February 2018

 Onward Leaders Blog: Cohort 2


Welcome to our new Onward Leaders website!  We are excited about getting it up and running and Danielle and I are learning some new skills during the process.


Onward Leaders Cohort 2 learning these past few months has covered all of the Archdiocesan pillars: Faith, Excellence and Stewardship.  We have worked with the Excellence Team in facilitating breakout sessions for teachers and administrators in order to deepen their understanding of the core instructional practices being implemented at many of our schools in the Archdiocese.


Facilitation skills are key to developing a coherent team at a school and our cohort, along with the director and assistant director appreciate the opportunity to work with the Excellence Team. Along with our work with Excellence, Cohort 2 is preparing for their WCEA/WASC visit later in February.  We continue as a cohort to support new teacher trainings in the Archdiocese and have completed CAPP (Catholic Aspiring Principals Program) with the Leadership Formation Team at the Department of Catholic Schools. All of these opportunities not only provide a balcony view of our schools, but also opportunities to learn from and with teachers and administrators from Long Beach to Santa Barbara; suburban to urban; fully resourced and under resourced schools.  The ability to see the larger system and our dependence upon it to reach our individual site goals of evangelization and academic excellence is both humbling and invigorating. But the day to day work of collaborating with the site school faculty, administration, students and parents remains the most transformative.  It is all about relationships. The greatest vision and mission is hollow without trust building at the local site.


Below are some insights from the last few months directly from Onward Leaders Cohort 2.  

As I reflect on my learning for the week, I can see that it is important to collaborate. The position does not allow for you to sit and isolate yourself. I can see that my mentor principal collaborates with her staff and teachers quite a bit, keeping the students as her main focus. I also learned that seeking outside help from people you might sit at during a training session can also be valuable. My mentor principal received training for her school site just by collaborating with a colleague at lunch during a conference.


My mentor principal negotiated tuition with an incoming family. It was a great experience to watch the conversation that she had with this family that was new to Catholic education. She outlined beautifully the value of the education their child would be receiving.


Just like students are expected to learn, so are we! Learning at any age can be a mixed bag of emotions. Sometimes we are excited about it, and other times we have the fear of failing. At one point or another, we experience both. With that in mind, we need to be conscious about our own fears as well as our faculty. Patience, whether it is in technology or traditional learning, is key. Making it a safe environment for failure or success, is a must.


There is a fine line between having a collaborative discussion vs. "ordering" teachers to take action. It involves tone and allowing teachers to have their say. After this meeting, I realized that the tone was much harsher than it needed to be. However, I realize that there are times when we need to have teachers do tasks which are non-negotiable.


I love to see how other schools are run. I am fascinated with the fact that there is an infinite amount of ways to handle any one routine or task. I think that seeing how other people do things opens your mind to the fact that your way may not necessarily be the best.


Finally, Cohort 2 spent a day with Cohort 1 at their sites and shadowed a first year principal on the job.  Building of relationships between cohorts in the program widens a leader’s professional learning community which will sustain them throughout their vocation to Catholic schools.  

What are we reading?

Collaborative Leadership by Peter Dewitt

Redeeming Conflict by Anne Garrido


What is the director reading?

The Internal Coherence Framework by Michelle L. Forman and Elizabeth Leisy Stosich

Assessing Impact by Joellen Killion