We all have experienced the one teacher who makes magic happen, or the one grade level that seems to have it going on, or the one building in the district that has a more engaged and empowered culture than other buildings in the district year after year. And while we are thrilled that those “one” experiences exist, at Partnerships we are working hard to launch a movement of systemic change. This is why we have shifted from primarily teacher-facing professional learning to both teacher and administrator support. It is the hallmarks of authentic leadership that make systemic change possible, because every student deserves the “one” all year long, every year.
Some hallmarks of authentic leadership include:
Districtwide commitment to authentic learning strategies such as service-learning/PBL by codifying a directional system which specifies the vision, mission, beliefs, and adopted district instructional strategies.
Adoption of practices which keep the directional system at the center of decision making at every level of the organization.
Support for ongoing professional development/training/coaching to help educators (teachers and administrators) increase their skills and tools for authentic teaching and learning and the leadership skills needed for schools to operate in this manner.
We thought it would be helpful to share how one district brings the voice of teachers and administrators together to support the hallmarks of authentic leadership. At Tallmadge City Schools in Northeast Ohio, you will find a board-approved Directional System and Portrait of a Graduate. “You could find these in any district,” you might say. But at Tallmadge, these are not documents, they are a way of life.
Administrators have spent a great deal of time considering how to use directional decision making (decision making based on the clearly articulated direction of the district). They have and are working to identify their own contradictions, so the way they lead actually moves the direction forward instead of creating unintended barriers. And one of the ways they do this is through empowering a K-12 Steering Committee to think through and identify annual priorities for professional development and program expansion re: authentic learning.
This committee has met for four years and has assumed increased leadership each year for planning, capacity building, and communication. Members have been instrumental in shaping PD opportunities, developing and demonstrating model projects, and encouraging colleagues to be part of the expansion effort. Their commitment has helped make authentic learning in Tallmadge a collaborative endeavor based on a shared vision.
Through on-site support and real time coaching, we have been able to help increase the self- worth, engagement, and purpose of teachers and administrators at Tallmadge. Tallmadge has become an amazing exemplar to other districts and will be the future site of a Virtual Visit hosted by our organization on May 9, 2024. Stay tuned and sign up below to be the first to know when registration opens.
Your district can engage in the same journey Tallmadge has been on. Upcoming events to support you include: