puts the decision-making power entirely in the domain of the school leader.  Second, it assumes that the school leader knows what is best for every teacher and every situation in the school.  And third, it fails to recognize that more people don’t like to be “sold” anything, people want to feel that they are making choices in their own lives.  It is no wonder, then, that school leaders who announce their vision or their great new idea often meet resistance.

     Sam Chaltain (2009) asserted that a leader’s job is to find the school’s vision, not to create one.  In other words, savvy leaders pay close attention to what’s happening in the school and then guide the staff in developing a vision that reflects the priorities and passions of those who work and learn there.

    In addition, school leaders may want to catch themselves when they ask questions that begin, “How can I get teachers to ….”  As soon as the word get shows up in relation to others, wise leaders will realize that they are trying to persuade or control people in an effort to reach their own goals.  At best, such an effort would require a sales job; at its worst, it would require a battle.  Instead of pursuing their interest in “getting” someone to do something, leaders might rework their interest to consider how they can collaborate with others around the topic, or problem at hand, so together teachers and leaders can develop a plan that’s owned by all.


Perspective 4:  Resistance make perfect sense to the person who’s resisting.

     When new school leaders encounter resistance to a great idea, they often find themselves mentally criticizing the people who oppose it.  These leaders conclude that those who are resisting are unwilling to change, lack a strong work ethic, or have misplaced priorities.

     It might be more productive for school leaders to think about times when they’ve resisted others’ ideas---for instance, times when they told their child he could not have a begged for toy (or tattoo!); or when they told their physician that a particular treatment was not for them; or when they told their spouse that it was not the right year to take a big vacation.  When people think about why they’ve resisted others’ ideas, they usually realize that their reasons were good ones.  For instance, parents say no to children to keep them safe, patients select treatments that will best fit their individual needs and approach to health, and spouses want to be good stewards of the family budget.  

     Similarly, when teacher resist the ideas of initiatives of new school leaders, their reasons make perfect sense to them.  For instance, these teachers might have worked hard to develop their current practices and view these practices as best for students.  They might believe that a proposed change would be too demanding on their time, or they might think that a new idea reverses the trajectory of school programs of the past few years.  When school leaders understand resistance from this perspective, they avoid judging teachers negatively.  Instead, they tune in to better understand what teachers are thinking.  This process has the potential to create a productive dialogue, enabling teaches and leaders to approach problem solving and planning together to address school needs.


Perspective 5:  Every situation is best approached by listening first.

     New school leaders sometimes respond to challenging situations by immediately focusing on what they need to say or do.  After all, they were hired to take the lead.  Sometimes, too, they’re insecure about how they’re viewed by others and want to be sure they’re seen as knowledgeable and decisive.  Thus, they step up to the challenge and declare what should happen next.

     This quick response may lead to a solution, but it’s just as likely to backfire.  Difficult situations require discernment, which takes time.  Often, new school leaders don’t fully understand the multiple dimensions of what’s happening and the history of how the school has addressed similar situations before.  In addition some staff members may have valuable information, practices, or beliefs related to the situation, but a quick acting school leader is likely to miss these resources.

     It’s wiser to listen and learn first.  When leaders tune in to others, they understand challenges more completely, and as a result they’ll be more likely to come up with productive solutions---or even better, to solicit further involvement by others.  Solutions are nearly always better when leaders have help in choosing a path, and those who were involved in developing a plan are more likely to be enthusiastic about implementing it.

     In fact, this fifth perspective summarizes the key idea behind the previous four:  Tune in, and be inclusive.  Remain open to others; value their knowledge, skills, and beliefs.  The irony is that leaders who do less of the work themselves are often viewed as more effective.  Such leaders are likely to face less resistance and indifference because they’ve learned how to involve many people in shaping the work of the school.

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Thanks so MASSP Major Sponsor AXA

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MASSP has some great partners




















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