Kansas City

The Drive to Teach & Lead

When I drive, I think about my own mortality. Although I’m not typically a nervous person, I still realize how easy it would be to get hurt or killed while in my car. When I first had those thoughts, I wondered what the impact would be if I died right then. I got this strange pleasure knowing that I was a good enough person that my family and my friends would be heartbroken...

RAND Report Shows Early Signs of Success in Leading Educators Fellowship

Today the RAND Corporation released the first stage of a multi-year study on the Leading Educators Fellowship program. This initial report examines the effects of our Fellowship programs in Kansas City and New Orleans on leadership growth, student achievement, and teacher retention. 

The results of the report suggest that the Leading Educators Fellowship improves leadership skills in teacher leaders, shows promise in positively impacting student achievement, and helps retain teachers in high-poverty schools. Below is the press release from RAND, which can also be found here:

Program to Improve School Outcomes and Student Achievement Shows Early Signs of Success

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A program intended to boost student achievement by providing teachers two years of professional development, including formal training sessions and meetings with a leadership coach, is showing early signs of success, according to a new RAND Corporation report. The program also includes the mentoring of other teachers by those receiving these more-intensive efforts.

The fellowship program created by Leading Educators, a national nonprofit based in New Orleans, is showing promising results on student achievement, according to a preliminary evaluation of the effort. The program is unique because it focuses on middle-career teachers, while other efforts typically focus on new teachers, and offers leadership development for classroom teachers.

The fellows participate in a two-year training program consisting of a series of professional development sessions, school visits and meetings with a leadership coach. Fellows can be teachers as well as school administrators. In addition, fellows select other teachers to mentor at their own school. The teachers mentored by the fellows participate in meetings and workshops throughout the school year.

The findings are based on the 2011–12 through 2013–14 school years for fellows and the teachers they mentor located in New Orleans and Kansas City, Mo. Over the study period, there were 255 fellows and 916 teachers mentored. The RAND study focused on teachers that researchers were able to match to state databases for student assessment test scores, which included 75 fellows and 438 mentored teachers.

“Since the leader development program may influence students of the fellows or the other teachers they mentor, our team examined achievement outcomes from students across this wider group,” said Kata Mihaly, the report's lead author and an economist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization.

These early findings of the program are mixed, but suggest that the program shows promise in improving student achievement. Fellows who taught mathematics in New Orleans had a statistically significant positive effect on student achievement. However, the analysis did not find statistically significant findings for other subjects taught by fellows in New Orleans or Kansas City. Teachers mentored by fellows had a positive impact on student mathematics and social studies achievement in New Orleans.

The analysis also examined whether teachers are more likely to stay in the same school or stay teaching in high-poverty schools after participating in the program. Program teachers remained in high-poverty schools at rates that were similar to or higher than that of other teachers in the district.

Researchers note the current results are based on few years of data and on a small sample of teachers, and results may change when there are more fellows and mentored teachers included in future studies. Prior to the evaluation being completed, Leading Educators expanded the fellowship program, with opportunities to participate in Memphis, Tenn., and Washington, D.C.

Support for this research was provided by Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation.

The report, “Examining the Early Impacts of the Leading Educators Fellowship on Student Achievement and Teacher Retention,” is available at www.rand.org. Other authors of the study are Benjamin Master and Cate Yoon.

This research was conducted by RAND Education, a division of the RAND Corporation. Its mission is to bring accurate data and careful, objective analysis to the national debate on education policy.

 

About the RAND Corporation

The RAND Corporation is a research organization that develops solutions to public policy challenges to help make communities throughout the world safer and more secure, healthier and more prosperous.

Teacher Leaders Visit Counterparts in United Kingdom

In April, Leading Educators took seven Fellows to England in partnership with Teaching Leaders UK and the British Council. The trip followed an earlier visit to New Orleans by several teacher leaders from the United Kingdom. 

The exchange is sponsored by the British Council with the intention of teacher leaders sharing best practices, learning from observing each others' schools and classrooms and from discussing their roles. Many of our attending teacher leaders wrote short pieces on their experiences during the trip. We plan to publish all of these perspectives, starting with Bridget Cantrell, Elementary Instructional Coordinator at Ott Elementary in Kansas City. Bridget published a blog of her own to share her trip with her school: 
 

Day #2 Such a big world, yet a common mission!

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. 


You can read the rest of this post and find Bridget's other posts here: http://bcantrellle.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/such-big-world-yet-common-mission-cant.html

School Visits Inspired Me to Improve

by Jeff Fouquet, Leading Educators Fellow in Kansas City, Cohort 2012


As a classroom teacher and aspiring administrator, I love borrowing ideas from great teachers and effective schools. During my two-year teacher-leader fellowship, Leading Educators has offered me countless opportunities to evaluate and improve my educational impact, but one of the most eye-opening experiences in all of my Fellowship has been the School Visits Trip (SVT) to Chicago last winter.

