2013 Grants Challenge

The power in an hour: Putting time for teachers back in a principals day

If you had an extra hour in your workday, what could you do?
If you spent an hour with a coach, focusing on the most challenging parts of your job, how helpful would that be?

We seek to put an hour back into each school principal’s day – so that they can put that hour each day into one of the classrooms in their school.

For our public education system to prepare every child to thrive in college, career, and life, all classrooms must be led by excellent teachers who are consistently supported, developed, and coached by great principals.

Though responsible for supporting teachers’ professional growth and development, principals often face challenges that reduce their ability to support teachers: with the myriad responsibilities of running a school, and with budget cuts forcing staff reduction, many principals don’t have the time or the staff capacity they need to devote to this important work.

The idea to meet this challenge is simple. Connect great principals with some really sharp people - Education Pioneers Fellows - to work with them to ASSESS how they currently spend their time, REMOVE BARRIERS to using it effectively and REDESIGN their systems for managing their school so that they can FOCUS on what is critical: supporting the improvement of their teachers and the learning of their students.

In California, which ranks 49th in the country with regard to per pupil funding, both school districts and charter school organizations must operate with extremely limited resources. In districts, for example, budget cuts have reduced support staff, and an elementary school principal who may have previously had two coordinators and an assistant principal now functions as the sole school leader. While these cuts are necessary to preserve instructional programming, principals are confronted on a daily basis with urgent operational and management issues that can prevent them from getting into classrooms with their teachers.

Charter school leaders in California, who also operate with extremely limited resources, are tasked with taking on a range of entrepreneurial challenges that include building systems to support the effective management of their schools. With both district and charter schools, there is a tremendous amount of impact that can be gained by putting practices into place that keep principals out of operational minutiae and instead enable them to spend time with their students and teachers.

Providing key human capital support to both district and charter school leaders to help them redesign how they are managing their schools and free up their time to focus most on their teachers will have a tremendous impact on students. To transform the work of hundreds of principals across Los Angeles, this project will seek to:

1. Understand and improve how principals in multiple different school settings spend their time;
2. Develop, test and disseminate TOOLS that can be used by any of the more than 1000 school administrators across LA.

The end result is that principals will increase the effectiveness of their teachers through increased observation, coaching, feedback and collaboration and all students will benefit.


What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?

Founded in 2003 in response to the acute shortage of leadership and management talent in the education sector, Education Pioneers attracts, prepares, and advances top leaders, managers, and analysts to accelerate excellence in education.

Our partners include major urban school districts, charter management organizations, and nonprofit organizations. These partners hire EP Fellows to complete mission critical projects and fill important organizational roles. EP provides exceptionally valuable talent to our Partners. Over 90% of Partners indicate that they would hire their Fellow in the future.

EP has grown into a thriving national organization and since its 2007 launch in Los Angeles has supplied professional talent to nearly 40 education organizations and built a network of program Alumni numbering over 150. EP has significantly expanded the talent supply in education by connecting our Alumni to high-impact careers in education and supporting them to succeed. More than 70 percent of our employed Alumni work full-time in education.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

Education Pioneers (EP) has longstanding partnerships with dozens of organizations in Los Angeles. This project is explicitly structured to promote collaboration and knowledge sharing across the Los Angeles Unified School District, PUC Schools, Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, and additional EP partners who will be selected based on their desire to collaborate on generating replicable approaches.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?

At the outset of the project, all organizations will agree on a few unifying key performance indicators which will be measured before, during, and after the fall semester of the 2013-2014 school year. These indicators will include the amount of time a school leader spends supporting teacher instruction.

Qualitative measures of school leader and teacher perceptions on the effectiveness of the project will be taken via brief online surveys.

Finally, existing measures, like test scores, will be analyzed from year to year and compared between pilot and comparison schools.

How will your project benefit Los Angeles?

Across Los Angeles every morning, 750,000 students enter their classrooms. Each of these classrooms is led by a teacher. And each teacher should have a leader who can come into their classroom, observe their instruction and help them to grow so that those 750,000 students get the education that they need to be successful. Our LA2050 proposal will enable this to happen at a dramatically greater scale. This project will identify great ideas, develop them into tools that can be replicated, and test them for efficacy. Once they have been demonstrated to be effective they will be ready to be shared across the hundreds of schools that exist in LA. For example, a tool that saves a principal an hour a day, spread to schools across Los Angeles would translate to nearly a 225,000 hours of coaching and support for teachers in their classrooms during each school year. By 2050 this would lead to over 8 million additional hours spent developing effective educators in LA.

What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?

In 2050, principals in Los Angeles will lead vibrant communities of effective educators who are reflective and committed to continuous improvement of their instructional practice. These principals will have high-functioning systems and people in place to assure that their highest priority is providing instructional leadership to develop teacher leaders, and ensure that every child in their school is in a classroom with an effective teacher every day.