One of the core RePublic values is empowerment. We empower our teachers and leaders to innovate. When one school develops a strong practice, we move quickly to learn from each other and share it across our other schools.
I am an Assistant Principal at Nashville Prep, a high-performing middle school in the RePublic network. I spent two recent weeks learning from Macy Bennett, another RePublic Assistant Principal at Liberty Collegiate Academy. While Nashville Prep and Liberty are cross-town rivals, we are part of the same network, we teach the same curriculum, and we share the same philosophy on education -- that every kid is capable of performing on or above grade level. As a new leader, I wanted to learn fast. The experience of shadowing Macy taught me lessons on instructional leadership that I will return to throughout my career in education.
1. CULTURE OF FEEDBACK.
One of Liberty’s hallmarks is a strong culture of feedback. It begins with school leadership. The leadership team gives each other unflinching and direct feedback during daily huddles. They understand that they will improve faster the more feedback they get. This mindset follows them into classrooms, where they give frequent, direct feedback to teachers. And this is the magical part -- teachers not only accept the feedback with grace, they are hungry for it and implement it right away. Our Liberty scholars immediately benefit from their teachers’ improvements in the moment.
2. (CALM) URGENCY.
Emily Wojtusik, another Liberty leader, moves fast. Not frantically, but quickly. Time is precious. We have more time in front of scholars than teachers would at their neighborhood school, but Emily’s pace demonstrates that we don’t have a moment of that time to waste. Emily moves fast. Her teachers do too. Liberty veritably hums with adults and children moving with urgency about the very serious work of getting a world-class education.
3. SHARED GOALS.
Liberty adults and scholars work against a common set of school-wide goals that they call Bellwethers -- for the sheep that sets the direction for the rest of the flock. It’s the one with the bell. Liberty’s current Bellwether goals are related to teacher intellectual preparation for teaching class, teachers using data to drive their instruction, and scholars using evidence to support their assertions in class. Each week, Macy and the team focus on coaching teachers to improve their practice in these critical areas. Because all adults are working against the same, shared goals, the team can compare data and share best practices to improve even faster for our scholars.
By empowering each of our schools to beta test new practices, we can quickly spread them with the other schools in our network. As a leader at RePublic, this also means I quickly develop professionally by working closely with others in our network. And most importantly, it means scholars at each of our campuses get to benefit from innovations that arise across the network.