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A Commitment to School Leaders

Last fall, I arrived at Rocketship Sí Se Puede to have my regular 1:1 and campus walk-through with the principal, Andrew Elliott-Chandler. While I was there, he had scheduled several opportunities with teachers to conduct Real-Time Coaching (RTC). I co-observed with him, providing feedback and insight in the moment – thus Real-Time Coaching him. While we were in a kindergarten classroom, he turned to me and told me how surreal this experience was.

Principal Jason Fromoltz uses a radio to live coach during a humanities block.

Principal Jason Fromoltz uses a radio to live coach during a humanities block.

When I asked him to clarify, he expressed that while he had been a school principal for three years, he had never conducted RTC while being Real-Time Coached himself. We both laughed at how amazing it was for us to participate in this activity together for the first time. While we co-observed and debriefed during every site visit, we had never done this before. This walk through afforded me the opportunity to provide in-the-moment feedback and thought-partnership to Andrew, and he was able to provide the teacher with immediate feedback and direction. Our walk-through was not simply debriefed back in his office with some key next steps – it was actionable in the moment. What an inspiring experience for us all! I realized then and there the profound ability I have in my role to truly coach and mentor school leaders to reach beyond where they are today in their instructional coaching and to further support the great teaching that goes on in our schools. Each of us truly impacts one another by providing constant opportunities to develop one another.

Moments like these remind me that we as educators across schools, charter school networks and districts often focus our attention on developing our teachers. However, to truly create transformational schools, we also need to provide space to develop our leaders and help them grow from good to great to excellent. We believe in every one of our school leaders and know that all of us can continue to grow and learn together to be better, aim higher and reach farther in an effort to achieve our collective goal: eliminating the achievement gap in our lifetime.

sharpenstheironWhile we are highly selective in hiring principals and assistant principals, we further develop our leaders through ongoing professional development opportunities throughout the year. Leaders come together for three weeks of professional development during the summer, which is followed closely by an additional three weeks of professional development for all instructional team members (leaders, teachers, instructional assistants, paraprofessionals, etc.). That is six full weeks of development each summer, driving both our veteran and new leaders to be their absolute finest. We truly believe that iron sharpens iron – we bring our best and give our best to strengthen each other. We learn together as a team and from one another. Throughout the year, our commitment as leaders is to further develop our leadership skills and abilities by participating in monthly instructional leadership team meetings, biweekly principal team meetings or assistant principal cohort meetings, and participate in multiple campus walk-throughs both on our own campus and at fellow Rocketship campuses. Spending purposeful, frequent time together enables us to develop one another and truly sharpen each other.

During Summer Leadership Launch this year, as I looked out over the room filled with 11 principals and 26 assistant principals leading 11 schools in three regions serving more than 6,000 Rocketeers, I felt myself compelled to remind everyone in the room that they are the best of the best.  We have searched all over the nation to find some of the most talented educators to lead Rocketship schools.  At the core of our beliefs, we firmly ground ourselves in the truth that excellent teachers and leaders create transformational schools.

What are other great ways to support school leaders? Please share ➟ @RocketshipEd

Wendy joined Rocketship after five years in a leadership capacity at the EAGLE Schools, a high-performing charter network in Phoenix.  Most recently she was the Phoenix Regional Director of Teaching and Learning.  Prior to that, she was the founding principal at its flagship school – EAGLE College Prep, a K-8 school.  During this time, she became a certified trainer of the Common Core State Standards and worked closely with Arizona K-12 Literacy and Ottawa University to share her knowledge and expertise in English Language Arts with teachers, administrators and professors throughout the state of Arizona.
Wendy has her Ed.D. and M.Ed. in Educational Administration and Supervision from Arizona State University and her B.S. in English with an emphasis in Secondary Education from Illinois State University.


Published on August 13, 2014

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