Leading Educators Launches Innovative Teacher Development Strategy with TPS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 5/14/18

CONTACT:

Adan Garcia

(202) 510-0827

marketing@leadingeducators.org

 

LEADING EDUCATORS LAUNCHES INNOVATIVE TEACHER DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY WITH TPS

Professional learning approach will dramatically expand supports for content mastery

 

TULSA, Okla. - May 14, 2018

Tulsa Public Schools (TPS) launched Empower, a dynamic professional learning strategy that will incorporate focused collaboration into the day-to-day work of teachers, in 10 schools this weekend.

Building on the district’s “Destination Excellence” vision of inspiring and preparing every student to love learning and achieve ambitious goals, Empower creates weekly opportunities for teams of teachers in a content area to lead collaborative learning and practice in rigorous standards and pedagogical best practices.  The program, developed in partnership with Leading Educators, stems from a central belief that schools are a critical unit of social change, and teacher leaders should be drivers of that change in pursuit of equity. In order for schools and districts to achieve equitable student outcomes, all students need to consistently experience rigorous and joyful learning and great teaching.  

Danielle Neves, the Executive Director of Teaching and Learning for TPS, shared, “Meeting our ambitious goals for students will require outstanding learning for our educators that is grounded in content and curricula, happening day-to-day and week-to-week in schools, and led by and for teachers.  Leading Educators is supporting us, but it is our work as a district, our vision, our ambitious goals for students.”

Leading Educators began planning with TPS one year ago to ensure that conditions and leadership at all levels of the district would be prepared for an effective roll-out.  The program is designed to gradually scale over a multi-year arc so support structures and planning systems become fully embedded in the district’s operations. This approach offers greater consistency and relevance relative to traditional, outside professional development options and focuses district-led work on iterative practice known to directly effect to student learning.

Leading Educators has worked with Education Resource Strategies to help school leaders align time, people, and money to schools’ priorities.  Each Empower school’s content-specific teams will experience 90 minutes of collaborative learning time within their master schedule each week - an increase of 30 minutes over previous years. TNTP supported this planning by conducting classroom walkthroughs meant to assess current instruction across the district.  

The Empower program’s first cohort of 55 educators was inducted on Saturday, May 12th in Tulsa.

“We believe we can accomplish something incredible together in Tulsa that radically changes expectations for what our teachers and students can collectively achieve when effectively supported to master strong content,” said Chong-Hao Fu, Leading Educators’ current Chief Learning Officer and incoming Chief Executive Officer.

 Photo courtesy of Tulsa Public Schools

Photo courtesy of Tulsa Public Schools

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ABOUT LEADING EDUCATORS

Leading Educators is a national nonprofit organization founded in New Orleans that seeks to improve student achievement by leveraging the positive impact of experienced teachers who take on leadership positions in their schools.  We partner with states, districts, and public charter networks to design learning systems that develop the instructional skills and content knowledge of teachers so they can reach better, more equitable student outcomes.  www.leadingeducators.org

Leading Educators Prepares for CEO Transition

After nearly eight incredible years at Leading Educators, CEO Jonas Chartock has decided to open the door to new leadership this September.

Jonas is proud of all that the Leading Educators community has accomplished, having grown from a single pilot program in New Orleans to becoming an innovative learning and systems design partner of districts in twelve geographic areas.  Under his leadership, educational equity and collaborative teacher practice have become more deeply ingrained in the programmatic approach--shifts that have helped districts reach record student growth. As a new father, Jonas is excited to spend more time with his family and pursue new opportunities tied to his deep passion for racial equity and social justice policy and activism.

We believe the team at Leading Educators is well prepared to build on ten years of collective progress, and we have chosen Chong-Hao Fu as an internal successor who brings both a deep understanding of our programs and strong relationships with leading districts to this effort.  Jonas will continue to serve as CEO through early September. We look forward to re-introducing you to Chong-Hao and our strategic plan in the coming months.

Leading Educators has always been about collective leadership.  We have worked to be a model of the distributed leadership we expect from our school partners, and our culture reflects that nimble, collaborative approach.  As we enter this next chapter of our story, we know we are about to see many decades of districts producing their best teaching and learning yet.

