- Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools
Collective Efficacy: The CHCCS District Leadership Team
The CHCCS District Leadership Team (DLT) meets once a month, and their first meeting of the 2022-23 school year took place on September 13 with a full agenda and a mix of veteran district leaders, as well as newly arrived or newly promoted principals and division directors. Most public school districts create district leadership groups, yet few parents or even staff know about their work and purpose. But as Superintendent Dr. Nyah Hamlett shared in her recent Community Update, “These are the leaders whose experience, insight and creativity set the tone in their schools and across the district.” The DLT’s actual work together might be largely unseen by most of our community, yet their shared wisdom and problem solving result in positive impacts on students and staff throughout the school year and in every school building. As a team, they offer a powerful representation of our core value, Collective Efficacy!
The recently adopted Strategic Plan 2027: Think (and act) Differently recognizes the importance of Collective Efficacy - everyone working together toward the same goals - so the DLT meetings are an important part of this, allowing CHCCS top administrators to collaborate together, learn together and engage together. Throughout the year, DLT will continue to align its work with the Strategic Plan and the vision, mission and core values contained within.
In welcoming everyone to the meeting and the new year, Hamlett acknowledged and thanked “the people you were in your buildings, the AP’s and others who keep things moving in your absence.” Assembled that day were a number of principals who were once AP’s in the district, including three who are in the first weeks in their new positions.
“As a first year principal, I truly find it extremely beneficial that our District Leaders set aside time for us to come together to learn and discuss as our own Principal PLC (Professional Learning Community),” McDougle Elementary Principal Kirtisha Jones said. “I truly appreciated the opportunity to hear from CHCCS District Leaders at all levels, and have the opportunity to talk more directly at the end with just the elementary principals who had very valuable insight, feedback, and advice that benefitted each of us. This was another great opportunity to show that our district truly is walking the talk around our core values, and I felt our DLT was a perfect example of collective efficacy in our work.”
The full team is made up of central office administrators including Cabinet members, executive directors and directors, as well as all 20 district principals. Many DLT members have built their careers as educators in our classrooms and schools, before reaching their current positions; a wealth of district knowledge and history inform their observations and reflections. There has also been a new influx of leaders from other districts in the state and the Southeast bringing different perspectives and their own histories to DLT discussions and activities.
After a few “housekeeping” reminders and updates, the more focused collaborative work began. Several presentations by DLT members were made on different topics with an overall goal of integrating knowledge and perspectives towards strengthening student learning and success.
Deputy Superintendent of Teaching, Learning, Systemic Equity and Engagement Dr. Rodney Trice noted that district leaders all learn from each other, as well as from other educators and community members outside their team, “those skilled at creating, acquiring and transferring knowledge. DLT is an opportunity to transfer knowledge, to strengthen our schools,” Trice said. He encouraged everyone gathered to focus on developing cognitively demanding tasks, ones that target exploring the process over naming answers. “What if we can talk about ‘learning leaps’ instead of gaps and losses?” Trice asked. He then circulated a handout with a “demanding task” for the participants to solve collaboratively at their tables, which in fact, required 10 minutes of note taking and calculations and very few quick responses.
After a lunch break, afternoon sessions took place among Principal and Division Professional Learning Communities to address issues related to their specialized domains – the cross-district collaboration and sharing continued but in more focused conversations.
One takeaway from the morning was a notable sense of genuine respect and enjoyment experienced by members who might only see each other at the monthly meetings. Some had been good friends for years and others were meeting each other for the first time. There was plenty of laughter mixed in with plenty of dedicated work, and the fruits of their collaboration will be experienced in our schools in the months and years to come.