Pontfications on the field of Educational Technology and Instructional Design.

Bare with me as I ponder the meaning of education in the 21st century from the perspecitive of an instructional designer.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Smashing a District!

Oh yeah baby! Let's take a sledge hammer to a few (errr...., most) school districts out there and see what happens. Am I sadistic? Possibly. I do get a small amount of joy imaging the process, but of course I am not actually talking about wielding a sledge hammer on brick and mortar buildings. Nor am I talking about just rearranging the track options for schools. Rather, I'm talking about adminstering ecological systemic change throughout the whole district.

Ecological systemic change is defined by Peter Eckel, Barbara Hill and Madeline Green, in their 1998 American Council on Education article, On Change: En Route to Transformation, as "change that alters the culture of the institution by changing select underlying assumptions and institutional behaviors, processes and products; is deep and pervasive, affecting the whole institution; is intentional; and occurs over time." Frank Duffy, professor at Gallaudet University and author of Dream!Create!Sustain!Mastering the Art & Science of Transforming School Systems describes this type of change as transformational change that,

"creates a school system that continuously seeks an idealized future for itself; and creates a future system that is substantially different from the current school system. That is, the system must be transformed."

Of course, this type of change is easier talked about than actually done.What Duffy is referring to is examining EVERYTHING in the district and starting over with a vast majority of district employees buying in. From my perspective, this is where the job gets hard. Teachers can be very difficult to change. There is on saying that teachers joke about in break rooms that "teaching would be easy if it weren't for the kids." The saying could be turned on it's head to say, "running a school district would be easy if it weren't for the teachers."

The tension is obvious. Like the proverbial horse being led to the water, teachers can't be forced into doing anything, even if everyone knows it is good for them. Teachers must be brought on board and WANT the change. This only happens when their is a very inspirational leader at the healm of the district, and most inspirational leaders tend to seek after the money, glory, or power. Some get all three...as in the case of President Obama.

So this brings me full circle. Everyone wants to smash their local school district, only to build it back up, but who is going to do it.

chirp, chirp, chirp, chirp, chirp

Of course, not many volunteers will not be forthcoming, so in the meantime, you can ponder what you are NOT going to look for in a leader by watching and reading about Steven Sonsino's Seven Failings of Really Useless Leaders. So when we know what we are not looking for in our tranformational leader, we can begin looking for leaders who are not "really useless" that will begin the tranformation process. Ha! Let's put that on the job description. "Looking for a leader who is not really useless."

Note: This post was published as a blog response number 2 in Edtec 795B. It focuses on ch. 21 from Trends and Issues in Instructionl Design and Technology.

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