Mentoring Matters for Superintendents: December

Leadership-life Fit:

This month’s leadership-life fit continues to address our need to focus. See how focusing our attention in three different ways can build leadership efficacy, according to emotional intelligence guru, Daniel Goleman.

Maximizing Your Technology Integration/Implementation:

What is the extent of your district’s implementation of technology? This summary (and access to the full article) provides insights regarding how to diagnose your current level of implementation and how to move along the continuum toward highest levels of quality implementation.

The Challenge: Gene Hall describes the discrepancy in the use of technology from one classroom where the teacher uses the interactive whiteboard to share his/her content and students use laptops when they’ve completed their work to another classroom where students generate content using the laptops and the whiteboard, and technology is highly integrated to activate and facilitate student learning. Students’ widespread use of technology outside of school contributes to an ever-widening gap. The challenge, notes Hall, is knowing what teachers need to implement and integrate technology fully.

The Response: Getting to widespread and effective implementation of technology necessitates an understanding of the change process and an acknowledgment of the complexity of technology innovation. Change is not an event; it is a process, and people move through the process at different rates. Once change is recognized as a process and technology innovation is accepted as complex, then a district can focus on the following four questions to guide their analysis of implementation and direct their future implementation focus:

  1. How can the change process be facilitated to achieve high levels of implementation in classrooms and across a school?
  2. What factors and approaches can be applied for achieving widespread use?
  3. What is the extent of implementation with each individual and school?
  4. How do outcomes vary with extent of implementation?

To diagnose the current state of use of each implementer, Hall identifies 8 levels of use/non-use that can be used to plan and design learning to move the teacher to the next stage of use. The goal for all users is routine use, and to attain this level when beginning as a non-user can take on average 3-5 years and longer in some cases. Read more about specific interventions for each Level of Use in the full text of the article: Technology’s Achilles heel: Achieving high-quality implementation.

  The user is…
VI  Renewal Seeking more effective alternatives to the established use of the innovation.
V - Integration Making deliberate efforts to coordinate with others in using the innovation.
IV (B) - Refinement  Making changes to increase outcomes.
IV (A) -  Routine Making few or no changes and has an established pattern of use.
III - Mechanical Use                    Using the innovation in a poorly coordinated manner and is making user-oriented changes.
II - Preparation Preparing to use the innovation for the first time
I – Orientation Seeking out information about the innovation.
0 – Nonuse No action is being taken with respect to the innovation.

Innovation Configurations support school leaders and teachers in cultivating a common vision for how the technology is and can be used. Such information helps leaders (both teacher leaders and administrators) to know what to look for when they observe innovation in use.

A final aspect to consider when implementing technology (or other change) is the social/emotional component. Hall offers the following chart to help leaders diagnose where staff members are regarding their Stage of Concern about the innovation.

Stages of Concern  
6 - Refocusing  The focus is on exploration of more universal benefits from the innovation. Individual has definite ideas about alternatives to the proposed or existing form of the innovation.
5 - Collaboration The focus is on coordination and cooperation with others regarding use of the innovation.
4 – Consequence Attention focuses on impact of the innovation on students in his/her immediate sphere of influence.
3 - Management Attention is focused on the processes and tasks of using the innovation and the best use of information and resources. Issues related to efficiency, organizing, managing, scheduling, and time demands are utmost.
2 - Personal Individual is uncertain about the demands of the innovation, his/her inadequacy to meet those demands, and his/her role with the innovation. This includes analysis of his/her role in relation to the reward structure of organization, decision- making, and consideration of potential conflicts with existing structures of personal commitment.
1 - Informational General awareness of innovation and interest in learning more detail about it is indicated. Person seems unworried about him/herself in relation to the innovation. Interested in substantive aspects of innovation, general characteristics, effects, and requirements for use in a selfless manner.
0 - Unconcerned Little concern about or involvement with the innovation is indicated.

Crucial to any change effort is the leadership. Hall explains the impact of three leadership styles on implementation of innovation:
Initiators – strong sense of what schools should be like and what it should become. Will push teachers to do all that is needed to realize the vision.
Managers – focus on following rules and controlling resources. Skilled at maximizing the budget and keeping everything well organized.
Responders – focus on listening to concerns of staff. Want everyone to be happy and get along. Don’t need to do everything themselves.

Studies show initiators and managers have greatest implementation success with trends showing initiator principals as having the most success. However, each style has different implications for facilitation of change and all can be successful.

Read the full text by linking below:
Hall, G. E. (2010). Technology’s Achilles heel: Achieving high-quality implementation. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 42(3), 231-53.

6 Key Board Conversations for Collective Success:

A retired superintendent shares six targeted discussions he initiated with his board that led to sustained success in this month’s School Administrator.

  1. Keep closed sessions closed—never violate confidentiality.
  2. Attend to finances—competing interests and finite resources make for ongoing conversations about budget.
  3. Limit personnel involvement to the superintendent—each employee should have one boss. The superintendent should answer to “the board” as a single entity, and the hiring and dismissal of other staff should remain outside of the scope of the board.
  4. Help the board to expect the unexpected—with many students and many parents, issues arise daily. Keep the lines of communication always open with the board.
  5. Help the board know how to handle complaints—share with board members that showing interest and empathy doesn’t indicate agreement. Remind them that most all problems should be re-directed to the lowest level for resolution (i.e. the complainant should speak first to a teacher or principal). Most people are generally satisfied and happy—the board may not hear from them!
  6. Create and enforce thoughtful policies—“policies that allow for exceptions are guidelines not policies.”

Whether your board members are new or veteran, Enoch notes that revisiting these six discussions contribute to successful leadership and enrich the relationship of the superintendent to the board.

Enoch, S. (2013). Conversing courageously with your board. School Administrator, 70(11), 11.

Problem-Solving Strategies:

Question stems to process issues you face and help arrive at a solution.

December/January Monthly Checklist:

These lists are intended as a guide and are likely not all-inclusive! Process in your mentor-mentee team to identify other items that need to be addressed.