Leaders to Learn From – Part 7

Each year, Education Week identifies fifteen district-level education leaders who make a difference for students, staff and stakeholders. In this 7-part blog series, you will learn the proven strategies that make them so successful.

Real-World Relevance – Many comprehensive high schools understand the new three R’s – including the need for rigor and the importance of relationships. The third “R” relevance, is the most difficult to implement. Involve business and industry partners to provide relevance.

Expertise, Not Money – Instead of approaching partners to ask for money, ask them to share their expertise and human capital. The business community is eagerly waiting for school districts to approach them.

High Expectations – Don’t underestimate your students. You can expect them to consistently exceed the expectations of the district’s business partners.

Communicate Often – You cannot overestimate the value and importance of communication. The bigger your operation is, the more challenging communication becomes. It’s essential that people understand all the pieces along the way and that you keep them in the loop.

Involve Everyone – The leader cannot dictate from the top down. The leader has to have the vision – the big picture – and engage people in that. It takes buy-in and cooperation. It takes everyone to make that vision successful.

Share the Successes – Find a lot of ways to tell the story of the process as it’s unfolding. Use the stories of success to help other people to develop.

Don’t Set Limits – Give every student the opportunity to become something wonderful. Everybody has that potential.

Set Goals; Use Data – Examine transcripts of students who either achieved or did not; and then walk back through the system to examine what decisions were made and at what grade level. Ask what you could have done differently.

Be Humble – Humility and learning are so compatible. You have to learn from your experience. Surround yourself with people who are better and smarter than you are.

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Leaders to Learn From – Part 6

Each year, Education Week identifies fifteen district-level education leaders who make a difference for students, staff and stakeholders. In this 7-part blog series, you will learn the proven strategies that make them so successful.

Community Involvement – Involve all stakeholders in the education of students.

More Time; Better Time – It’s not just about adding more time. That additional learning time must be used well to benefit all students.

Students at Center – Give students a voice and choice, and engage them in student-centered learning.

Strong Relationships – Building relationships is essential for social and academic success. Knowing about individuals, beyond a child’s academics, makes difficult conversations easier, because parents believe that you genuinely care about them and their child.

Planning and Coordination – Coordinate, collaborate, and align for efficiency to help alleviate redundancy, create opportunities for program improvements, and enable the district to serve more customers, Having a diversity of players at the table, providing their best thinking, is a win-win for everybody.

Parent Capacity – Educators must understand the importance of linking student achievement and parent capacity-building if schools are going to make the necessary gains.

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Leaders to Learn From – Part 5

Each year, Education Week identifies fifteen district-level education leaders who make a difference for students, staff and stakeholders. In this 7-part blog series, you will learn the proven strategies that make them so successful.

Focus on Relationships – Build relationships and trust. You have to be honest about what the issues are and be there to support people as they work to resolve them.

You Can’t Know It All – Understand that you don’t always know it all. This means encouraging others to use their knowledge and supporting them.

Take Charge – Don’t think that someone else is going to fix a problem or make improvements. You have to take charge. You have to have a voice.

Value Language, Culture – By valuing the language and culture of English-learners, you can build on their assets. Students should be given the opportunity to graduate bilingual and bicultural.

Power of Data – When schools have access to disaggregated data by classroom, leaders and teachers are able to use the data to inform and adjust their instruction and identify any gaps in curricular resources for English-learners.

Family Support – Providing English-learner families with translated information, community resources, and culturally competent support services is essential to supporting students.

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Leaders to Learn From – Part 4

Each year, Education Week identifies fifteen district-level education leaders who make a difference for students, staff and stakeholders. In this 7-part blog series, you will learn the proven strategies that make them so successful.

Always Budget Season – The public’s growing sentiment of disdain and distrust toward public agencies requires strategies to enlighten, engage, and empower school communities about public school finances beyond their budget season. Those efforts include regular public discussions.

