What constitutes an effective residency experience for an aspiring school leader? How can principal preparation programs design and sustain these important “clinical” training opportunities in the face of resource constraints?

In collaboration with the George W. Bush Institute’s Alliance to Reform Education Leadership (AREL), NYC Leadership Academy is spearheading the Residency Design Initiative, an effort to answer these questions and provide principal preparation programs across the country with guidance and tools to help them develop or strengthen residency components.

There is growing recognition that a school-based residence opportunity is an integral part of effectively preparing an aspiring principal to assume leadership of his or her own school. Much like medical residencies, where aspiring doctors work with real patients under the mentorship of experienced doctors, aspiring principal residencies provide the opportunity to connect theory and classroom instruction with practice.   This allows aspiring principals the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of essential skills and knowledge in an authentic or “real world” setting under the guidance of an experienced, successful principal.

However, implementing and sustaining an effective residency program presents many challenges. Nationally, residency programs for aspiring principals vary in structure, staffing, curriculum, and length, and many states and districts struggle with how to make residencies work.

As part of the Residency Design Initiative, NYC Leadership Academy and The Bush Institute convened representatives from more than a dozen nationally-recognized school leadership development programs, including many in the AREL Network, to begin the work of identifying the “essential elements” of effective residency programs and tools that can help inform the design and sustainability of such programs. On October 8th, NYC Leadership Academy will present the initial findings at AREL’s All-Network Convening in Dallas, Texas, with publication of a guide and tool to follow in early 2014. Follow #ARELConvenes on Twitter to access the latest information about this event.