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Guest Thinkers

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


, 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


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.


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