Friday, October 24, 2014

Aspiring Superintendents Workshop 2014

This past week KASB hosted the annual Aspiring Superintendents Workshop.  20 enthusiastic educational leaders were in attendance.  The day consisted of multiple learning opportunities for future district level leaders.

The morning session began with an hour long overview of the Performance and Efficiency Committee (PEC) report.  USD 512 Shawnee Mission Superintendent Dr. Jim Hinson led the discussion and review.  The PEC discussion allowed the aspiring superintendents a glimpse into the amount of information and the many tasks a superintendent must take responsibility for as a district leader.

Dr. Brian Jordan lead a guided reflection with attendees to help them see where they strengths and weakness lie as a leader.  A clear understanding of personal strengths and matching leadership skills to districts needs was emphasized and discussed.  The aspiring superintendents worked through several leadership scenarios directed at the role of the superintendent and their relationship with the school boards.  The small group discussions allowed the aspiring superintendents to share knowledge and garner new insights.   

Mr. Gary Sechrist followed up with the nuts and bolts of the search process.  Mr. Sechrist provided the aspiring superintendents insights into developing quality application letters, and resumes.  He explained the process that KASB search consultants use with the boards to determined their desired characteristics of a new superintendent, and how those characteristics are used as part of the screening process.  Participants were given key considerations as they determine where they should apply for superintendent positions and the interview process.  KASB emphasized that they work for Kansas school boards but the goal in the search process is to help each district find the best leader for their community.

The role of the superintendent requires leaders to be able to manage change, focus on leadership and create a purposeful community.  The superintendency also needs individuals that  possess the skills to manage the financial aspects of the district.    Districts in need of a new superintendent are alway searching for the best candidate to fulfill the above requirements.  The Aspiring Superintendent workshop was the beginning for many of these potential candidates to prepare themselves for the position.

Monday, October 13, 2014

What I learned at this year's KASB Summits

The past two weeks KASB has been touring the state as part of the Fall Summits, visiting with educational leaders about the Rose Capacities.  There was great discussion around improving our schools and student achievement with a focus on district needs.  Many of the superintendents and board members believed they were complying to the best of their district’s ability to provide students opportunities to meet the Rose capacities.  Participants welcomed the seven standards as a blueprint for guidance for a well-rounded education.  The capacities seemed to fit within the educational philosophy of the educators and board members in attendance.   The importance of these standards created excellent dialogue to guarantee that all students have the opportunity afforded through the Rose Capacities.

One of the topics we spent time discussing with board members and superintendents was how to properly frame a change, and target groups of influentials to increase the successful implementation of a change.  There were no surprises shared by the participants related to change.  Change is hard!  Thoughts about the change process were discussed as participants focused on changes they would like to make within their respective districts.  Common terms shared by participants that they associated with change included: exciting, new opportunities, and fun.  In contrast, others shared feelings of stress, fear, and challenging.  Interestly, these feelings align with what the research has found.  The feelings or implications associated with a change stem from the individual living the change asking,"how will this change affect me?”  A person’s perception of the change being easy or difficult is associated with the individual’s past experiences, norms of operation, personal values, and existing knowledge and/or skills.  As a leader implements and guides change they must consider how the change will be different from individuals living the change past experiences, challenges personal values, misaligns with norms of operation or will require new skills and or knowledge.  As implications arise in these areas the likelihood of that individual adopting or implementing the change decreases.  The same change will be perceived differently by different stakeholders and the prudent leader realizes that different stakeholder groups will need different supports to adopt or implement the change.  In these situations the leader must find ways to invite collaboration, provide more support, and align the purpose of the change to the overarching mission and vision of the system.   Regardless of the magnitude of the change, the perceptive leader must continue to explain the purpose behind the desired outcome, and “paint the picture” of what the change will look like when achieved.  As plans are communicated to those impacted by the change, leaders must identify for individuals or groups their part in the change process.

There is no doubt that Kansas administrators, local Boards of Educations and community influencers can make a difference in their educational system when working together towards a common goal.  The Rose Capacities can be the standards by which all Kansas school districts strive for attainment.