We need to remember the ultimate goal of our work: children who are able to enjoy success--academic, social, artistic--in our schools. This is an important goal, one that is difficult to realize as school districts are complex organizations affected by numerous factors. Further complicating your job as the district leadership, you are removed from the day-to-day interaction with students. We will talk about some of this complexity today and give you some tools to help you with your work. Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, spoke at the National School Board Association’s annual meeting in San Diego. He said, the adults need to set aside their own wants and desires and do what is best for kids. There are a whole lot of reasons why we need to get really serious about addresses the challenges in public education today.
How do we develop trusting relationships?How do we manage conflict?
The KnowledgeWorks Foundation has created a Map of Future Forces and developed this list of drivers of change. You can googleKnowledgeWorks to see an interactive version of the mapGrassroots Economics No longer economies of scale Economies of relationships Peer-to-peer self-organizing systems Anyone use E-bay—no central authority Wikipedia—as accurate as the Encyclopedia Britannica Openness MIT courses online Procter and GambleRejecting mass offerings You can design your own Mini-CooperHow does this work in public education when we have to consider standards? There is a tension between what is happening in the economic world and what is happening in the policy world of public education Social Networking People want to self-organize to create shared experiencesMoving from Information Age to Connected AgeMySpaceFacebookMeet Up Often no real apparent purpose beyond self-organizingThese sites can and have been used for organizing MoveOn.org Grassfire.org—700,000 people signed a petition that derailed immigration legislationThe latest social networking option—Twitter (look at the TED video to see how this works) What collective actions can educators, parents, students take?Kids want to connect. How do we do this in school while keeping them safe? How can we make schools reflect the world our kids live in when they are outside of school? Strong Opinions Strongly Held Polarization, multiple ideologies Congress, legislatures, Creationism, other social issues We often see only the either/or Can further isolate us CNN, msnbc, Fox News—validates your opinion How can we find common ground in this cacophony? We see this in the debate over Arlen Specter’s change in party. Sick Herd Ecology term—environment is no longer able to sustain a population Compromised health The Swine Flue outbreak is the latest health issue to emerge. But we have had a series of these. A few years back it was bird flu.Chronic illness Asthma Diabetes Depression AllergiesHealth needs to be managed every day. What are the implications for education? Urban WildernessIn the United States, 80% of the population lives in urban areasCities are becoming extreme Social cities—contingent on a creative knowledge base Feral cities—no social services or safety net, corruption, violenceWhat is the impact on public education in these extreme environments? Are we creating a divided society? Chicago as an example. End of Cyberspace No separation of virtual and physical Technology becomes embedded in our environmentPhysical space enhanced by technologyMap—Mapquest—GPSI can get a text message from the Madison Metro telling me of weather-related delays. What does this mean for public education?What do we do with this information? How do we use it to inform ourselves, district staff, and our communities about what we need to do in our schools? These are dramatic changes. How do schools keep up with this environment? I don’t have the answers. I am putting this out there for you to think about. Maybe you take this back to your community and talk about it with your board and with others in the district and community.
Twenty years ago, when I moved to Minnesota, the per capita income of Wisconsin and Minnesota were separated by a few dollars. Today, the gap is $4000 and grows wider every year. The population of the two states is similar which means that Wisconsin is significantly poorer in relation to Minnesota.
