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April 2-4, 2016
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ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show

2016 ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show

Learn. Teach. Lead.
Get the tools to put it all together at this can't-miss education conference—with more than 200 sessions and five inspirational keynote speakers.

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New Leaders for New Schools

Taking Up the Challenge of Urban Schools


In a 10-column series in ASCD Express, New Leaders for New Schools' cofounder Ben Fenton writes about the leadership practices, structures, and attitudes that are helping a number of challenging urban schools forge a new school culture that can foster higher student achievement.

To offer readers a full overview of New Leaders for New Schools' innovative approach for training school leaders, ASCD Express will be adding the columns below as they are published.


#1 First, Believe in Students

Those leading urban schools need an unwavering belief that the children they serve can succeed at high academic levels. 


#2 Seeing the Big Picture

Pursuing school improvement requires that school leaders recognize change occurs over multiple stages—not overnight. Each stage demands a different set of actions that build on prior work to move a school from chaos to excellence.


#3 Supporting Teachers

Teachers matter. Research has repeatedly verified that teacher quality has a greater effect on student achievement than any other school-based factor. 


#4 Forming Aligned Instructional Leadership Teams

Principals cannot lead schools to make breakthrough achievement gains on their own: the support of an aligned instructional leadership team is crucial.


#5 Hiring an Aligned Instructional Staff

Highly effective principals treat the recruitment and selection of teachers as a uniquely powerful opportunity and a sacred responsibility to effect change in students' lives.


#6 Building a Culture of High Aspirations

Effective principals, especially in high-poverty schools, usually take the lead in ensuring that teachers, parents, and students themselves make the crucial connection between students' day-to-day schoolwork and their long-term aspirations for college and careers.


#7 Living Codes of Conduct

Turnaround schools can promote a culture of high expectations and high achievement by first developing a schoolwide code of conduct that adults and students consistently count on and live out.


#8 Data-Driven Instruction

Many schools are using data to drive instructional practices. But what exactly does data-driven instruction look like, and how can schools use data effectively to increase student achievement?


#9 The Most Valuable Resource Is Strategic and Creative Use of Time

Principals who've made dramatic improvements in student achievement give special attention to how they use the school calendar and weekly schedules: they allot time to support their school's most important learning goals.


#10 Successful Principals Promote a Shared Vision of Education

Innovative leadership rests on solid relationships—between principals, teachers, students, and their families—so that principals can foster a school culture that leads to breakthroughs in student achievement.