Being a Teacher – School fiscal-management concepts are often riddled with complex processes, confusing jargon, and strict policies and procedures. When working to educate the community, you must be an effective teacher equipped with differentiated lesson plans designed for all levels of learners.

Positive Thinking – Creativity is never limited by a district’s circumstances, and when you can help move others into this way of thinking, innovative ideas are unleashed, resulting in big successes.

Walk the Walk – Saying you’re interested in leadership is one thing; showing it is another. If you’re focused on developing capacity, have an action plan, objectives, resources, and timeline for doing it.

Find – and Protect – Resources – In tight budget times, leadership development is the first vulnerability. When a budget reduction happens, it will be the first thing that gets dropped, especially when you have a noncollaborative union.

Follow Through – Don’t give up. Set the example of working hard to continue putting investments into these programs and make sure the people you hire help to sustain them. Know going in that there will be challenges.

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Leaders to Learn From – Part 3

Each year, Education Week identifies fifteen district-level education leaders who make a difference for students, staff and stakeholders. In this 7-part blog series, you will learn the proven strategies that make them so successful.

Committed Builders – Teachers, elders, students, superintendents, scholars, policymakers, and parents must work together to interrupt patterns of underachievement.

Community of Caring Teachers – Educators must care deeply about students’ social, emotional, and academic well-being. This demands patience, partnership, commitment, and the unwavering belief in the brilliance of children.

Learning Environments – Foster positive self-esteem in boys of color by invoking the power of the past and legacies of resistance that have paved the way for each generation.

Careful Planning – Before seeking community or business partners, set a plan for what you want to do and be sure that what is being offered aligns with your goals.

Outside Partners – Ask for help from businesses and foundations beyond money, such as expertise and professional development for teachers.

Community Buy-in – Help parents and community members see how the district works in more detail, including budget and legislative requirements, so they better understand how decisions are made and ways they can help.

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Leaders to Learn From – Part 2

Each year, Education Week identifies fifteen district-level education leaders who make a difference for students, staff and stakeholders. In this 7-part blog series, you will learn the proven strategies that make them so successful.

Defining & Measuring Success – Educators must grapple with subjective questions about how to measure whether students are productive citizens, for example, and what criteria courses must meet to be “rigorous.”

Be Upfront – We must be frank with the community in acknowledging that it had never collected a lot of student data that could have helped measure progress.

New Accountability Just the Beginning – Changing familiar ways of doing business I shard, and it’s something that leaders must constantly work on.

Put Students First – When making tough decisions, such as how to adhere to budget cuts, think first of students’ needs. Never compromise on programs or personnel that could curtail their ability to learn or stifle their achievement.

Authentic Input – Find ways to encourage students in every grade to share their opinions about their educational experiences. That includes everything from safety, to teaching styles, to cafeteria food.

Taking Ownership – If students feel as if they are making a difference and their voices are being heard, they are more confident and will take ownership of their education. With that, student achievement increases across the board.

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Leaders to Learn From – Part 1

Each year, Education Week identifies fifteen district-level education leaders who make a difference for students, staff and stakeholders. In this 7-part blog series, you will learn the proven strategies that make them so successful.

Build Relationships – Significant academic improvement won’t occur in high-poverty communities without relationships in the classroom, in the district, and in the community.

Rigorous Curriculum – An aligned, standards-based curriculum, with high expectations for students, is important.

Great Teaching – Hire, train, and empower the best teachers. Make them integral to developing curriculum and provide resources to help them improve their craft.

Work Together – A close relationship between the superintendent and the technology chief, along with a cross-departmental project-management team, helps ensure a strong start to big ed-tech initiatives.

Think Big Picture – It’s not just about devices. Success hinges on fitting together puzzle pieces that include infrastructure, software, digital content, and professional development.

Urgency Matters; Success Matters More – Teachers are getting three years and lots of training to make the switch to digital instruction, part of a broader recognition that digital transformation involves a systemic culture change.

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