A Cohort Model for Supporting New Heads
One of our hallmarks at Educators’ Collaborative dating back to our founding in 1971 is our commitment to supporting all Heads as they transition into their new leadership positions, with particular and extensive attention to those beginning their first headship.
Just as schools have had to reimagine many aspects of how they deliver on their missions in these extraordinary times of covid-19, we have reimagined our support for new heads of school. Mary Seppala, one of our partners, took the lead in designing a cohort model of virtual support for our newly placed heads. Anticipating the challenges of a new Head transition during a pandemic, in-person mentoring and collegial support networks have moved online.
Beginning in April 2020, supported by other Educators’ Collaborative partners, Mary invited new heads to join their colleagues in a weekly Zoom call to explore myriad issues related to the leadership tasks ahead. Some of the meetings were structured around specific topics such as building a team, finance, and working with a board. Others facilitated group discussions to share experiences, ideas, concerns and anxieties related to taking on demanding new leadership positions under less-than-optimal conditions.
As the weeks and months progressed, it became apparent that the group had grown in trust and had formed a valuable support network for each other. In the words of one member, “Since April our New Heads Cohort has been a sounding board and a sense of strength as we all stepped into our first Headships. The advice, comradery, and friendship have been invaluable and have helped me in immeasurable ways.”
We believe that this communication platform for new heads can serve as a valuable support and resource as they continue to successfully face the challenges of leadership well beyond the days of the pandemic.