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ERIC Number: EJ842218
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jun
Pages: 2
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0036-6439
Changing Peer Support for Superintendents
Teitel, Lee
School Administrator, v66 n6 p24-25 Jun 2009
This article describes a better form of peer support for superintendents. Old models of peer support--guest speakers, war stories, and a culture of protected and isolated practice--cannot provide what superintendents need. Today, in a major cultural change, dozens of superintendents in small groups share real problems, improve their practice and learn from each other through consultation and group problem solving. These groups have formed as the result of a conscious and concerted effort to change the culture of peer support for superintendents. Tired of seeing so many superintendents struggle and fail in their challenging jobs, Tom Scott, the executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents wanted to try a different kind of peer support. Scott and the board of his statewide association engaged the author and colleagues at Cambridge Leadership Associates to introduce Heifetz and Linsky's Adaptive Leadership framework and its embedded consultation protocol to Massachusetts superintendents. Over several years, they provided keynote speakers at membership meetings and repeated workshops to train groups of superintendents, using the structures of existing regional roundtables to help scale and spread the Adaptive Leadership ideas and the consultation approach. The combination of the consulting protocol and the Adaptive Leadership framework, offered in a supported and sustained way by the superintendent association, proved to be a powerful tool to change the culture of superintendent peer support. The common intellectual framework and prolonged diagnostic work in the consultation protocol slow down the pace of a superintendent's life and push participants into looking at root causes of problems that seem to keep recurring. Having a superintendent sit back and listen while her peers discuss her challenges, including her own contribution to the problem, helps her to separate herself from her practice and to learn and understand new ways of leading. The collective work of sharing and supporting each other contributes to the learning for all, not just the superintendent whose case is being discussed. For the superintendents involved, a profound shift has taken hold in the culture of how they work and the way they learn together.
American Association of School Administrators. 801 North Quincy Street Suite 700, Arlington, VA 22203-1730. Tel: 703-528-0700; Fax: 703-841-1543; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Massachusetts