What I learned about leadership development in 2018

An assistant superintendent shares his most powerful lessons, from the power of diversity to the importance of having leaders model new technology

3. When adopting new technology, have leaders lead the way.
In a few of our projects, we are using video to support leadership development. We’re not quite at the teacher-observation level with this technology in all areas yet, but hope to be soon. To begin, we’ve taken a step back in other areas to focus on training our school leaders to use the observation tools from Insight ADVANCE as a platform for coaching school leaders, including administrators and teacher leaders.

Our principals, assistant principals, and instructional coaches are beginning to capture video of their feedback sessions with the teachers they coach. The goal is to provide administrators enough practice to master the art of delivering actionable feedback. Additionally, we ask our administrators to submit videos and reflections of their facilitation from their instructional leadership team meetings—again with the focus on improving their leadership skills.

In STEP, we ask facilitators to use the video platform to record their conversations and then reflect on their facilitation skills and receive feedback from our lead teacher for STEP. Because of this, some teachers have begun sharing practices by using video reflection.

With leaders and coaches using the technology first to improve ourselves professionally via self-reflection and peer feedback, we believe that teachers will see greater value in it, while also understanding that it is designed to facilitate coaching, and not an evaluative tool.

4. Empower peers to coach each other.
At this early stage of our observation program, one of the things that teachers have asked for, especially in positions like music, is peer coaching from other teachers with content expertise.

A few weeks ago, a music teacher expressed interest in providing feedback to other music teachers in the district. That’s fantastic, but there’s a huge cost to that unless we can figure out an efficient way to have qualified teachers observe the classes. So now we’re considering allowing music teachers to opt into a process in which they would submit their video to get feedback from a peer who works in another building but has been trained in our model of delivering feedback.

Looking to the future
I have no doubt next year will bring its own unexpected lessons. Heading into 2019, I’m looking forward to learning more about how we can provide our aspiring leaders with the tools and experience they need to be successful in their entry-level roles. Also, how can we continue to grow our assistant principals—whether they’ve been in their positions for 10 years or 10 weeks? Finally, how can we best differentiate our support so they can grow in the areas they need it most? I’m eager to learn how it will play out over the next five to 10 years.

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