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The Changing Role of the Principal

This article and report from the Center for American Progress highlights many of the competencies that Teachers21 cultivates in school leaders. The report highlights that

  • "Principals are being asked to develop new competencies largely centered around data, curriculum, pedagogy, and human capital development in order to meet the new expectations” and
  • "Attrition due to resignations and early retirements, along with a shortage of qualified candidates for open principal positions, is leading toward a crisis of leadership in American education. Principals do not feel sufficiently prepared by their pre-service training to successfully meet the demands of school leadership.

Here are their recommendations, many of which directly connect to some of our initiatives:

  1. Redesign school organizational charts and job descriptions.
  2. Develop instructional-leadership capacity around the principal.
  3. Focus principal training on coaching teachers.
  4. Build the capacity of central-office administrators to support principals.
  5. Provide regular opportunities for principals to gather around self-selected problems of practice.
  6. Develop partnerships with universities and nonprofits to recruit and train future principals.
  7. Develop and train principals on district-wide teaching and leadership frameworks.
  8. Provide technological supports that allow administrators to record and share instructional data.

Teachers21 recognizes that effective leadership is essential to improve educational outcomes and is committed to the development and sustainability of leadership at all levels:

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Learn to avoid or overcome leadership obstacles

Leadership is increasingly recognized as an important factor in moving schools forward, yet we have been relatively random in how we prepare and support them. Four obstacles often block or diminish their effectiveness. Avoiding or overcoming each of these requires an underlying set of skills and knowledge that we believe can be learned and practiced to improve leaders’ impact.

Read the full article by John D'Auria, President of Teachers21 as published in Kappan Magazine, February 2015.

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Systemic conditions vs. individual contribution

As reported in the January 2015 Edition of the Rennie Report, it will take collective and systemic action to improve outcomes for ALL students. According to Teachers21 President John D'Auria, "We cannot produce the impact we want for all our students, one educator at a time. Our most effective schools are not collections of individual stars but systems designed to influence and shape adult and student learning. Moving from the qualities of the individual to the systemic conditions that lead us to change, grow, and constantly adapt needs to be the focus of our future work."


A rising tide lifts all boats and it is encumbent upon school and district leaders to create the climate and culture that truly supports each individual's growth.

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Conditions for Successful Community Improvement

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.
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Client ConnecT21: Teachers21’s New Monthly Newsletter-- View the November Newsletter!

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. 

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Chinese Researchers Visit Teachers21

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. 

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