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LEAF, Inc. News


THURSDAY, AUG 30, 2012

Gates Funding Approved to Support LEAF, Inc. Initiative to Support Instructional Excellence

Instructional leadership is an essential ingredient in the formula for an improved educational system where students in all grade levels and at all levels of ability are motivated to learn based on classroom experiences that are interesting, challenging and relevant, and teaching that inspires, excites and supports them. For the past year, LEAF, Inc. has concentrated a large part of its training and support to school leaders statewide on the implementation of the new APPR regulations to support improved teaching and learning.
 
This past spring, LEAF, Inc. applied for a grant through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in order to increase our capacity to support our membership by providing APPR training to strengthen leadership knowledge, understanding and skills by providing the tools and learning necessary for school leaders to be solid instructional leaders. The grant was officially approved in August and will provide the Foundation with $150,000 per year for two years to support our work.
 
The new APPR regulations in New York State focus on the importance of the evaluation processes for teachers and principals. The current instructional and leadership capacity in our schools is being challenged to meet the shift to our nation’s Common Core future. The world is changing, and so too must our nation’s schools. It is more necessary than ever for building leaders to serve as true “instructional leaders.” A major research finding regarding the influence of leadership on student achievement reveals the cavernous gap which must be addressed in order to make this shift in leadership perspective become a reality: Principals, superintendents and teachers are all being admonished to be “instructional leaders” without much clarity about what that means” (Leithwood, et. Al., 2004). 
 
This monumental shift in the role of the principal must be understood, encouraged and supported by the superintendent. Training on the APPR evaluation requirements, as defined by New York State law, will provide school leaders with the tools they need to “encourage, empower, and support excellent teachers to create a profession centered on evidence and the continuous improvement of student outcomes.”
 
Superintendents must have the vision to support principals as change agents who challenge the status quo and ensure APPR becomes an effective process. 
 
With Gates funding, LEAF plans to develop and implement a Statewide Institute for district leadership teams (superintendents, assistant superintendents and principals) to provide training on the APPR requirements. Topics will include: principal and teacher efficacy; common core including understanding the shift in standards and instruction, implementation, and developing and sharing high-quality models; change theory and process; developing a culture that promotes professional learning communities and teacher sharing; data systems to support improved instructional leadership; and research that provides evidence that leadership and quality instruction are key to academic excellence.
 
In addition, we will develop four regional leadership academies that will meet three times per year, with an additional two academies being developed in 2013-14. The regional sessions will serve as learning communities for superintendents. For system-wide change, it is crucial to support the ongoing learning of school superintendents and to provide a positive avenue for the sharing of ideas and best practices.  Discussions will be guided by materials and tools and will be facilitated by trained LEAF consultants.
 
Other areas the grant will support include integration of information on instructional leadership into our existing programs such as the Future Superintendents Academy, New Superintendents Institute, 2nd and 3rd Year Institute, and Leadership for Student Achievement.
 
The Council and LEAF, Inc. staff are excited about the opportunity to work with the Gates Foundation in supporting you and your work in the coming year and beyond.

Contact: Kelly Masline, Director, at 518/694-4880 or kelly@nyscoss.org.

 

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