By Darren Hudgins and Nancy Mangum  | @dhudgins @nmangum

In recent years, the role of a principal has been gaining recognition as among the most challenging and important roles in all of education (NASSP, 2013). Among their myriad of responsibilities, principals are expected to now lead their schools through a transition to personalized and digital learning. In order to lead today’s schools and manage change in their building a leader must create a vision, establish expectations, plan for ongoing teacher training and allocate resources to support the transition. School leaders are a critical component in ensuring the success of this transition and because of this The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation and OETC have partnered to create a principal learning experience like no other because we believe that the best leaders are learners!  We understand how important it is for principals to have time away from their schools to participate in learning events that are designed specifically for them so we created The Leading Schools Summit.  

At its core The Leading Schools Summit brings school leaders together to support them as they examine how to manage complex change and provides them with unique and practical opportunities to prepare and support teachers as they lead efforts that further the use of personalized learning in their schools.  The first Summit was held in Raleigh, North Carolina in November 2016 with attendees from nine states.  After the overwhelming success of the first summit, we wanted to expand the reach and so we selected Boston to host the second Summit.  

Leading Schools Boston, took place in August 2017, and provided principals with this unique and practical opportunity to prepare and support them as they lead efforts that further the use of personalized, blended, and digital learning in their schools. Participants were selected to participate in Leading Schools Boston through an application process.  The Boston cohort consisted of school leaders from 10 states, primarily from the New England area but from as far away as Oregon and Tennessee.  With a focus on leading change, participants in Boston experienced networking and collaboration opportunities with administrators from around the country; Practical models and strategies that they could use in their school community; Tangible examples of innovation in the field of higher learning and business; and Access to mentor leaders who served as a guide for participants as they explored opportunities to solve  a problem of practice that was unique to their school through a human centered design approach.  

I appreciated the talent and personalities of each of the leaders that presented to us. The wisdom, resources, tools, and narratives were rich and filled with insight I can use at my campus and in my personal and professional practice. I also appreciated the open ended facilitation that took place with each of our activities–really pushed us to learn authentically. Additionally, the visits to Google and Nuvu Studios was robust with ideas for strengthening innovation, design thinking, and creating atmospheres that make work more enjoyable.

~ Principal, Leading Schools Boston Summit

The culmination of the three day Boston event gave leaders an opportunity to pitch their challenge to their mentor and peers and receive feedback and suggestions from the group to help them better approach their challenge from a new lens.  While the summit was only three days participants will stay connected through their small groups and through learning opportunities that will be offered to them throughout the coming year.  The Leading Schools Boston Participants are now part of a national network of remarkable school leaders, striving to transform their schools. Follow the conversation using  #leadingschools on Twitter.  

I found this to be an amazing 3 days filled with laughter, learning, inspiration, networking, and meaningful moments. It has truly helped to shape me as a leader and motivate me to continue to grow and empower growth!  

~Principal, Leading Schools Boston Summit

2017 Leading Schools Boston Cohort

*Leading Schools Boston was supported by MAPLE and The Nellie Mae Foundation.