On August 28, 2017 school leaders from around District 29 met at the Apple offices in Midtown Manhattan to discuss best practices in leading the numerous changes in their school buildings. More specifically, administrators discussed the role of technology in the students learning process. Apple account specialist Lisa Atwan and Apple experts explained that technology is a tool to help support student learning. Contrary to common belief, technology does not substitute teaching. Moreover, the presenters explained that teachers are the drivers of pertinent information and it is up to educators to figure out how to present new information in a unique, exciting and engaging manner. School building leaders brainstormed on more innovative approaches to teaching and learning where students can apply, synthesize and evaluate information in various scenarios. Some key ideas that were discussed during this professional development session were:
- content applied to other scenarios
- multiple outcomes
- integration of skills
- making sense of information
- larger authentic audience
- multi-tiered support
- developing lifelong habits
- students drive questions
Moreover, Superintendent Mitchell shared the district results for the New York State English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics examinations and highlighted the district goals for the upcoming academic year. The district 29 goals for the 2017-2018 academic year are:
- Goal #1: Improve mathematics instruction across all schools by engaging school leaders and staff in sustained professional development that strengthen students’ critical thinking skills through an infusion of the eight standards for mathematical practice.
- Goal #2: To improve the performance of SWDs and ENLs in grades 3-8 in ELA and Math by collaborating with FSC staff to support school leaders in implementing researched-based intervention strategies that target SWDs and ENLs.
- Goal #3: To continuously improve the climate and culture of every school by engaging school leaders in reflective practices that connect process to outcomes through systematic monitoring and ongoing feedback.
Ms. Mitchell along with the Queens Field Support Center representatives offered various types of instructional and emotional support. They also offered tons of resources and future professional development sessions to help support district leaders in achieving the aforementioned goals.
There are a lot of research studies that explain how to foster a creative organizational environment. Hallowell’s (2011) book entitled Shine is a wonderful, easy to read, Science-based research that shares some best practices. Hallowell’s (2011) Cycle of Excellence includes 5 steps and they are (1) select (2) connect (3) play (4) grapple and grow and (5) shine. Hallowell (2011) defined select as “matching a person with the right job” (p. 43). Hallowell (2011) stated, “working the wrong job is like marrying the wrong person: it will involve lots of hard work but few happy days” (Hallowell, 2011, p. 43). The quote best represents the importance of matching a person with the right role in a workplace. As the new year begins administrators continue to build relationships with their community members and constantly reflect on three key questions which are “what a person likes to do most, what a person does best and what adds greatest value to the project or organization” (Hallowell, 2011, p. 43). By matching the right person with the right projects/tasks the school leader is attempting to create a creative and innovative school atmosphere.
Hallowell, E. M. (2011). Shine: Using brain science to get the best from your people. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.