Ready to Grow?

Why Innovative Schools Struggle to Hire Effective Administrators

Posted by Scott Barron on Oct 9, 2014 8:10:34 AM
Scott Barron

Innovation Globe Growth"When an experienced school principal comes to us, we have to retrain them from the foundation--very little of what they learned in previous positions will help them succeed within our framework of innovation."-- Charter School Board Chair

The School Growth team selectively assists public and private schools, especially those with more innovative design models, develop strategies to find effective administrators and leaders for their programs. It's tough!

We help boards and administrators evaluate hundreds even thousands of applications each year to find people with grit, coach-ability, team spirit, integrity and collaborative innovation. Achieving school turnarounds and reinvention requires long-term leadership that is loyal, adapts well to the context of the community, and is “in it to win it.”

University Programs Struggle with Innovation

Universities seeking to develop a culture of innovation are severely limited by an overall culture that has intentionally evolved to resist organizational progress. They are complacent by design. Faculty tenure and excessive bureaucratic processes are two primary elements that impede college and university efforts to be more responsive to market demands. I've had the chance to talk with several college deans who want to move toward a more progressive approach with their design, but are extremely limited in their options.

Have you looked at the curriculum outline lately for a masters degree in school administrative leadership? Below is a sample course schedule from my alma mater, Johns Hopkins University:

- Organization and Administration of Schools
- School Law
- Supervision and Professional Development
- Curriculum Theory, Development, and Implementation
- Systemic Change Process for School Improvement
- Action Research for School Improvement
- Advanced Instructional Strategies
- Effective Leadership
- Administrative and Instructional Uses of Technology
- Issues in K-12 Education Policy
- Education of Culturally Diverse Students
- Seminar in Educational Administration and Supervision
- Internship in Administration and Supervision

This is the same sequence of classes I took many years ago. While this degree track does provide some important development for a principal, what’s missing? How to recruit, hire, and develop great teachers. How to communicate effectively with parents, especially difficult ones. How to manage threatening situations. How to engage donors and community leaders. How to effectively coach and fire underperforming faculty and staff. How to collaborate with a school board. How to develop a culture of innovation.

Schools of Education commonly teach the same management principles from many decades ago, lacking the best practices of innovation leadership that are applied in leading fields today. As the global economy has adaptively transformed, with a few exceptions, these programs are not yet providing the instructional experience needed to adequately prepare leaders for transformative school environments that require an ecosystem strategy for success. Organizations like Ed Pioneers seek to fill this gap, but this lack of innovate education leaders is a long-term issue.

If you were designing a degree program in education leadership, what classes would you include?

Topics: School Design, Teacher Quality

Subscribe to Weekly Email Updates

Recent Posts