EdFuel Blog

EdFuel Blog

Introducing EdFuel’s Guide to Job-Embedded Training

Mary Mason Boaz

mary mason boaz

Mary-Mason joined EdFuel in June 2015 because she believes that students deserve the most talented, focused leaders working with them toward their educational outcomes. Prior to her work at EdFuel, Mary-Mason led the Teacher Leadership Development team at Teach For America – D.C. Region, managing a team of ten people and leading the training and development of 6 instructional coaches and approximately 250 teachers. Before taking on that role, she served as a Manager of Teacher Leadership Development for Teach For America, managing over 100 teachers and working with school leaders across D.C., Prince George’s County, and Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools.

Mary-Mason has also served as a School Director for Teach For America’s Tulsa Institute, leading a summer school program for over 500 students and managing the development of 100 first year teachers and 10 teacher coaches. Mary-Mason began her career as a 7th and 8th grade Social Studies teacher at McClintock Middle School in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Mary-Mason graduated from James Madison University with a Bachelor of Arts in French and International Affairs.

by Mary Mason Boaz, Director of Growth, EdFuel

At EdFuel, one thing we take very seriously is capacity building through talent and leadership development. Our philosophy is that we’ve got to be smart and strategic about how we retain and grow our talented education leaders (who are inside and outside of the classroom) because at the end of the day, they make the big choices that impact our students.

That’s why we are embarking on a mission to create free, easy-to-use tools that organizations can use to change the trajectory of their talent development game. To make this goal come to life, we’ve spent the past few months codifying, compiling, and generating best practices and research from across the country into a number of easy to use tools and resources.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing a series of blog posts to highlight the different tools and to help you identify how you might make them work for you. So let’s get to it!

 

Resource #1: A Guide to Job Embedded Training

What is job-embedded training and why is it important?

The Center for Creative Leadership pioneered the 70-20-10 approach to professional development, which can triple the impact on employee performance.  This approach focuses 70% of development on on-the-job training, 20% on coaching and mentoring, and 10% on formal training and self-study. In order for a professional development plan to impact employee performance, the job-embedded training portion has to be strong, aligned, and purposeful. Identifying and executing on this “70%” job-embedded project can often be challenging for managers. Luckily, that’s exactly where our tool comes in.

How to Use the Tool

The tool walks you step by step through the two pillars of quality job embedded training and what each one looks like in practice. We’ve also added in a case study that runs throughout as a guide to help you see how the best practices are applied in a real life development scenario.

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To get a better sense, here is a highlight of two components in Pillar One:

  1. Initial Project Identification

This section helps lay out the foundations so you can understand exactly what the setup of your job embedded project should be.

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2. Safety Net – What are the Consequences of Failure?

In order for a job embedded development plan to provide maximum growth for the employee, there must be a safety net as well as real consequences in place in order to create urgency and highlight the importance of the work.

  • Modest Safety Net: There need to be safety measures in place to ensure that the employee does not get overly stressed by the potential for failure.
  • Real Consequences for Failure: There is a real cost to the organization or employee if they fail on their project.
  • Employee View: Often, there is built in risk for an employee when being asked to learn a new skill. An employee may feel, if the project fails, that they will be judged as failing to gain that skill or perhaps, unable to gain that skill.  In order for the employee to feel safe enough to take this risk, it is critical for the manager to calibrate the employee’s view of the risk of failure and the safety net. Help the employee understand the manager’s perspective of consequences for failure and what the safety net is.  

Note on Organizational Culture:

  • If there is an organizational culture where risk and failure are regarded as part of the process, and are even celebrated, calibrating the employee view should be easier and may only take a conversation and a few reminders.
  • If the organizational culture is negative, or risk and failure are judged and seen negatively, the manager may have to go back to the drawing board if the employee feels like the safety net is not strong enough or the consequences for failure are too great (even if the manager does not). The bottom line: if the employee does not feel safe, they will not grow.

Example: The employee’s project is to collaborate with a fellow team member to write a $10,000 grant. They have to work in collaboration with the team member, which is their adaptive challenge, and are also focused on the technical challenge which is the skill of grant writing.

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Keep an Eye Out

Those are just two small portions of the resource! Check out the whole tool here on our website.

After taking a look, shoot us an email if you’re using the tool! We’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback. The bottom line is that taking your staff development to the next level is a completely feasible and worthwhile endeavor. If you have any ideas, questions, or feedback please reach out to me at mmboaz@edfuel.org. I’d love to hear from you!

Introducing EdFuel Tools and Resources

Mary Mason Boaz

mary mason boaz

Mary-Mason joined EdFuel in June 2015 because she believes that students deserve the most talented, focused leaders working with them toward their educational outcomes. Prior to her work at EdFuel, Mary-Mason led the Teacher Leadership Development team at Teach For America – D.C. Region, managing a team of ten people and leading the training and development of 6 instructional coaches and approximately 250 teachers. Before taking on that role, she served as a Manager of Teacher Leadership Development for Teach For America, managing over 100 teachers and working with school leaders across D.C., Prince George’s County, and Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools.

