Monday, February 25, 2013

Implications of Change

As we travel around the state working with school leaders doing “Balanced Leadership Training” we spend several days discussing the implication of “change”  McREL’s research indicates that how we manage the change transition will impact the success or the change process.  They consider the change as “first or second order”.  One of the keys to understand change is to understand that it is not the change itself but how the change is perceived by the stakeholders that are dealing with change.

As we are in the height of flu season often we recognize  the symptoms that come along with the flu and we respond accordingly to get ourselves through the flu as quickly as possible.  High impact leaders must understand the symptoms of change, and more importantly understand the type of change they are working through, in order to lead the organization effectively through the successful implementation of that change.  Heifetz and Linsky discuss in their work the difference between adaptive and technical challenges associated with change.  Adaptive challenges require changing people’s values, beliefs, and habits.  Technical challenges can be solved through the knowledge of experts and those in a position of authority.  In Kansas we are currently working through several adaptive challenges, i.e. changes in the evaluation process, implementing college and career readiness standards, development and implementation of a QPA system based on the five R’s, rigor, relevance, relationships, responsive culture, and results.  Leaders must understand that each of these is a highly adaptive challenge, because they they impact educators, beliefs, values, and habits.  So what are the “symptoms” of adaptive challenges that leaders must recognize?  William Bridges work surrounding transitions during the change process, can give leaders key insights into the “symptoms” of change.

William Bridges in his work referred to “transitions” as the critical element to successful change initiatives.  He focused on three components.  “Ending, Neutral Zone, and New Beginnings”  Each step in the process plays an important role in adopting the change.  First we must understand the “ending” of the old ways we have always used to accomplish the task.  Remember, endings lead to denial, shock, anger, and frustration.  As we all know, it can be difficult to change.  The second phase, the neutral zone will be a time of chaos and high anxiety but it can also lead to a very creative problem solving.  Solutions are desired and a crisis may inspire great leadership and teamwork if the transition is managed correctly.  The final component is referred to as new beginnings.  It is characterized  by hope, enthusiasm and success.  As leaders we have to be intentional in how we manage these transitions with people living through the change.  Bridges calls this intentional management the “Four P’s of New Beginnings:” Purpose-explain the purpose behind the change, Picture-show the picture of what it will and can look like once the change has been successfully implemented, Plan-lay out a detailed, step-by-step plan, and Part-give everyone a part or role to play in the new beginnings.

As educational leaders we need to ask ourselves if we are leading change or suffering from change.  Lets make sure we are providing the leadership required to ensure success as we deal with changes that impact student learning in our schools and communities.

Friday, February 22, 2013

New Board Member Elections

The election is just around the corner.   The candidate’s campaigns are in full swing.   The election is critical but the preparation and hard work required to make the new board members part of the team is job one.  High functioning teams understand it is as much about building and maintaining relationships as it is about skills.  New candidates will bring skills to the board but as leaders we must take the time to build the “relationships” that ensure success.

Communication and trust are two important ingredients in to any quality organization.  Experienced board members can provide the important connection for new board members by serving as mentors.  The following excerpt may help you prepare for the transition of new board members.   It can be shared by the president and superintendent to enlist the support of your returning members.

The goal of mentoring programs is to orient a new Board member to the Board and District and to help him or her be comfortable, develop self-confidence, and become an effective leader.  Follow these guidelines to maximize your mentoring effectiveness.
1.     Be a good mentor by sharing your knowledge and experiences with others.  Take a personal interest in helping other succeed.
2.     Try to develop an informal, collegial relationship with the new Board member- explain that you are there to help.  Listen respectfully to all concerns and answer quests honestly.
3.     During your first contact with the new Board member, introduce your self and explain that you will serve as his or her mentor and are looking forward to sharing information about the Board and District.  If possible meet with the individual to become acquainted.  Be available as needed to provide assistance, advice, and support.  The Superintendent’s office will provide current policies and other pertinent data to enhance knowledge and awareness.
4.     Be prepared to introduce the new Board members at events until he or she becomes a familiar face.
5.     Be available and maintain a helpful attitude.  Your assistance will allow the new Board members to become an effective member of the Board and ensure future leadership for the District.
Being a mentor can bring rewards to you, the new Board member, and the District.  Thank you for your assistance and commitment.

KASB will be hosting New Board Member Workshops around the state in April.  It would be great to see the new members accompanied by their mentors as they being the journey.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

It is an exciting day today at KASB.  Tonight is the Leadership for Tomorrow Awards.  It is the culminating activity for the class each year.  This class has been outstanding with state wide representation.  I anticipate several alumni in attendance and it should be a great evening to visit and prepare for tomorrows Governmental Relations Seminar.

KASB’s emphasis for this program has been to: 1) identify exemplary school superintendents and board of education members from across Kansas; 2) inform them of key education issues; 3) provide avenues through which participants better understand how issues impact the state and other districts; and, 4) foster future legislative advocacy. 