We thank you for your continued partnership in service of all students.

In community,

Jonas Chartock, Outgoing CEO, Leading Educators

Chong-Hao Fu, Incoming CEO, Leading Educators

Stuart Kaplan, Chair, Leading Educators Board of Directors

Jonas Chartock to Depart as CEO of Leading Educators, Chong-Hao Fu Named Successor

May 8, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

CONTACT:

Adan Garcia

(202) 510-0827

marketing@leadingeducators.org

 

JONAS CHARTOCK TO DEPART AS CEO OF LEADING EDUCATORS, CHONG-HAO FU NAMED SUCCESSOR

Move marks first leadership transition in organization’s 10-year history

 

NEW ORLEANS, LA - May 8, 2018

Jonas Chartock, who joined Leading Educators as the organization’s first CEO in December 2010, will be leaving his role this September.  

Chartock shared, “In more than seven years, we have grown from a small pilot program with aspirations to positively impact the education of every New Orleans’ student to a critical partner to pioneering school systems in twelve regions and influencing so many more.  Our experience in developing professional learning systems has deepened our understanding of what it will take to accomplish real educational equity, and I am so proud of how well-prepared this team is to enter our next chapter.”

Chong-Hao Fu, Leading Educators’ current Chief Learning Officer, has been unanimously chosen by the board of directors as Chartock’s successor.  As Chief Program Officer and Chief Learning Officer, Fu has led innovative shifts in districts’ teacher and school leader development strategies which have produced accelerated growth in student’s math and English language arts knowledge.  Fu has been with Leading Educators for six years and currently manages partnership, district consulting, development, and thought leadership efforts. Before joining Leading Educators, Fu was the founding principal of KIPP Sharpstown in Houston, TX, one of the highest performing schools in the city and one of the few fine arts schools dedicated to serving lower income students.

During the transition, Leading Educators will be launching new programs in Tulsa, Chicago, and New Orleans that will directly serve approximately 215 new teacher and school leaders.  Partnership teams worked with 730 teacher leaders nationwide in the most recent academic year, influencing 2,920 peer teachers and 73,000 K-12 students.

As a new father, Chartock is excited to spend more time with his family and pursue new opportunities tied to his deep passion for racial and education equity and social justice policy and activism.

“This organization has never been about one person or leader, and Jonas and Chong-Hao have done an incredible job of building a culture of shared progress that will only grow stronger,” said Stuart Kaplan, Board Chair at Leading Educators and Director of Organization Development at Google.

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About Leading Educators

Leading Educators is a national nonprofit organization founded in New Orleans that seeks to improve student achievement by leveraging the positive impact of experienced teachers who take on leadership positions in their schools.  We partner with states, districts, and public charter networks to design professional learning systems that develop the instructional skills and content knowledge of teachers so they can reach better, more equitable student outcomes. www.leadingeducators.org

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4 Ways To Celebrate Women Educators

It’s International Women’s Day, and we at Leading Educators are especially thankful for the generations of women educators who have changed the world by cultivating self-discovery and growth inside and beyond the classroom.  We celebrate the countless women activists—such as Mary McLeod Bethune, Malala Yousafzai, and Sylvia Mendez—who have advocated for the universal human right to education. By championing the potential in all of us, these women have been the backbone of social progress for centuries.  We challenge you to join us in honoring them today and every day through concrete actions:

  1. Prioritize women’s opportunities for professional growth.  The Department of Education estimates that there are 3.8 million public school teachers in the United States, and about 2.9 million of those teachers are women.  Prioritizing professional growth means prioritizing women's advancement. Teachers need consistent, school-based opportunities to reflect on the realities of their context and develop their skills and knowledge in collaboration with others.  At the same time, teacher leadership strategies can create more systemic entry points to leadership and influence. By building structures that position and prepare women educators to both lead others and refine their teaching, schools can grow new leaders and energize teaching and learning in every classroom.  More and better learning benefits all of us.

