Distributed leadership in turnaround schools for the Maryland State Department of Education

Natalie Lacireno-Paquet: Welcome to today’s
webinar on Distributed Leadership in a Turnaround School brought to you by the Regional Educational
Laboratory Mid-Atlantic. I am Natalie Lacireno-Paquet, and I am Alliance
Lead for the support for Research Alliance. And today, we have two great speakers who
are going to talk to you today about distributed leadership. We have Dr. Terrence — Terry Hofer. He is a director of New York School and District
Services where he provides leadership coaching and school transmission support for schools,
districts and state education departments. In addition, Terry provides school improvement
technical assistance for the federally funded Mid-Atlantic Comprehensive Center and socio-economic
integration technical assistance for the federally funded center on Education Equity. Previously, Terry served as a key principal
on district and administrative roles in rural and suburban and urban school districts. He also served as a Senior Vice President
of administration and accountability for an education management organization. We also have Edgar Lynn. Edgar is a principal of Mount Junior High
School, #22 in the Bronx, New York. Mr. Lynn, who brings 20+ years of experience
in middle schools, is a turnaround principal, who has succeeded with the team in the leading
the removal of Mount Junior High School from the state’s persistently low-achieving — under
state receivership list. He’s worked with Dr. Hofer to implement distributed
leadership practices in his school and will share with us how he implements distributed
leadership practices as well as the lessons he’s learned from implementation. Before I turn it over to Terry, I just want
to tell you a little bit about REL Mid-Atlantic. The REL Mid-Atlantic is one of 10 federally-funded
regional education labs funded by the Institute of Education Sciences. We serve Delaware, the District of Columbia,
New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The School Support and Improvement Research
Alliance which is the alliance bringing you today’s webinar, works to identify and understand
effective intervention and practices to support school improvement and turnaround through
the development and provision of training, coaching, and other technical support. So, we can see that today’s topic is very
timely and closely related to the work of our alliance. We are so pleased to have Terry and Edgar
here, and I am going to turn it over to Terry right now. Terrence Hofer: Great, thank you, Natalie. We wanted to start by sharing with you that
this presentation is one that we created and performed first for a live audience for the
Maryland State Department of Education invited principal guest. At that time, we asked the live audience what
words come to mind when you think of distributed leadership. The word cloud indicates a number of the responses. The one that came up the most, “You get some
– they do 2.” Other popular answers included collaboration,
team, shared, trust, and vision. That’s what we did with the word cloud. We did a balloon activity. And I’d like you to imagine sitting around
a conference table with members of your leadership team and as you’re sitting there, you are
identifying school priorities and writing those school priorities on a balloon. You toss one of those balloons into the group
and ask them to keep the balloon up in the air – not allowed to hit the ground. That was easy. Balloon bouncing around as 4 to 5 people were
sitting around the table, but then you put another one in. Another one and then another one. All of them were keeping the balloons up in
the air. Pretty soon, heart rate starts to beat up. Perspiration is visible. And inevitably, balloons start to drop through
the table and fall on the floor. Immediately, after this activity, we asked
participants, just as we ask you at this point, to think about and reflect on the “4 Domains
of Rapid School Improvement.” Within the “4 Domains of Rapid School Improvement,”
there is one domain, turnaround leadership, which is the one that leaders have the most
within their control. Subdomains within turnaround leadership include
prioritize improvement and communicate urgency. Monitor short- and long-term goals. And customize and target support to meet needs. As evidenced during the balloon activity,
engaging in turnaround leadership and all of the other functions and activities within
a turnaround leadership environment are challenging, if not impossible to do alone, which is why
the balloon activity was a metaphor for the importance of engaging teams. After which we invited participants, once
again, to share their thoughts about distributed leadership after completing the balloon activity. By evidence of the word cloud, you can see
that in such a short time, the system thinking from the idea that “you get some-they do 2”
and the accountability through the idea of communication, trust, teamwork, coming to
the foreground. Our objectives for this session by attending
this workshop, participants will: 1, learn why and how to implement effective distributed
leadership practices to support rapid school improvement. 2, learn about the research on and effective
strategies for implementing distributed leadership. 3, Be introduced to a distributed leadership
observation tool that they can use to measure distributed leadership passes during meetings,
and 4, to hear from a successful turnaround leader but using distributed leadership in
a turnaround context. The slide of the screen now refers to a publication
from the Center on School Turnaround that summarizes actions taken by principals trying
