Just as in San Jose, the pandemic has created a challenging environment for schools in Philadelphia and has required Partners to adapt our approach to supporting educators there.
One of our projects in the City of Brotherly Love involves supporting a set of eight K-8 schools called the “Success Network.” We’re helping the network’s teachers, instructional coaches, and principals become equity-focused change agents by building their capacity to implement our approach to transforming schools.
Although our focus is on long-term capacity-building, we have had to adapt to current circumstances and help educators with their immediate challenges. When the pandemic was hitting schools especially hard, principals were consumed with operational challenges such as contact-tracing, quarantining, social distancing, and finding substitute teachers. As a consequence, school leaders were unable to focus on instructional leadership as much as they would like. Partners staff stepped into that gap, touching base frequently with teachers to support their instruction and keeping principals informed of progress to help schools maintain strong instruction.
We also shifted our approach by supporting schools to include students’ voices in their transformation plans. Each school in the network is developing ideas about the causes of its key challenges and about possible solutions. Experience is showing that students and their families need to be a part of those discussions. This is partly because strategies are more successful when all stakeholders are involved in their formation, and partly because change-ideas will better withstand any post-pandemic turnover of educators if those ideas have broader roots.