Tapping Into Talent
Learning From Maryland's Promising Principals Academy

Blog post Torrie Mekos

Sometimes it can be difficult to make the transition from knowing  to doing when trying to apply concepts to ground-level practice. This often holds true for many kinds of learners – including students, teachers and even states. State education agencies know that principals play an influential role in the development of effective teachers and schools. But how can states build a strong foundation in order to prepare principals for this influential role? Similarly, practitioners can probably agree that in theory, inter-state collaboration yields great potential for learning. So how can they go about actually engaging in it?

Look to Maryland and Oklahoma for examples of how to tackle these essential questions. Last week, the Maryland Department of Education began its third cohort of the Promising Principals Academy. Robin Anderson from the Oklahoma Department of Education capitalized on the opportunity to travel to Maryland and take back strategic insights to her state.

Maryland’s Promising Principals Academy convenes multiple times throughout a year to engage in both big picture vision setting and practical training. This dual focus, along with individual and team coaching, engages participants in a supportive professional network. The academy’s areas of focus were designed using feedback from superintendents across the state concerning the challenges and vulnerabilities that early stage principals often face, such as using effective communication strategies and engaging their staff in healthy group development processes.

The Promising Principals Academy component of Maryland’s leadership development is intentional about drawing from the existing assistant principal talent pool. Doing this creates a career pipeline that focuses on identifying talent and potential, as well as using a continual process model to sustain and develop it. By tapping into opportunities for meaningful observational learning, Oklahoma could now be uniquely positioned to replicate Maryland’s practices in ways that can be adapted to meet their own specific context and needs.