Activity Guide

Lessons from Leading Diverse Schools

The May 2012 issue of Principal Leadership offers a unique opportunity for school improvement teams to learn from the experiences of other successful schools and apply that knowledge in their own schools. Ten MetLife Foundation-National Association of Secondary School Principals Breakthrough Schools are featured in this issue—six middle and four high schools that have beaten the odds by improving the academic performance of each student and closing the achievement gap for diverse subgroups. These schools have changed the school culture to value the contributions of each student as well as diversified instruction and provided rigorous instructional programs with support for every struggling learner.

One way to use this discussion guide is to have the teams at your school—instructional, departmental, leadership, and faculty subgroups—each read the profile of one school and share the improvement strategies and initiatives with the faculty as a whole. This activity will highlight two of the featured 2012 Breakthrough Schools—one middle and one high. After identifying your faculty groupings, have each group read “Bloomfield High School, Diversity Spurs Growth” or “Woodbridge Middle School, Getting Better Together.” Both schools were challenged with diverse populations and both embarked upon a journey to change their culture to support each student. If you work in a high school and are tempted to omit the Breakthrough Middle School profile, or you work in a middle school and are tempted to omit the Breakthrough High School profile, reconsider. Each of these school profiles is filled with wonderful actions and strategies worth discussing with your staff.

Each team should examine the successful practices of their assigned Breakthrough School and discuss which actions and strategies will support your school improvement plan. Share your discussions with the faculty as a whole. Finally, utilize the planning tools in this guide to help implement new actions from the discussions.


Reading: “Bloomfield High School, Diversity Spurs Growth,” Principal Leadership, May 2012, pp. 20–25.

Reading: “Woodbridge Middle School, Getting Better Together,” Principal Leadership, May 2012, pp. 76–80.

Collaborative LeadershipPersonalizationCurriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
Document specific instances of how collaborative leadership practices were instrumental in leading the school improvement changes.What strategies from this Breakthrough School profile can our school adopt to develop high-performing leadership and instructional teams?Document specific examples of personalization strategies that resulted in positive changes in school climate, the engagement of every student, and the academic performance of each student.What personalization strategies from this Breakthrough School profile could be implemented at our school to engage students in their own learning and improve their performance?Document specific examples of how the school improved academic rigor, differentiated and improved instruction, and used assessments to improve student mastery.Which actions from this Breakthrough School profile could we implement at our school and what protocols must we put in place to ensure that those best practices will lead to both increased rigor and mastery for every student?