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Why District Teams Should Be More Like Movie Producers

By: Dena Cushenberry on March 22nd, 2018

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Why District Teams Should Be More Like Movie Producers

District LEaders  |  School Leaders  |  innovation in education  |  Leadership  |  new school rules

I was recently introduced to The NEW School Rules book on a webinar with co-author Anthony Kim. After learning about the book, I decided to dig into Chapter 1 Planning: Plan For Change, Not Perfection and Chapter 2 Teaming: Build Trust and Allow Authority To Spread. As I read, I found myself looking through a distributed leadership lens, starting with the question: How do superintendents bring innovation into their district while balancing the pressures for high levels of accountability for student success, as well as the maintenance of a professional learning environment for their teachers?

Rethinking teams is a good way to start. The idea that district teams should come and go as they resolve problems related to the purpose of the district resonated with me. Teams should be flexible and fluid to better meet the needs of the district, and be dissolved once their purpose has been met. It makes sense, but is not what we typically do in practice.

Co-authors Anthony Kim and Alexis Gonzales-Black use the analogy of Hollywood producers preparing for a big movie. With a cast of leading ladies and men, a production team comes together with a clear purpose of negotiating and implementing the plan in the form of a script. Once the movie has been made that team disperses, and reforms with new team members and roles for the next film.

The key is to have a clear purpose, embedded in a set of core values, while creating opportunities for district and school leaders to reshape roles as needs arise.  Allow teams to form organically, based on curiosity, strength(s) passion and a common willingness to act toward a desired outcome.

Successful leaders are redefining the roles on their teams depending on the task, activity, or situations. This way of thinking is key to the 21st century leader. Leaders who develop road maps with an iterative, flexible, and nimble structure will transform the future of teaching and learning in schools across the country.

About Dena Cushenberry

Dr. Dena Cushenberry is the Superintendent of the Metropolitan School District of Warren Township, IN.