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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Transformation - not change

Pulitzer Prize winning author, James MacGregor Burns, is considered one of the preeminent scholars of the subject of leadership. This post draws on his work in the book, Transforming Leadership.

Enduring and effective organizations are proactive and transformative rather than one that simply changes and adapts to external conditions.

MacGregor explains the difference between "change" and "transformation." He states, "We must distinguish here between the verbs "change" and "transform," using exacting definitions. To change is to substitute one thing for another, to give and take, to exchange places, to pass from one place to another. But to transform something cuts much more profoundly. It is to cause a metamorphosis in form or structure, a change in the very condition or nature of a thing, a change into another substance..."

Our Shared Decision Making Team has embarked on a process that will produce  a transformation in the structure and condition of our school. The school and staff have been held hostage by a complex and unwieldy master schedule of classes (special areas...) that is based on a six day rotating schedule. This make sit difficult to plan meetings ahead of time due to the constantly changing schedule. That is, this Monday may be a Day 2 in the schedule but three Monday's from now can't easily be determined without counting out the days on a one through six format. With such an uncertain infrastructure, the staff is unable to look ahead, literally and figuratively.

A set, five day schedule where, for example, Art classes on Monday are always on Monday, allows staff members a more regular schedule whereby they can arrange collaboration meetings and conferences with parents... It also enables elementary age learners a predictable and consistent path through time at school.

Sound easy enough? It's far less challenging to merely alter labels on a master schedule in a series of incremental modifications through the years, than to engage in the intellectual wrestling and alternative thinking that accompanies transforming an organization. The former is an act of management that is cosmetic, the latter is the result of purposeful leadership aligned with a vision.

What's the difference? Currently, we are not capable of sharing staff and operating more efficiently since the other two elementary schools in our district already operate on a set schedule that is disjointed from one that rotates and changes each day. Planning meetings is a chore that defies logic and order. People can't keep track of the days in advance.

A transformation will permit us to arrange collaboration meetings (essential for us to align our efforts and improve our delivery of instruction in a coherent manner) and, by moving collaboration time to the period immediately after school, within the work day of the teachers, we can include all members of the grade level team, including special education staff, special area staff, and Reading and Math interventionists.

This move, in tandem with the group's work on using our available space more efficiently and effectively, will position us in line with increasing momentum for progress.

The Shared Decision Making Team will spearhead the commitment to ensure that the school operates in the best interests of the learners and promotes opportunities for success for all.

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