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Leading in Education

I am summarizing the book LEADING in a culture of CHANGE to assess what Alameda can do to accomplish "Student Success -Whatever It Takes" in the AUSD Strategic Plan for 2003-2008.

Each component is summarized:

  • Summary Overview of materials presented in the book
  • Educational Examples Examples presented by author of the book
  • Implications in Alameda How the book relates to Alameda
  • Building Relationships


    If moral purpose is job one, relationships are job two, as you can't get anywhere without them. Moral purpose, relationships and orgnizational success are closely interrelated. In the case of schools, because we live in the knowledge society, need to strengthen their intellectual quality as they deepne their moral purpose.

    After presenting educational examples, the author does acknwoeldge a word of caution. Relationships are are ends in themselves. Relationships are powerful, which means they can also be powerfully wrong. Strong teacher communities can be effective or not depending on whether the teachers colloborate to make breakhthroughs in learning or whether they reinforce methods that, as it turns out, do not achieve results. The role of the leader is to ensure that the organization develop relationships that help produce desirable results.

    Schools and school districts can get tough about student learning, can use their minds to identify new and better ideas, can establish strategies and mechanisms of development. But successful strategies always involve relationships, relationships, relationships.

    Educational Examples

    In 1987, District 2 was one of thirty-two community school districts in New York City, primarily responsible for elementary and middle schools. There were a total of 48 schools of various grade configurations with an extremely diverse student population. The 22,000 students were repesented by 34% Asian, 29% white, 22 Hispanic, and 14% black.

    From 1987 to 1995, Superintedent Anthony Alvardo implemented a strategy consisting of a set of organizing principles about the process of systematic change and the role of professional development in that process; and a set of specific activities, or models of staff development, that focused on system wide improvement of instruction. The seven organizational principles of the reform strategy were as follows:

    1. it's about instruction and only instruction
    2. instructional improvement is a long, multisage proces involoving awareness, implementation and reflection
    3. shared expertise is the driver of instructional change
    4. the focus is on systemwide improvement
    5. good ideas come from talented people working together
    6. set clear expectations, then decentralize
    7. collegiality, caring and respect are paramount.

    In 1995, Anthony Alvarado became the Chancellor of Instruction in San Diego with 187 and 143,000 students. As a result of restructing, five area superintendents were replaced with a new role called "instuctional leader". Each instructional leader was responsible for twenty to twenty five schools. The expectation was that the instructional leader would concentrate soley on instructional leadership (coaching and evaluating principals) and student performance.

    Relationships in San Diego are carefully coordinated. The most direct manifestation of this are the multilevel monthly conferences. Instructional leaders conduct monthly conferences with their role and performance are continually reviewed. The instructional leaders meet monthly with their principals. The principals in turn have monthly staff conferences with teachers. Monthly conferences are closedly monitored and even videotaped for review by their follow principals.

    Selected quotes from an interview with the book's author and Anthony Alvarado:

  • ..."We started with a strong district plan."
  • ..."But to draw out what principals stand for, we want them to ask - How do I develop a culture in my school that gets people to what they can do together to help students?"
  • ..."We are creating a system for them to take responsibility, for them to understand internally how they can commit deeply to student learning."
  • ..."We ar trying to create a system to deepen instructional work with a value base that you can stay with because it reflects what you are."
  • Anthony Alvarado demonstrate tough empathy. Clearly focused on learning he knows that principals and teachers will only be mobilized by caring and respect, by talented people working togehter and by shared expertise.

    In another study of effective schools by Newmann, King and Youngs identified school capacity consisting of five components:

    1. teacher's knowledge, skills and dispositions
    2. professional community
    3. program coherence
    4. technical resources
    5. principal leadership

    The role of these five components in combination is revealing.

    Development of individuals is not sufficient. New relationships (as found in a professional learning community) are crucial, but only if they work at the hard task of establishing greater program coherence and the addition of resources. The role of leadership is to "cause" greater capacity in the organization in order to get better results (learning).

    Implications in Alameda

    What additional steps do we need to take to focus staff development on learning and creating learning communities?

    Building learning communities requires change. This article reviews the criteria us to judge the success of sustainable change.

    In this research abstract The Continuing Trouble with Collaboration, Teacher Talk barriers to effective collaboration are discussd. What similar barriers exist in Alameda? How can they be overcome?

    Building learning communities requires sustainable leadership. This article reviews some of the aspects of sustainable leadership.

    Perhaps we need to redesign the responsibilities of a principal to allow more time in the classroom so they can do more classroom observations.

    Back to Leading in a Culture of Change Summary

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    Last modified: November 2, 2003

    Disclaimer: This website is the sole responsibility of Mike McMahon. It does not represent any official opinions, statement of facts or positions of the Alameda Unified School District. Its sole purpose is to disseminate information to interested individuals in the Alameda community.