to lead turnaround. The topics of vision, goals, data, change
leadership, teachers and leaders, instruction, and strategic partnerships represent vast
buckets of activities that principals engage in. We share this as a starting point for thinking
about what activities might be shared among leaders within your building. At this point, we invite you to think about
your school’s vision. Which practices should be aligned under the
shared vision? How will stakeholders be enlisted to lead
these practices in a purposeful way? Please feel free, when we project questions
on the screen, to pause and reflect and think about those questions or turn and talk to
others who may be watching the video with you. When we posed that question or asked Principal
Edgar Lynn to think about the framework for School 22, he created the — what appears
to be an org chart showing the various teams that function within his school. Edgar? Edgar Lin: What we are looking at here really
is the distributed leadership of framework that we had at the senior high school 22. Starting with the super visionaries. I use the word super visionaries as an illustration
and also a playoff of the word, supervisors, who perhaps traditionally are the ones who
are watching and making sure things happen. But if you think of the word — if you think
of their true functions — that supervisors provide super “vision.” In fact, I think a core of our work is to
be super visionary. To be able to see the possibilities of the
work that we are doing beyond the moment into the future and create the systems and structures
to be able to bring those visions into realities, and you will see that we have, at the junior
high school 22, we have parallel teams and some vertical teams. We have two large teacher team leadership
groups. One is a content team that comprises of four
content leaders. The other one is a grade team that comprises
leaders from 2 each on the team on 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. The super visionaries meet every other week
with content team leaders and grade team leaders, whereas content teams themselves meet with
their leaders twice a week, and grade teams, as you noticed, six grade, meet with their
teams three times per week. Terrence Hofer: So, the framework for distributed
leadership that Principal Lynn shared was not presented for the purpose of having every
school in America replicated exactly as is. Instead, it was shared as an example of how
Principal Lynn has attempted to translate the technical challenges within his school
into results. So, this slide is showing that technical components
like evidence, research phase activities, for example, or bringing experts, professional
development experts, or adopting framework, and creating plans, and improvement plans
and having manuals and tools and protocols that are consistent — are undoubtedly important. For most schools, in our work, you can send
an email and have the principal share all of these things in the form of an email. And just like the distributed leadership framework
on the slide below, it can’t and shouldn’t be replicated in every school. At the same time, these technical components
if replicated, won’t achieve the same results in every school. In fact, the only way to achieve the desired
results is to attend to the adaptive challenges that each of the technical pieces of our work
bring. How do we ensure that there’s a cascading
message that everybody hears with the intention that we intended? How do we make sure that the leaders’ influence
aligns with our vision, our mission, our beliefs, our values, and our goals? How do we ensure buy-in to commitments and
agreements that our school community members of our school communities are accountable
and responsible for those commitments and for those agreements? And for a real understanding of the work that
we all agreed to undertake and provide each other with real and honest feedback about
the work that we are all doing in order for all of us to move forward. Edgar Lin: And so the way that we’ve done
this at Junior High School 22 which we would like to call, instead, Team 22, is through
a distributed leadership framework that really in large part, came out of us doing the balloon
activities together and feeling in a real visceral way, the magnitude of the work of
school. And once everybody felt that, it was amazing
to see the commitment and energy that teachers and leaders had to ensure consistency of the
work that we do in our building throughout all of our teams. So, here’s a great quote. I didn’t make this quote up. It comes from the work of the — Institute,
and the book, “Outward Mindset.” It says, “When there’s a problem, it’s my
problem and I’m the problem.” But we realized here at Team 22, it’s actually
a liberating statement because it allows us to be empowered and take charge of the work
that we do. So, in thinking about this — how Principal
Lynn has used distributed leadership in his school and in reviewing research on distributed
leadership, he tried to find a definition to share with the field. And, instead, we ended up sort of pulling
on different aspects and creating a new one for four key pieces which we’ll break down
for you. But the definition reads, “enlisting others
to advance a vision through the purposeful alignment of practices that are grounded in
shared mission, beliefs, values and goals.” Terrence Hofer: We also looked at Distinguishing
Characteristics of Distributed Leadership. We invite you to consider these particular
characteristics in relation to your school. First, within a school, distributed leadership
often takes the form of an instructional leadership team. The team represents the larger school community
