Not everything we do has the same outcome.  We can only take so many steps in a day; we need to make sure they are all the right steps.

– Heidi Taylor-Eliopoulos, Superintendent, Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District

Never have the stakes been so high in education as they are today.  We need to take the variability out so that all our children get a highly effective leader who has the tools to take the right steps.  For more and more of our children, we are their chance.  We are their hope and we are the difference makers. We must have talented, highly effective leaders in all our schools.  At our national What’s Right in Education conference last summer, Heidi Taylor-Eliopoulos, Superintendent, Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District, shared how their district’s practices around leadership development have transformed their organization.

Chippewa Falls has taken the variability out.  With 5,200 students across nine schools, they needed every leader to have the same skills and be able to perform to the same degree on the district’s prioritized tactics.  Their belief: Leadership development is a priority in creating highly effective leaders.

Not only was having the tools in each leader’s tool kit crucial, so was ensuring leaders not only know how to use them but that they actually apply the tools.  Each leader looks at data and knows how to build action plans. Having the tools and using them is why it’s so important to have systems and processes in place.

Chippewa Falls’ Four Key Components to Leadership Development:

  1. New Leader Onboarding: with an emphasis on what rounding with employees is, what questions to use and how to do it.
  2. All Administration Retreat: where their leaders self-assess their needs and professional development is delivered by self-assessed expert school leaders as well as directly from the experts in the field.
  3. Monthly Tactic Refresh: a mini professional development refreshing a tactic such as, “how to have a low performer conversation.”
  4. Leader Work Plan: a highly detailed plan of when employee, parent, and student surveys and rounding with employees will happen as well as having all email templates for what to send to parents built in.

Systems and processes are in place for leadership development.  Implementing with fidelity, a narrow focus, and learning directly from the experts is crucial to leading change in Chippewa Falls or any other organization.


Laura Swann, Studer Education

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