Juwana Foster-Wells Fosters Development for Her Teachers and Students Through Coaching
At Carroll-Rosenwald, Assistant Principal Juwana Foster-Wells is on a mission to empower her teachers and students to achieve growth.
“The greatest challenge is getting people to do things they thought they couldn’t do. I am building them up in a way that shows them that they can,” she said.
Foster-Wells credits the Leadership Bridge Program she participated in through the Accelerate Institute for various strategies she’s implemented at Carroll-Rosenwald in order to productively monitor progress. One tool she uses, “Win the Month,” helps track monthly progress across all classrooms by setting goals, and then tracking, analyzing and celebrating growth. When goals aren’t met, strategic plans are put in place for growth to happen.
Carroll-Rosenwald’s rallying cry has become, “All students will grow. We want and aim for every student to maximize their learning and meet their growth goals—nobody is going backwards. That’s the vision.”
Foster-Wells deeply believes this vision. Even when things don’t go as planned, she uplifts her teachers and students and says, “Guess what? My bags are still packed for you because I know we’re going to get somewhere.”
Foster-Wells coaches her teachers around strategic planning by using the 80/20 Rule to prioritize the 20% of objectives that are of greatest importance. She recognizes it’s easy to go astray when problems arise but, as she says: “You have got to stay the course no matter what’s happened.”
Foster-Wells’s extensive background as a literacy coach for 10 years has helped her in responding to the ever-changing needs of her school; this experience is of great value to her in getting teachers to try new strategies to enhance students’ learning experience. Specifically, she’s been working on building teachers’ craft and helping them earn their “black belt” in teaching, as she puts it.
“It’s important for teachers to know what to teach and how to teach it but also the opportunity for development.”
Foster-Wells has also diligently worked on helping teachers look at students holistically to better support individual student learning processes. By giving students the opportunity to revise their work, “meaning teachers have learned how to help students learn from their mistakes,” teachers cultivate growth.
Because Carroll-Rosenwald is split into two campuses, one mile apart from each other, Foster-Wells has had to learn how to coach from a distance. She stays closely connected with her team, especially those at the Rosenwald campus, where she spends less time.
“I make sure to schedule time for that one-one with my teachers in order to meet their needs too. I want them to share experiences with me and maintain a trusting relationship.”
Foster-Wells recognizes that times are changing. With the impacts of COVID-19, there’s a visible need for more technology integration in learning. She’s already had to learn how to stay virtually connected with the Rosenwald campus and has been building on her skills during the pandemic.
“When you think about it, high schools and post-secondary institutions utilize virtual learning — it’s not new to them. Elementary schools had to get on board with remote learning quickly in order to give students instruction during this pandemic.”
She hopes that this pandemic serves as a wake up call for all administrators, families and the communities to ensure that our students are well-equipped with how to integrate technology in everyday life circumstances when needed.
“Technology should not just be embedded in reading and math; it should be embedded in music, motions and the arts. It allows kids to analyze, synthesize and think about real world application.”
Foster-Wells looks forward to focusing her coaching on helping teachers master technology integration in all forms of learning. Technology can help engage students in rigorous instruction, as well as build time for social emotional learning, which is particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our teachers need to know how to use technology, utilize different programs and then train students and families to do it too.”
Foster-Wells is always looking for that next edge of growth. Having finished the coursework for her doctoral degree, she will soon start working on her dissertation. She hopes to take the strategies she’s learned and her 20 years of experience in coaching educators to the next level and become a principal of her own school, very soon.
“Stay on the lookout for my school. I’m confident it will be one of the best that implements rigorous education—as well as building a wide range of community relationships as well as strong parental involvement. When we all play on the same team—school, parents, student and community—we can’t help but to win the game.”