Two principals from London joined the Greater New Orleans Fellowship's School Visits Trip (SVT) to Houston this fall.
by Beth Kobel, Vice Principal, Preston Manor School, London, UK
This year I have had the opportunity to visit inner city American schools to gather good practice happening in effective schools. Our time in Houston allowed for an opportunity to join a Leading Educators School Visits Trip (SVT) designed for their Fellows. The experience was fantastic! From the very beginning, it was clear that this was going to be a highly organized and effective three days.
At each of the schools visited, we were able to experience a variety of events including: lesson observations, meetings with teaching staff and administration, learning about their induction programs and staff development opportunities, interviewing panels of students, observing student government classes, and visiting spirit assemblies. Every school was very welcoming, highly organized, provided extensive information and answered any questions.
What was an especially valued added bonus, was visiting these schools with highly professional and enthusiastic middle leaders from New Orleans. Seeing the schools through their eyes and listening to their high level of conversation was a fantastic opportunity to learn so much about what we were observing in the context of culture.
Leading Educators has designed the SVT exceptionally well. At the end of each day their are structured opportunities to share good practice, review the evidence gathered to demonstrate various 'levers', as well as begin planning for how this practice might impact on their home schools.
There were so many practical examples to influence our practice on both individual and whole school levels. One thing that I will take away from this visit is the positive impact they are having by dedicating a significant amount of time and resources to staff development. In every school the commitment to making this a priority was evident in its culture, consistency, structure and timetable. Thank you for this opportunity - It really was inspiring!