Visiting schools in communities much more diverse and disadvantaged than my own helped me see that everywhere, regardless of how they are portrayed, children are children, and they will respond positively to the efforts and support of tireless, caring adults. Witnessing schools that have instituted strong rituals of “community” or “celebration” helped me think about what my own building and district were doing to associate learning with pride and a shared sense of success. Similarly, having my knock on each classroom door greeted by a young student who stepped into the hallway, shook my hand, told me what class it was and the topic of the lesson before asking if I had any questions was pivotal in my rethinking of who owns the classroom and whose space it is. More than any other investigation of effective educational cultures, the SVT proved to me that in the best schools, even the small decisions reflect a deeply held conviction that every student can experience remarkable academic growth. 

As the next SVT approaches, I am excited for all the great learning and growth the new cohort of Leading Educators will experience—so excited, in fact, that I am going with them, to New Orleans this year, to see if I can learn even more from those teachers and  schools. Although there are no perfect models, each exposure to new ideas challenges teachers and administrators to revise their own measures of success – and that is the attitude that any enterprise seeking continuous improvement requires. 

Fellowship Application Opening Today!

We are excited to announce that the application for Fellowship Cohort 2014 will open today! The Fellowship is available to teacher-leaders in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Kansas City, and Washington, D.C.

Interested educators apply this afternoon by clicking on on this link: www.leadingeducators.org/apply 

The application process involves four steps:

Step 1: Online Application

Candidates begin their application for the Leading Educators Fellowship by completing an online application. 

Step 2: Principal Endorsement

An applicant's principal must support the application by submitting a Principal Endorsement online. The Principal Endorsement allows the school leader to describe the leadership role the candidate will play during the following school year and outlines program expectations.

Step 3: Classroom Observation

Based on the Online Application and Principal Endorsement, successful candidates are invited to participate in a 20 to 30 minute classroom observation. This snapshot provides insight into the candidate's instructional skill.

Step 4: Interview and Assessment Days

Candidates that move to the next step in the application process participate in an Interview and Assessment Day. This challenging experience stretches candidates’ leadership skills by engaging them in interviews, role plays, and simulations.

Deadlines and Important Dates 

Kansas City:
Priority I Deadline: Dec. 2
Priority II Deadline: Feb. 3
Final Deadline: March 24
Interviews: April 12 - 26
Final Notification Date: May 2

New Orleans & Baton Rouge:
Priority Deadline: Feb. 10
Final Deadline: March 31
Interviews: April 12 - 23
Final Notification Date: May 2

Washington D.C.:
Dates to be announced soon

Successful candidates will join a cohort of approximately 40 other teacher-leaders from their region, and will work closely with second-year Fellows as well. For more information, please click here to find more information on how to apply, the Fellowship curriculum, and who should apply.

 

Stepping Back to Move Forward

by Jeff Fouquet, Leading Educators Fellow in Kansas City, Cohort 2012


As the chair of my district’s secondary English Language Arts department, there was a time when my team’s lack of progress caused me great frustration. Try as I might, I could not convince my colleagues to try new teaching strategies, collect and analyze data, or discuss rigorous and aligned interims as a basis for increasing collaboration. Research endorsed these as “best practice” and I was supercharged to keep pushing toward educational excellence!

But it felt like nobody wanted to come with me.

For more than three years, I struggled with the disconnect between our students’ needs and my team’s indifference – at times, it felt like outright resistance – to instructional improvement. The harder I worked and the louder I pleaded, the more frustrated I became with our stagnation. Why didn’t anybody see things my way?

My involvement in Leading Educators gave me clarity, and I began to see that I was the one who needed perspective. Through a series of self-assessments, reflections, and readings completed during Summer Intensive, a week of professional development sessions, leadership began to take a new shape. For the first time, being a leader wasn’t about what I thought needed to be done, but about finding the keys to invest every member of my team in a shared vision so we could find appropriate solutions. Summer Intensive revealed leadership as a form of social and emotional intelligence, but the style of leadership I had been using put getting results before valuing people. It was humbling to see studies that perfectly described what I had been doing as ineffective leadership; it was also an incredible breakthrough.   

Since that first Summer Intensive, my emotional intelligence and self-awareness have grown immeasurably. Instead of pushing members of my department to accomplish my vision, I have spent several months cultivating trust, discovering our shared goals and values, and working with the whole team to co-create a list of cultural behaviors that will demonstrate to one another (and to our students) that we are committed to excellence. Now when we discuss new initiatives or ways to move instruction forward, nobody feels accountable to me. Instead, we each feel increasingly accountable to our group’s vision and values. In other words, I’ve gotten better at encouraging team effort rather than demanding it.

It’s difficult to admit that I was ineffective as a leader. However, I now know what true leadership requires of me, and I appreciate the incremental gains I am making with my team. We’re nowhere near perfect, but we are much closer to being perfectly aligned in our purpose, and that’s how I know we’re moving in the right direction.