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Fostering Future-Ready Schools

One of the things I’m looking forward to the most at AASA NCE is presenting with my Texas colleagues on how we are fostering future-ready schools in Texas. In 2006, superintendents across the state began collaborating around how to design more personalized, engaging environments for our students. They heard from thought leaders, grappled with research, and culminated their thinking and commitment into the TASA Visioning Document in 2008. This document is a declaration of what educators truly wanted for students and is focused on six specific articles including the new digital learning environment, the new learning standards, assessments for learning, accountability for learning, organizational transformation, and a more balanced state and local partnership.

In the 16 years that have passed since the start of that work, much has happened, including the launch of the Future-Ready Superintendent Leadership Network (FRSLN). This is a group of nearly 250 leaders from around the state who design and lead meaningful experiences that lead to transformational change across our districts.

A FRSLN experience is a 2-day event that is held in a host city in Texas where learning, networking and fellowship take place throughout the daytime and evening events. Each event is designed by a small team of superintendents and district leaders and each experience is grounded in one of the articles of the Visioning Document.

There are so many things that make this network special, but I’ll highlight just a few:

  • Campus Visits & Student Voice: Every Design Team works to include campus visits and opportunities to hear directly from our students. This is instrumental as leaders are able to see creative ways to design and use campuses along with an opportunity to see innovative teaching and learning happening in other districts.
  • Industry Connections: In each experience we look for ways to partner with industry leaders – not only to see how we can better prepare our students, but also to make sure we’re learning about leadership from the very best leaders regardless of industry. Some of the industry partners FRSLN has connected with over the years include Apple, Google, HEB, Gene Krantz, Mattress Mack and Milliken.
  • Examples of Transformation: We are constantly looking for examples of transformation in every context so we’ve visited places like The Pearl in San Antonio which took a dilapidated brewery and turned it into one of the most trendy places to stay and eat and shop. We visited Morgan’s Wonderland which designed and built an amusement park specifically for wheelchair-bound children. We visited many campuses that had been transformed as well – architecturally, instructionally, culturally, etc.

The most powerful aspect of the Future-Ready Superintendent Leadership Network is the profound impact the network has had on its leaders and districts and students. As a superintendent and member of this network for several years, I can see the impact of FRSLN all across the district I led – in how we designed and launched our strategic plan, in how we fostered a future-ready culture and how teaching and learning changed in our district. And so many other FRSLN leaders could say the same!

I can’t wait to help tell our story at NCE on Friday at 12:45 in Room 207C. We will have several superintendents on hand to share how FRSLN has impacted them and their districts as well as several leaders from TASA to share how we support them in this work. We will give access to all of our planning and design materials, past agendas and talk about our induction process, options for funding and how we build community within this group.

Just one more example of how to lead for student-centered, equity-focused education at AASA NCE! Come join us on Friday at 12:45 in 207C!

To hear more about the work that the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) is involved in, check out this video!

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