Mary-Mason has also served as a School Director for Teach For America’s Tulsa Institute, leading a summer school program for over 500 students and managing the development of 100 first year teachers and 10 teacher coaches. Mary-Mason began her career as a 7th and 8th grade Social Studies teacher at McClintock Middle School in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Mary-Mason graduated from James Madison University with a Bachelor of Arts in French and International Affairs.

by Mary Mason Boaz, Director of Growth, EdFuel

Our free capacity-building resources are now available!

What makes working in leadership frustrating?

At EdFuel, what we’ve realized along the way is that, unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet guide to help you grow your team. As education leaders we don’t have the luxury of spending time googling, finding resources from other sectors to adapt and modify, and creating our own talent development tools because there are children in classrooms who are ready and waiting to learn at the highest levels.

When I got my first promotion to manager, I was incredibly excited about leading and training other instructional coaches. I deeply believed in the talent on our team and the difference we could make. While my excitement was through the roof, my skills and knowledge on how to foster and grow the talent on our team was lacking…and it wasn’t easy to fill that gap. I spent countless hours trying to do research, create my own tools, and build the road while I walked it.

As a team, one of our goals is to do that work on our end: find the resources, interview the experts, and compile the information so that you don’t have to. Our hope is, instead of spending the time doing the research and creating your own tools, that you can use our resources and get right to the work of developing and retaining the talent in your organization.

Our Tools and Resources

For the last few years, EdFuel has worked with some of the most innovative leaders in the education sector. We’ve been able to work beside these leaders through our Peer Learning Communities, executive coaching, research teams, Leadership Labs, and other avenues. These leaders are getting results and developing best-in-class tools. They are developing their talent, retaining staff at high levels, and ultimately, increasing results for kids. We’ve taken our learnings from these leaders, as well as other research and our own experiences to create a few easy to read and implement tools and resources.

Here’s a quick overview of the new tools and resources you can find our website:

  • Sample Progress Checkpoint Agenda: A built out agenda that managers can use to guide their check-ins with employees on progress toward professional development plans.
  • How to Create an Effective Internal Coaching Program: A best practice guide for creating an organizational culture around coaching as well as best practices and samples for individual coaches. (coming Feb 2016)

We’re excited for you to be able to engage with these resources. Let us know if you’re using them and what you think. We’d love to hear questions, feedback, and other thoughts so please don’t hesitate to reach out to me, Mary Mason Boaz, at mmboaz@edfuel.org.

Getting Real About Professional Development Planning

Mary Mason Boaz

mary mason boaz

Mary-Mason joined EdFuel in June 2015 because she believes that students deserve the most talented, focused leaders working with them toward their educational outcomes. Prior to her work at EdFuel, Mary-Mason led the Teacher Leadership Development team at Teach For America – D.C. Region, managing a team of ten people and leading the training and development of 6 instructional coaches and approximately 250 teachers. Before taking on that role, she served as a Manager of Teacher Leadership Development for Teach For America, managing over 100 teachers and working with school leaders across D.C., Prince George’s County, and Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools.

Mary-Mason has also served as a School Director for Teach For America’s Tulsa Institute, leading a summer school program for over 500 students and managing the development of 100 first year teachers and 10 teacher coaches. Mary-Mason began her career as a 7th and 8th grade Social Studies teacher at McClintock Middle School in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Mary-Mason graduated from James Madison University with a Bachelor of Arts in French and International Affairs.

by Mary Mason Boaz, Director of Growth, EdFuel

Professional development gets a lot of lip service when it comes to education professionals. Here’s how we can make it real – and work.

Growth and development is happening every day across the education sector. But when it’s done right, something special happens. It feels different. People recognize it. Leaders grow. People stay. The question is: how can you get it right?

When I became a manager, I thought I was being incredibly effective. I wrote out a professional development plan for one of my employees and presented it to her. In my mind, I had a grand vision around how every interaction, task, and day would center around the development plan. It would really change the game.

Just a few months later, the plan had completely fallen to the wayside. The skills we both agreed to dedicate ourselves to develop only existed on paper. Instead, we had focused on the day to day – after all, who’s got time for a plan that sits on the shelf? Clearly, my approach was off and I needed help. I asked around, did some research, but ultimately, no one could tell me in a straightforward, simple way how to build and execute strong professional development . In the end, the building didn’t crumble. Life went on. We even picked up some skills and improved along the way when the opportunity came up. But I, along with my employee, certainly missed opportunities along the way that would have helped us become stronger, sooner.

