Hier semain, we addressed three point five solutions for school boards that would help sustain meaningful reform. Today, we tackle the school executive, the superintendent.
The school superintendent. All at once the educational ambassador to the community, and the policy advocate to the stakeholders. It's a tenuous post, often held only for a short time - but all the same, quite influential. While the $ is contextually high, and by that I mean higher than a principal, yet considerably lower for job a-likes in the private sector, the average 2.5 year stay impedes sustainable reform. Sup's have narrow windows of opportunity.
|Don't be distracted...focus!|
They say that all a superintendent needs is a majority board, and they get to keep their jobs. Bullocks. What a red herring. A very loathsome way to regard the role of an educational executive. And yet, private sector executives face the same conditions. Just ask me. I'll tell you. But perhaps some other time.
Besides the archaic board majority, what other tenants of leadership embolden the District CEO? What else can one do to keep sustainable reform on the radar?
Here are 2.5 solutions for maintaining sustainable and meaningful school reform:
- Make sacrifices - I'm not speaking of ones that proffer one's career on the altar of moral high ground, or of picking a ditch to die in. I'm suggesting that a Superintendent needs to know when and how often to say NO. Use the district's mission and vision as the foundation for no-making. If it's not an aligned fit, it's a NO. If you're not prepared to say no, you don't belong in this role. At all.
|Do you see what I see?|
- Focus - not the myopic variety. I mean the version of focus that wins back-to-back championships. As a wrestling coach, we focused on three moves, and became so expert in those 3 things, we couldn't be stopped. A mentor of mine used to tell me, "Go fast to go slow, pick two things and work tirelessly for 3 years on those until you achieve mastery." That's focus.
|Who's behind the mask?|
- Reward innovation - this takes serious and courageous humility. I think most leaders take this for granted. They have external and internal dialogue that goes, "We need creativity, we need out-of-the-box thinking". And yet when it really comes down to it, when someone doesn't think or do like the boss, buckle up butter-cup. It's the rare leader that rewards someone for thinking differently than they do.
I went easy on the Superintendent's. I have my reasons.
Take my advice, it's worth way more than you'd pay for it.
Next week we're bellying up to the table with principals. Where the rubber meets the road.