I can't help but listen to the UK team and learn about their education structure and think we have a common mission; to educate all students to the highest level that they can possible attain in order to improve our society and quality of life for each and every student.
Most of the day was gaining knowledge of the English structure of education and the historical aspect of educational change and reform. I think I was most impressed by the accountability system description by Barry who is a Teaching Leader coach and OLFSTED evaluator. OLFSTED is the accountability function run by the government. I connected this to our MSIP 5 accountability but layered with a site visit. The spirit of accountability was represented by a true spirit of growth for each student.
The thought of Middle Leaders has brought much traction to recent UK thinking. Middle Leaders are vital to the grass roots effort of change within a school. OFSTED even recognizes the impact of these folks in the improvement process and has designated look fors during site visits. I can't feel excited to think about the defined support roles of teacher leaders in the trenches and yet serving as support to colleagues and Principals. I think this is an undefined role in the US, a thankless, unrecognized silent leadership role. I can't help but wonder why we don't recognize these practitioners in a formal leadership role. So much of the time our principals bear the load of decision making and instructional leadership roles. I have visions of teachers such as Kristin, Martha, Shellie, Kindergarten team, etc in my office setting. They have such firmly grounded instructional practice and belief in students. How can we better use these leaders to help guide our teachers? I think very few teachers in our buildings realize the gems within our finger tips. What structures do we have in place beyond student teaching programs?
Most of the afternoon was spent diving into the city culture by visiting Mustard Seed and Reach Out.
The ultimate question remains; What can I take away from these support services that can help the context in which my sphere of influence operates on a regular basis? We deal with homelessness. We long for effective mentor programs.
I believe the connectedness of common goals might be tighter woven. Of course ISD has students who are homeless- either temporary or long range. Of course we can partner better with support services such as tutoring programs. The classroom teacher knows that student very well. Unless the student has an IEP, do we have a clear, efficient way to communicate differentiated student academic and social/ emotional goals? We can work together in a more efficient way.
I also brought away thinking about boiling down common high leverage teaching practices for a school. Why can't teachers in a school recognize the most efficient practices and then hold each other accountable in some collegial way? We can learn so much from each other! Are we really as transparent as we need to be? Are we stuck in the closed door mindset?
How can Middle Leaders foster the growth we need? Yet push the thinking of colleagues in a healthy manner? A principal can't do it alone. This is a culture. This needs to be nourished by our district. How can I help water and feed these middle leaders?