Principal Residency

 

 

 

DenisB Dr. Dennis Littky has been a reformer, school designer and the developer of leadership programs. In 1998, after the creation of the first MET School in Providence, RI it was evident to Littky that he would have to also help develop a cadre of a new type of school leader.

According to Littky, “I watched teachers decide to pursue a principalship, then embark on many semesters of evening courses at a local college.

Typically these courses had little connection with the work they would be doing as principal. There was a gulf between theory and practice, between course-based preparation and the complexities of actually leading something consequential in the life of a school. I have no bone to pick with reading lists and theory. I just think that, on balance, people need a lot more practice in walking like a leader.”

In 1998 Littky gathered a group including Roland Barth, founder of the Harvard Principals Center; Jay Carlson, Dean of Lewis and Clark College, Elliot Washor and several practicing school principals including Tom McGuire. This group dreamed up a new model of school leadership training where aspiring principals do most of their learning in the schoolhouse under the guidance of an excellent mentor principal; the learning plan is personalized according to state standards, personal learning goals and school needs. Aspiring Principals and Mentor Principals come together for network seminars and institutes to share, give feedback and learn together. Aspiring Principals are assessed through on-the-job evaluations by the mentor principal and other members of the school community and through exhibitions.

At the core of the Residency are consequential school-based projects that contribute to the health of the school while fostering the Aspiring Principal’s leadership learning. Through this project work, Aspiring Principals “walk the high wire” according to Littky. School leadership means taking risks in their project work. AP’s know full well that they may take a fall, but trust that the safety net beneath them will prevent lasting damage to them and the community. Mentors are always close by, coaching, pushing, encouraging and sometimes pulling the plug when the risks are too high. AP’s realize they are not doing this work for a grade or a credit, but rather to positively contribute to the school community, to earn the trust of the staff and the respect of the entire community.