At Education Forward DC, we aim to build community among DC education leaders and provide a forum for tackling collecting issues facing education organizations across the city. Last month, Education Forward DC convened school leaders from our portfolio of grantees. A central question for the day: Collectively, how might we improve our ability to develop great instructional talent to serve all DC students?
Through a series of facilitated discussions and small-group exercises throughout the day, several key themes emerged:
- Recruiting and developing great teachers and leaders is an urgent priority for school leaders. Growing a deep bench of talent is essential to sustain the city’s momentum toward improving student academic outcomes, especially as student enrollment continues to grow.
- Developing the instructional talent that schools need requires both external partners and strong internal practices. External partners can include pipeline programs from which to source talent and support organizations to provide training and coaching. Internally, school networks need dedicated teams focused on supporting professional development and talent management practices.
- Over the last decade, schools and nonprofits across the city have invested heavily in teacher and leader development. However, specific challenges remain. School leaders at the retreat discussed the importance of supporting teachers in building their capacity to serve the most underserved students, including special education students. School leaders are also focused on recruiting a more diverse staff, and improving the representation of people of color at all leadership levels.
School leaders also worked together to identify several high-leverage ideas for collective action; some of the ideas generated include:
- Increasing best practice sharing across school networks;
- Developing shared recruitment campaigns or strategies to attract teachers to DC; and
- Improving retention through citywide efforts to make DC more affordable and sustainable for educators.
Developing great teachers and leaders is one of Education Forward DC’s three focus areas, and we will use the input from this convening, as well as ongoing feedback, to regularly to inform our grantmaking and collaboration strategies.