Yes, school IS out for the summer, but major things are happening behind the scenes, districtwide.
This week it’s the Leadership Institute, a three-day workshop at the Iowa Events Center, and lest anyone draw the inference that it’s designed to keep central administrators busy, every school in the district, all 64 of them, sent a delegation.
Funding first appropriated by the state legislature in 2013 is earmarked for TLC (Teacher Leadership & Compensation). Professional development is one of the authorized uses of that money and the Iowa Department of Education approved the Leadership Institute on that basis.
“The Teacher Leadership and Compensation (TLC) System rewards effective teachers with leadership opportunities…” says the IDOE website. Accordingly, the theme of the week is “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”
The 2018-19 DMPS TLC system consisted of three levels: Coaches, Districtwide Teacher Leaders, and School-Based Teacher Leaders. Within each level were multiple roles:
- Coaches: Instructional Coaches, Special Education Support Teachers
- District-Wide Teacher Leaders: District Secondary PLC Facilitators, Demonstration Classroom Teachers, TLC Coordinators, Equity Leads, Schools for Rigor Extended Core PLC Leaders
- School-Based Teacher Leaders: School Leadership Team Members, Mentors, PLC Leaders in Schools for Rigor, English Learner (EL) Team Leads
So yes, central administrators have one of the meeting rooms at Hy-Vee Hall all to themselves, but the educational infantry filled the rest of them.
“Nearly 500 leaders from each building and all district departments are here,” said David Johns, DMPS Director of the Division of Leadership and Learning who coordinated the Leadership Institute. “The 7 Habits will give us an opportunity to organize our leadership around a common language of excellence and commitment to ourselves and each other.”
Attendees spent Monday and Tuesday familiarizing with what amount to the title characters in a book by Stephen Covey that’s sold more than 25 million copies worldwide since its first publication in 1989. The workshops are under the direction of FranklinCovey, a worldwide leader in management consulting and training that evolved from Covey’s groundbreaking work.
“On Wednesday, we’ll apply our new learning to the Continuous Problem Solving Process,” said Johns. “This work will launch the schools into the new year with a data-informed focus and clear targets for growth.”
Tuesday morning the work in one of the rooms centered on Habit 3: Put First Things First. Like the other six, easier said than done.
“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing,” was how Covey put it in the book.
In this or any school district, the main thing never changes: student achievement. So the question here is how to parlay 500 educators into 33,000 highly effective students when school resumes in 2 months.
The answer isn’t easy. But the work is habit-forming!