  2. Advocate for women—especially women of color—to have greater agency in district and school leadership positions.  While women make up more than three-quarters of the U.S. teaching force, they hold only 30 percent of school and district administration roles (Department of Education, 2016).  This imbalance contributes to larger trends of pay disparity, perceived social status, and inequitable career advancement seen in American society as a whole. Research suggests that organizations with more women in senior leadership positions are more successful (Dawson, Kersley, Natella, 2014).  Creating opportunities for women to lead is good business.

  3. Recognize the role that systemic bias plays in accomplishing or derailing change. The perspective of women leaders is critical when focusing on the most direct ways to address the opportunity gap.  We know from our work with districts that effective school transformation strategies must be grounded in what and how students learn—a capacity where women currently have the most experience and influence.  Under-representing women in decision-making roles that affect instruction unintentionally excludes valuable insights into what students and teachers need to increase student success. Even more, we know that students of color are most likely to be taught by white women, so larger systemic shifts are necessary to ensure that hiring managers recognize and counteract institutional biases that prioritize creating formal and functional opportunities for women of color to drive change.

  4. Lift up the experiences of women of color, trans women, and undocumented women. There is no single “woman’s experience,” so it’s important that those with influence recognize and honor the diversity of experiences lived by women educators.  Teaching is an inherently dynamic and demanding profession, and the reality that life is intersectional means that simply being a person comes with other layers of stressors.  From the institutional perspective, policies for pay and work-life balance have long perpetuated systemic privileges for white women, so it is important to identify within-gender disparities and advocate for solutions that take these important differences into account.  Approach your support for women educators with the same kind of intersectional equity orientation that you expect for students. In the words of Audre Lorde, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”

Have more ideas to add to this list? We would love to hear them at @leadingeds!

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Checking in with Instructional Specialist Michelle Morrow

Michelle Morrow is the Instructional Specialist at North Godwin Elementary School in Grand Rapids, MI and part of the 2017 Leading Educators Grand Rapids cohort.  This past July, Michelle spoke with us about her vision for school transformation after attending the 2017 Leading Educators Institute (LEI).  We checked in with Michelle to hear about her team’s experiences during the fall semester.   

LE: When we spoke with you in July, you said LEI was one of the most intense and rewarding professional opportunities of your career thus far.  What were you looking forward to as you entered the fall semester?

MM:  I was most excited to see how our team’s learning would translate into our school culture and ultimately what it would look like in the classroom.  I knew the equity sessions at LEI had a powerful impact on our team, so I was also excited to explore how having the equity lens front of mind might impact how our teacher leaders speak about the standards, their instructional practice, and our students’ learning.     

LE: What were some of your team’s specific priorities for the fall?

MM: We not only wanted to increase teacher collaboration within our school from a functional perspective but also have those collaborative conversations anchored in equity, evidence, and rigorous standards.  Our staff has the best of intentions for our students and they have worked extremely hard to open up their classrooms and collaborate with each other.  Our goal was to deepen these collaborative conversations and push ourselves to examine our instructional design and delivery through an equity lens.

LE: How did you use your team’s professional learning plans to get to that place?

MM: We began the school year with professional development where staff members challenged their biases and opened themselves up to be honest and vulnerable with each other.  This continued in the work of our cycles of professional learning (CPLs) when we narrowed in on creating lessons and units that were rigorous with the proper scaffolding so all of our students could access high standards.  Beyond our regular content learning as adults, we have also had teams practice challenging conversations with their colleagues in order to push the envelope for our school culture.  All of these experiences have helped increase collaboration to a deeper and more meaningful level.

LE: What was challenging about implementing this work?  What surprised you or others on your team?

MM: Time.  With our district having several other priorities on the table, our team had to get creative in meshing them together.  We did not want this to come off as ‘one more thing’ to do, so our team had to carve out additional time to design the CPLs as part of our districts goals.  I wouldn’t say this surprised me because of the dedication and willingness of our team, but I’m always amazed by the commitment that educators have to making changes that help their students get the most out of school.  Our team made a commitment to come to work 60 minutes early two days a week to continue our instructional work, and they also gave up their prep period  once a week to review their session facilitation.  Our team even created a website where staff participating in the CPL could have easy access to presentations and materials.  They are the hardest working bunch I know!  

LE: What has been your biggest win so far?

