Setting Our Students Up for Success in 2020

In-person instruction? Remote? Hybrid? The options are swirling. One New Leaders alum and principal reflects on the power of our Transformational Leadership Framework to ground his leadership choices.
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In-person instruction? Remote? Hybrid? As district leaders, elected officials, medical experts, and community members debate the merits of each, principals must make the complex plans work for their school communities next year. We asked Miguel Del Toro, principal of Callaway Elementary School (K-5) in Baltimore City Public Schools, what keeps him grounded right now. “I think about how we can provide what wewould want for our own children… and what will continue to set students up for success. We can’t negotiate with that.”

A New Leaders alum, Del Toro relies on New Leaders Transformational Leadership Framework (TLF) for additional guidance and direction. Designed to spark conversation and planning for the year ahead, the TLF identifies and prioritizes the highest leverage actions to support leaders in addressing the widening educational inequities and systemic racism in our nation’s schools, while ensuring a safe return for students and staff. “Whenever I have a priority, I look at the framework to make sure I’m emphasizing and focusing on what is going to make a difference in my community.”  

For Del Toro and his team, the TLF is helping them zoom into three key areas of need: student-centered differentiation; social-emotional learning; and data and student work. He shared how our evidence-based framework, which identifies leader actions at the team, school and system levels, pushes his thinking and helps his team forge a new vision for schooling in 2020 and beyond.  

Student-Centered Differentiation. “When we get caught up with distance learning, with the computer, with Zoom, with online platforms, with mute and unmute… you can look past equity and how we support all students.” Distance learning, Del Toro adds, shifted the focus toward the delivery of instruction and away from differentiation and individual learning needs. Turning to the TLF, he considers three key actions to address this priority:  

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Social-Emotional Learning. Understanding and acknowledging student’s lived experiences—both the uncertainty and the trauma of this past year—is another priority for Del Toro and his team. Outlined in the School Culture category of the TLF, Del Toro explores leadership actions that will increase a sense of connection, belonging, and celebration:

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Data and Student Work. When analyzing data, Del Toro directs his team to address both gaps and inequitable systems. “How are the supports going to look different,” he reflects, “when we see a disproportionate number of students performing better than others?... And, are we acting in a way that leads to the different outcomes?” Using the TLF, Del Toro elevates the need for an asset-based mindset and building on student strengths. Leadership actions include:

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Whatever learning environment the next school year brings, Del Toro is determined to keep his students on the path toward college and career readiness. The TLF sharpens his lens as he leads his school community through crisis and into the promises of what is to come.  

“The framework provides us with a reminder of what is most important in this work and what matters most for students… It can be hard, but as leaders, we need to build trust. We need to build urgency for our students in what we do.”  

Download your copy of our Transformational Leadership Framework today and access more tools on our Resource Hub.

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Miguel Cervantes Del Toro

Miguel Cervantes Del Toro

Miguel Cervantes Del Toro is entering his seventh year as principal of Callaway Elementary School (K-5) in Baltimore City Public Schools. Nominated by his school community, Del Toro was named a Heart of the School Awards Honoree in 2018 for Baltimore City Public Schools principals who demonstrate exemplary innovation and leadership in building positive school culture. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in Instructional Leadership for Changing Populations.

Miguel Cervantes Del Toro

Miguel Cervantes Del Toro

Miguel Cervantes Del Toro

Miguel Cervantes Del Toro

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