50. Concerns Arise About Too Much Too Fast

Rebecca is a serious change agent with exciting and creative ideas. Moving many innovations to the forefront. An organizational overload. 

People cannot process new ideas so fast Especially when new methods attack the comfort zone.

Mary’s prep as a teacher is significant. She knows the elements of the new learning infrastructure.

Barbara seeks new ideas and practices to become part of her professional persona.

Bryon is a layperson and patron of the district. Intrigued with new ideas but essentially a product of tradition. Knows the system with its pluses and minuses.

Bryon maintains a satisfactory personal and professional life. He serves the community on the board of education.

Bryon believes the current system may not need to be replaced. But he keeps an open mind.

As a district superintendent, Ken has learned to think and act conservatively. He does what he can to modify processes IF they can be justified to improve the quality of student learning.

Ken is “steady at the helm,” effective in finding compromises. Able to remain in his position longer than most superintendents. Steadily moving to more prestigious leadership roles.

He hired Rebecca as assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. She impressed both Ken and the board with her intelligence, professional insight, credentials and enthusiasm.

However, Rebecca is beginning to make Ken nervous. The decision-making and action-taking model makes sense and is certainly inclusive. She is the person behind it.

But Ken thinks it is time to spread out the source of ideas. Get more people involved in discussions. He makes his point emphatically in the next meeting.

Ken Calls for a Slow Down

As superintendent, I am enthusiastic over the wealth of ideas pouring in and being reviewed. But I know from experience we will need to press the “pause” button. We can’t get carried away with too many ideas.

I said to Rebecca, “This thing is getting too far in front of the other stakeholders, even those on the Communication SAC. I am impressed with your ingenuity, suggestions, and proposals.

“You are clearly focused on how we can sell the key elements of the new learning infrastructure. Good job in examining teacher prep, how teachers can be held accountable.

“But let’s take a deep breath. Review what has been accomplished. Determine how to spread the good news.”

Rebecca said, “You’re right. I’ve been a bit too aggressive and with a limited number of people. Let’s ask Barbara to call a meeting of the Communications SAC. Start by reviewing their decisions. Introduce some of my newer ideas.”

“Good idea,” I said, “but let’s summarize what has been discussed. Think through where we stand. The Communications SAC is ready to go with designing a curriculum meant to be mastered by all students. Let’s leave behind the emphasis on summative pencil and paper tests, with traditional grading systems.

“Accepting the value of formative assessment is huge. That approach requires trusting teachers to draw conclusions about student progress using their own criteria and issuing accurate reports. Those reports must be accepted as valid by all concerned parties.

“The other dramatic shift is moving away from the idea curriculum should remain separated into traditional subject areas. Our language arts morphs into communications, and must regularly merge with technology with heavy doses of practicality.

“We tell our public we are not interested in aligning our curriculum with current language arts standards. While that is only partially true, it is enough to gain their attention.”

“You’re right,” Rebecca responded. “By using the ideas of the new learning infrastructure, we move dramatically afield from the usual. Some people will question our sanity. Won’t understand the mechanics of the lesson plan resource or mastery statements.”

“Yes,” I said. “Your Teaching/Learning Mastery Profile is a work of art. But many teachers will have trouble creating and using it. Our district’s stakeholders may not buy the idea as a replacement for high stakes test scores.”

Rebecca shook her head. “Should I feel despondent?”

I convinced Rebecca her efforts were valid. As a superintendent my emphasis is on collegial decision-making. But occasionally we reach a decision-making point when everything is on our shoulders. It is either “go” or “no go.”

I assumed responsibility for helping move the process of the new learning infrastructure forward. I would then be forced to convince parents, patrons, and other local stakeholders.

But the fun part would be convincing state and accreditation officials, administrators of schools and post-secondary and higher education administrators.

Barbara needed to call a meeting of the communications subject area committee and schedule a future meeting of the curriculum council.

©2021 Stu Ervay – All Rights Reserved

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