Ultimately, every principal is responsible for promoting school programs that intentionally address improved student outcomes. That challenge is particularly magnified in urban schools where students have ethnic, racial, religious, income, and gender diversity. The obligation of the staff to educate each student to his or her fullest potential is the subject of this article. As your leadership team and staff read the article and use the Discussion Guide below to identify and evaluate the strategies and initiatives introduced, consider how these might be utilized by your staff to increase the college and career preparation of your students.
- Reading: “How to Improve College Readiness at Urban Schools,” Principal Leadership, February 2016, pp. 36-40.
- Discussion Guide Question Matrix
- Chart Paper
- Convene the school leadership team for a discussion and exploration of ways to use strategies in the article to personalize the school college readiness experience for more students.
- Distribute links or copies of the reading to each member of the team. Encourage the participants to read the selection prior to the meeting, highlighting, annotating, and noting important points.
- Divide the team into discussion groups of 3-5. Ask each group to assign a recorder to summarize the responses to the Discussion Guide questions below. Allow sufficient time for rich discussion.
Discussion Guide Question Matrix
- As a team, discuss all the questions in the second column that are specifically related to the Reading. After this, discuss the school-based questions in the third column as they specifically relate to your school and ask your recorder to summarize the important points made.
- Reconvene the Leadership Team to debrief and summarize the discussions from column 3 in the Discussion Guide. Have your recorder summarize the discussion points for the team.
- As a team, begin to plan the process to bring the staff as a whole along in a rational and productive discussion of using the strategies in the article or adding strategies suggested in the discussion as improvements to the college and career readiness school plan. (The pre-presentation process used by the leadership team can be replicated easily for the presentation to the whole staff. Leadership team members might be assigned as facilitators or ask to circulate during the faculty discussions.)
Presentation to the Full Faculty
- Divide the faculty into groups with no more than eight participants in each. Pre-reading the article is recommended before the group discussion. Encourage the participants to read the selection, highlighting, annotating, and noting important points.
- Distribute links or copies of the Discussion Guide Question Matrix to each group member and assign a recorder. Follow the procedure above in summarizing and debriefing the group meetings.
- Ask faculty members to ignore their assumptions and to use specific reading selection examples to support their comments during group discussions. Use the prompt questions to continue the conversation in a way that is most relevant to your school, giving specific recommendations.
- Using the chart paper, have each group summarize the conversation around questions in column 3 and identify the specific strategies and initiatives that would be effective at your school.
- Debrief discussion summaries and strategies by the faculty as a whole.
- Provide time for a gallery walk with the full faculty.
- Lead a faculty discussion about the strategies and initiatives that might be effective at your school.
- Solicit one member from each group to join a planning team.
Extend and Apply
Select a meeting time for the planning team. Review the strategies and actions identified by the faculty groups in the faculty meeting. Use the Discussion Guide Planning Templates or use with initiative planning to gather information and data, identify personnel and resources, and formulate ideas to implement an effective plan or revise an existing one. The planning team should prepare for collaborative discussions and updates with administration and faculty.