This year’s Coalition of Essential Schools Fall Forum, “A Conversation Among Friends”, provided an opportunity for ERC Co-Founder Wayne Ogden to convene a panel highlighting the work of four client school principals. The Forum, held on November 10-12, 2011 at The Met Center in Providence, Rhode Island, included sessions presented by national figures such as Deborah Meier, Alfie Kohn, Gary Stager, Ron Wolk, and Dennis Littky. But, the heart and soul of this annual conference remains in the numerous workshops presented by CES members and their schools from all over the nation.
The ERC workshop, “Critical Support For New Leaders” introduced the work of four Massachusetts principals, Jessica Yurwitz of the Salem Community Charter School; Karen Ghilani of the Johnson Elementary School in Natick, MA; Liz Coogan, from the Talbot Middle School in Fall River, MA and, Michael Ward of the Spencer Borden Elementary School also in Fall River. The topic was these leaders’ work with ERC partners Larry Myatt and Wayne Ogden. Panelist principals were unanimous in their agreement with current research that principals who have an experienced, external coach are far more likely to survive and thrive.
A range of additional topics were covered by the panelists but the conversation centered on expectations of the coaching relationship, challenging situations that were successfully confronted by principals and their coaches, and the general benefits and advantages of coaching support. The sitting principal panelists commended the ERC approach* to coaching services as unique and supportive, and one that provides principals an external, confidential mentor/coach who is dedicated to their success and well-being.
“For twenty-five years, the Coalition of Essential Schools (CES) has been at the forefront of creating and sustaining personalized, equitable, and intellectually challenging schools. Guided by a set of Common Principles, Essential schools are places of powerful student learning where all students have the chance to reach their full potential. Diverse in size, population, and programmatic emphasis, Essential schools serve K-12 students in urban, suburban, and rural communities.” www.essentialschools.org
* For more on the ERC approach to coaching services for principals and a summary of the current research on coaching and mentoring support for school leaders see, http://educationresourcesconsortium.com/2011/05/11/new-leader-support/