For the four years that Vincent Hayward has been the principal of Norton Middle School, he has been an agent of change on many levels. He supports his teachers and students in tangible ways, having a large and measurable impact. Through his willingness to lobby for additional technology, as well as continually improving his own skills, Norton Middle School has been a 1:1 school since 2016.
In addition to initiatives that support technology integration for instruction, consumption and creation of content, Vincent also encourages innovation through more traditional channels and pedagogy. Most recently, he introduced the concept of “The Pineapple Chart” to his school. The idea has been embraced enthusiastically, providing opportunities for teachers to visit each other’s classrooms and share innovative practices for teaching and learning. This concept provides a grass roots approach to professional learning in a timely and relevant manner. Vincent also created a “Teacher Brag Board” for his school using Google Classroom. Here all can see the exciting things happening in the school and celebrate each other’s successes. This transparent approach has fostered a positive and collaborative culture in his school.
When asked what motivates him, Vincent immediately told us it’s the students more than anything. He thinks of his own young child and the type of school he would like for her to see. He is inspired when students are awestruck and excited in the classroom. “It’s an exciting time to be in education!” said this energetic leader.
Vincent believes his primary role as a leader is to remove obstacles so teachers can move forward with innovation. His focus is often placed on those who are early adopters of new technology, and their success in challenging their students.
“Creative teachers inspire me to challenge myself and try things they may not be comfortable with. Often times that involves technology.” To this end, Vincent believes in the importance of a growth mindset. The culture of his school has shifted in this direction of teachers trying new ways of doing things. While things may not be perfect, it helps students to understand learning by trial and error. “In doing so, we are modeling a growth mindset for our students. Everyone is here to learn, even the teachers”, said Hayward.
Vincent is also focused on recognition of teachers who are creative in the classroom. “I Tweet and share these successes both with and outside of our school” said Hayward. The work of teachers is recognized using the school’s teacher brag board in Google Classroom to which anyone may contribute. This has created a more collaborative culture in at Norton Middle School. “I have high expectations, but I also have a lot of faith in my staff.” Smart goals were provided to teachers for professional and student learning goals. These preapproved goals helped to give teachers a starting point to work toward. It’s important to note that these were suggested goals and not mandates. Most teachers, however, chose to try. “I set the ceiling, not the floor”, said Hayward. This approach has proven successful and sets the expectation for teachers to step outside of their comfort zone. “I don’t require staff to innovate or move as a herd, but I do expect those who are comfortable to move forward and help others along the way. The only requirement is we are all moving in the same direction.”
Vincent keeps up with emerging trends in the use of technology in education by attending the MassCUE Fall Conference, alongside with many of his staff. “I learn a lot from my staff, so their attendance helps me to grow.” EdCamps are another way he continues to grow, with Edcamp Southeastern Massachusetts  being hosted at his school December 2, 2017. This presents an opportunity for educators to come together and share on topics of their choosing and is free.
Moving forward, Vincent’s next challenge is looking into a better classroom set up, possibly breaking away from the central presentation space. “Classroom management and navigating the 1:1 classroom presents a different type of need for today’s teachers and learners. A redesigned classroom may be set up to mirror the workspace students will someday be working in. The question is how to meet this challenge without losing the things that we still need.”
As a school principal, Hayward has been successful in creating a culture of innovation and learning. He has helped his team to recognize that they can always improve. “As a staff we are hungry to find new ways to lead the pack and not become stagnant.” He has found that using technology has provided him with a great way to bring the staff together with a common goal. “It’s an approach, not just a mission statement,” states Hayward.