Charter schools fall within three main growth stages: start-up, growth, and sustainable maturity. These stages are defined by years in operation and number of students served. Each phase presents unique challenges and best practices. In this post, we’ll be exploring tips for the growth phase.
The Growth Phase
Schools within 25-85% of target enrollment are typically within the growth stage. Unsurprisingly, the theme of the growth stage is constant change—your school will look entirely different at the beginning of this stage than it does at the end. Many of the challenges of the growth stage are related to helping students succeed while scaling and staying flexible. This may sound easy enough, but the truth is, it’s a challenge for most organizations to stay flexible and resist entrenchment as they grow.
Flexibility has to be more than a mindset; it also has to be a component of a strategic plan and an aspect of your school culture. The following tips come from charter leaders who have grown beyond the growth stage.
4 Growth Tips from Experienced Charter School Leaders
- Nurture your school’s culture as much as you nurture your students.
Ultimately, culture is always a product of the people involved. It can be tough to retain quality leaders and teachers, especially because many charter schools have longer days and academic years than public schools. Teachers have to believe in the mission from the outset in order to put in those extra days and hours for years to come. It’s essential that the people you hire are aligned with your mission.
2. Prioritize continuous professional development and leadership training.
In order to have motivated staff committed to continuous improvement, professional development has to be front and center. This is also an investment in continuity. When people feel like they are getting better at their jobs and have room for growth, they are more likely to stay.
3. Focus on providing individualized instruction to your students and on data analysis.
These aren’t contradictory! Every educator knows that one of the best ways to improve the data is to meet each student where they are and provide them with the support necessary to improve and succeed regardless of your school’s curriculum and goals. Of course, school-wide metrics are the best evidence that individualized instruction is working. Review the metrics frequently, share them widely, and make them everyone’s responsibility.
4. Develop systems for your operations to maintain consistency and efficiency.
Researching, investing in, and mastering new systems is time-consuming and expensive. The efficiencies you’ll realize down the road will more than makeup for the pain of adoption.
Whether you’re just beginning the process of starting up a charter school, looking to expand, or you’re trying to prioritize your next steps, you can find many more tips like these in the free guide How to Grow Your School.
In this guide, you’ll find tips for you and your team on developing a strong charter, building culture and community support, and boosting your financing and practices to support your growth.
Download it for free here!