ERIC Number: EJ1047994
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Reference Count: N/A
In the Maelstrom of American Independent Education: A School Leader's Guide to Chaos, Change, Competing Agendas, and the Dilemmas that Won't Go Away
Valentine, Stephen J.
Independent School, v73 n3 Spr 2014
Today, independent school leaders operate at the fault line of pundits, parents, teachers, staff, students, board members, researchers, consultants, and more. They need to lead key constituents while weighing constituent expectations. They need to know how to sift through the increasing flow of evolving practices, research, and viewpoints regarding what matters most for their schools. How do school heads and other key school leaders manage well in such a landscape? First, it helps to realize that many people working in other industries feel the same way--and that the broader conversation can inform their approach in schools. The Aspen Institute's Communications and Society Program recently released a report that can help educators map the territory. Assembled by David Bollier, a writer and speaker on issues related to the commons (the cultural and natural resources accessible to everyone), this report reflects the insights of a wise and robust group of thinkers regarding the "broader economic and social implications of an economy being redefined by new networks, behaviors, and rules." Not surprisingly, the group expressed some common refrains. John Clippinger, cofounder and executive director of ID3, a research and educational nonprofit, said, "It doesn't even make sense to get a Ph.D. in certain fields because the skill set is obsolete by the time the person finishes." Likewise, John Seely Brown, cochairman of the Deloitte Center for the Edge, personalized the issue by saying that "about every 18 months to two years," he has to "completely reinvent the skills and practices" he uses. In other words, leaders in this climate need to prepare themselves and their institutions for "periods of constant two- or three-year cycles of change." It's not enough to work an idea through its phases, Seely Brown says. "We have to be able to pick up new ideas all the time." The idea that school leaders should "pick up new ideas all the time" can act as a powerful focusing agent for school leaders. Mission statements are the guiding light, but how they deliver on these missions has been changing steadily in this promising but complicated new century. School leaders should first acknowledge that these forces exist, and then aim to use them to energize and steer their work. The author suggests three approaches to be considered for managing change: (1) Focus on growth; (2) Run controlled experiments; and (3) Ensure that teams are well networked. When school leaders connect with others, stay open to ideas, and embrace inquiry, they can move fluidly through the maelstrom of these modern times, turning up solutions that help them improve schools.
Descriptors: Administrator Guides, School Administration, Governance, Educational Practices, Administrative Policy, Administrative Principles, Stakeholders, Teamwork, Collegiality, Experimental Programs, Educational Improvement, Change Strategies, Educational Change, Leadership Effectiveness, Institutional Characteristics, Elementary Secondary Education
National Association of Independent Schools. 1620 L Street NW Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 800-793-6701; Tel: 202-973-9700; Fax: 202-973-9790; Web site: http://www.nais.org
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A