T.W. Browne Middle School, Dallas ISD
My responsibility as the administrator over the 6th grade has challenged me to grow in terms of teaming. Each year I have learned and grown in my understanding of the crucial competency of building effective teams.
For example, early on, I attempted to shoulder the lion’s share of cultural responsibilities for the 6th Grade. I was leading morning huddle, monitoring hallways, addressing discipline issues, regulating lunches, and rewarding student achievement. It soon became apparent that I could not and should not continue such a top-heavy approach. On one hand, my approach was not sustainable in terms of time and energy. On the other hand, I learned that around me were others who were clearly capable of sharing in many of these responsibilities. However, I have had to grow as a team leader in order to activate the abilities of other staff members.
Now, I am much more intentional about seeking out the skills of various staff members. I am learning that building my connections with staff, foster connections among staff, distributing leadership, and developing leaders, is crucial for the success of complex organization like an urban middle school.
As administrator over the science department, I have led our students and teachers to double digit gains in Passing Rates for two consecutive years as well as doubling of our Advanced rates for two consecutive years.
This success has resulted from a few strategic foci. Many of my science teachers are new to the profession. Yet they were able to lead our students toward significant academic growth. I have worked with them on developing their data-driven instructional skills, lesson planning abilities, collaborative planning, formative assessment practices, and lesson delivery skills. As result, our teachers and students continue to grow.
To maximize my influence as an administrator, I would lead my teams to provide personalized learning (PL) for our scholars. With extant and developing technologies, we now have the unique opportunity of customize academic support to the needs and interests of each and every student. Personalizing learning through Blended Instruction, Competency-Based Learning and Project-Based Learning are ways to ignite student motivation and accelerate academic growth.
As I implement personalization and network with other PL practitioners, my hope is that PL best practices will be brought to scale across the district and beyond.
Michael Gayles is the Assistant Principal at TW Browne Middle School in Dallas ISD. He is a Cohort 3 graduate of Teaching Trust’s Aspiring Leaders Program.