The topics for the five class sessions include legal issues; advocacy issues; local and state budget issues; special education; student achievement; community engagement; technology; rural and urban issues; English as a second language; media; poverty; safety; communication; state and national trends; health issues; post secondary education opportunities; and ethics.

The five class sessions were held across Kansas in May, July, September, December and February.

Class of 2012-2013 Members:

Susan Brinkman, Emporia                              Jean M. Clifford, Garden City
Larry Combs, North Ottawa                          Nedra Elbl, Salina
Carole Farthing, Independence                       Deborah Hamm, Newton
Pam Lawson, McPherson                               Mark Littell, Winfield
Mark Polifka, Ellis                                          Richard Proffitt, Southeast of Saline
Sherry Reeves, Basehor-Linwood                  Amy Schwein, Wamego
Jerry Seim, Southeast of Saline                       Laura Umphenour, Jayhawk

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Push is on...Which evaluation system will we select?

As Dr. Moeckel indicated in an earlier post it is going to be another busy week around the state for leadership services.  Far and away the most pressing thing that I am supporting districts with right now is, "Which direction do we go with our evaluation system?"  In the past two months, I have been involved with at least 20 different sessions discussing evaluation.  In total we have discussed quality evaluation with over 500 educational leaders from around the state.  These educational leaders range from teachers and principals all the way up to KSDE personnel and board members.  The key take away from each of these sessions is that evaluation has one sole purpose, Improve the Quality of Instruction, which in turn will impact your levels of student achievement.  As we have shared with groups, quality evaluation should look like what we do with students within the MTSS/RtI process.  Establish expected outcomes, screen/evaluate where people are on their progress towards those expected outcomes, and then support the process of getting them to achieving ever higher levels of performance.  In a sense, quality evaluation is, "formative evaluation," using the data  from the evaluation process to drive improvements in the classroom and throughout the system.  So as the March 1 date draws ever closer, remember these principles as you select the evaluation system for your district.  KASB is committed to supporting you and your district through the process.  I have also linked FAQ regarding evaluation, these were compiled by KSDE.


It will be another busy week for KASB Leadership Services.  We will be working with Twin Valley, Troy, Erie, and Andover on superintendent searches.  We have McREL training in Clearwater at SCKESC.  We also have evaluation training in Newton and at KASB in Topeka as well as community meetings in Coffeyville and Renwick.  Late last week we attempted to send an update out to all superintendents about planning for the upcoming school board elections this spring.  I thought it would be good to add it to the blog for quick access start planning for the future.

Preparation for Spring Board Elections

At the Educational Summits this fall, there were many discussions about the future of public education and implications for local districts.  A common theme was a concern that there could be a large turnover in local school district board seats.

Several board members and educational leaders expressed an interest in assistance at the local level in addressing the issue of educating persons that have filed for board seats.  KASB has developed a checklist that should assist in this regard.

After the filing deadline, any person that filed would receive communication from the Board President and the Superintendent inviting them to a meeting (suggested length of no more than 2 hours) where school district issues and data would be presented.  The following list includes items that could be used in this meeting.

District Vision and Goals:
  • Assume that persons running for school board seats don’t know the existing district vision, or goals.  Take the time to explain both to the new candidates.

Student Achievement
  • Current focus on College and Career Readiness
  • MTSS discussion with focus on the “whole child”
  • Evaluation processes utilized to insure high quality instruction throughout the system

Student Demographics Profile:
  • Achievement Data
  • Attendance Rate
  • Graduation Rate
  •  ACT scores
  • Vocational/Technical participation
  • At-Risk numbers
  • Co/Extra curricular participants in district activities

  • A brief presentation on how schools are funded, specifically, base budget per pupil, weightings and the state 20 mill levy.
  •  A brief review of easy to read documents specific to your district from KSDE’s web site.  Distribution of the Budget Profile and the Budget-at-a-Glance would be good for persons who have filed.  Both of these documents for all districts can be found at

Personnel Profile:
  • Number of Administrators and the duties assigned
  • Number of Teachers and alignment to curriculum expectations
  • Number of Classified Staff

District Facilities Profile:
  • Configuration and building alignment

  • Explain the number of buildings within the district, the age and utilization of each.
  • Discuss briefly, any additional building needed in the future or potential restructuring in the use of buildings.

  • Transportation structure including total miles covered, buses/vehicles utilized, and average daily ridership.

After the election and the new members are in place KASB will be there to help you with the transition.  We will work with your new board members to build an effective “District Leadership Team”

Please inform your new board members about the opportunity to attend the New Board Member Workshops and provide the dates.

We hope to see you and your new board members in attendance at these workshops.  These are a great way to build a relationship with your board members, and give them insight into the key work of school boards.  We also encourage you to assign new board members mentors from your board to help build the bonds that create a positive board culture.  You will find our mission aligns closely with the many challenges you face in your role as the district's executive.

Pay close attention to the upcoming dates for a workshop near you.