Not too long ago, school boards hired superintendents based on their ability to maintain status quo. Measures of performance were low teacher turnover, positive satisfaction numbers, and keeping the community happy with the football team's performance. The overriding mantra for this period of time was - "If it ain't broke then don't fix it." Things have really gone in a different direction with the emphasis on "waves of educational reform" that have been happening since at least the late 60's (that is far back as I admit to being employed in education!!)
Today, school superintendents and principals have to be successful managers and leaders of change. The overriding mantra today is "If you keep doing what you have always done you will get the results you have always gotten." Einstein said it was insanity to keep doing what we always have done and expect different results.
The ultimate change guru in our current educational research base is Michael Fullan. I heard Dr. Fullan recently at the AASA meeting in Tampa. Dr. Fullan has two books out that are a good read for those of us expected to lead and manage change or for those teachers or parents who want to understand why administrators do the things they do. Dr. Fullan has updated his classic - What's Worth Fighting for in the Principalship and has a new book - Six Secrets of Change.
Just to give readers a hint at the change secrets, Dr. Fullan gave a presentation on the changes and promised a copy of the powerpoint at his web site - www.michaelfullan.ca
#1 - Love your employees - focus not only on student and customer satisfaction, but, also create schools and districts that focus on quality of life for teachers and administrators
#2 - Connect peers with purpose - top down doesn't work, bottom up doesn't work, need to have a blended and partnership approach
#3 - Capacity building trumps judgmentalism - assume staff do not have capacity to implement changes when things are not working and then build capacity
#4 - Learning is the work - for everyone... including school boards - professional development must be delivered within context and supported on the job - for every hour of PD, need 7 hours of coaching, deployment, and mentoring
#5 - Transparency - things can't be improved if we don't know about them
#6 - Systems Learn - move from systems thinking to systems DOING!! You don't change beliefs, you first change behaviors. So start doing and don't wait until you have it perfect. You learn from making excellent mistakes.