When we look at the education level of the populations we see another disturbing picture: Minnesota has more citizens with baccalaureate degrees. And I know some will argue that many of those come from Wisconsin, that we actually educate our citizens but that they don’t stay here, the result is that Minnesota is better positioned to respond to the drivers of change. Why is it important to understand these drivers? Because we need to rethink the way we approach the challenges we face in our state and in our schools.Minnesota 34%, ranks 5thU.S. Average 27%Wisconsin 25%All of these statistics are related to one of the most troubling in Wisconsin—we have one of the worst achievement gaps in the country.In addition to the moral obligation we carry to educate all children, there are strong economic reasons for addressing the achievement gap. The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in American Schools reports that the achievement gap “imposed on the United States the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession. If the gap between black and Latino student performanceand white student performance had been narrowed, GDP in 2008 would have been between $310 billion and $525 billion higher, or 2 to 4 percent of GDP. The magnitude of this impact will rise in the years ahead as demographic shifts result in blacks and Latinos becoming a larger proportion of the population and workforce.” Wisconsin has one of the biggest achievement gaps so it is not a stretch to say that our state feels this pinch more than others. This economic impact is one reason state and federal policy makers have entered into the education arena.Solving this problem will not be easy.
The problems we face require more skills and different ways of approaching them. Traditionally, we tend to take a rational approach when it comes to thinking about how to solve problems. It looks something like this, following a set process whereby we gather and analyze data and use this data to formulate and implement a solution. Yet….
The problems we face today are not only complex—they are wicked
Wicked problems don’t follow the rational pattern. Instead, it is an iterative process, where we continue to learn about the problem as we attempt to develop the solution. We learn we need to go back and gather and analyze more data as we formulate a solution. As we attempt to implement the solution, we further learn and have to make adjustment, maybe returning to the data gathering stage as we further refine what we know about the problem.Solutions are not right or wrongThere is no stopping ruleEach problem is unique and novelYou don’t understand the problem until you have developed the solutionWicked problems have certain characteristics that make them wicked. It is not simply that they are complicated that problems are wicked. Wicked problems do not have right or wrong solutions; no easily discernable end; are unique and novel; and perhaps most importantly are not easily understandable.A problem can be quite complicated yet be relatively tame. For example, putting a human being on the moon was a complicated process but it was not complex, not a wicked problem.In education, we have a number of issues that can be created wicked.Crime and violence in our schoolsClosing the achievement gapConnecting with the public
Part of the reason we have had difficulty addressing these kinds of issues is that we think we need to apply technical expertise to address them. If it were that simple, we would have already solved issues like the achievement gap. Instead, the challenges require adaptive change.For example—on the surface, making evidence-based decisions might seem like a technical change. However, deeply embedded in this practice is the need for adaptive change. There are all kinds of values and traditions in the old way of doing things. What happens when you try to change report cards? What happens when we talk about linking teacher pay to achievement? What happens when we talk about moving resources from class size to professional development? All of these decisions require a shift in the way we work—adaptive change.Adaptive change is culture change. And we need different kinds of leadership to address adaptive change. Effective leaders understand that command-and-control doesn’t work when you are attempting adaptive work. This is where the hard work resides. For example, focusing on individual students, differentiated teaching and learning, is very different than the mass education system that was created, and still exists in many places, today. What are some of the issues we face in trying to change the model?As you work on adaptive change you will find yourself in the whitewater.
As governance team members, you are the keepers of the organizational culture. You shape it.You maintain it.You may have to proactively shift it.
Well-functioning, successful teams usually have chemistry that can’t be quantified. They seem to get in a virtuous cycle in which one good quality builds on another.This is what I call creating more energy than you use. DanMulhern, author of Everyday Leadership: Getting Results in Business, Politics, and Life, calls it “putting energy on the grid as you lead with your best self.”
Rethinking leadership: why it is important<br />Deb Gurke, Director of Board Governance <br />Wisconsin Association of School Boards <br />January 14, 2009<br />
Distinguishing Technical from Adaptive Challenges<br />
Creating and Sustaining Positive Culture<br />Beliefs – Values – Norms<br />How we act towards each other<br />
The Challenge<br />How do we operate as a team <br />so we can focus our energies <br />on student achievement ?<br />
“Well-functioning, successful teams usually <br />have chemistry that can’t be quantified. <br />They seem to get into a virtuous cycle in which one good quality builds on another.”<br />Jeffry Sonnenfeld,<br />Harvard Business Review<br />September, 2002<br />