Developing Tomorrow’s Education Leaders Part 1

Harnessing and Growing the Teacher Talent Pipeline

As schools and districts across the country experience teacher shortages, they often struggle to keep schools appropriately staffed to recruit and retain mission-aligned and context-ready teachers who reflect their school makeup.  For school and districts serving urban, high needs communities, this challenge compounds significantly.  

As the network of public schools with a pioneering public teacher residency program, “ensuring there are high-quality, mission-aligned teachers in our classrooms and leading work in our schools is imperative to the impact that we need to make with the students and communities we serve,” says Dr. Jarvis Sanford, Managing Director, AUSL School Network and CPS AUSL Network Chief.  In today’s context, however, we face these same challenges – and continue to innovate to make sure that we deliver on our promise of a high-quality, equitable, and transformative education to each and every child we serve.

AUSL-TFA Leadership Preparation Program

To meet the challenges of today’s environment, in the spring of 2018, AUSL embarked on a partnership with like-minded Teach For America (“TFA”) to start a leadership preparation program targeting experienced teachers across the country who were ready to take on leadership responsibility beyond the classroom.  This partnership harnesses the scale of TFA alumni with AUSL’s experience in developing teacher and school leaders, giving teachers a natural and clear next step on their leadership journey.  

Veteran former school leader and AUSL Director of School Leadership (DSL) leading the current cohort during a monthly school leadership development session.

Something I’ve heard over and over again in conversations with teachers taking on leadership roles in their schools is the lack of training and support they receive in developing the skills they need to effectively lead adults.  Being an excellent leader in the classroom does not automatically translate to being a [capable] leader of other educators; however, high quality, affordable training opportunities for teacher leaders are few and far between in our current education landscape. – Kate San Juan, Director, Alumni Teacher Leadership, Teach For America-Chicago-Northwest Indiana

The leadership program offers TFA Alum (those who have or are completing their initial 2-year TFA commitment in their placement school) a 2-year opportunity to continue their development in a new – yet similarly high needs context (AUSL’s network of 31 public, neighborhood schools in Chicago) – and in roles with increasing amounts of school leadership responsibility, personalized to their skill level and interests where possible.  These types of opportunities include peer mentoring, instructional coaching, and/or becoming a member of the instructional leadership or behavior management teams, to name a few.

Utilizing AUSL’s teacher/school leadership experience and curriculum, these TFA Alum have the opportunity to grow alongside a mixed cohort of  TFA Alum and AUSL teachers, and to learn from veteran school leaders that are leading some of the highest performing schools in the Chicago Public School district in Chicago’s most at-risk communities.  

Our school leaders work every day to mentor and provide leadership opportunities to teachers in their buildings. For us, this partnership is about supporting and adding to these efforts while also growing the pool of like-minded talent they have to increase their impact each and every day.” – Dr. Jarvis Sanford, Managing Director, AUSL School Network and CPS AUSL Network Chief

In addition to increased school leadership responsibilities in their new AUSL placement school, program participants engage monthly in AUSL school leadership development with this mixed cohort.  Areas of focus include leadership development, instructional excellence, and school operations management. Finally, in their placement schools, program participants receive additional mentorship from their veteran school leaders, ensuring they have the support they need to meet these new challenges.

Hear About The Experience

As the school year progresses, with the first cohort of AUSL-TFA Leaders, the program continues to evolve as we recruit for participants for the SY19-21 cohort.  Hear from current participants about their experiences below.

 So far, the experience in leadership at my school has been very empowering. Each day, I am charged with furthering my own ability to listen to and meet the specific needs of teachers, so that they can improve their practice, thus increasing student achievement…I am really enjoying this program thus far, and I would highly recommend it to anyone that is interested in furthering their knowledge around effective school leadership.

-Jetaun Whittlesey, Lewis School of Excellence, TFA Alum & Current Instructional Coach

[So far, through my monthly cohort experience,] I have enjoyed meeting like-minded individuals and seeing the various communities we serve. I would say I am learning a lot through the lens of systems as we navigate the various [AUSL] schools. I really look forward to these sessions and wish we had more.

-Adam Mogilevsky, Phillips Academy High School, TFA Alum and Current Teacher

I have valued the days away from my classroom because we have been engaging in real learning. No teacher wants to be away from their classroom to go somewhere where they feel that it was not worth the loss of instructional day. I have never felt this way after any of the meetings so far…These are things that are not explicitly taught in graduate classes or things that teachers are able to work on in their regular learning track.

-Teresa Chavez, Casals School of Excellence, Chicago Teacher Residency Alum & Experienced AUSL Teacher

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