I work with a talented administrative staff and School Committee!
I just spent three terrific days in workshops with the District Leadership Team to reflect on the past school year and anticipate the challenges of the upcoming year that begins next week. The District Leadership Team is comprised of all building principals, directors, and the central office administrators who lead the schools and programs within the Needham Schools.
This year, I invited the School Committee to join us for one of our workshops to discuss our school goals and initiatives. The School Committee’s participation was meaningful on two levels: First, district administrators had an opportunity to meet with and develop relationships with School Committee members. Second, administrators and School Committee members had time to reflect on district initiatives and plans and discuss what is—and what is not—working and why in a setting that was more informal and relaxed. Here are a few of my take-aways from our collaboration:
• School Committee members genuinely enjoyed meeting with school leaders and discussing the education of our students. In the same way, school administrators were comfortable and relaxed as they answered questions and shared new thinking with School Committee members.
• We agreed that the district goals are ambitious, important, and generally reflect the district’s values and work of the schools and the district. At the same time, some action steps are no longer necessary and new action steps must be identified and prioritized to ensure we continue to move the district forward.
• There is a need to ensure classroom teachers and staff have a better understanding of the “big picture” around district goals and plans. Teachers are rightly focused on their students, but they may benefit from seeing a tighter connection between their work in the classroom and district initiatives.
Our work together reinforced my belief that the School Committee is hugely supportive of our efforts to innovate and improve student learning. At the same time, they hold us accountable and ensure our work reflects the community’s high standards and expectations for its young people.
Our work also reminds me that the best way to move forward in a school district—or any organization for that matter—is to bring different perspectives and voices to the table to discuss, share, and plan.
I’m anticipating a very good year for the students and staff of the Needham Schools!