NYCLA's Summer Intensives Prepare Aspiring Leaders Nationwide

August 24, 2015

It is one of NYCLA’s essential beliefs about adult learning that professionals learn most deeply from experience and reflection. As such, all of our programs are structured to provide experiential and group learning that promote the development of critical real-world leadership skills that are mapped back to our research-based standards and competencies.

The Summer Intensive portion of NYCLA’s nationally-recognized Aspiring Principals Program model is designed to develop the real-world skills necessary for effective school leadership through participants’ leadership of a comprehensive, interactive, simulated school that reflects the realities they are likely to face as leaders.

This summer, experienced NYCLA facilitators led a Summer Intensive for aspiring public school principals in New York City and supported local facilitators in their delivery of a Summer Intensive for aspiring school leaders in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. NYCLA also ran an inaugural Summer Intensive for a national cohort of aspiring faith-based school leaders with support from the Commonweal Foundation.

During the Summer Intensive, leaders are given a robust set of data describing a simulated school, of which they become the leader and are tasked with making decisions and engaging in dialogue about the intended and unintended consequences of those decisions. One day’s assignments might include teacher observations and writing teacher evaluations, addressing parent communications, and developing school schedules. But then the serial interruptions hit: a tap on the shoulder to report a television news crew filming outside the school, a distressed parent demanding a meeting, or a teacher suspecting a student is being abused at home.

Program participants drive the learning throughout this critical program component by engaging in these and numerous other simulations, including role plays and scenarios facilitated by program faculty. Click here to see a video of the In-Basket Activity, a hallmark exercise that requires participants to react to a barrage of requests -- emails and messages from constituents, completing a teacher observation, and participating in a role play with an angry parent – and helps them practice through hands-on experience how and when to respond.

Additionally, aspiring leaders work in project teams that maximize the diversity of experiences, opinions, perspectives, personality types and learning styles within a group. As such, leaders become accustomed to understanding group dynamics, developing interpersonal skills and learning interdependently. By the end of the Summer Intensive phase of their preparation, participants typically report feeling more confident about facing new tasks and making decisions under considerable pressure.

Click here to visit our blog and read about the perspectives of past and present APP Summer Intensive participants nationwide. In these articles, participants reveal the "aha" moments that served as catalysts for their leadership transformations. 

Click here to access “Taking Charge of Principal Preparation: A Guide to the NYC Leadership Academy’s Aspiring Principals Program.”