Administrators and teachers love the beginning of a new school year. The anticipation of a new group of students in a teacher’s class, meeting new families and greeting familiar friends, opportunity for new learning; in general, the beginning of the year can bring great joy and sometimes great dread.
All too often the past school year ended with plans and a vision to take into the new year. Sadly, in many cases that is not the reality to which administrators and teachers return. Over the summer members of the district office have received new mandates from the state or federal levels that end up impacting the plans schools have made. Sometimes, it’s a whole new path for professional learning, one that was not anticipated by schools at the end of the previous year. This situation can be at the least frustrating and at the most can erode trust between the district office leaders and the teachers and staffs at the school level.
And so, it’s not unusual for the question “And what does the District want now?” to be raised.
So how can some continuity be brought to a situation over which there may be little control? In districts where Targeted Leadership Consulting works there is a process to address this challenge. In the Chula Vista Elementary School District, a representative group called the Design Team exists. Membership includes District Office leaders, school level administrators, teacher union representation, site level teachers, and outside experts that support learning development. Their charge is to examine data and develop a district instructional focus that is be tight enough to unite the work of the Educational and Support Services department and the schools; and loose enough to allow schools flexibility in choosing how to address the expectation of the District Instructional Focus.
The District Instructional Focus is the guide for aligning all training and professional learning offered at the school level and district level by either internal presenters or external presenters.
In Chula Vista, the Design Team came together after Year 2 to reflect on the work accomplished and to develop the goal for Year 2. Input was given as to what the content for the Instructional Leadership Team sessions should include. Teacher input was critical for developing these goals.
At the end of the year, the plans and session topics were presented to teachers and administrators. The Instructional Focus is the same. The Instructional Leadership Team (ILT) learning for this year builds on the learning from last year. Many commented there is clear evidence of the input from the group.
Administrators and teachers love a new beginning. The anticipation of a new group of students in a teacher’s class, meeting new families and greeting familiar friends, opportunity for new learning; in general, the beginning of the year can bring great joy and this year the answer to the question of “What does the district want now?” is one that has a clear answer!
Teacher and district leaders working collaboratively to establish the content for each session of the Instructional Leadership Team work.
Teacher and district leaders creating goals for the Instructional Leadership Team work of Year 2.