A Superintendent Writes… A Reader Doesn’t Like the Perfect Storm – Part 1

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In response to the 8/5/15 post, “A Reader Doesn’t Like… Observations From the Perfect Dysfunctional Storm,” a LYS Superintendent Writes: 

To My Central Office Brethren:

Offended? No offense was intended, but allow me to retort. First, full disclosure: I am the Principal who wrote the posts that Sean responded to. And yes, as an old school LYSer guessed, I am one of you. Indeed I go back to a time before LYS, back when Cain was the plumber for the state and I was one of the early Restructure & Redesign principals. That’s been a while.

Further disclosure, I wrote those posts a number of years ago. I was not sending Cain my criticisms. I was sending Cain my observations and asking for advice on how to make my new (at the time) school work for children. The dialogue those many years ago proved to be educational to me, and Cain knew that others could learn from them also. He just held off on sharing them with the LYS Nation to protect the district I was working for and to protect me.  Because at the time, anyone in the know could have easily figured out the district being described and from there identify who I was.  Again, further proof that this blog, its writers, and its readers are focused only on improving schools.  

I will say this, there is too often a disconnect between central office and campus life, and the higher one moves in school administration, the more likely that disconnect becomes. It’s not intentional; it’s just that the jobs of campus principals and central office administrators move at different speeds. There is a constant sense of urgency on a campus that is doing the job right, and that sense of urgency is often missing in central office simply because central office leaders and staff do not work in the trenches. Central office is not doing the day-to-day, hand-to-hand work. For a superintendent, it is easy to lose almost all sense of urgency since things tend to move in 30-day increments from one board meeting to another.

This is obviously not the case for the campus principal, who is constantly faced with decisions that often have to be made within minutes.

Final disclosure, within a year of writing these posts from the perfect dysfunctional storm I became a Superintendent.  As a sitting and now veteran Superintendent of multiple district, I can promise you, the same issues with central office disengagement can exist in any size district, with any central office administrator, including the Superintendent. As Cain states, when schools fail adults are culpable, from the boardroom to the classroom.

In the perfect dysfunctional storm district that I wrote about, leadership it was rotten at the top and in many places in the middle. Were there bright spots in central office? Yes. But the bright spots were not able to pull the district out the perfect storm.

The lesson for central office administrators, especially superintendents, is this; LEAD YOUR DISTRICT, LEAD YOUR SCHOOLS.

1. Remove the rotten spots and deadweight.

2. Expect and insist that your campuses move at a faster speed and have greater urgency than central office.  

3. Push your central office to do their best to keep up.

Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…

  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on Amazon.com!  http://tinyurl.com/Fundamental5 
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Timer (Fundamental 5 Delivery Tool); PowerWalks CLC (Networked Formative Observation Tool) 
  • Upcoming Presentations: Illinois ASCD Fall Conference (Multiple Presentations), Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association Fall AP Conference, The Fundamental 5 National Summit (Multiple Presentations) 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook
Top LYS Tweets From the Week of August 7, 2015
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