Hours this week: 4 | Total hours: 8

This week got rolling a little bit more, as I worked with Dr. H to plan an agenda for a strategic retreat that is coming up in a few weeks with some of her district’s schools. They are hoping to focus on collaborative decision-making, as well as on how they create 90-day strategic plans inside of their schools that focus on cyclical, action-based inquiry. These improvement cycles are really similar to the action research we are doing inside of our program, so I will be excited to learn about how school district teams approach this – and compare that to how I have approached my own innovation cycles.

As I move forward into the next two weeks, I will likely be spending a greater concentration of hours into this mentorship experience. One of the pieces that I do have a better understanding of, even just in these few hours so far, is how much a superintendent has to manage, and how everyday seems to be entail a calendar full of competing priorities and constituents. It’s often cliche to say that time is our most precious resource, but I can see that in the superintendent role that is even more true. Dr. H is a decisive leader and is straightforward in her feedback, and I think some of that comes from knowing that there isn’t always time in the context of 21st century school leadership to deliberate for long periods of time, and to really be able to get complete facts and information, and to get everyone inspired and on the same page, and to secure all the needed resources and commitments. So I think that’s why some of what she’s planning to do this summer with some of her school teams is build their capacity and start to work iteratively toward identity and culture change.

Reflecting on my change leadership book for the summer, Fullan’s (2001) Leading in a Culture of Change, I see how Dr. H is not trying to manage or control change, which Fullan says is a doomed mission from the start, but rather she is reculturing – working to transform the culture and how some of the schools work. By focusing on creating responsive identities to each school’s community and stakeholders, and by creating a staff that works collaboratively to take iterative, actionable strategic decisions, I think that Dr. H is working in a way befitting of Fullan’s ideas about how to understand change in a complex context.