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The Melting of <br />Windham School District’s Iceberg<br />(Book Review)<br />LaTreace M. Craig<br />PhD Student in Educational Leadership<br />Whitlowe R. Green College of Education<br />Prairie View A & M University<br />Prairie View, Texas<br />Human Resources Administrator<br />Windham School District <br />Submitted to<br />William Allan Kritsonis, PhD<br />Professor and Faculty Mentor<br />PhD Program in Educational Leadership<br />Prairie View A & M University<br />Member of the Texas A & M University System<br />_________________________________________________________________________<br />ABSTRACT<br />Our Iceberg is Melting is a fable about a colony of penguins who discover their iceberg is melting which is home to the penguins. The penguins must decide what to do about this problem they are now faced with. The solution a team of penguins decide on requires the colony to change their entire way of living. The purpose of this essay is to relate the penguin’s experience to a school district currently experiencing change within the organization as a result of the budget deficit education faces. There are eight steps for successful change. This essay guides the readers through each step relating the school district to the penguin’s experience. <br />_____________________________________________________________________________<br />Introduction<br />As educators we have always felt a high sense of job security. One of the primary reasons a career in education has always been so attractive is job security. When other careers fail you could depend on a job in education. College career counselors often steer young students in the direction of teaching or nursing with the justification the world will always need teachers and nurses. With threats of budget cuts, increase in teacher pupil ratio and the elimination of special teachers, a job in education is not guaranteed. Today there is a sense of urgency for educators to become aware of the changes education will face in the near future as a result of the budget deficit. Administrators in education must be creative and innovation in finding new methods for conducting school business and act as a change agent.<br />Purpose<br />The purpose of this essay is to relate the penguin’s experience to a school district currently experiencing change within the organization as a result of the budget deficit education faces. According to Kotter and Rathgeber (2005) there are eight steps for successful change: create a sense of urgency, pull together the guiding team, develop the change vision and strategy, communicate for understanding and buy in, empower others to act, produce short term wins, don’t let up, and create a new culture. This essay guides the readers through each step relating the school district to the penguin’s experience. <br />Set the Stage<br />Setting the stage involves the first two steps of the eight step process to successful change. In order to effectively implement change you must create a sense of urgency and pull together the guiding team. In the story, Our Iceberg Is Melting, a young penguin named Fred made a rather unusual discovery. Fred recognized that the iceberg was melting. He was careful who to share this rather unusual discover with. After much thought Fred decided to share the news with a member of the colonies leadership council named Alice. Alice convinced the other council members to meet with Fred and hear what he had to say about the iceberg melting. After hearing about Fred’s discovery Alice convinced most of the council members to act immediately; however, there were some council members who were not convinced there was a real problem, NoNo in particular. The leadership council shared the news of the iceberg melting with the entire colony creating a sense of urgency. Louis, head of the leadership council, appointed a team of five penguins to guide the colony through the difficult days they would face ahead. The five member team consisted of Louis, Alice, Buddy, Fred and Professor. Each member of the team had a different skill set which was needed to complete the task. <br />I am currently employed with Windham School District. The district faced drastic budget reductions in 2003 resulting in a reduction in force (RIF). With the state current budget deficit the district is once again facing a reduction in force. As an employee I am concerned about my position. The position I currently hold as Human Resources Administrator was one of many positions reduced in 2003 as a result of the RIF. With the potential budget reductions our organization is facing we must be prepared for changes in services, programming and staff. As of today we are not aware of a percentage reduction. The legislative session is convened in January and will conclude in May. This session has reached the twenty five percent mark but a final decision on the budget will not be made until May. As a district if would not be wise to sit around until May before making any decisions. We know we are facing a budget reduction. The question now is how much? Individuals who might be affected by the RIF have been informed. The superintendent has created a sense of urgency throughout the district.<br />The next step, pull together a guiding team, involves key decisions makers in the district. These individuals will help create and implement the RIF plan. The district’s guiding team include: the superintendent, five division directors, and four regional administrators. The five divisions are: Human Resources, Instruction, Operational Support, Information Technology and Business Services They serve as the superintendent’s cabinet. In addition to the five division directors, the district has four regional administrators who act as area superintendents for each of the four regions in our district. These ten individuals are responsible for the decisions made during the RIF process. Like the penguin colony team, members of the district team each possess a unique set of skills. Creating a team with varied experience, background, and knowledge will help ensure the success of their mission.