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Effective Leaders, Effective Schools: It’s a Collective Responsibility
By Lee Fertig and Sue Easton 31-Jul-14
From anarchy to alignment... Frenzy to focus… Chaos to coherence… Am I leading an effective school? School, education, continuous improvement, flipped learning, 21st century skills, formative assessments, professional development, organizational climate, change management, and much more. This is what is talked about today with regard to schools and learning; this is the great hodgepodge of ideas, labels, fads, and strategies that educational leaders must navigate, sift through, and analyze to be successful in their practice. The challenges in this navigation are formidable and, for us, include the following challenges: Does our school articulate clear and unambiguous statements of purpose and direction? Do we adhere to a set of learning principles that reflect our community’s values? Are we using appropriate data and evidence, within a well-defined improvement cycle, to measure our success against our own mission? In what ways are we assessing and shaping our school’s over arching culture of learning? How do we organize the professionals in our community into focused and collaborative teams to best perpetuate our mission? For that matter, what are the best ways to get the right people “on the bus” in our school, and develop them into exemplar educators who will stay and contribute for a long time? And, of course, how do we as leaders implement all this change as we strive for continuous improvement in our organizations? There is quite a bit here for school leaders to embrace while on this journey. So how do we cut through all of this to the essentials? As Mike Schmoker posits, “Can ... simplicity really be the elusive key to better schools?” How do we ensure focus, clarity, coherence, alignment, and authenticity in leading schools? It is only by understanding and embracing best practices in effective schools that we can guarantee our organizations are characterized by systemic and continuous improvement. As trainers for the Principals’ Training Center (PTC) we have devised a course, “Creating an Effective School,” to serve as a helpful vehicle for engaging in this work. We all need to gain deep insight into the research on effective schools, as well as the design principles unique to international schools. Most importantly, we aspiring and practicing school leaders need to leverage the very best resource out there when it comes to leading school change… each other. So whatever you do, structure it to maximize collective learning, and to build, and take advantage of, a rich professional network of international school leaders. “Effective leaders must be coherence-makers,” as Michael Fullan reminds us. And we are not going to go it alone. We welcome all school leaders to join us in this dialogue about school improvement! We are all in this business of education together… collectively, we have a responsibility to join the conversation, share ideas, and support one another on this wildly complex and exciting journey.
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