November 1, 2021 by HCDE-Texas
On Saturday, members of the Teaching and Learning Center’s (TLC) Leadership Matters inaugural cohort met for its first in-person “community of practice” session at HCDE’s Irvington office.
“This is Harris County Department of Education’s attempt to fill a need for [first-year] principals,” said Assistant Superintendent of Education and Enrichment CJ Rodgers. “One thing that we know about principals is that the shelf life of a principal is very short, and in low-income schools, it’s even shorter. We had to do some research ourselves to [find] the cause of that. What we found was it’s just a lack of support. We felt if we could fill that gap and equip principals with those leadership nuances that the district just doesn’t have the time to provide, we could really equip the school to be [sustainably] successful.”
Harris County principals and assistant principals from schools in Aldine, Alief, and Goose Creek school districts engaged in the practice segment of the cohort’s three-pronged approach to creating highly effective campus leaders.
“The value that Harris County Department of [Education’s] Leadership Matters [program] has instilled in me is paramount,” said Chester W. Nimitz High School Associate Principal Sukari Stredit-Thomas, Ed.D. “What it has done is provide that support mechanism for leaders to continue to grow in their craft. It makes it a safe haven for you to troubleshoot ideas, get that support, and get that coaching so that you can become a better leader for your educators and for the community that you serve.”
Saturday’s meeting, facilitated by educational leadership development expert Tammy Rodney, was the last session of Learning Cycle 1 for the cohort, which focused on people and culture.
The cohort approaches each learning cycle through three phases—practice and implementation, measurement, and evaluation. In the “Saturday community of practice” sessions, cohort members gather to network, discuss high-quality practices and develop implementation plans.
During “learning walks,” TLC staff visit each principal’s campus and observe the techniques in action, analyze patterns, and identify opportunities for coaching and improvement.
George Washington Carver Elementary Principal Erica Davis describes the value the cohort provides.
“The impact I think it will make [will] move through me into my teachers [and] into my kids. It’s a top-down effect,” said Smith. “The guidance that Harris County Department of Ed is providing to me will make me a better, stronger leader.”
At the end of each cycle, members compile a portfolio of their plans, accomplishments, and the personal and professional growth they experienced throughout the process. The cohort will conclude the first Leadership Matters learning cycle by evaluating the impact of their implementation plans regarding the goals centered around the people and culture of their campuses.
Learning Cycle 2, “Coaching for Change,” will begin on January 8, 2022. Learning Cycle 3 will run from March to May 2022.