Charter schools are seen as cradles of educational innovation for a reason––they often have more flexibility in the way in which they are structured, including their charter school management strategies. There is no one right way to manage your school; your approach may change depending on the unique conditions of your school, your students, and your management style.
Nevertheless, you should embrace the opportunity you have to create a school that is true to your vision –– and establish principles that help everyone achieve your school’s broader mission. To inspire you on your charter school journey, we’ve put together some transformative charter school managing tips below.
1. Innovative Curriculum
The sky’s the limit when it comes to designing and implementing a curriculum that aligns with your school’s mission. Below are some examples of charter school curriculum management ideas utilized by a variety of high-quality schools.
Technology As Teacher’s Assistant
At Summit Sierra Public School, a charter school in Washington state, students are empowered to manage their own learning. When they first enter the school, they are matched with a teacher who mentors them for their entire careers in the school. Pupils spend a half hour each day reading, a half hour doing math problems, and the other parts of their schedules are divided between taking classes online, talking with and receiving one-to-one tutoring from their mentors, and meeting with other students.
From School to Career
Started by IBM, P-TECH High School, a charter school in New York, seeks to offer each student a direct avenue to his or her chosen careers. Students are encouraged to participate in mentorships and internships in the STEM field over their six years spent at the school. While most high schools are four years, P-TECH’s program has an extra two years in which each student works towards earning an associates degree from the New York City College of Technology.
Get Your Hands Dirty
At the Brightworks School, a charter school in California, getting dirty, taking apart electronics and appliances, and using power tools are the curriculum. The dominant idea is to teach the students that difficult challenges can instead be viewed as interesting puzzles to be solved creatively with skill and tenacity. This allows the students to actively engage with the real world and see the practical applications of their learning on a daily basis.
2. Empower Your Employees
Many schools shy away from organizational models that disseminates leadership roles beyond the principal’s or director’s office. Yet empowering teachers to be responsible for their own professional development and student outcomes can fundamentally alter your institution in amazing ways.
Create incentive structures by establishing multiple key performance indicators, or KPIs, and provide pathways for salary increases and additional career opportunities for the highest performing teachers.
3. Do More With Less
It’s no secret that charter schools are often forced to squeeze water out of rocks. Some creative ideas to more efficiently manage your charter school’s resources include:
- Going paperless Some schools provide “old-fashioned” tablets––wipe-off slates––instead of paper for writing down test answers or math solutions. You can also set up blogs for your teachers to distribute homework assignments, add links to online educational resources, and provide updates to parents.
- Volunteering Ask local businesses and other community organizations if they are willing to donate overstock supplies, services such as landscaping or graphic design, books, and even meals.
- Reusing materials Teachers can put plastic sheet protectors over worksheets that students can then write on with washable or erasable pens and marker.
4. Increase Parental Involvement
As effective charter school management begins with your mission statement, parental involvement should be included in that mission if possible. This is especially true if your school is in a low-income, high-poverty, or minority neighborhood or community. Parents of minorities and low-income students often find it difficult to stay involved in their children’s educational lives due to exhaustive work schedules or challenging language barriers.
As part of your charter school management plan, you may want to include “parent teaching,” which is the process of helping parents learn how to be more actively involved in their child’s education. Empower parents to be part of the decision-making processes at your school; this motivates parents to attend more meetings, conferences, and to stay informed about how their children are performing overall.
Some innovative ways to keep parents engaged include:
- Holding drawings for prizes at school meetings to motivate attendance
- Organize pot-luck meals
- Volunteer activities, including coaching, community gardening, and bake sales
- Establish free methods of two-way communication
- Ensure your newsletters are multilingual
- Send out parental satisfaction surveys
- Have teachers post details about learning objectives
- Ask qualified parents to serve on your governing board
5. Enhance Teacher Recruitment
Another big piece of the charter school management pie is your faculty recruitment procedure. After deciding what skills and disposition your quintessential teacher should have, you have to go out and find him or her. Your search can span the globe; there’s no reason to confine yourself to looking only at applicants who are geographically close.
Hiring foreign teachers is a growing trend as schools struggle to find diverse, qualified candidates. Many schools point to this charter school management tip as a lifesaver, and there can be a number of benefits to hiring teachers from overseas.
Often, international teachers are highly motivated and highly educated (it’s not uncommon for education professionals overseas to hold one or two master’s degrees). This means students receive the benefit of being taught by experts in a variety of fields such as STEM or foreign languages.
Teachers from other countries can also be helpful for teaching students whose first language is not English. Also, everyone at the school will benefit from greater awareness of cultural diversity.
Managing In the New Millenium
Implementing cutting-edge management ideas for charter schools can create better opportunities for students to learn, teachers to improve, and your school to thrive. Your management practices will likely evolve over time, but if you’re willing to be flexible, think outside the box, and listen to feedback from your charter school community, you’re bound to find your way.
As your school grows, you may find that you need financial assistance for facilities expansion, a growth in enrollment, or operational funding. At CAM, we have a range of funding programs to meet your needs. Contact our team today to learn more.