Patricia King, a middle-school principal in New York City, writes in Chalkbeat New York about the city’s Learning Partners Program, a peer-to-peer professional-development effort funded in part by The Wallace Foundation. The program brings groups of schools together for a year so teachers, principals and other school leaders can observe each other’s work, chew over problems and come up with solutions. Each group consists of a “host school,” headed by a veteran principal, and two or more “partner schools,” schools that are led by newer principals and have room to improve.
“We knew it was our responsibility to explore new strategies developed beyond our own school doors,” writes King, explaining her motivation to participate in the program, “as well as to share our challenges and discoveries.”
King says that she learned from both the host school and the partner school in her group. “Instead of just looking for answers on our own, we’ve explored possible answers together by visiting each other’s classrooms,” she writes. “Teachers in the host school willingly open up their classrooms for a period to showcase a particular practice, and then teachers from all of the schools dissect the lesson together.”
The result, King suggests, is improved classroom practice in her school, more effective leadership and closer ties between schools. “We feel like we are part of one big school,” she writes, “and as we work together, share ideas and collaborate we know that it will be our students who benefit the most.”
Wallace is funding the Learning Partners Program as part of the Principal Pipeline Initiative, a six-year effort in six districts to improve school leadership.