[To celebrate our upcoming book, Leadership for Deeper Learning, I am publishing an excerpt each day for a week before its release. We interviewed leaders at 30 different ‘deeper learning’ schools around the world in 2019 and 2020. We then followed up those interviews with site visits, observations, on-site photographs and videos, and additional conversations. Our goal was to try and parse out What do leaders at innovative schools do that is different from their counterparts in more traditional schools? As you might imagine, we saw some fantastic leading, teaching, and learning. We describe what we saw in detail in the new book and, in Chapter 7, articulate a Profile of a Deeper Learning Leader that’s based on empirical research, not just anecdotes. We think that this book makes a unique contribution to what we know about leadership in deeper learning schools. The book is written for a practitioner audience and is full of concrete, specific examples to get folks thinking about possibilities. Also, every main chapter concludes with Key Leadership Behaviors and Support Structures. If you order it, let me know what you think!]
We love the journey that Skyline High has traveled because it’s a story of school turnaround success, student redemption, and hope. Heidi told us during our visit:
People thought we would shut down. You know, we just weren’t known for anything that was really good. And we’ve completely turned around the culture of our building. We’ve completely turned around the impression of our community about Skyline High School. But we’re still serving all of the same kids. We’re still serving our underrepresented populations, our free and reduced lunch kids, our second language learners.
The general impression of Skyline over the last twelve years has completely changed. Realtors were literally telling people not to move into our area. Because you didn’t want to go to that high school and those feeder schools. And now realtors are saying, “You should go there because of the programs. And you should stay in your area because of this.” Fewer kids are choosing to open enroll out. They’re starting to stay here in our home area. We’re back to being the biggest high school in the district. So people want to stay here, but we’re also serving our community.
Parents are grateful. They’re excited about what’s going on at Skyline. I think for the most part they really trust us to do what’s best for their kids. I talk to parents at open houses that say, “Hey, my kid’s coming here but when they were six, there was no way I was going to send them to your school.” And now they say, “I’m really excited for my kid to come here.”
Every student and family deserves a chance to authentically say, “I’m really excited to come here every day.” At the schools that we profile in this book, educators are doing everything that they can to fulfill this promise to their families and communities.
Leadership for Deeper Learning, Chapter 3