Last year, we reported in our Hidden in Plain Sight study that 85% of systems-level education leaders cited a lack of internal career advancement and opportunities for development as the top drivers of attrition. When asked to specify the most effective development opportunities, the majority of leaders identified on the job learning and coaching/mentoring as critical to their success and desire to stay in their organizations. Not only do managers and organizations want to grow and retain their employees, but employees want it and they want it via strong on the job learning and development. And face it – the bottom line is that we’re losing staff members that we can not afford to lose.

Focusing on professional growth is like taking vitamins or exercise. Some people dedicate time every week to it. For others, it’s not even on the radar, and they simply hope for the best. Nobody’s going to say that the latter is better, but there are probably more people in that camp than most would care to admit. I’ve talked with hundreds of education leaders across the nation. My experience in the past was not unique – over and over again, the need for a simple explanation on how to create effective professional development plans surfaced. The good news is that pockets of excellence are developing across the nation, and those best practices are both easy to implement and highly effective.

Finding a Solution

We’ve taken best practices from thought leaders across the country, including Bridgespan and the Center for Creative Leadership, along with our own learnings from past experiences, and created a thorough, yet simple “How To” tool that will allow you to grow and retain your employees.

Below are Six Must-Haves for implementing Professional Growth

  1.     Define role-specific competencies
  2.     Utilize the 70-20-10 model
  3.     Ensure co-creation/Joint Accountability
  4.     Identify Measures of Success
  5.     Revisit Regularly/Build Habit
  6.     Connect to Year-End Evaluation

In addition, we’ve created easy-to-adapt templates and resources that specifically address individuals who support school and education organization offices. These tools will soon be available for the community to access.

At the end of the day, we know how challenging this can be. As a school leader, there is no shortage of needs pulling you in different directions. But that’s the great thing about professional development. Growing the skills of others on your team and staff has an immediate and lasting pay-off. But don’t take my word for it – check out Hidden in Plain Sight to hear about what people working around the nation in education are saying. And send me an email to schedule a call or demo to kick-start the conversation around development at your organization!

If you have any thoughts or questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out (mmboaz@edfuel.org)

Introducing EdFuel’s Fall 2015 Peer Learning Communities

Tiffany Quivers, Director of Learning, EdFuel

 

DC Education Professionals: Sign Up For a 2015 PLC Today!

Peer Learning Communities Are Back…And Growing…for 2015!

Last year, 50 education professionals across Washington, DC took part in EdFuel’s four Peer Learning Communities (PLC) to learn from each other, reflect, and grow their leadership skills. Based on the strong response we received, we are excited to expand to nine highly targeted, needs-specific PLCs.

Why attend a PLC?

The PLC experience brings together education leaders who otherwise may not cross paths (let alone share best practices and solve problems together). PLCs are two-hour sessions that meet once a month from October through May. Each session features expert facilitation with peer exploration, problem solving and accountability. The result? Leaders work together to build new behaviors and drive towards higher levels of performance.

PLCs work by connecting you with others who do your job – outside of your organization

Our PLCs are built on the proven 70-20-10 Leadership Development Model. According to the Center for Creative Leadership, leaders learn by doing. Therefore, leadership development should consist of 70% on the job training, 20% coaching and mentoring and 10% formal training.

During our PLCs we offer practical exercises and tools to be applied on the job. Peers join each month to provide coaching and feedback on developmental progress. We create spaces of reflection, analysis and action, furthering the learning retention and skill growth.

Bring your challenges and leave with tested and proven solutions.

Learn sector-specific best practices to improve processes and become more efficient.

Offer your personal strengths and skills so that your peers might also learn from you.

PLCs provide personal access to an expert in an intimate setting.

Critical to our PLCs are our facilitators. We partner with only the best and the brightest to lead our groups. Rather than rely on a “sage on the stage” approach, PLC facilitators work to serve as a guide, mentor, coach and most importantly, a partner in the learning process.

Check out our fall lineup, and sign up now!

Emerging Leaders

Facilitator: Mary Mason Boaz, Director of Growth, EdFuel

Data

Facilitator: Joshua Boots, Executive Director and Founder, EmpowerK12

Leaders of Color

Facilitators: Tiffany Quivers, Director of Learning, EdFuel

Offiong Bassey, Director of Bailey Sullivan Leadership

Leading through Diversity

Facilitator: Michelle Molitor, CEO and Founder, Fellowship for Race and Equity

Victoria Dunn, Leadership Development Consultant

Finance

Facilitator: Lara Oerter, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President, Operations

Operations

Facilitator: Dianne Houghton, Leadership Development Consultant, Former COO, New Leaders

Development

Facilitator: Rachel Wandell, Director of Advancement, KIPP Chicago

Talent

Facilitator: Alicia Robinson, CEO and Founder, EdPlus Consulting

Participant Testimonials

“The topics were amazing and strategic to what we all deal with in leadership.”

