Charter schools across the U.S. are increasingly playing a role in improving student learning outcomes across the country. We know from numerous examples nationwide that extraordinary student outcomes are achievable at the individual level, even in the most challenging educational environments.
Breakthroughs in student success are possible with an even greater level of teaching talent and commitment. But successful charter schools don’t achieve growth and development on their own. An essential part of this lies in having transformational leadership and effective charter school administration structures. However, the unfortunate truth is that a large number of charter schools do not have a plan in place to enable them to optimize their management system.
Here are six ways to structure your school administration:
1. Make a Bet on a Strong Leadership Model
The first step in structuring your charter school administration is building a strong leadership model. This will be your blueprint for how the school will resource and deploy the right leadership to deliver on its core goal—to improve the quality of education. A strong leadership model should be based on three critical aspects:
- Define leadership roles and what responsibilities each leader will have
- Design a structure to be deployed to support the entire team, including teachers
- Define systems and processes for planning, observation, feedback, and coaching work
To ensure a comprehensive charter school administration model, you’ll need to decide on a high-level approach or a combination of multiple strategies to test, build, and refining roles, administrative structures, and systems. It’s important to ensure teacher and principal input so that the model can better serve the entire school system. Some level of customization is also needed so as to adopt changes along the way. The ultimate goal is to have a strong organizational leadership model that’s purpose-built to accomplish the school’s core mission.
2. Focus on Creating and Strengthening Leadership Capacity
To elevate your leadership model, you need to focus on creating and strengthening leadership capacity across the board. Although implementing such steps can be costly, keeping in mind the scarce resources that charter schools have access to, consider prioritizing on specific core roles. For instance, you can focus on developing the instructional effectiveness of your team to prepare them to take up leadership roles in the future.
Empowering teachers to become leaders is one of the most effective ways to boost leadership capacity in your charter school administration structure. For top leaders like principals, sharing responsibilities with the team is a great way to get free time to provide deeper coaching to teachers who may be struggling. By shifting your focus on strengthening leadership capacity, you get to develop better leaders and improve performance across the whole school.
3. Focus on Improving Your Teaching and Learning Model
Structuring your charter school administration is not just about creating an effective system and developing leadership capacity. You need to implement support systems that ensure teachers are observed, coached, and mentored so as to continually improve your teaching and learning model. You want to have a streamlined feedback process that provides you with richer and more actionable feedback on instruction. Your teachers are your front line in your school system, so ensuring that they get the support they need to produce better results is critical.
If teachers are to achieve more gains, they need a stronger support system and better coaching from leaders. By shifting your leadership emphasis from an evaluation-based charter school administration toward a broader support-based model, you can significantly improve teaching and learning. Implement hands-on, day-to-day coaching and support, so you can develop the skills of your teachers and give them the inspiration and mentorship needed to perform better.
4. Create Leadership Teams With a Shared Vision
A critical part of building a strong administrative structure for your charter school is building a great team and creating a reliable way in which team members can work toward common goals, share knowledge, and solve problems together. Effective leadership should be focused on providing inspiration to the entire team, breaking down barriers, building a shared commitment and capacity to facilitate better performance, and creating opportunities for leaders to work together.
By working towards one vision, you can easily build a lasting culture of shared accountability, where every team member feels responsible for the outcomes of all students. With such a model, you get to increase peer-to-peer learning on teacher-led teams. In a distributed leadership structure, it becomes standard operating procedure to collaborate so as to achieve a common purpose.
5. Empower Leaders With the Resources They Need to Lead
To address the current leadership gaps that most charter schools across the U.S. are facing, it’s important to empower leaders with the resources they need, including time and authority to lead. It’s the norm to find schools being led by a thinly stretched charter school administration, isolated teachers who aren’t growing, and too many underperforming students. How can this be changed? Adding more leaders or changing leadership is not the answer.
You need a leadership structure that sets up your leaders for success. Provide them with the time and authority they need to effectively lead a team of teachers. For instance, more charter schools are investing heavily in APs to facilitate instructional leadership and development. Even with limited resources, charter schools simply have to prioritize on what matters—great leadership, so that they can establish an end-to-end administrative model.
6. Embrace Common Best Practices
While there are different ways you can structure your charter school administration, following some of the best practices known to lead to success is advisable. As mentioned above, you need to design an initial administrative model or models that clearly define leadership roles, how those roles will be developed to support your team, and what support systems or processes will be needed. After this, you need to pilot the most effective model and refine it, gather feedback in the process, and make improvements based on what is learned.
Developing a successful administrative structure for your charter school is no easy task. However, with the right procedure, you can create a structure that drives growth and development across the entire school. Charter Asset Management works closely with schools that need help to transform their administrative management by providing the much-needed financial boost required to facilitate development or meet growing payrolls demands. If you have any questions or wish to apply for fast, affordable short-term funding, contact us at 213-335-6275.