<br />Decide What to Do<br />In the story, “Our Iceberg Is Melting” the penguins had to decide on a plan of action once they discovered their iceberg was melting and their home might not be in existence after the winter. Developing the change vision and strategy is the third step of the eight step process to successful change. The team first consulted with other penguin colonies for possible solutions. Several districts have gone through the RIF process and much can be learned from their experiences. TASB recently published an article about Fort Bend ISD’s RIF process. In the article, the superintendent for Fort Bend ISD explains their RIF policy and the process they followed during the district’s RIF. The superintendent shares appropriate actions made on the district’s part as well as actions where the district should have responded differently. <br />It is always wise to seek a solution from others who may have experienced the same problem you are faced with. In the story, however, the possible solutions sought from other colonies did not prove to be practical or effective. The penguins from other colonies suggested drilling a hole to release the water, finding a perfect iceberg, moving to the center of Antarctica, and repairing the iceberg with superglue. The team knew they had to seek a solution never tried before. In an organization you must sometimes try things that no one else has tried before, be innovative and take risks. The RIF plan WSD proposes considers a reduced school year. If the district is forced to make budget reductions as much as thirty percent, the district is prepared to change their school calendar from 220 days to 180. Reducing the number of days by 40 will save the district thousands in salaries. This is a monumental decision that requires approval from the state. Chapter 19 of the Texas Education Code stipulates the WSD will operate for 220 days per school year.<br />In the story, the team meets a seagull who was scouting for a new home. The penguins talked to the seagull and learned of their nomadic way of life. They visualized living a similar life where they would move around and not stay in the same place forever. The penguins took the idea from the seagull and adapted it to make it their own. <br />Make it Happen<br />Kotter and Rathgeber (2005) lists communication, empower, short term wins, and pressing as steps four through seven. To implement change in an organization communicating for understanding and buy in are necessary as well as empowering others and celebrating minor successes. It is important to share the vision you have for change and sell the vision with as many in the organization as possible. The team of penguins shared their new vision for the colony, living a nomadic lifestyle with the entire colony of penguins. Initially the new idea was not accepted by everyone. Thirty percent of the penguins were onboard with the new idea, thirty percent were thinking, twenty percent were confused, ten percent were skeptical and ten percent was completely opposed to the idea. In an organization percentages for individuals will mirror those of the penguin colony. This is why communicating for understanding and buy in is important, you need to reach the thirty percent who are thinking about the new concept. They have not made a decision one way or the other so it is imperative to provide them with as much information as possible in order to persuade them. The confused twenty percent needs additional clarification. By empowering the thirty percent who are onboard, they will help persuade ten percent who are skeptical. It is not necessary to focus on the ten percent of NoNo’s, those completing opposed to the new concept. As others in the organization buy in they will eventually conform. It is however necessary to prevent them from convincing others to join their side. In our fable, the lead penguin, Louis assigned the Professor to NoNo who was openly and vocally opposed change in order to prevent NoNo’s supporters from growing.<br />When undergoing change, it is important to create some success early in the process this will help keep the momentum going. Penguin scouts returned unharmed and with a good report. This produced a short term win. Many who were skeptical became convinced. WSD has designed a three tiered RIF plan. Tier I is a ten percent cut, Tier II is twenty percent and Tier III is thirty percent. Having gone through the RIF process in 2003 many employees felt the process was unfair. The new tiered plan was designed with transparency. The superintendent and members of her team are responsible for communicating the district’s RIF plan and selling it to our employees.<br />Make It Stick<br />Creating a new culture is the eight and final step of the change process. In our fable, the initial move to a new colony wasn’t easy. Change is not easy. The penguins remained faithful to their plan of moving to a new location each year. The second year the colony moved was not as difficulty as the first year. As time passes, moving will become second nature to the colony and eventually they will not be able to remember when they did not move.<br /> WSD’s RIF plan will change the way we operate our district. The plan has not been implemented. The superintendent believes in the three tiered plan the team has created and the district is commented to the plan. The new plan will create a new culture of teachers employed for 180 school days. It is important to remember that change is a process and takes place over time. <br />Conclusion<br />In conclusion, Kotter and Rathgeber illustrates how to change and succeed under any conditions through a fable about a colony of penguins whose iceberg is melting. School districts are faced with very challenging circumstances due to the budget deficit. Administrators in education must be creative and innovation in finding new methods for conducting school business and act as a change agent. Change is going to happen and in order to succeed, the eight step process of successful change should be followed.<br />References<br />Kotter, J. and Rathgeber, H. (2005). Our iceberg is melting. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.<br />