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Putting Students at the Center of School Leadership

Before I became a school leader last year, I was a high school writing and learning support teacher for four years. The transition was, I admit, not an easy one. I found myself missing my own classroom, and in particular, the bond all great teachers create with their students.

Becoming the School Leader I Needed as a Teacher

The year was 2007 – I was fresh out of college and poised to embark on my first year of teaching. I worked tirelessly. I was obsessed with the ultimate goal of being an impassioned, tactile and resourceful classroom facilitator; one who empowered children both in and out of the classroom.

Stepping out of My Comfort Zone

Spotlighting strategies to ensure students met or exceeded their learning goals was a top priority and building strong relationships with teachers, staff, students, and parents came easy to me. However, despite my years of experience in and out of the classroom, my impact was limited because my voice was unheard.

Putting Instruction First, Even Now

I make my way to the “crossroads” at Northeast High School in Philadelphia—the first floor intersection down the hall from the main office. The bell rings and all at once, our school’s 3,000 students flood the hallways, buzzing with conversation. There’s a reason we call it the “crossroads”: this spot is generally the busiest intersection of the school.

Getting Past “Do Better Now”

In my previous position as an assistant principal, I believed the urgency of closing the achievement gap and transforming the lives of our students meant there was no time for pleasantries. My leadership style was abrasive.