Leading instructional leaders: Reflections from a former NYC principal

Leading instructional leaders: Reflections from a former NYC principal

Leading instructional leaders: Reflections from a former NYC principal

By: Josh Klaris, Director of School Leadership, Generation Ready

As hints of spring hit the air in what has been a very long winter on the East Coast, things are buzzing for instructional leaders throughout New York City. With the introduction of the proposed new teacher evaluation system and the inaugural administration of PARCC assessments, our Leading Learning services could not have been launched at a better time. Taking the lead are instructional leaders from 54 (and growing by the day) NYC Department of Education schools that have invested in their own learning, lighting the fire in their bellies to enhance their personal and professional skills in order to improve their schools

As an ex-NYC principal myself, I have to wonder what is taking so long for many of our districts to realize the necessity of investing in our school leaders. If we don’t provide the learning environments for leaders to tackle the challenges they face, defeat and burnout are inevitable.

To address the gaps in traditional leadership programs, which generally lack sufficient support to fully improve school leadership practices, our Leading Learning services combine theory and practice—fusing traditional workshop professional development days with innovative techniques and job-embedded support. I’ve been humbled, at times frustrated, and mostly invigorated as a facilitator of this work.

I’ve heard leaders lament about the dearth of professional learning opportunities that they’ve had over the past few years; ones that truly focus on their needs and aren’t just retreads of workshops planned for teachers. With Leading Learning, though, participants have been constantly grateful and eager to plunge in and take the next steps in the work because of the unique targeted experiences they are provided.

We’ve discussed the myriad responsibilities that burden leaders, causing instructional leaders to be considered the most misunderstood people in all of education. I’ve had to try to re-direct groups and individuals who seem to have given up hope on some students (and, more commonly, on their families); however, the large majority display a light in their eyes, passion in their voices, and determination in their guts for the work as they relentlessly act to move all their students towards college and career success.

Leading Learning strives to build internal coherence within schools—the leadership practices, efficacy beliefs, and organizational processes associated with a faculty’s capacity to engage in deliberate improvements in instructional practice and student learning across classrooms, over time. The leaders we are working with have made the necessary investment in their learning that is required to do this unbelievably complicated yet doable task. And I have to say, I cannot wait to see how they excel!