Leading Change

There have been many different conversations recently about
issues and concerns with technology, leadership, and education. See example 1, example 2, example 3, example
4
, and example 5. Sorry for the
simplicity of the links to those examples but it is past my bedtime:)

 

I think the solution to address those issues in school
districts begins with a superintendent who is future thinking, collaborative,
and open to the possibilities that exist. I frequently hear from district and school administrators who are
overburdened with the complexities and demands of NCLB, reduced funding (for
Title programs, among others), and trying to lead learning communities in difficult places. It is easy, and
sometimes understandable, for administrators operate out of a myopic vision of
the here and now. That of course leads
to other problems like the narrowing of the curriculum and throwing the
advancement of technology out the window. On paradigms: you see it because
you believe it means that you have to get people thinking of the possibilities
rather than staying trapped in the problems of today. School districts will not move forward
without people beginning to think of the possibilities. Reeves has a point in saying that action
drives belief (see previous post) (it is certainly reinforcing) but if you are in a place with no action, complete stagnation,  then you have to begin with beliefs (like finding
that hope for the future) or in people’s beliefs that there can be a better
way.  A solution begins with a
superintendent with a broad, deep, compelling vision of what a school district
should be all about including and especially technologically. The next part involves leading from the fine
line of trying to get everyone on board versus telling everyone what to
do. Leading from either extreme will
prove fruitless. You can’t wait for
everyone to get on board in order to create change, but you have to get a
critical mass that is willing and excited to move forward in creating a new
reality. The task of moving an entire
district involves tapping into the passions and ideas of many, many
people. That is where the idea of a
collaborative plan comes into play. It
will take you to systemic reform. That
is the type of plan I talked about yesterday.

 

I would love to hear from you:

What leadership paradigms do you think it takes to create
change in a school district?  What would
you do if you were the superintendent of a school district that has lost its
relevance?

 

A final thought (from an earlier post on this site)(I just had to replay this one):

 

If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance
even less.
                        – US Army Chief
of Staff Eric Shinseki

 

 

Posted by Steve Poling.

4 Responses to “Leading Change”

  1. The constant stream of thought in administration in our area seems to be on the current year and at most the next one. The only concern is how do we get through this current time. The paradigm shift has to occur in planning and preparation. Do we have programs in place that would make our kindergarten students successful when they graduate? If we do, then more than likely we are behind the times because things change too quickly. The programs in place might be beneficial for 3 to 5 years at most. Then they become outdated, our kids fall behind the world. We must have a continuous, open discussion within our school communities from the ground level to the highest administrator about what we can do to continually improve our program offerings for our students. Sometimes it is a facilities issue and other times will be a curriculum and instruction issue. Identify the area and work to improve it. Do not let the naysayers of change stand in the way. Get buy-in throughout and make a move. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen good program opportunities be dismissed and turned down because the teacher for that area was also a coach and just did not have time for it. So the kids suffer the academic loss. What are we here for?

  2. “We must have a continuous, open discussion within our school communities from the ground level to the highest administrator about what we can do to continually improve our program offerings for our students.”

    Exactly!

  3. So the next question is…. How do we make administration start the conversation?

    I’m a teacher. I have higher aspirations for our students than our administration. They only see test scores. I lead more special projects, programs, and instructional experiments than my admin ever thought about starting in their cumulative careers. Yet they give very little credence to what we do. No substantive change occurs as a result regardless of the successes and accolades the students receive. If I weren’t so hell-bent on making things better for my students (if no others), then I would just settle back and coast teaching only what I am told to teach. But that is not what makes great students. It only makes checkers at the grocery store and Wal-Mart.

    How do we get our school leaders to lead? Where are all the visionaries in education?

  4. Scott, Those are excellent questions and the ones that we should all be asking of our school leaders. We have to demand better for the kids. Think of this conversation as a two way street. Engage school and district administrators in the conversation, get involved in district tech committees, building leadership, and other opportunities to be involved. Hopefully you have a healthy school district culture that will hear your voice. We need educators such as yourself to be a strong voice for what students need in our schools and you are right, it is much, much more than focusing on test scores. Getting your leaders to lead starts at the top with the school board then to the superintendent overseeing building principals but it also comes from the community with their high expectations. Keep being hell-bent and advocating the best for the kids! Hopefully your district will recruit, train, or attract visionary leaders; They are out there.

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