and each team member is involved because of their content and pedagogical expertise rather
than their years of experience or formal leadership role in the school. Again, I invite you to pause and reflect on
that as needed, before we advance, and Principal Lynn will read the next one. The second distinguishing characteristic is
that DL teams take on several important tasks in a school. At 22, we don’t have a committee or team on
every single initiative or piece of work that we’re working to push forward; there are content
teams and grade teams working in parallel to ensure that the work gets put forward. These teams have supported the development
of high quality of teaching by leading contents specific grade levels collaborative time. Engage pieces and cycles of observation, feedback,
and reflection. It teaches a model how to apply continuous
improvement and mindset. Also, model the tracking and monitoring of
the student level data to ensure schoolwide progress. At the same time, working together to identify
and provide relevant job-embedded professional learning support. The third distinguishing characteristic. Principles and Assistant Principals are critical
to enabling and sustaining the work of distributed leadership teams. They do this by building the leadership capacity
in the school and by creating the conditions where expertise can be spread across the school
so that everyone can work individually and collectively to improve outcomes for students. And again, I think back to the distributed
leadership framework that Principal Lynn shared as super visionary, as playing that role. And the fourth and final distinguishing characteristic
is that distributed leadership is not about dividing tasks and responsibilities among
individuals. That would be delegated. Instead, DL is concerned with interactions
among individuals, leaders in those whom they lead to drive instructional improvement and
improve student outcomes to the development of high quality teaching in a culture where
all students can thrive, much more relational. So, we return to the definition. This time, the definition that you are viewing
is broken down into four component pieces. The first, enlisting others. The second, to advance a vision. The third, through the purposeful alignment
of practices. And the fourth, that are grounded in shared
mission, beliefs, values and goals. At this point, we invite you to look at those
four component pieces and think about, sequentially, not necessarily in order of importance, but
sequentially, which do you believe should come first, second, third, and fourth? And again, we invite you to pause and reflect
on that as needed. For each of the component pieces, we want
to share with you briefly, some key highlights from the literature that help with the compilation
of the definition and its role in effective distributed leadership. The first is enlisting others. Leaders of sustained improvement foster iterative
refinement and acceptance of a truly compelling vision for the school — one that generates
continual and collective enthusiasm and eagerness to engage in elevated teaching and learning. And with that, I wanted to highlight for you
the words enthusiasm and eagerness. Transformational leadership, for one, frequently
doesn’t include these components of enthusiasm and eagerness. Second, advance a vision. Significant literature points to school leaders
as an important factor in student and school success. Successful turnaround principals share and
repeat the vision to motivate others –administrators, teachers, staff, parents and the community
at large. To invest in and contribute to change. Turnaround principals craft a vision focused
on student learning that is relevant, future-focused, challenging and inspiring. The principal communicates the vision and
uses it to guide and ground decisions and keep stakeholders inspired throughout the
improvement effort. Again, drawing your attention to the word
inspiring. When coupled with the eagerness and enthusiasm
from the last slide begins to paint a picture on how distributed leadership differs from
transformational leadership, for example. Purposeful alignment of practices. Distributed leadership is viewed as practices,
rather than as formal roles, titles or structures. There is a key element of the definition and
a foundational component of Spillane’s work. Although there is no single accepted definition
of distributed leadership, it encompasses what leaders do, the actions they take, and
the activities they engage with others. Distributed leadership is not limited to just
the principal as leader to practices by both formal and informal leaders in a school. And last, for real and sustainable change
to occur, the leader must transfer the work of problem solving on to others and resist
the reflex reaction of providing people with the answers. I think that goes back to the idea of technical
and adaptive challenges in the work previously cited with Heifetz and Laurie. And lastly, that are grounded in shared mission,
beliefs, values and goals. An important component of turnaround leadership
and successful turnaround is effectively distributing leadership to solidify commitment, increase
collaboration, and provide faculty and staff with new challenges to keep them meaningfully
engaged in the turnaround effort. Infrastructural essentials must be in place
for distributed leadership to be a possibility. “To presume, therefore, that any form of distributed
leadership can simply self-combust into better organizational performance and outcomes, without
such an infrastructure being in place, is just wishful thinking.” Again, we want you to think that early in
the presentation with infrastructure that Principal Lynn has created in his school and
