Campus leaders hone their leadership skills at engaging professional development training

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All Dallas ISD school administrators, 222 principals and approximately 430 assistant principals strengthened their leadership skills during a three-day, in-depth training conference.

Dallas ISD, in partnership with the educational nonprofit Teaching Trust, organized this seminar to prepare administrators for the 2019-2020 academic year.

The campus leaders gathered at Emmett J. Conrad High School on Tuesday for the School Leadership Summer Intensive kickoff. The instructors focused on teaching lessons about leadership and instructional excellence, among other topics.

“This is our kickoff and we’re setting the tone and the expectations for the school year of what we want to accomplish, and how we plan to accomplish it. This is a reminder of why we do the work,” said Stephanie Elizalde, Chief of School Leadership for Dallas ISD. “It’s a reminder for us to center ourselves around the significance of the work that we do, how much influence it has, and how much it impacts the future of our communities.”

The assistant principals and principals were partnered into smaller groups and placed in several classrooms. During the first day, Teaching Trust professionals emphasized techniques to build trust within a team and improve effectiveness in leading.

“Building a strong foundation of trust is key for high-functioning teams to engage in constructive conflict, commit to shared decisions, and hold one another accountable, with the ultimate goal of driving better results for students,” said Patrick Haugh, CEO of Teaching Trust. “It was inspiring to see the entire district align on a strategy to grow school leadership capacity at all levels, because we know this will lead to better outcomes for students.”

One of the organization’s main goals is to build strong school cultures and ensure academic achievement by training and supporting school leadership teams. This goes hand-in-hand with one of Dallas ISD’s main goals: to create systems that support excellence and equity in education for all students, said Elizalde.

“We’ve partnered with Teaching Trust for many years for help on campuses that needed additional support. When we partnered with Teaching Trust, we found that those schools were improving in terms of student outcomes and maintaining those outcomes over time,” Elizalde said. “We see this as a growing partnership to make sure that the equity is happening at all of our schools, not just some.”

Several of the training sessions were interactive lectures, where participants partnered with each other to solve problems. Among the attendees was Richard Heffernan, principal of Ascher Silberstein Elementary School.

“This is the most tightly focused and most comprehensive professional development that I’ve experienced as a principal,” he said. “They’ve got us working in development as a team, they’re tightly focused on some of the highest leverage concepts around leading schools, and they have a really clear roadmap for success. It’s extremely encouraging and makes me feel really hopeful for this upcoming year, and also really hopeful to be a part of Dallas ISD.”

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