Leadership for School Turnaround
Which core leadership actions can advance successful leadership in various school contexts? How do effective leaders support staff practice for quality teaching and learning and improved student outcomes? Experienced school turnaround leaders at SEDL reviewed research and examined their practice as well as that of other successful turnaround leaders to identify a set of six core leadership actions for transforming schools.
The Center for High-Performing Schools at SEDL offers research-based professional learning experiences for school leaders to understand these core leadership actions, the research that supports them, and strategies for putting them into practice in their schools.
For additional information about professional development sessions or technical assistance, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Complimentary Webinar or Conference Session
Effective Leadership Actions for Transforming Schools: Lessons Learned on the Leadership Journey
Participants will hear from two successful school turnaround leaders about their use of six core leadership actions in the transformation of the schools they led. They also will be introduced to research that supports each action and how these leaders put them into practice in their schools.
On-Site Professional Development Services
To develop understanding and application of the six core leadership actions for transforming schools, the center offers the following multiday sessions for school leaders and the district leaders supporting them. The sessions can be offered individually or in a series to either support currently practicing school leaders or prepare future school leaders.
Session 1: What Does Your Future Look Like?
Core Leadership Action #1: Creating and launching a vision of a preferred future for the school. Establishing and pursuing a new school vision goes beyond leading faculty and staff through writing a vision statement and displaying it in the building. School leaders must collaborate with their teachers by identifying the key practices that the leaders, faculty, and staff will have to adopt to make the vision a reality. This learning task allows a single shared vision to be collectively established, owned, and pursued by all stakeholders. This session will help school leaders understand why establishing a vision that includes not just a lofty vision statement but a real picture of what that vision will look like in practice is essential and how it is supported in research. They will also learn and practice, through interactive sessions, specific strategies for guiding their faculty and staff through the visioning process.
Session 2: Focus, Focus, Focus!
Core Leadership Action #2: Increasing organizational coherence. Educators in schools identified as needing improvement or turnaround often can be overwhelmed by the extent of resources, programs, and supports available for assisting with improvement efforts. Also, school leaders can run the risk of accepting too much help or implementing unproven programs or strategies. Frequently, such support does not fit with the common vision established for the school’s preferred future and is not aligned to the school’s needs or the state’s standards. This only leads to fragmentation and frustration in the improvement journey. School leaders must be able to guide their school teams to take the necessary actions—within the district and school—to eliminate programs, policies, and practices that inhibit coherence to state standards and the new vision. Leaders must focus on establishing structures and supports that increase coherence and support the improvement process. This session focuses on participants interacting with the research that supports the need for organizational coherence throughout the turnaround journey. This emphasis on research will prepare leaders as they communicate with school and district staff about eliminating or maintaining existing programs and practices or selecting new ones. Participants also will learn practical strategies for increasing instructional and organizational coherence in their schools.
Session 3: Communication: It’s the Key!
Core Leadership Action #3: Communicating and setting clear expectations. Schools often struggle with communication in one way or another, but communication is especially critical in the midst of a major change effort such as a school transformation or turnaround. Educators often wonder—Are we providing adequate information to parents and teachers about the changes that are being made and why? Are we communicating in the right ways and at the right times? Are we ensuring that information is accessible to all our stakeholders through various communication modes, in multiple languages, and at the appropriate reading level? Do all stakeholders know their roles and responsibilities in the change process? In this session, participants will learn about the importance of communication, different types of communication, and their uses in different situations. Also, participants will learn and practice strategies for maintaining regular communication, making meetings and other communication productive for everyone, involving stakeholders so they can support the improvement efforts, and communicating progress made toward achieving the preferred vision for their schools.
Session 4: So, How Are We Doing? Monitoring Progress Along the Journey
Core Leadership Action #4: Monitoring and reviewing progress. Just as one does during a long road trip, leaders must mark progress toward achieving a new vision for quality teaching and learning. It is critical that school leaders establish systems for ongoing monitoring of teaching practices and student learning. Leaders must create structures and supports for collecting and analyzing data from multiple sources to inform decision making and instructional practice. They also must inform all stakeholders, including students, about how the school is progressing along the way. Equally important is using data and other information to hold frequent, candid conversations with school teams so that everyone knows if they are on course to achieving the school’s vision or whether adjustments need to be made to get back on course. This session provides participants with research that supports monitoring and reviewing progress of implementation efforts. It will introduce practical strategies for this task using tools and data readily available or that can be easily collected at the district or campus levels. It also will allow participants to practice the strategies through role-playing and fishbowl learning tasks.
Session 5: Supporting Your Most Critical Resource: Your Teachers
Core Leadership Action #5: Providing resources and support. While effective leadership is critical to successful school turnaround, teachers are the ones who will make or break the turnaround effort based on the quality of instruction they provide in the classroom. Teachers often have to learn many new instructional strategies or need time to dig in and gain a deeper understanding of the content they are teaching. They also need to have the appropriate instructional resources to teach rigorous standards-aligned lessons. This core action addresses the leader’s role in providing teachers with the resources and support—including time, opportunities for professional development (PD), and guidance (e.g., coaching, mentoring, critical feedback)—needed to be proficient at their jobs. This session will focus on the research that supports this leadership role as well as practical strategies for how school leaders can work to provide the needed resources and support for their teachers.
Session 6: Getting Out of the Office—Increasing Your Presence in the School and Community
Core Leadership Action #6: Maintaining a presence throughout the school and community. For many years, school improvement experts have talked and written about increasing the visibility of the principal on the school campus, but this core action goes beyond the early understanding of this recommendation. It involves not only walking around the school or being in the cafeteria during lunch or the playground during recess. It really focuses on conducting classroom walkthroughs to observe instruction; participating in professional learning team meetings; engaging with teachers, parents, students and other stakeholders throughout the school; and seeking opportunities to interact with these stakeholders during community activities. This session focuses on ensuring that school leaders don’t get stuck in the office every day and emphasizes developing a specific plan for ensuring most of their day is spent in classrooms and other areas of the school campus as well as in the community.
Leadership Coaching for School Transformation and Turnaround
For districts and schools seeking additional support, the center provides a multiyear leadership coaching model for principals leading school turnaround or transformation efforts. The model is based on the six Core Leadership Actions for Effective School Transformation and provides both on-site and virtual support to leaders in these settings. On-site visits include PD sessions on the core leadership actions as well as individual school visits during which coaching on and modeling of strategies occurs. Virtual support includes one-on-one coaching through conference calls and emails as well as participation in webinars and a community of practice with other school leaders in similar settings. The Center for High-Performing Schools offers this model to individual districts for multiple school leaders within a single district or to district consortia for school leaders from each of the participating districts.