how that infrastructure has allowed for improvement efforts to regroup. So, take a minute to think about and make
connections at your own school. Who — which individuals in DL teams currently
share in the leadership responsibilities in your contacts? And 2, who and what teams might you create
— who might you tap? What teams might you create in the future
to support the work as needed? Edgar Lin: As we were in Maryland, it shows
to reference of some of the work of Brené Brown in “Dare to Lead,” where she talked
about the idea of a square squad and the idea also making sure that you’re reflective and
thoughtful about the feedback that take. It’s the idea that you don’t know me. You don’t know Terry. A square squad is imagine taking a piece of
paper that’s a square inch by square inch and writing down all the names of the people
whose opinions matter to you. Edgar Lynn and Terry Hofer are not on there. At the same time, Brené Brown also implores
us to listen with the same passion as you’d like to be heard. And so, if I might just take a little time
to illustrate some of the work that we’ve done at Team 22 aligned to the definition
of distributed leadership. And for us, I think the first important thing
or sequentially, in fact, was to make sure we advance a vision. And for Team 22, our vision — my vision,
comes out from an old school hip-hop and some [ Indiscernible ], if I ruled the world. As you can imagine, the beat, if I ruled the
world, imagine that — it might sound something like this in school. “Imagine schools or kids you walking through
the hall, no one chasing them down, it starts with a B and rhymes with balls.” And that vision is a vision that we advanced
as I came into the school building in March of 2012 — 2013. It was in the middle of the school year. And then almost immediately, I worked to create
— as Terry said the infrastructure and the conditions where we could enlist others. In fact, this is a “build it and they will
come” scenario. They also built through the vision of what
I believe and we believe could be possible. You will notice that these teams and this
leadership work — it didn’t — doesn’t look — it didn’t look as pretty as it does today. In fact, some might argue that it doesn’t
look very pretty today either, and we were mired in a lot of technical work. But because of structures were there, the
infrastructure it was there. We slowly evolved and transformed our work
into adaptive — to address adaptive challenges together. And then we made sure that we grounded all
this work within a shared mission, beliefs, values and goals. And we are very proud of our mission. It’s very short. Working together to ensure high level learning
for all. And each one of those words means something
to us. Of course, working is what we are paid to
do, every single day. If working was easy, it probably wouldn’t
be called working. And then the second thing is working together. That’s — we base a lot of our conversations
around how teams are going on those simple — on those very simple two words. Our mission is to work together. How is that going? Why are we working together? To ensure high level learning for all and
for us at Team 22, high level learning is grade level learning, aligned to standard. And when we talk about all, we mean all of
our students whether you’re an English language learner or students with disability, all means
all. Our values at Team 22, we are the Team 22
Tigers and tigers roars. Our values are respectful, as being able to
put yourself in someone else’s shoes and feel what they feel. Organize. Right place, right time. Responsible. For that, we have two definitions. The first, do the right thing without anyone
telling you what you need to do. The second is, when you make a mistake, fix
it. And finally, safe. Making sure that we do no harm and not only
with our physical selves, but also with our words. Our school goals are also very simple. Be here and learn. We expect all of our students to be here at
least 80% of the time and that our average schoolwide attendance is 95%. I will say that when I first arrived at the
school, our average daily attendance was 85%. We are now, for the last three years, for
school within the South Bronx, New York City, we’re averaging well over 93% daily — average
daily attendance. Of course, to learn. Our learn goal, we call it 80/80. 80% of students who are here 80% of the time
which is we master that with our “be here goal” with 100% of our students. It is still significant progress towards standard
mastery or standard mastery. We measure that via diagnostics proficiency
cycle in all of our core content areas. And then finally, kind of the purposeful alignment
of practices. I think it’s really about a through line and
all the things that we do. Our content and grade teams are responsible
for pushing many of these — many of these initiatives. 22 is 22. Our 22 are our place aligned to the Danielson
framework 1A and 1E, 2A, 2D, 3B, C, & D. There’s an actual do’s of blueprints of our practices
– a blueprint of what we do that make our practices consistent and visible. Therapeutic crisis intervention, for example,
is the work that we — working towards to ensure our interactions with the students
are appropriate and therapeutic. CHANCE is how we create clear behavioral expectations
in our classrooms inquiry cycles. Self-explanatory. Follow the framework, which we will talk about
a little bit later in the ways that we view, track, and monitor our work. Finally, the way that we recruit teachers
follows the behavioral foundation, STAR teacher interview protocol which we are looking specifically
for mindsets and for specific mindsets of teachers who have demonstrated success in
