As a leader in my school and my system, how can I be much more intentional, purposeful, and deliberate in how we work to achieve improved student learning?
This has been a theme through our work all week. Dr. Elizabeth City worked with us this morning on “Strategic, Learning-Centered Leadership,” and I think it is important to break that term down very specifically…
We need to be able to answer “Three Questions” about anything we are doing…
My own early definition of “Strategy” – a purposeful, intentional method to best achieve a specific outcome.
Dr. City offered a few ideas of her own about what “Strategy” often is…
- Placing bets (or hedging our bets)
- “The set of actions an organization chooses to pursue in order to achieve its objectives. These deliberate actions are puzzle pieces that fit together to create a clear picture of how the people, activities, and resources of an organization can work effectively to accomplish a collective purpose.” – Stacey Childress
- A few carefully considered things to focus the systems work on that when put together, create a powerful engine for system improvement
- A series of well informed, well educated bets
- Balances problem solving with pursuing a vision
- Evolves based on progress made, results and learning
- NOT everything you do
- NOT everything everyone wants you to do
- NOT a sure thing
- NOT something static
- NOT a piece of paper or wall chart
Why does strategy matter? Does it matter?
A few days ago I would have grumbled about this question. Now I would say that Strategy is a tool that I can utilize to enable staff, parents, the admin team and myself to examine and make decisions beyond emotional responses. Strategy forces us to prioritize and make choices about what to do (and what not to do!) It allows us to marshal and focus resources and help our organization to move from where it is today to the brave and bold vision for student learning. Strategy needs to be both visionary and problem solving, or where do we want to go as well as what issues do we need to fix.
Unfortunately, Strategic Planning isn’t strategic if it:
- Commits to doing too much
- Tries to respond to everyone’s interests
- Is static: doesn’t evolve based on learning
- Sits on a shelf rather than driving our work
I have been the worst one to try to cram too much in our School Development Plan and let it be static, rather than using it as a driver for focusing and enhancing our work.
Working through this, I see our team has spent way too much time on wording and work that had very little productive value for our Strategic Planning process. I want to make sure we make it:
- Targeted to improving student learning
- Short and sweet
- Easy to understand visually, like the CBE 3-Year Plan Overview chart
- Addresses identified problems but leading to realizing our vision for learning
- Everyone can relate their work back to it
- Decision making is aligned to the strategy
Sounds simple, I know. It will be interesting to see how I can help our staff look at the School Development Process differently and developing Strategy differently. This must not be a worksheet activity or a make work project for us as a staff…
Work hard, learn tons!