Washington State school principals have a new web of support this morning. iPLN – The Innovative Principal Leadership Network – is an Abeo Change Network offering professional networking to principals and their school leadership teams.

Doing business as the Coalition of Essential Schools Northwest and Small Schools Project, the small nonprofit represented a set of design principals.  Under Andy Kelly’s leadership, Abeo has built a talented team focused on support the adult learning needs that make school change possible.

iPLN is a physical and virtual support network for school principals.  iPLN members meet four times each year in regional residencies where principals gain leadership skills and leave with a plan specific to their needs.  Onsite programs focus on creating a vision, building a team, making good decisions, and the operational aspects of running a good school.

Between sessions, iPLN members connect on Edmodo, a social learning platform (and Learn Capital portfolio company) that powers “24/7 professional collaboration, interactive coaching support, and inquiry-based problem solving around implementation challenges.”  Abeo selected Edmodo because it was easier to use than other platforms they considered, its free, and it exposed principals to a powerful platform tool that teachers could put to work.

In addition to regional residencies and the online collaboration, participants also receive six days of onsite coaching beginning with an environmental scan of each member’s school to ensure that the support provided is highly relevant.  Site specific challenges and statewide issue like the implementation of the Common Core are incorporated into leadership development and strategic planning activities.

The first cohort of about 40 Washington State school leaders will probably be grouped into four regional cohorts and will kick off this summer.

Andy quotes Ted Sizer who used to say, “that the wisdom to fix any school is in the room.” That’s particularly true if there’s an experienced coach in the room.  And with iPLN, the ‘room’ is online.

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