Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lessons from compact cities on establishing principal and teacher residencies

In case you missed CRPE’s June 5th webinar, “Residencies for Leaders and Teachers: Lessons from Connecticut and Minneapolis,” click here to watch the webinar or view the presentations.

This webinar highlighted efforts by a district and a charter leader to rethink talent development, Paige MacLean of Achievement First (AF) CMO in Connecticut and Sarah Paul from Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) each describe how their leaders-in-training programs provide teachers with an opportunity to shadow successful educators in their city’s highest-performing schools, district or charter.

Sarah Paul shared MPS’ developing plans for a teacher residency program that places district teachers in high-quality charter schools to immerse them in best practices. Sarah and her colleagues wondered if a dynamic and professional development program could breathe new life in to the district’s recruitment efforts. Utilizing expertise in local charter schools, they have created training models that will then be made available to all public school teachers in Minneapolis. The district invested seed money and local resources including University of Minnesota faculty to develop a shared professional development model. The idea of training teachers across charter and district schools broke long-standing norms in Minneapolis and represents a new system of prioritizing student achievement over school type. MPS also hopes to expand this work to include a residency program for school leaders.

Paige MacLean followed Sarah with a description of how Achievement First has opened up their internally established and effective leadership training program to district teachers. The program was included in Hartford’s Compact, which AF and Jumoke Charter Schools signed. Paige described the move as a natural next step in the CMO’s developing relationship with the district. The idea was born and began in New Haven in 2011 and, thanks in part to the Compact, has expanded to Harford and Bridgeport locations. The program trains teachers for district school leadership positions through residencies in AF and district partner schools, intense individual coaching from the program director and weekly professional development seminars. Encouraged by successful placements and strong feedback from participants, there are plans for further expanding the program. As they move forward with the work in Hartford, Compact signers are now considering how to ensure graduates are fully ready to assume a leadership position after one year and how to align the program with already established district leadership programs.

Paul and MacLean ended by sharing the main challenges they hope other compact cities are aware of when tackling leadership development:
• Promote the value of working together to combat suspicion and confusion around the purpose of training teachers together.
• Make the program well known or the program won’t receive strong candidates.
• Find resources both within current funding and staffing structures and outside the system.
• Show charter schools that the district values their autonomy.