Dawn Brooks DeCosta is Principal of Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School (TMALS) in Harlem, NYC. She has been selected as a panelist for the 2017 Independent Chart School Symposium in NYC.
More information: HERE
More information: HERE
Musa Ali Shama has transitioned to a new role as the Superintendent of Charter Schools for New Visions for Public Schools.
Each year in June our Fellows present the results of their year-long inquiry project. The work involves identifying an area that, if addressed, will dramatically improve student learning. Fellows and Allies gather data, study it together, provide diverse perspectives on each project and then reflect on the actions taken during the process. The action learning process draws on the strengths that already exist within the leaders and their schools.
It has been our mission since 2003 to invest in the outstanding school principals that currently serve in the public school system and to help them find and develop resources to help them do their jobs even more efficiently and effectively.
We now have over 300 Fellows who have implemented the work they completed during their Cahn Fellowship.
The Riverdale Avenue Community School
98.7% Minority Students
96.5% Students in Poverty
The Riverdale Avenue Community School opened in 2012 in Brownsville, Brooklyn. We started with preK through 2nd grade, and grew each subsequent year to 5th grade. We were at the time considered a turn around school. We were the 3rd school to open in five years, and there was a strong history of internalized failure in our building.
I created both a vision and a visual for the work. Every single teacher is on a team that meets during their circular 6 prep period during the day. During the spring, teachers were able to rank the teams that they wanted to be on, and I did my best to accommodate that based on people’s strengths, schedules, etc.
We also restructured our school organization model in terms of the upper and lower school divide. We instituted upper and lower school coordinators to function as coaches, but also have some other defined roles as well.
Many times, distributive leadership is presented as a top down model. We really tried to get beyond this idea of using our distributive leadership model to just “do more work that the principal tells me to do,” and really focus on the mutual accountability that should exist here.
The Gordon Parks School for Inquisitive Minds, P.S./I.S. 270
Where We Were in June: Problem of Practice
Our vertical team’s impact will be determined by how our school moves on the DOE’s School Performance Dashboard. Ultimately, we want to be placed in the quadrant demonstrative of high impact, as well as, high performance.
How our Journey Began
We implemented our Action Plan between September and December 2016
Results: Our Data at a Glance – Our Trust Survey showed significant improvement in staff trust levels.
Ebinger Elementary School – Chicago
80%- White 15%-Hispanic 1.3%-Black 2%-Asian
15.5% Low income
14% Diverse learners
5% English Language Learners
After review of current instructional units teachers were surveyed and the results were:
Eighteen percent (18%) of staff members “often” use culturally relevant instruction in their current teaching practices. The goal of this cycle is for all teachers to use culturally relevant instruction in their teaching practices “often” 75% of the time.
Unit/lesson deep dive using an ILT created template to adjust a current unit and add new culturally diverse literature
Peer observations were organized in order for teachers to observe and give feedback to each other on the previously revised lesson which revolved around a culturally aware or relevant read alouds.
Teachers were required to observe each other a minimum of two times during the school year.
During the first observation phase, teachers chose a peer within their grade bands to observe.
During the second observation phase, names were literally chosen out of a hat.
“The peer observations worked. I think it was a great idea to get a partner that I wouldn’t normally see and see the value and success in that classroom. I find it so helpful to observe others to learn and also just see how other teachers do the thinking routines. It helps me get ideas and also validate my own instruction.”
“I played a video of a Muslim teenager who was arrested for bringing in an invention (homemade clock). Teachers thought it was a bomb and the student was arrested. We had a powerful conversation of it being fair or unfair for the student to be arrested and also if a non-Muslim student would have the same consequence. The students didn’t even need me to discuss and I just watched and listened to their thinking. Students changed their thinking due to listening to their peers. It was pretty magical to witness.”
Created a mission statement with all staff members to drive the implementation of culturally aware instruction
We aim to empower students to become socially responsible, globally aware, and caring individuals through critical thinking and targeted inquiry based teaching and learning by:
Each year our Cahn Fellows begin the Summer Leadership Institute (SLI) with a trip to Gettysburg led by licensed battlefield guide John Zervas.
Following is an outline of the curriculum.
It’s the summer of 1863 and following a series of stunning victories, Robert E. Lee marches his Confederate Army of 75,000 battle-tested soldiers north into Pennsylvania. His vision: win southern independence. His strategy: defeat the Union army once more, do it on Northern soil and capture or threaten a major Union city such as Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Baltimore or Washington, DC. His opponent, Union General George Meade, moves his veteran army of 90,000 north into Pennsylvania to confront Lee and protect these very cities. They meet at the small Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg. Who will prevail will be a test of leadership.
Day One – They meet at Gettysburg
Unplanned and unanticipated, the armies meet at Gettysburg. With the commanding generals far from here, critical decisions are made by subordinates to seize this town. Why is this town important? Who will prevail? We will tour the Day One Battlefield and stand where these decisions were made and we will meet those officers who take the initiative to choose this battlefield.
Day Two -“If he is there tomorrow, I shall attack him.”
Lee decides he will attack the Union’s defensive position. He will try to break the Union line by attacking the three hills that dominate Gettysburg. We will walk the ground and analyze the decisions made and the initiative taken by officers and men of the North and South. Communication and Empowerment will prove to be critical. For three days, the battle will turn on three principal factors:
Reflection: Lee vs. Meade: After two days of battle, who managed their resources and used their data more effectively? Whose leadership style was more effective? How were decisions made that night?
Lincoln and Leadership
Dr. Matthew Pinsker is the author of two books: Abraham Lincoln –a volume in the American Presidents Reference Series from Congressional Quarterly Press (2002) and Lincoln’s Sanctuary: Abraham Lincoln and the Soldiers’ Home (Oxford University Press, 2003). Pinsker’s next book is forthcoming from W.W. Norton & Co., tentatively entitled, Boss Lincoln: Understanding Abraham Lincoln’s Partisan Leadership. Matt has also published widely in the history of American politics, contributing to the Journal of American History and several other academic journals as well as to newspapers such as the Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and USA Today. He appears regularly on TV channels such as C-SPAN and A&E’s History. He leads numerous K-12 teacher-training workshops for organizations such as the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. He currently serves the Organization of American Historians (OAH) as a “Distinguished Lecturer.” Finally, Matt sits on the advisory boards of several historic organizations, such as Ford’s Theatre Society, Gettysburg Foundation, National Civil War Museum, and President Lincoln’s Cottage at the Soldiers’ Home.
Phil Weinberg, the deputy chancellor for teaching and learning at the New York City Department of Education, summed up the entire debate in a nutshell when he said, “If you’re going to turn to a young person and say, ‘What problem do you want to solve?’ or ‘What plan do you want to have for yourself?,’ you have to have provided that young person with the academic abilities, and social abilities, to be able to answer that question.
The full article is HERE
Meridith Maskara is the Chief Operating Officer for the Girl Scouts of Greater New York.
She will be speaking to our 2017 Cahn Fellows on leadership.
To learn more about Meridith, Click Here