The Kresge foundation is one of the leading philanthropic organizations in the Detroit area. In a keynote speech at the MassINC Gateway Cities innovation awards conference on November 13th 2014, Kresge President, Rip Rapson, highlighted 4 conditions for successful community improvement:
- Don't assume trends are inevitable,
- Be sure there is a common vision for the direction,
- Gain traction from early wins, and
- Distribute leadership.
These conditions relate closely to some important aspects of the Teachers21 framework for school and district improvement:
- Not assuming that prior trends are predictors of the future is the essence of the Growth Mindset: we can change the trajectory of students, teachers and schools if we learn from the past and set higher expectations for the future.
- Ensuring a common vision for the direction involves agreeing on, and articulating, a Vision and Core Values, and Teaming effectively to achieve that vision.
- Gaining traction from early wins underlies the idea of a Continuous Improvement Process. The goal should be to consistently make progress since no change process will ever be complete.
- Distributed leadership implies Shared Responsibility. There is no place for blame, just a need for ownership and accountability going forward.
In an effort to strengthen our client community here at Teachers21 - and keep our connections flourishing - we recently launched a newsletter designed to support the schools, districts, educators and leaders within our direct community and to reach out to the greater Massachusetts network. We are working to provide an interactive mechanism for sharing timely, useful information and best practices. The newsletter creates opportunities to learn about current happenings and trends and we highly encourage readers to contribute their own ideas, updates and to ask questions of each other and us. We hope that this newsletter will improve our capacity to support and strengthen our readers’ ability to impact learning and leadership in their districts.
Teachers21 recently had the honor of hosting five Chinese researchers who had reached out to us to gain a deeper understanding of the educational landscape in Massachusetts and across the country. They are currently travelling and studying educational practices here in the US, in Canada and in Finland as part of an effort to reform some education practices in China. With Teachers21, they spent half the day at Westwood High School touring the school, observing classes, and in roundtable discussions with several key members of the school staff. The group then traveled to Greater Lawrence Regional Tech to observe a professional development workshop and learn about the school's efforts in successfully moving from Level 3 to Level 1 status. They spent the following half day at Teachers21 for a workshop followed by a roundtable discussion with our staff. We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to learn from their perspective and to represent Massachusetts on the world stage as a leader in education.
August 5, 2014. Teachers21, in partnership with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education' office of School Turnaround, hosted 22 leaders of the state's lowest-performing schools at the MassTech Collaborative in Westborough. These principals and other school leaders face a seemingly impossible job, in complex conditions, within emotionally-charged climates, and with exceedingly high stakes for our community's most vulnerable population -- yet most of them do it alone. Yesterday, these leaders gathered to establish relationships that can help carry them through the next year and bring their schools greater success. For many it was the first time they have been able to have an extended conversation with another school turnaround leader about their shared challenges, questions and learnings and their feedback told us that the event was well-worth the efforts they made to join us from all over the state.
July 31, 2014. At the annual Massachusetts Secondary School Administrators Association conference in Hyannis MA, Dr. John D'Auria, President of Teachers21, received The Michael J. Kane MSSAA Friend of Education Award. This award is presented annually to a person, organization or corporation that has, in the opinion of the Association, made a significant and lasting contribution to the furthering of public education in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Recent recipients include Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Dr. Karla Baehr, Lt. Governor Timothy Murray, U.S. Representative John Tierney and U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy.