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Learning Leadership Cadre: Indiana district partners with Brown University

During the last several months, our school district has worked to identify areas of strategic importance to dramatically improving life opportunities for our students. Our focus is squarely on student achievement, and we are approaching this focus through four key areas: Leadership, Engagement, Data, and Collaboration. While we are moving forward in each of these areas, I want to highlight the work we are doing in Leadership.

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As we assessed our leadership needs in the district, we determined that, like many other K-12 districts, we had a critical need for leadership development. As we planned to meet this need, we committed to expanding the traditional view of school leadership to include classroom, school, and district levels. Too often we've seen phenomenal plans from school or district leaders, but the real classroom impact was missing. We knew we wanted to lift up the experience of classroom leaders and provide models for others in our district. We really wanted to incentivize the role of classroom leader. In considering school and district leaders more specifically, we wanted to prepare real change agents for current and future leadership opportunities.

Our efforts to address this leadership need have resulted in a partnership with Brown University in the form of the Learning Leadership Cadre. The Cadre is composed of teachers, academic coaches, counselors, and current administrators who will begin intensive study around the areas of Leadership, Engagement, Data, and Collaboration. Each participant was selected after a rigorous application and interview process. One of my colleagues called the process "heartening." He was referring to the powerfully positive impression many of our applicants left on him. Each Cadre member will identify, develop, and deliver on an action research or change project for a school or the district.

Much of the power of this model comes from non-traditional thinking about K-12 education needs and how best to meet them. The spirit of collaboration evident in this work is also key to the effective design and delivery of such an option. While our sense is that the Cadre is an effective design for meeting our leadership development goals, the work of an outside evaluator will really help quantify the results we see through this fairly unique partnership. I invite you to visit the Learning Leadership Cadre website and look more closely at the model as we work through this first year. I believe this is another example of how K-12 educators across the country are thinking more about "how we can" rather than "why we can't."

Dave Dimmett

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