Blackboard groups 2 and 6 will contribute to this page.


· Leaders need to be able to change the learning cultures of schools and teaching practices themselves

· Leaders have to engage others in the change process and in turn, will continue to promote changes and accomplishments of the group

· Leadership competencies are not something people are born with but can be learned

The key building blocks to effective leadership include:

  • Communicating a Compelling Vision... and Backing It Up With Concrete Goals
  • Nurturing a cohesive community of committed professionals
  • Capitalizing on personal operating systems
  • Knowing What Educational Excellence Looks Like and Insisting Upon It
  • Following up relentlessly
  • Controlling Your Environment; Don’t Let it Control You
(This was from the Edison model Charter school Leadership framework )

· Enhancing emotional intelligence of the individual leader and the group can be done and must be done to accomplish sustainable reform.

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Discussions on Educational Change

Discussion 1

I teach in HCPS and our school has both a vision and mission. I could only locate the vision: "After we succeed we move on to excel". This is on all inner school postings but that is the end of the vision. Our school has no buy-in for that particular vision. I was told that a previous principal came up with the "catchy slogan" and said that was it. We have since gotten many new faculty members with a new principal and it is certainly time to revise the vision of the school.
At no point in the previous school year did the vision become the force behind the decisions. We looking to enforce change it is imperative that all stakeholders believe in the change. So many times in education, the change is handed down and there is no time for the change to develop deep roots. Often the change is revised long before there has been any evidence of the success of the program.
Our school is not led by the vision that is posted. Many people would not be able to recite the vision to you. Research says that to move forward with any type of change the vision must be clear. I work in a school that is one year away from being taken over by the state and we have implemented every change imaginable, yet at no point have the changes been successful because there is no mission guiding the ideas.
As a county we need to look to a vision and mission statement to try to unify the county and create common ideas for the changes that are ahead.

Response 1
Jayme, it is interesting to see that HC schools do not have visions and missions aligned with the county's mission and vision. In BCPS, EVERYTHING is aligned with the Blueprint for Progress which is built around the mission and vision. You stated that "often the change is revised long before there has been any evidence of the success of the program" and I really have to agree. Look at Balitmore City Schools. The CEO has changed 6 times in the past 10 years (I believe that is correct) and they are wondering why they aren't seeing the changes they want to see...something to think about?

Response 2
I really do agree with you that stability is key to enforcing change. When I first started work at the school that I am at right now, we had a new principal every year for two years each with a different version of the vision of the school and ultimately no sustained change but for the past three years we have had the same principal and there has been significant changes since then.

Discussion 2

In Baltimore county we have been using school improvement plans for as long as I have been there (7 years). I have worked in a school that almost never discussed the school improvement plan let alone follow it. My current school reviews the plan twice a year as a whole to make sure goals are being met. BCPS is changing the policy on these plans to make them last for three years instead of one year. This make less work for schools who rewrite them every year, but can make the goals a little too hard to achieve or remember. I think as a leader it is the principals job to make the document important to the staff. If the principal treats it as if it is an afterthought so will the staff, and if they treat it like it's a policy driving document so will the teachers.
That same thing goes for almost anything else in a school house, what is important to the leader will be important to the school. Provided the leader reinforces the importance of the rule, document, subject, sport, ect... This sets the school culture. The following paragraph explains the importance of culture on teacher very well.
School culture also correlates with teachers' attitudes toward their work. In a study that profiled effective and ineffective organizational cultures, Yin Cheong Cheng (1993) found stronger school cultures had better motivated teachers. In an environment with strong organizational ideology, shared participation, charismatic leadership, and intimacy, teachers experienced higher job satisfaction and increased productivity.
It creates a cyclical effect. When teacher are happier and more productive students enjoy being in classes more and will in turn be more productive, thus raising the school culture.

Response 1

Jamie, I think you make some really good points in your post. I actually just got back to my office from a SIP meeting. One of the comments that was made was that plans should not have changed that much from last year as they were based on a two year plan. The fact that your school does meet as whole to review the document is fantastic but that is what it is meant to be, "a work in progress." You also commented on the fact that it is the principal's job to make the document important and I think that he/she does that by including the staff on the analysis of data, drafting the plan, putting the plan in action, and then revisiting it periodically. This allows the entire staff to feel like it is their plan rather than just the principals. This goes back to the whole meaning of shared vision.

Response 2

I do agree with you that the principal sets the tone for whatever happens in the school. In my school my principal has set up a school planning and mangement team that meet once a month to review the school improvement plan and the minutes sent to all faculty which I think is one way of making everyone in the school involved in setting the culture that is in the school.
I strongly believe that it is truly a collective effort even though the leadership sets the tone, the teachers and all faculty have to be on board for the plan to work.

Response 3
I couldn't agree more with the idea that the school culure determines teachers attitudes towards their work. I find it funny though, because in business, if the boss says to so something people do it. Only in education do we feel we need things justified for the job to get accomplished. I think sometimes teachers need to understand that principals have directives for them and sometimes just need cooperation from their faculty.

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