“The small group share is effective because it allows people to practice and receive real time feedback. This is something that I have not experienced at other professional developments.”

“I really appreciate the sense of community that we have in our PLC.”

“Learning how to capitalize on my strengths and propel my career forward through growth, reflection, and forward thinking.”

“This PLC was integral to my first year as a manager of other adults. At the times I felt overwhelmed by the responsibilities of my job, the topics of conversations and tools presented were priceless.”

“I have implemented several of the lessons taught here with my team, including Let’s Work Together, managing inboxes, and feedback.”

“I have learned about myself even more! I appreciate the classes and the investment that each of you have put in every person in EdFuel… I thank you for this organization and it was so enlightening.”

How Green Dot Used EdFuel Competency Maps to Sharpen Strategic Planning

Jimmy Henderson, CEO, EdFuel

Nithya Rajan, Vice President of Strategic Planning, Green Dot Public Schools

As a charter school operator with schools in three states and an eye towards continued growth, Green Dot Public Schools operates in an incredibly complicated environment.  Strategic planning is a core skill set for the organization – so much so that the central office has a Strategic Planning Team (SPT) of six staff dedicated to strategic planning, execution, and process design across the network.

This summer the SPT wanted to focus the professional development of their team members on how to provide better strategic guidance and support to the organization.  Building off of the EdFuel competency maps, we created Green Dot’s Strategic Planning competency map (email us here if you’d like to see their example or build your own), used it as a self-assessment tool for each team member, and began the process of designing a customized professional development plan for every team member based on his or her biggest areas for development. 

Here are three things the team learned along the way:

Talking it out helps… a lot.  The team used several hours of their annual retreat to review the competency map, discuss individual areas for growth together, and align on individual and team priorities.  It was helpful to “connect the dots” across the group and agree on a shared meaning of several competencies.  The group conversation both clarified questions and generated a higher degree of excitement and buy-in.

 somethoughts

“Resetting” baseline expectations in an open and honest way was key to a fruitful conversation around competencies and priorities

Start with development as the focus, not evaluation.  The competency map is comprehensive and very detailed – and a tad intimidating.  The team set a clear norm that the exercise was strictly about development this year, totally separate from the performance evaluation process.  That allowed team members to engage more authentically with a personal growth lens and worry much less about a negative consequence for not demonstrating mastery in such a wide breadth of skills.  And it squarely focused each team member on their own skill development –the most important goal.

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Side-by-side comparison between the EdFuel competency map’s development focus and the home office evaluation rubric

Circle back regularly – individually and as a team.  As a team, we set up a monthly check in about each team member’s PD plan in addition to their standing 1:1 meetings.  We also take care to compare the self-assessments and PD plans across the group in order to develop a team PD plan for the year – this supports each team member’s growth goals while addressing collective areas for development.

competency

Illustration of regular self and peer evaluation touch points, facilitated by EdFuel’s myBlueprint tool

Taking a team approach to skill and competency development went a long way in building buy-in and focus in a way that is non-evaluative yet still incredibly relevant to on-the-job skills. EdFuel’s free resource, the Blueprint for Success, maps competencies at all levels for talent in organizations large and small, from charter schools and foundations to advocacy groups and non-profits. To learn more about adapting this resource to build your organization’s talent and strategic systems, send a note here.

Introducing EdFuel’s Competency Maps!

In our May 2015 leadership survey of the K-12 sector, we uncovered a shocking reality: 60% of non-instructional leaders — at all levels, across all types of organizations — are planning to leave their current organization in the next three years.

We identified many factors that contribute to the retention challenge, including chronic under-investment in professional development, a lack of internal coaching/mentoring, poor definition of career pathways, and a belief that recruiting talent (not developing it over time) is the greatest HR challenge organizations face.

In response, we are launching the first phase of EdFuel’s Blueprint for Success initiative today by releasing eight competency maps that make it possible for organizations to visualize pathways and growth plans for the full range of non-instructional roles.

Developed in collaboration with the Broad Center, NewSchools Venture Fund, Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, the Bridgespan Group and 40+ sector leaders, the initiative includes seven functional competency maps (academics and instruction, advocacy, development, information and data, finance, operations, and talent) to show the knowledge, skills, and relationships necessary to manage school districts/networks. In addition to the functional competency maps, Blueprint for Success provides a separate map for cross-functional leadership skills. Each map articulates competencies at four distinct levels of seniority.

Phase two of the work will include a comprehensive report of our research findings and a pilot community of practice with 5 – 7 organizations who are committed to improving their internal talent development practices.

Our goal is to broaden this community of practice over time. Please let us know how you or your organization plan to use these and stay tuned for updates over the next couple of months!