schools from that — in schools in our contacts. Terrence Hofer: So, we wanted to — given
all of that — you had an opportunity to learn more about how Principal Lynn sort of translates
distributed leadership and what it looks like and feels like in his school in his context
and in his setting. What we wanted to do as part of this was to
provide you with a technical tool that could be useful and helpful for distributing leadership
in your school. It’s not a tool that you need to use word
for word, precisely, exactly. But it is — it’s a tool that we think may
help to drive the right kinds of conversations and the right kinds of work in your school. For those of you who might be familiar with
the work of data wise out of Harvard and also the work of Peter Lancione in “Death by Meeting,”
the rolling agenda templates follow some of those ideas to ensure that we are doing the
right work and being responsible — and being responsible for that work as well. If you can see other certain elements of the
— of the, of the agenda and the tools I am looking for adhering to protocols and making
sure there are roles. Everyone has a role. There are norms — that objectives that are
clear with the identification of decision topics. Spend some time looking at next action review
which means reviewing the commitments norms — that objectives that are clear with the
identification of decision topics. Spend some time looking at next action review
which means reviewing the commitments from the prior meeting. Status updates from each of the team diverse
teams that are at the table, making sure that we have updates that we hear and learn from
each other’s accomplishments as well as hearing some of those challenges which leads us to
the next part of the agenda which is surfacing and resolving tension. One of the reasons why meetings are sometimes
difficult is because there’s no drama. We work to create drama by identifying tension
that needs to be resolved and together, we work to resolve those tensions sometimes through
a protocol like a consultancy, for example. And then finally, being clear about the decisions
that we make and the next step — what, who, and completed by them. And ending with a reflection of plus or delta. These are specific around the process of the
meeting and what went well with the meeting that we need to make sure that we keep in
mind and keep doing and what are some of the changes that we can put forth next meeting
to make sure that the meeting runs smoother and with the hopes of being more productive? So, school leaders spend a great deal of the
day giving feedback — giving feedback to the staff. Giving feedback to the students. Giving feedback to the parents. We felt that it was important that we think
about distributed leadership in the way that provides opportunity for school leaders who
also receive feedback. So, the accompanying observation tool that’s
shown here is designed to provide a space for leaders and to receive feedback. It’s set up in a very simple way across the
top four columns with meeting elements and criteria that align to the agenda template
that Principal Lynn just shared. It is followed by space for jotting down observations. And then, notes about what the leadership
should keep doing and what the leader may want to start doing, and then finally a column
for any wonderings. We introduce this tool as an opportunity for
feedback to be provided from either process observers within your meetings, leadership
coaches who you may be working with, or even staff from the district office who may be
sitting in and observing. It’s also useful as a reminder for our own
meeting and within the meeting wide framework, we have a norm tracker. At times we view the tool to make sure that
we are on track and making sure that we are aligned with our work. So, finally, we share one more question that
we invite you to pause and reflect on, which is this. How will you oversee the work of the individuals
and distributed leadership teams to enlist others, to advance the vision through the
purposeful alignment of practices that are grounded in shared missions, believes, values
and goals? So, if you felt like some of the ideas and
concepts that were shared were useful, again, we invite you to spend some time alone and
with team members reflecting this question. Natalie Lacireno-Paquet: Thank you, Terry
and Edgar. Terrence Hofer: Natalie? Natalie Lacireno-Paquet: Yes, thank you, Terry
and Edgar for sharing so much useful information and for sharing some of the practical examples
of how Edgar you implemented the practices as well as some of the research behind the
idea that you shared. I hope that our participants will find today’s
webinar information that was shared today on distributed leadership useful. I invite them to view our website that which
is listed at the bottom of this screen for more resources and more information about
the REL Mid-Atlantic. You can find — as I said you can find other
resources, and you can also find links to other events that the RELs are hosting. And you can register for those events. Thanks again to everyone for listening and
participating in today’s webinar. And thanks again to Terry and Edgar. This work was funded by the U.S. Department
of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) under contract ED-IES-17-C-0006, with
REL Mid-Atlantic, administered by Mathematica Policy Research. The content does not necessarily reflect the
views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names,
commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. government. PAGE: 2 [email protected] https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/edlabs/regions/midatlantic/ [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *