Entrenched cultures of low expectations are extremely difficult to disrupt; launching a new school creates the “reset” moment required to break the negative cycle and build a positive, high expectations culture from scratch
NEW SCHOOL DESIGN FELLOWSHIPS
SEN facilitates year-long New School Design Fellowships (NSDFs) which guide principals-in-training through the new school design process, culminating with the completion of individual School Design Guides which then serve as blueprints for implementation. Through this fellowship, each participant is guided to generate a clear mission and vision for instruction, as well as school culture, and to then build a detailed school design which brings their vision to life. This program also focuses on helping participants develop the team-building and leadership skills needed to effectively build a school year over year and manage staff to high standards of quality.
OVERVIEW OF THE WORK
New School Design Fellows engage with six curriculum modules rooted in SEN’s quality review rubric. Together the six modules facilitate the understanding of effective school design elements, key leader actions, personal leadership competencies, and core artifacts–all of which collectively ensure effective launch of the new school. Program participants are expected to complete extensive coursework, read supporting literature, and engage in individual monthly feedback calls. In Spring, participants use partial release time to focus on: community engagement, student recruitment, hiring, facilities preparation, and other operational tasks critical to a successful opening.
Program applicants should be entrepreneurial educators who possess a vision and passion for building school communities which can radically improve student outcomes. Because successful program participants will be designing and launching brand new school communities and operating in an autonomous context, applicants should possess a strong drive to achieve and demonstrate excellent communication, critical thinking, and relationship-building skills.
CORE CURRICULUM OVERVIEW
The School Empowerment Network Core Curriculum is a collection of six curriculum modules which are planned backward from SEN’s SQR rubric and which integrate essential leadership actions and personal leadership competencies. These modules serve as the foundational curriculum for all SEN New School Design Fellowships and New Leader Development Institutes.
CORE CURRICULUM MODULES
- Story of Why: understand and articulate why we do this work
- Mission: define and articulate the mission of the school to communicate to stakeholders
- Vision: define the high-level vision for instruction and culture to drive work
- Values: define the values that will serve as a foundation for school design
- Pedagogy: define high quality instruction, aligned non-negotiables, and structures to support quality execution
- Curriculum: select and unpack rigorous and aligned curricula; develop templates to drive planning and establish a shared definition of quality
- Assessments: select and use common assessment to gauge student progress and inform on-going adjustments to instruction and student support
- Positive Learning Environment: articulate a vision for an inclusive school culture and design structures for students to be well known and comprehensively supported
- High expectations: define and articulate what the bar for quality looks like to all community stakeholders and design structures for family engagement
- Leveraging Resources: align schedule, budget, and human resources to support mission and vision
- Goals and Action plans: establish goals and benchmarks aligned with mission, vision, and priorities
- Teacher Support and Supervision: design an effective observation and feedback cycle; use observation data to drive PD planning
- Teacher Teams and Distributed Leadership: align teacher teamwork towards goals and effectively distribute leadership to impact school quality
- Continuous Improvement: use data to drive improvement in each layer of the school community: classroom, teacher teams, ILT
- Personal leadership competencies: understand the key skills that define personal leadership and explore the interplay between those competencies and effective execution of plans
- Change management: explore strategies for leading through change
- Community Relations: Develop systems for productive stakeholder engagement & external partnerships
- Staffing plan and hiring protocol: Design and implement recruitment and selection strategies consistent with school values
- Pre-Opening Plan: project planning for a successful launch
- Facilities: create a space aligned with mission, vision, and core values
- Local Systems: learn core operational systems and compliance guidelines needed within local context
FEATURED SCHOOL DESIGN PROJECTS
• Families’ demand for charter seats in NYC continues to exceed supply, with more than 48,000 children on wait lists. This need is concentrated in neighborhoods with a dearth of options. In partnership with the Walton Family Foundation, SEN both designed and launched the NYC Charter Leader Fellowship (est. 2016) to identify and mobilize NYC’s next cohort of visionary charter school leaders.
• SEN recruited entrepreneurial leaders and coached them through the three-year process of writing charters, planning for opening, and launching new schools. Through the fellowship, each aspiring leader was guided to generate a clear mission and vision for both instruction and school culture and to then build a detailed school design for bringing their vision to life. This program also focused on helping them develop the leadership skills needed to effectively build a new school and manage a staff to high standards of quality.
• Brooklyn Emerging Leaders Academy (BELA), a STEAM-focused high school for girls, opened in Brooklyn in 2017. From within BELA’s inaugural class, 93% of students earned the required number of credits to graduate with a NYS Regents Diploma.
• A second CLF school, Elm Community Charter School, opened in Queens in 2018. A NYCDOE survey shows that 95% of teachers responded positively to questions about effective school leadership and that 95% of families feel the principal works to create a sense of community in and around the school.
• Three additional fellowship schools opened in 2019 and 2020: Hellenic Classical (2019), University Prep (2019) and Walkabout Bronx High School (2020). Results from these schools will be reported in 2021.
• As part of the Systems of Great Schools (SGS) initiative, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) is supporting participating districts as they expand the number of high-quality seats through the design and launch of new schools. TEA sought out SEN to design and launch the New School Design Fellowship to ensure aspiring leaders get superior support for school design. The first NSDF cohort was launched in Fall 2019 and participating districts opened their new schools in August 2020.
• Districts applied a rigorous internal selection process to identify and name entrepreneurial passionate leaders to design and launch new schools.
• In the first year of the New School Design Fellowship, participants spend the fall semester exploring the assets and needs of their community, examining effective school models, and crafting the vision for their schools’ model. During this time they plan how they will provide high-quality academics, a vibrant and inclusive school culture, and a talented faculty committed to continuous improvement. In the spring semester, participants focus on bringing their vision to life by building out the enabling systems and their own leadership skills to implement the model with fidelity.
• Participating districts support each new school by ensuring key autonomies, providing facilities, and facilitating startup funding. In addition, they provide supervision and support aligned with the design and expectations for the new school model.
• After the school design process, Districts have the opportunity to apply for Continuation Coaching from the SEN team which includes two years of 1:1 leadership coaching as well as quarterly convenings focused on developing leadership skills and reflecting and improving on school outcomes.
• Four of the five participants in the first NSDF cohort completed a high-quality School Design Guide and opened a new school in August 2020.
• 100% of participants in the first NSDF cohort rated the following aspects of their experience effective or highly effective: a) professional development sessions, b) 1:1 coaching on school design and 1:1 coaching on leadership skills, c) centering each design topic on issues of equity
• Based on the success of the program and their satisfaction with the process, all 3 districts with schools who completed the pilot program have both enrolled in ongoing continuation coaching and applied to TEA through the School Action Fund process to enroll new Fellows in NSDF Cohort 2