A Network Chief’s Perspective on In-role Supports

This guest post is authored by Anna Alvarado, Chicago Public Schools Chief of Schools for Network 1.

As a Chicago Public Schools Network Chief who oversees 46 schools/principals, I am a strong supporter of adult learning and providing ongoing supports for principals. That’s why I engage in The Fund’s principal-led Professional Learning Community (PLC) program and encourage my school leaders to lead and participate in it.

The idea that leaders are learners is at the core of how I approach professional development (PD) and change in my Network. In my five years in this role, I’ve found that when schools demonstrate significant growth and cultural shifts, it is always driven by this mindset.

Principals, like all leaders, have the same curiosity and interest in continuous learning, and we need to provide them with engaging PD opportunities. In my third year as Chief of Network 1, I’ve used PLCs to accomplish this.

Rather than a prescribed PD, PLCs allow principals to dive deep into issues that impact their schools and communities. Two of my Network principals – Heather Yutzy of Belding Elementary School and Manda Lukic of Beard Elementary – are working with The Fund to facilitate PLCs. While the topics differ, the overall belief that learning should be experiential and experimental continues throughout both PLCs.

Half-way through the 2015-16 school year, I can already see growth in the leaders and participants. They are sharing best practices and making significant changes to improve their schools. This experience has proven that when principals are able to collaborate and share best practices, they are able to do amazing things.