Video

Partnering With Principals to Improve Instruction—Meet Julio César Contreras, 2016 Leader to Learn From

February 24, 2016 2:05

Julio César Contreras, a former teacher and principal in Chicago, knows intimately the rush of competing demands for a school leader’s time and attention. That’s why he has learned to reject the temptation to micromanage the principals he supervises in the Tulsa, Okla., school district, and to ask them for what supports they need. He has learned to listen for, and ask, what teachers and students are saying. And he has worked hard to involve students and their families in Tulsa, particularly Hispanics, who have traditionally felt disconnected from the broader school community. Contreras and those who work with him say he places a high value on using various types of data and information, whether that be creating a personalized schedule for English-language learners instead of relying on a computer, or monthly “portfolio meetings” of principals that feature videos of teachers in the classroom and robust discussions of their practices. But none of that means he glides through school hallways with his eyes glued to a spreadsheet. “Any time he’s in the building and we’re walking around, he just jumps right in, talks with students, asks what they’re doing, and he becomes part of our building,” says Josh Regnier, the principal of East Central Junior High School. This video was produced as part of Education Week’s Leaders To Learn From project, recognizing outstanding school district leaders from around the country.

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