November 2022 – Superintendents Leadership Council

The latest edition of Hanover’s Superintendents Leadership Council, co-hosted with the Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA), Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators (MASA), and Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) was held on Tuesday, November 8th and structured in a Q&A format that focused primarily on Creating an Inclusive Learning Environment.
 
Join us for January’s Superintendents Leadership Council on Wednesday, January 18th at 11:30am ET which will focus on Building Strong Lasting Relationships with Your Board.


Guiding Questions & Key Takeaways:
 
Create Systems Focused on Students

  • School climate and culture is at the center of driving change in school districts. District leaders must ensure they are fostering a climate in which change, and innovation are embraced.
    • Climate is a complex, multidimensional aspect of education that greatly impact student learning and development.
    • Since the pandemic, we see renewed focus on climate as we understand climate is not tangible or easily seen in data, but it is felt across the community.
  • District leaders should examine the following dimensions when assessing their environment:
    • Safety
    • Teaching and Learning
    • Interpersonal Relationships
    • Institutional Environment
    • Social Media
    • Leadership

What does leading for change mean to you in your district?

  • Put Students at the Center of Your Work
    • Dr. Tory Hill noted that approximately 90% of his student population is economically challenged and for him, it means district leaders need to capture perspective and voice of students, parents, and community members. His district leadership realized they cannot expect parents and community to come to them, but rather, they need to go out into the community and step out of their comfort zone.
      • They are forming “think tanks” to help brainstorm around problems of practice. For example, they have pulled a cross-stakeholder group to focus on teacher retention. These think tanks are intended to incubate innovation and capture their “why.”
    • As Mr. Kudlak highlighted, “we have a box we try to fit our students into rather than valuing who they are and augment for who our students are.” Dr. Smith extended this idea by highlighting how district leaders need to co-create their systems with students and parents.
  • Systemic Change = Disruption
    • Dr. Marrero charges superintendents to ask themselves, “Is your community ready to explore this work? ”If it looks good, you can honor your core values. Follow them. Complaint and hate are validation of driving change—that is what it looks like to drive innovation—you need to be disruptive.”
    • Keep data at the center of your work. Dr. Marrero emphasized that “If you are looking at the right data, you know what your students need, you know what you need to do.” Putting your data at the center of your work allows you to make students the “North Star” of your work.
  • Be in Front of the Narrative
    • In the past, district leaders have been able to be more passive and react to controversy as it arises. Dr. Smith highlighted the political division in his community and how he needed to step in front of the narrative around book banning. Ensuring that he was able to keep the community informed and educated about the actual content available in his schools rather than allowing misperceptions and misinformation to guide the conversation.
    • Mr. Kudlak shared how he has to be at the front of debates around curricula in Board meetings and attacks in the local media. He ensures he is visible in his buildings and his students and staff see him engaging in conversations around curricula within buildings and representing the best interests of the school externally (with the community and media). At its core, Mr. Kudlak encourages superintendents to be visible and to ensure their students and staff feel safe.
    • Dr. Marerro shared how Denver is struggling with declining enrollment which requires collapsing some schools to ensure all students have access to a high-quality and robust experience. This has been controversial and there has been inevitable pushback to his reform. He kept the data—student performance, financial data, etc at the core of the conversation to help drive the reform of closing some schools in the district.
  • Schedule What Matters
    • Dr. Tory Hill highlighted how he tells his staff “if student performance matters, let’s make certain we are scheduling meetings about that. If student voice matters, then our student round tables must be scheduled every month.”

Who guides your work?

  • Dr. Smith shared how his student and parent advisory groups guide his work and how the power of the advisory council influences his leadership. Dr. Hill reminded the audience that no other industry ignores the end-user and the end-user is our students. He also urged superintendents to connect with other superintendents through their state leadership organization, such as TASA.
  • Mr. Kolak encourages superintendents to stay on top of the current research and to ensure they are knowledge sharing.

 

Download the recording today!

Total Runtime: 1:00:44

Speakers include:

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Hanover’s monthly meetings are valuable, convenient, and instructive. I gain wisdom and support from the field every time I join. To hear from authentic, humble, and successful superintendents is critical as we continue to "muddle through" this challenging time. We gain strength from collective commitment and communication about the challenges, solutions, and questions.

Dr. Mary Templeton, Superintendent, Washougal School District

Key Themes

Create Systems Focused on Students

What Does Leading for Change Mean to You in Your District?

Who Guides Your Work?

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