Unintended Learnings

Sometimes what you don’t plan to learn is what really sticks. 

Liz and I just finished our first year working with seven extraordinary school teams in High Tech High’s Education Leadership Academy (ELA). Last week, the program culminated with Presentations of Learning where each team exhibited the leadership project they designed and launched at their schools. All teams shared a goal to strengthen deeper learning and equity in their schools. But every project was profoundly different in design—some represented whole school change, some targeted a particular practice or question—and all had a unique focus aligned with the team’s interests and their students’ needs.

"A Little Less Fish in the Bowl and a Little More Cat in the Hat"

Just a couple of weeks ago, Sarah Goldin, a friend, teacher, and partner to us in innovation received a distinguished teacher award. In this video, she reminds us of why great teachers matter so much, and she pushes us to understand what it means to do this work with students well. No need for me to summarize, because it's all here. Listen closely to this amazing talk celebrating all adults who are willing to be "a little less fish in the bowl, and a little more cat in the hat." Fast-forward to 4:40 for her speech!  

Choices that Define Us

This week was one of those moments when everything came together. So often, it feels like I (and my colleagues at GLP) have been out on a limb—carrying a message that seemed hard to grasp, or if understood, somewhere too far to go for so many schools. On one hand, the change conversations stimulated by Most Likely to Succeed and HTH GSE’s Education Leadership Academysurrounding deeper learning, equity, and school reimagined, are compelling; however, on the other hand, the hard work of making change happen may feel too high stakes for traditional school communities. “Blowing up” the status quo would be impossible within entrenched systems. Ah, but this week! This week I felt like the message about change has been delivered, has arrived, has been heard. And I saw this arrival, this fruition of an idea, in person here in Connecticut. Still it was humbling, too: the realization of the moment, the coming to life of a new way to learn for students, teachers and a community.

Why We Created the SPI

The past year has been a whirlwind at GLP. Almost exactly a year ago we were getting ready to fly out to Park City for the premiere of Most Likely to Succeed at the Sundance Film Festival—an exciting debut after two years of working with visionary people. While at Sundance, we spent a lot of time with members of the High Tech High team and agreed to come and visit in February. Since then, we’ve been out to San Diego five times and are on the faculty for High Tech High’s Education Leadership Academy (ELA) and why that is important (and relevant, we promise) is because that program model is where the inspiration came for our Strategic Planning Institute.

The Right Strategic Choice

Remember always that the grand business is not to look dimly into the future but to do what lies clearly at hand—Thomas Carlyle 1829

I have not worked on my blogging lately because, well, I have been busyyou know, traveling, talking to and working with people, reading papers and articles, walking and thinking with the dog. However, with some time back in South Carolina after my last trip, it seems a good idea to consolidate some of my work experience and current thinking with another venture into the blog-o-sphere, or wherever these things go.

How to Identify and Empower Your School's CPO

This is the second part of a blog series focusing on the importance of investing in people for the sustainability of independent schools. Here is the link to part one: People Matter Most: One Solution to Education Disruption!

Identifying people with high potential to lead is challenging in any organization, but it’s the secret to sustaining a strong culture. When we do organizational assessments in schools, we often find that the biggest vulnerabilities relate to the absence of a clear strategy for recruiting, developing and managing your most valuable asset—the people! In every case, we discover where espoused values of the school don’t match practices or operations, often due to gaps or misalignments in the assignment of people to critical roles, which creates a “cultural dissonance” that everyone can feel. But how do you identify the right people for the right roles, and which people are best suited to develop others for a broad range of organizational needs?

Four Challenges

This is the last part of a blog series focusing on the skills required for headship in today's changing world. Here are links to part one: The Competent Leader, part two: The Good Communicator, part three: Being the Decider, and part four: The Meeting Culture.

This summer I have written on a variety of issues associated with good headship in schools, particularly but not exclusively independent schools. Part of this project stems from the urging from friends that twenty-four years of heading a school deserve some reflection, but perhaps a larger part comes from discussions with current heads of school and others in the independent school world who are in the thick of school leadership and its many challenges. With roughly a thousand headships turning over in the next five years, it seems essential to develop a body of thought on school leadership that can speak to the practical issues in this significant generational transition.

GLP Summer Reading List 2015

Here it is! GLP’s summer reading list is ready to go--whether at the beach, in your office or snuggled up, we think you’ll find these books are as entertaining as they are inspiring and informative. And all are highly readable. We hope you enjoy these books as much as we did. Please let us know what you think! And if you missed out on our list from last summer, check it out here.

Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential within us all - Tom and David Kelley

One Marine Commander’s Insights on Leadership: Implications for School Leaders

One Marine Commander’s Insights on Leadership: Implications for School Leaders

My neighbor in South Carolina is Brian W. Foster, a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Marines, responsible for 720 Marines and oversight of a complex air base. Brian has seen combat duty in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as operated within the hierarchy and bureaucracy of Washington, serving our country with courage, intelligence, loyalty and distinction. Last month, after a 21-year career, he officially relinquished his command.