The Milwaukee Principals Institute was an ongoing professional development initiative sponsored by the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory and the Milwaukee Public Schools. As part of the Institute, a summer seminar was held during July 1994.
In his evaluation of the seminar, Hawkes (1994) describes the daily evaluations completed by participants:
"On the first three of the four days of the Institute, participants were given the opportunity to complete daily evaluation forms. These forms, presented on half sheets of card stock, asked two primary questions:
- What are the most useful things you learned from the presenter or from today's activities?
- What issues or concerns need to be addressed further?
The most useful things the participants indicated that they learned the first day of the Institute were team building and group dynamic techniques. These responses were consistent with the presentations scheduled for the day, which also focused on team building and group dynamics and on the problem-based learning activity. For the problem-based learning activity, the participants were placed in groups of eight to ten individuals. These groups were given the task of writing a personal vision statement to guide school improvement aimed at creating a strong, collaborative, student-centered school culture while involving members of the school community at the fictional George Washington Middle School.
In response to what concerns need to be addressed further, comments primarily surrounded the need for time for personal reflection. A number of respondents felt that there was too much instruction presented in one day--so much so that a saturation point set in early in the day, which participants indicated caused some of what was said to be quickly forgotten. This may explain why team building, the focus of the day's instruction, frequently was mentioned as an issue that respondents said needed to be further addressed. Some participants suggested that to alleviate the cognitive load, the pace should be slowed down and some activities should be shortened to provide more time for reflection and networking/idea sharing.
As it was the day before, the participants indicated that the themes introduced in the presentations were the most useful. Those ideas included facilitating systemic change; addressing racism; the need for cultural diversity and overcoming social, individual, and organizational barriers to multiculturalism; and effective learning for all students.
In the day's responses to issues still needing to be addressed, concerns about the scheduling and timing of the day's activities had elevated from the day before. Over two-thirds of the responses directly addressed the abundance of activities scheduled for the day, which made enjoying the Institute and learning as much as they could about it difficult. . . .
Again, the respondents stated that they needed time to reflect on what they were hearing, more time to process the information presented to them to consider how it could be applied to their schools, and more time to talk to their colleagues to share ideas and experiences of practices that have worked in their schools.
The themes presented about being sensitive to, establishing, and dealing with the school culture are what participants indicated were the most useful of the day. There also were a number of responses that identified the school profile data useful as well. On a lesser scale, ideas about team building, evaluating school performance, and developing human relation strategies also were included as among the most useful.
On this day, like the two that preceded it, dialogue about the issues needing to be addressed continued to focus on the necessity for a less intense schedule and more time to reflect. However, in this case, the dialogue took the form of appreciation, which was in response to the adjustment the Seminar staff made to make the schedule more congruent to participant needs. This flexibility was well-received by the participants and did a great deal to show them that their feedback was being heard and was critical to the success of the Seminar. On a less frequent note, remaining responses to concerns needing attention included having more discussion on the school profiles and on how NCREL and the Milwaukee Public Schools would plan follow-up activities that would build on the foundation that the Summer Institute laid for improving school practice." (pp. 19-20)