Building Networks: Establishing a K-8 Middle School Network: Learning, Leadership and Leveraging
Boston Public School Superintendents & Principals

Our second virtual class session features staff from the Boston Public School District.

The session on April 17 will include:

Elliot Stern, Academic Superintendent, Boston Public Schools
Carrie Maille Hickey, Assistant Academic Superintendent, Boston Public Schools

Jeffrey Slater, Principal of the Curley K-8 School in Jamaica Plain

Full bios can be viewed here

Boston Public Middle School's Approach
Boston Public Middle Schools have established the “K-8 and Middle School Network” that includes thirty schools, a level support team and Elliot Stern and Carrie Hickey. The concept of a “Network” implies a strong relationship between professionals who are courageous and honest in their ability to surface struggles embedded in the challenges faced by school leaders charged with improving our schools and student performance. We function in a constructivist manner; this work requires us to make all forms of our data public and to develop trust within the group. The idea here is to create a helpful model. A model that is not based on what an individual authority figure or expert knows, but one that strengthens us as school leaders individually and collectively as the network becomes a high-functioning community of practice. To be sure, our Network will not be a place of “show and tell.”

Our Network learning takes the form of inquiry groups, learning walks, generating case studies, crafting and implementing action plans, reflecting and debriefing. In our Network we want to model collaborative efforts that we expect to have in our schools and mirror the possibilities for learning and leadership in the context of accountability.

The Leadership Challenge
The Network will focus on two key areas to our work: (i) instruction and (ii) leadership. Ultimately as principals and district leaders, our work is to create a learning organization to improve our schools’ instructional core and student performance. The challenge rests with identifying our problems of practices and drilling down what we observe to a granular level in an effort to more precisely determine what leadership moves will have the greatest leverage.

As the Boston Public School K-8 & Middle School Network has progressed, a key challenge that has emerged involves the manner and approach that the Principal determines the school’s Instructional Problem of Practice (IPOP). We have observed that developing an IPOP is crucial initial step that has great influence in how: (i) the Principal participates in the instructional rounds and (ii) the school’s ability to articulate criteria for the IPOP and take strategic action. For background and an overview on instructional rounds, please read "Improving Teaching and Learning Through Instructional Rounds," an excerpt from the Harvard Ed Letter (
HEL_Rounds_April 2009.pdf). ( You may wish to visit for additional Harvard Ed Letter articles.)

After getting some background information on the rounds cycle, please look at the following materials specific to the presentation on April 17.

Additional Presentation Materials:

Link to Boston Public Middle Schools

Virtual Session with Boston Public Middle Schools
To learn how to connect to this virtual class session click here.

If you missed the live virtual session, a recorded version of the event will be available here.

We welcome your questions, comments, thoughts about
Boston Public Middle School's network both before, during, and after the virtual session.
Please click on the discussion tab at the top of this page or click here to participate in a discussion forum about the district's network learning approach.
What do you think about the Boston Public Middle Schools approach?
How do these ideas connect to the work you do?
Do you have ideas or suggestions about how Boston Public Middle Schools could address some of their leadership challenges?
Other thoughts or questions?