MM: We had more than half of our elementary staff volunteer their personal time and come to work 60 minutes early for eleven weeks to attend our first round of professional learning sessions.  Because we did not have this time built into the master schedule for this year, it is amazing to see the dedication of not only my teacher leaders, but also their peer teachers who also gave up their time to participate in instruction-focused learning.  

LE: What advice do you have for others leading similar work across the country?

MM: Keep with it!  It is tough, and the wins might feel small, but look carefully enough and you will see those little wins adding up to much bigger successes. Every tough step through the mud is a step that gets us closer to closing the equity gap.

Getting the Most Out of Coaching

Kelsey McLachlan is the Instructional Leadership Coach for Leading Educators’ New Orleans program.  Kelsey began her career as teacher in Chicago Public Schools where she taught for six years.  She also led teacher leadership development at Teach for America Greater New Orleans and was the Founding Assistant Principal at KIPP Leadership Primary.  Kelsey spoke with us about her direct work with teacher leaders to advance educational equity through rigorous classroom instruction.

LE: Tell us about your role. What does an instructional leadership coach do at Leading Educators?

KM:  To my thinking, excellent coaching is about transforming leaders so that they not only increase student achievement, but also positively affect all of those around them. My aim is to help the leaders I coach be as successful as possible at grasping opportunities to improve and reaching goals through collaboration.  I have the privilege of partnering with teams of teacher and school leaders to ensure that they are making steady progress towards student and teacher goals rooted in college and career readiness standards. Reaching these goals is the way to live and achieve our mission of equitable schools for all students, and it's my job to use all of the components of our program to do that: one-on-one coaching, group coaching, and professional learning sessions.   

LE: What are common challenges your coachees face when stepping into instructional leadership?

KM: Accountability is often a challenge for new leaders. I support people to become stronger at holding each other accountable through explicit coaching around this skill in addition to modeling it in my own interactions with them. Holding people accountable to their student and personal growth goals and being honest, or “showing them the mirror”, is a strong way to build trust. In the course of our work together, we agree on goals that impact students' lives, and I want to hold them to those goals in a supportive way. I try to become invested in their goals as if they are mine and check in on them regularly.

Motivating others to action, and teaching the skills to motivate is vital in leadership coaching. I often compare coaching both teachers and leaders to coaching Olympic athletes: you can’t run the 100 meter dash for them, you can’t practice the race for them. The teacher or leader has to drive their own performance through reflection and practice. The coach is there to share strategies and feedback to improve their performance, for example, by suggesting that they shorten their stride or pick up their pace.

LE: What have you tried to help coachees land on a clear path forward?

KM: The most important first step to moving the needle is building trust with people.  I try to deeply listen to words, of course, but also body language and gestures, so that I can hear and understand everything the person means. So that means, I need to allow time for the person to speak and then ask questions to probe their thinking more deeply. Driving people forward in reaching goals is a baseline for a coach.  However, I think one of my most important realizations from many years of coaching is this: what sets a great coach apart from a mediocre one is the ability to see the leader’s “best self” and to help them access that “self”. Getting them there might be hard work, but a strong foundation of personal growth and discovery will make success more likely.

LE: You’ve mentioned a passion for educational equity.  How does that lens influence your approach to coaching?

KM: Elena Aguilar wrote in Education Week, “Coaching with an equity lens means that we pay attention to the social and historic forces which create and maintain systems in which children are treated differently based on who they are.”  In coaching, it's imperative to keep in mind my own identity and the bias that I bring to the table.  I have to do the work of unpacking my perspective, while also listening to and lifting up biases that may live within the work that teacher leaders do.  Also, building deep content knowledge with the teacher leaders I coach allows for a focus on instruction that is rigorous for all students.

LE: I know you love New Orleans! What keeps you so invested in serving New Orleans schools?

KM: New Orleans is, in my opinion, the best city on the planet. It has so many amazing bright spots that you can only experience in the Crescent City, and I believe the people who live here are its greatest asset. Still, our city has experienced generations of inequity and we individually and collectively have so much to do to change that. It's this injustice that keeps me here to prove what’s possible to achieve with our amazing students.

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